Friday, October 31, 2014

Pole Poll

Pretty sure that all I can show from what I am working on right now are the little color blobs in the bottom right corners of all of my illustrations. While I am busy working away, feel free to participate in the Pole Poll (top left). It will be interesting to see which poles prevail in the polls.
To complicate things further, I considered having a Poll Poll to see if people favor polls that are:
(a) inquiries into opinions
(b) the counting of votes/ballots
(3) the top of one's head
(d) pertaining to tame parrots.
That seemed a bit nonsensical to me, so you can just think on it and keep your answer to yourself.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Lemon Tooted

Aaron Zens and the Z-Kids are celebrating 8 years of fabulousness at the their awesome blog, Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty. Artists are invited to re-imagine art by the kids and submit their creations. I am happy to share the beautiful piece that Elijah created and then the art that he inspired me to make. SO MUCH FUN! Thank you for filling the world with your creativity, Zenz Family!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Rainbow Unicorn

Here is a brand-new coloring page for the kiddies. 
There are many more pictures to color over at my website, too.
Happy Monday! Happy Coloring! Happy Rainbow Unicorns!

Friday, September 5, 2014


The other day I stopped dead in my tracks and watched in disbelief as this small villain tried to get into my home by scaling the screen door, climbing up so high that we were almost at eye-to-eye with nothing but flimsy mesh between us.

Is this the very same criminal who has been trying to hide some sort of evidence in the flowerpot by our front door? I saw the pile of dirt on the stoop and the hole in the dirt by the geranium firsthand.
When I venture out through the front door, chipmunks chirp and scurry away as fast as they can. What are they so afraid of?

I have heard the thundering of tiny feet on my rooftop, watched the bandit try to cram huge walnuts into the roof vents over and over again. The big green walnuts roll down from the roof and crash down on our deck with every failed attempt. If the walnuts are so special, why are they abandoned so easily?  I throw the black walnuts over the fence as far as I can, but I have an old Nerf Vortex injury, so none of the throws are very great ones, to be honest.

Is this all some plot to grow black walnut trees? I have heard that the lumber is quite valuable (according to The Profitable Plants Digest), but then why try to plant one in the roof vent of my house? Trees take years to grow, clearly there is a certain level of premeditation going on here. While the squirrels are trying to plant the trees on our rooftop, they surely must realize that the ground would be much better; but then they'd be on the chipmunks' turf...

I shudder to think that there is a connection between this suspicious activity and the untimely death of an unfortunate chipmunk in the vent of our clothes dryer this summer, just 10 feet away from the aforementioned flowerpot.

Is it coincidental, or did the chipmunk know too much?

Saturday, August 9, 2014


I find all the little details appealing. I like making every line. I don't mind it when the ink has a mind of it's own. I love it when the paint just does whatever it wants to, when it pools up and makes odd splotches and when it runs into other colors and they bleed into each other. It is just so wonderful to sit at my desk, with the dog using my foot as his pillow, listening to music, and just let the pictures happen. I just feel so happy, and I think that the happy goes into the pictures, and that makes me happy, too. I have been posting lots of in-progress pics on instagram, that has been pretty fun, too! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Mr. and Mrs. Weasel have pulled over to consult their map. There are oldies playing on the radio. Really old oldies, older than the 80's, even! 

Are the stars out tonight?
 I don't know if it's cloudy or bright 
I only have eyes for you...

Who knew that flamingos could sing?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Just Hatched!

I am thrilled to share that I will soon begin illustrating an adorable picture book entitled Chicken Lily! It will be published by Henry Holt in Spring of 2016. I am over the moon, of course! Many thanks to my brilliant agent, Teresa Kietlinski, and to all my friends and family for all of their support. Time to draw some chickens!  xoxo Nina

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


painting things and sketching things, remembering things and forgetting things, trying to keep up with end-of-the-school-year things, pulling weedy things and watching blooming things, going to things and cheering for things, wishing for things and hoping for things

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bird Watching

My husband and I recently attended a book event at the Bell Museum for The Sibley Guide of Birds, Second Edition. David Allen Sibley is a very humble and unassuming speaker. 
I ended up taking notes in my handy sketchbook because this lecture was super informative. David Sibley's father was an ornithologist, so he grew up birding. What impressed me the most is that David is a self-taught artist, he has worked hard over the years to perfect his skills. He spoke about how sketching guides your study, it is a great way to remember and learn as much as you can. The challenge in sketching is finding the few marks on paper that represent the bird in it's simplest form.  "Think of each sketch as practice." Through trial and error you figure out what is important and what is not. "You absolutely can't draw something that you don't understand." In the field, he sketches. In the studio he works from his sketches and photo references. Once his outline of the bird is correct, he layers on his paint and adds in the details (he uses gouache, btw!). His paintings show the impression of the bird that you would get in the field whilst looking through binoculars. The value of illustration is in simplicity, shape, and proportion; while a photograph is a record of time and everything in that experience. David Sibley has branched out (pun intended) into tree guides! Visit his website for all sorts of bird and tree goodness and be sure to pick up a copy of his new field guide!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Break

We checked out a garter snake at our local library on Monday.
Had a fun time playing with cousins on Tuesday and went to the Minnesota Zoo on Wednesday. What a fabulous bullfrog. Don't you just love him! The herps on the Minnesota Trail are my faves. I also luv that there are three different otter species at the MN Zoo. All of the critters were out and about, which was super lucky. Except for the armadillo, which is asleep every single time I've ever been to the zoo.... O_o
On Thursday, we went to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to visit our friends Shawn McCann and Henri Matisse.  Shawn painted a fun Matisse photo booth and murals. He is amazing!
(This is Shawn)
We found an fabulous million dollar car,  
 located my favorite painting,
and ran into the one and only Kate diCamillo in the Matisse exhibit! 
She was super nice and chatted with my kids about dogs.

Friday brought a foot of fresh snow and more play time with cousins. I participated in Sketch Dailies for the first time and had fun sketching Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. 
It was a very nice vacation and we are really looking forward to 
warmer temps next week! Aloha!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Doesn't it feel like Spring is right around the corner? I think so, too!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Book 2A

Energize Your Fingers Every Day, Book 2A has just been published! I have loved working on this series so much! Many thanks to all of the wonderful folks at the FJH Music Company for letting me be a part of their music book family! xoxo

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Just for the Record(er)

Do you know someone in need of a recorder book? Look no further! The FJH Recorder Method for Everyone is just the book for you! I illustrated the girl playing the recorder and the close-up of her hands right below it.  Note: Click on the link to the book, it looks like you can get a free copy if you fill out the registration form. How cool is that!?!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Music Notes

Hello! This is an image I drew for Sight Reading & Rhythm Every Day, Let's Get Started!, Book B. The title for this particular unit is "Weather Watching." It was fun to draw the rabbit, hen, and chicks throughout this book! I have just finished illustrating Energize Your Fingers Every Day, Book 2B. Book 2A will be published mid-Feb. I have had so much fun illustrating these music books! It is still very cold and snowy in Minnesota, looking forward to picnics this summer! Stay warm, Friends!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Resolution One: Done

My desk is clean. Hooray! I finished up the last batch of music book sketches and am sending them off today, so now I'm on to the inking. What else is new? I'm now one of The Sketchables. I'll be posting every other Friday starting the week of January 27th. You can also find me today over at the Design Juices blog. That seems like plenty of news! Hope you are well!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy 2014! Thought I'd make my resolutions publicly in hopes that it will help me accomplish them. haha 

1) I am going to turn my cool desk (pictured above) into an actual workspace instead of a catchall for the kids' homework, etc...
2) I am going to bake a brioche.
3) I will also try to drink more water and get enough sleep (thanks for that reminder, Anne!).

Making some smaller resolutions felt better to me that tackling a great big one. Here's to a fab '14!!!