QAC Assignment #5: TREASURE MAP

How’s everyone doing? This has been a very weird week for all of us across the country and many of us across the globe. Are we hanging in there? Let’s keep making art. Let’s stay connected.

Speaking of staying connected, I was facetiming with my niece and nephew today and my bother-in-law Auggie popped up in the background with a treasure map he’d drawn for them. He suggested we all draw treasure maps and I thought that was an excellent idea. So there you go. Your assignment today is to draw a treasure map and the treasure it leads to. Here’s what to do:

成人版快手DRAW A MAP: When we think of treasure maps, we think of sea monsters, islands with palm trees, pirate ships, anthropomorphic clouds blowing gales upon white-capped seas. YOUR map can be of anywhere: an enchanted wood, a dystopian suburb, your backyard, your apartment that has never felt so small, all of the above, none of the above. Or your map can be a traditional treasure map leading to a pirate’s hoard. It’s totally up to you. Three things that you MUST include are: a compass rose (very important - look this up if you don’t know what it is), the name of the place you are mapping, and a red X.

成人版快手DRAW THE TREASURE: The first part of this assignment is to draw a map with a red X to mark the location of hidden treasure. The second part of this assignment is to draw the treasure. I don’t know what the treasure is. Only you know what the treasure is. Draw it on a separate piece of paper from the map.

BONUS POINTS: If you’re going to post this on instagram, I recommend formatting it with two images. Post the map first, then the treasure which the viewer will swipe to see. This will create what we in the kids book world call AN IMPACTFUL PAGE TURN. That’s the thing that happens when you’re reading a picture book and you turn the page to discover something funny or surprising. It’s kind of hard to explain, but you know a good page turn when you’ve experienced one. This assignment is an opportunity to experiment with that. Take it! If you want to share, use these hashtags:

成人版快手I’m not giving assignments over the weekend but I’ll be back on Monday. Take care of yourself, your loved ones, and those in need. And wash your hands. 


成人版快手Contour drawings are pictures made using only lines - no colors or shading. There are many kinds of contour drawing exercises. Sometimes you draw fast; sometimes you draw very slow; sometimes you draw without looking at your paper (that’s called a “blind contour” and we’ll do one of those sometime too). The thing that they all have in common is that they require you to look very closely at the thing you’re drawing and to figure out how to describe it using only lines. Here’s how we’re going to make ours:

成人版快手 STEP ONE: Find something to draw. This should be a smallish object that won’t move: a shoe, a cup, a toy, a hat, a radish, a spatula, a bottle, a flower, a harmonica. Look around your house for something that speaks to you.

成人版快手STEP TWO: Put the object on a table or desk. Put a piece of paper and a pencil or pen in front of it. Pull up a chair and have a seat.


STEP THREE: Looking very closely at the object, begin to slowly draw its outline. (If you’re not sure what this means, make sure to watch the tutorial below.) Look at the object as much or maybe more than you look at your paper. Draw SLOWWWLLY and don’t lift your pen or pencil off the paper at all until you’ve completed the object’s outline. The idea is to draw the outer shape of it. Include all the little bumps and angles you see. When you’re done, it should look like a silhouette and you should have drawn it with a single line. This outline may look wonky to you. it may not look like the thing you’re drawing, but don’t try to fix it. You’re not allowed to. Move on to step four.

STEP FOUR: Using long lines and continuing to draw slowly, fill in some of the details of the object. You can lift your pen or pencil off the paper now but try not to do it much. Try to make your lines long. This exercise is about LOOKING CLOSELY. Don’t draw lines where you think they should be - draw lines where you see them. 

Okay good luck! If you want to share your work, use the Instagram hashtags: 



Hello. Do you have all the time in the world to write tons of words on little slips of paper? Excellent.

成人版快手Yesterday the assignment was to draw a picture inspired by three prompts chosen at random by me. Today the assignment is to make your own set of prompts. Here’s how:

First, come up with three categories. The categories I use for my own prompts are:

MUNDANE: these are descriptive words and phrases that are not very out-of-the-ordinary, like BUSHY EYEBROWS, BEAUTIFUL EYES, or CARRYING A BABY.

TRANSMUNDANE: these are descriptive words and phrases that ARE out-of-the-ordinary. Transmundane means not of the physical or visible world. These prompts are weird, unearthly, or supernatural, like HAS THE HEAD OF A FROG, GLOWS, or IS A GIANT.

成人版快手GARB: these are words that describe attire, like WEARING A BIG HAT, WEARING A MAGIC RING, or WEARING SKIS.

You can use my categories or come up with your own but your prompts will work better - be more interesting, and less redundant - if you have three distinct categories. Here are some other category ideas: Animals, Professions, Colors, Moods, Hobbies, Foods, Locations, Characters from Books, Props, Hairstyles, Monsters, etc. etc. Choose three.

Next, think of as many things as you can in each category and write them down on slips of paper. It’s important to keep the three categories separate - mine are color-coded so I can easily sort them into piles. The more prompts you have the better. I have about 90 of them. Which is a lot! You could start with 30 - ten in each category - and add more anytime. Put the prompts in three bowls (or hats or coffee mugs), close your eyes, and choose one prompt from each category. Now open your eyes, marvel at this funny combination, and draw it! You can also write a story or a poem or a song to accompany your drawing. If you want to share it, use these Instagram hastags:

Make sure to post your prompts along with your art so we can see them. Here’s an example. Okay, have fun! Stay home! Wash your hands!



Every Tuesday since last October I’ve chosen three prompts at random and posted them on Instagram for people to draw. I call this Transmundane Tuesdays. (Transmundane means existing outside of the physical or visible world.) Creative prompts are just ideas or concepts that help spark ideas. People use them to inspire visual art, poetry, songwriting, you name it. Whether we are kids or grownups, people who never draw or people who draw every single day, we all have visual things we gravitate towards. I am always drawing women’s heads in profile. Maybe you are always drawing steamships or dogs or landscapes or gothy manga people. We all have our thing. The great thing about prompts, especially prompts chosen at random, is that they force us off of our well-worn creative paths into new territory. And when we’re in new territory, drawing things we wouldn’t usually draw, we learn things.

Today - continuing on in the vein of past Tuesdays - I’m posting three prompts for you to draw. I made up these prompts myself. There are about 90 of them in three color-coded categories on little slips of paper and I choose them at random from three blue cups in my studio every Tuesday morning. Together, the three prompts describe a creature. Your assignment is to draw (or paint or or collage or whatever) this creature. If you want to share your work or check out the work of others, use these Instagram hashtags: 

成人版快手Okay, here are your prompts. Do with them what you wish. Check out the hashtags above, especially  #transmundanetuesdays, if you need some inspiration. Have fun!


QAC Assignment #1: SELF-PORTRAIT

Hello! I’ll be posting art assignments here every weekday morning when I can. They’ll be designed for kids and grownups alike. If you want to share them, you can post them on Instagram use the hashtag . I’ll also provide individual hashtags for each exercise so we can see each other’s work. Here is your first assignment:

Draw a picture of yourself from the shoulders up. Then draw a fancy frame around the portrait and write your name at the bottom in nice letters. See the template below. It will help you figure out how to draw a human face - how much space there is between all of its parts and what goes where. Some of the best portraits in the world do not follow these rules and you don’t always have to either. But for this assignment you do. We’re going to do it right. The video tutorial below will help make sense of this template. (The green lines in this template are just guides - you should draw them in pencil and erase them afterwards.) Draw on paper and - for everything but the pencil guide lines - use any art materials you want: pens, markers, paint, pencils. You can work in color or in black and white - it’s up to you. While you draw, look in the mirror and ask yourself these questions:

What color are my eyes? What shape are they?
Are my eyelashes light or dark? Long or short? 
What color and shape are my eyebrows? Are they thick or thin? Straight or arched?
Is my nose skinny? Wide? Crooked? Does is turn up or down?
What color is my skin?
Do I have freckles? Moles? Scars? Birthmarks? Wrinkles?
What color is my hair? Is it long, short, curly, straight?
Is my mouth wide? Is it small? Are my lips full or thin?
Can I see my ears? Or are they hidden?

Sometimes it’s easiest to answer these questions by looking at other people and comparing your features to theirs. That can help you figure out what makes your face uniquely yours. Do this, but don’t make any judgements about how you look. Be like a scientist and study your face as objectively as you can.

Okay, have fun! If you want to share or see other people’s self-portraits, use these Instagram hashtags:


成人版快手I’m very happy to announce that I’ve joined the roster of kids book illustrators at . I’m in *incredible* company over there and I’m thrilled to be a part of the R. Michelson family. Check out their website for more info or go into the gallery and say hello if you’re in the Northampton, MA neighborhood. Thanks!

Back when I was trying to illustrate the picture book biography that Colin wrote about Pete Seeger成人版快手, before I gave up and Nikki McClure took over and made it the gorgeous book it is now, I made this sketch of Pete leading a labor march. It’s now available as a print and I’m donating a portion of the proceeds to the Battle Ground, WA teachers strike fund as long as they need it. You can buy it . Thanks!

A few new things in :

1. is a collaboration with the wonderful women of in Austin, Texas. There are only five of them and they're all a little different as they are chainstitched one-at-a-time on vintage machines. It's big - 11" x 7.5" - sized to fit on the back panel of a jean jacket.

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2. is of a painting I made a few years ago for my family's holiday card. I've been meaning to turn it into a giclee print for years and here it finally is. 11" x 8.5", signed.


3. This is one of six designs. Each is a different color. They were letterpress-printed by s in Portland, who I have worked with for almost 20 years and who I love a lot.

sells limited edition silkscreened prints and donates a portion of their proceeds to organizations that work for social justice and equality. The company is run by May Barruel and is an offshoot of . It's a great concept: I sell through Le Oui and it's raised a ton of money for the ACLU.

I have two new prints I'm releasing with Le Oui this week. The first is an 18" x 24" three color screenprint in an edition of 100. The second is a single color 16" x 20" screenprint in two colorways, each in an edition of 25.

You can order them and . They'll also be available at Nationale, where I have .


We'll be donating 10% of the proceeds from these prints to . FPP is a program that does a lot of important work with incarcerated moms. It's based out of the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, near my house, and I volunteer there sometimes. I can't overstate how inspired I am by FPP: by its mission, by the moms and the kids who are a part of it, by the women who run it, by the FPP alumni who advocate for the program once they're out of prison. FPP does so many things but, maybe most importantly, it helps incarcerated moms maintain relationships with their kids. It didn't occur to me before I started volunteering there that mothers are not guaranteed contact with their kids when they go to prison and vise versa. On the contrary, a lot of mothers lose touch with their children the moment they get arrested. Sometimes they don't know where their kids have ended up in the wake of an arrest and have no recourse to find out. And this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the myriad ways that prison serves to tear mothers and their children apart.

Fortunately, Family Preservation Project together with Oregon State Senator, Michael Dembrow introduced a that was recently signed into law by Oregon governor Kate Brown. It's a huge deal! The first law of its kind in the country! I urge you to read more about it and to support the concept fiercely in your own state. It ensures the right of a child to maintain a relationship with an incarcerated parent and addresses a lot of other issues that are the source of hardship including support, mental health, decision-making, etc. 

All of this to say, please support Family Preservation Project! In addition to creating this Bill of Rights, and keeping imprisoned moms in touch with their kids, the support, services, and community they provide for program participants and their families is critical. And it works: the recidivism rate for FPP alumni is pretty much nil. Yet they're always at risk of losing their funding. Don't let it happen! And check out , a great documentary by Brian Lindstrom that profiles FPP, to learn more.

I'm so happy to be teaming up with my old friend May Barruel at  for a show opening this week. For those of you who don't live in Portland but are curious about the show and available work, email Nationale for a preview. 

Hope to see some of you at the reception this Sunday! More info .

On view: February 10 – March 13, 2018
Artist reception: Sunday, February 11 (3–5 p.m.)
Gallery Hours: 12–6:00 p.m. / closed Wednesdays


I'm doing a bunch of things at Wordstock this Saturday and also have an event on Sunday that's open to the public. Come say hi! Here's my schedule:

11:15: I'm on with Vera Brosgol, Javaka Steptoe, and Mac Barnett, moderated by Natasha Forrester Campbell
1:30: I'll be ? on the Children's Stage
4:30: Colin and I will be with Amy Martin

2:30 - 4:30: 2017 Caldecott Winners Come to Portland
成人版快手Javaka Steptoe, Vera Brosgol, R. Gregory Christie, Brendan Wenzel, and I will be showing some slides, speaking about our work, and answering questions at the First Unitarian Church in SW Portland. These people are so talented and I'm thrilled that we'll all be in Portland for this.

I'm pretty sure there'll be signings after the Du Iz Tak? reading and the presentation with Colin and also after the event on Sunday. Admission to Wordstock is free for people 17 and under.

成人版快手Come celebrate the launch of Illimat with Keith Baker, members of the Decemberists, and me!

When: Wednesday, November 15th from 6pm-9pm
Where: in Portland
What: learn to play the game, get your copy signed

For more info about the game go to .
For more info about the party and to RSVP check out .


Hey! This book, written by Colin with illustrations by me, comes out on October 24th! It's a middle grade novel about a kid named Charlie Fisher and his adventures with an international gang of child pickpockets in 1960s Marseille, France. We're proud of it! Come say hello and see us read/talk about/sign this book if we'll be in your town.

成人版快手Here's a wishful sticker I designed. It's for sale , in my Buyolympia shop. The proceeds go to the .

If you would like to buy more things that support more good organizations, I also have available that benefit and available that benefit .

成人版快手I thought this was so pretty that I ought to share it with the world.

The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid! A standalone middle grade novel, set in Marseille in 1961. By with art by me. Coming to a fine independent bookstore near you October 24th. Stay tuned for more info regarding tour, etc.

It’s been quite a week. The good news is that I spent the past 5 days in LA with family and friends I love, some of whom are pregnant and one of whom is my beautiful baby nephew, Felix. The bad news is political and too much to list here. But can I go back to a week ago today, when I found out Du Iz Tak had been awarded a Caldecott Honor? Will you humor me? Because I never really took the opportunity to say how much that meant to me or to thank the people that need thanking.

Suffice it to say, that disorienting 4 am phone call from a room full of librarians last Monday was one of the best moments of my life. I’ve been a lover, collector, and student of picture books since I was a teenager and I can’t overstate how much it means to me to be recognized this way. Thank you so much, Caldecott Committee!

Thanks also to Steve Malk for so many years of friendship, support, and impeccable guidance.

Thanks to my intrepid editor Liz Bicknell for understanding and embracing Du Iz Tak when it was an inscrutable manuscript without a single sketch to accompany it.

Thanks to Candlewick for all your hard work! Especially Erika Denn, Kristen Nobles, and Gregg Hammerquist who ever-so-patiently pieced this book together while I looked uselessly over his shoulder.

Thanks to Mac Barnett, Maile Meloy, Jon Klassen, and Colin Meloy for so much good advice about how to best tell this story.

成人版快手Thanks to Colin for too many things to mention here, but especially for supporting me as an artist for 20 years, through thick and thin and parenthood. It's probably never easy when two artists raise kids together and - don't worry - we do our fair share of fighting over who should do what. But I couldn’t have made this book if I wasn't married to a guy who shares that responsibility equally and takes my art as seriously as he does his own.

Thanks to my parents and to my mother-in-law.

Thanks to the KBK!

And thanks to the kids book universe: the librarians, the booksellers, the agents, the people who work in publishing, the people who write the books, the people who make the pictures. It’s a very big crew and such a good one to be a part of. I feel so lucky to have landed among you all.

Here’s an illustration-in-progress by for The Golden Thread, a picture book biography that wrote about Pete Seeger.

Some of you might remember that I was originally illustrating this book and may be wondering why I’m not anymore. The truth is that I struggled mightily with it for the better part of a year. I couldn’t figure out the right direction for it or the way in. It wasn't for lack or love of Pete, who is one of my great heroes, or for Colin, who is my favorite person on Earth, or for the book’s manuscript which is totally beautiful. I just couldn’t figure out how to illustrate this book. If you know me well you probably know how much trouble I had because I lamented it to anyone who would listen, including Nikki who always has lots of good advice. But eventually I threw in the towel. It was a big deal! I cried! A lot! It wasn’t a decision I made lightly.

Anyway, Nikki took over. She promptly started making perfect illustrations for this book and I realized that I just hadn’t been the right person for the job. That happens, I guess. All’s well that ends well and now I can’t wait for you all to see this stunning, timely picture book.

成人版快手Every year I design a holiday card for my family. Past cards have celebrated the joy and magic of the season but man, these are dark days and right now I’m just focused on fighting for a better future.

I made a screenprinted poster of this design to benefit and you guys bought out the first run in a flash! I don’t have the numbers yet but I know we've raised upwards of a $5k donation so far. THANK YOU! As for these cards, the ones I didn’t use are for sale in my shop and I’ll donate all the proceeds from these to , an organization that I couldn’t have lived without in my younger, broker years and one that needs all of our support right now. If you order them, they probably won’t get to you in time for Christmas/Hanukkah but they will make good thank you cards and also good LET’S FIGHT FOR A BETTER FUTURE cards.

May at will be reprinting that poster too - sometime in January it sounds like - and the proceeds will continue the benefit the ACLU. To inquire about the poster, email Nationale. To buy cards, visit my webshop.


成人版快手This Friday at 7:00 I'll be moderating a conversation with Nikki MClure at Tillamook Station in Portland for WeMake's sketchXchange. She's amazing. It'll be fun. Come down!