We’re on Kindle!

Very, Very Excited!

Zero and One is now on Kindle!


Author Jeff Byington has been working diligently to get our book transformed into a Kindle version, available on Amazon.com!

You know, those wonderfully tempting instantly downloadable buy-with-one- click books?


Verry dangerous for us bibliophiles!

But also very convenient!


Sometimes Life Happens…

I think one of my favorite quotes is
“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.”¬†

I even like its source… a poem by Robert Burns entitled…

To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with a Plough

Just like that wee, sleekit, cow’rous tim’rous beastie,
sometimes my wee-bit housie is in a bit of a ruin,
and all my plans the win’s are strewin!

Such has been life the past week or so… Just a bit busy!

There have been frames to fill…

And more to make…

And things to cut out…

And some more…

And some more to go…

Yet in the midst of work, there have been streets to walk…

And places to shop…

Critters to befriend…

And quiet spots to rest.

But… I’m still sketching!

An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I hope these 31 Days posts will be
completed before I put up the Tree!

To see all the posts for
Pie from Scratch
click on the picture below!

Working with a Model…

One of the posts that I had planned for the Pie from Scratch series was about working with a model. Artists usually have a basic understanding of proportions and the mechanics of how the body changes as it bends and moves… but it really helps to have someone walk through your story scenes to get realistic poses. Sometimes, working with a model gives you poses you would have never thought of, if you were drawing from memory. Check out this photo I took of my young friend Dory and her Mom, who was pretending to cut open a pumpkin…

While taking that shot, I was focussing on how it might look if someone was trying to stick a knife into a hard pumpkin shell, but when I looked at the picture later, I realized I had caught something special on “film”… Dory’s relaxed, completely natural, only-a-kid-would-stand-like-this, stance! I have GOT to work this into an illustration…

I mean, check out those feet!

I would have never thought of that pose!

P.S. LOVE the shirt, Dory!


A while back, I wrote a whole post on working with
a live model that goes into a lot more detail…

You can see it by Clicking Here!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Store Bought or Home Grown…

I bought eggs today.

Usually I don’t buy eggs…
We have a home-grown supply thanks to our gals…

But for research purposes, I broke down and bought a dozen.

This is what they look like in the box…
Pretty white, and very uniform in size and shape…

I don’t know how they get the chickens to lay eggs like that.

My chickens lay eggs that look like this…

The only thing consistent about the eggs around
Thistle Dew Farm¬†is what’s inside…

The egg on the left is store-bought.

The egg on the right is home-grown.

Fresh, home-grown eggs have bright orange yolks instead of pale yellow.
They “stand up” in the pan… the white isn’t all watery.

And they taste like an EGG.

Once you get used to eating them, it’s hard to go back to store-bought!

Annie’s day of pie-making includes gathering eggs from her Pop’s hens.

Have you ever gathered fresh eggs?

We’ve kept chickens for about fifteen years,
and here’s what we’ve learned about them…

Hens… female chickens… start laying eggs somewhere between 4 and 6 months old. They lay about an egg a day, unless they’re molting, or getting new feathers. They sometimes lay more… especially in the spring. They sometimes lay less… like in the winter months, or extremely hot or cold weather. Young hens are very productive egg layers, and older gals space theirs out more and eventually stop laying all together. Sometimes the older hens will lay BIG eggs. Sometimes young hens will lay double-yolkers. Once, we found a triple-yolk egg… and boy, was it HUGE!

To make baby chickens, you need roosters. (Don’t worry Moms, that’s as far as I’m going with that. Keeping this Rated G.) Roosters are male chickens and they crow. A LOT. It’s a good idea to make sure your neighbors like the idea of farm animals before you get roosters. (Or you can bribe them with home grown eggs.) If you have roosters, some of your eggs will be fertilized, but chicks will not grow inside the egg unless a broody hen decides to set on them. Broody means she really wants to be a Mama Hen, and she will not be happy with you if you try to take any eggs out from under her. She may try to hid her eggs from you and set in a secluded place. If we have a broody hen, we’ll gather up a small pile of eggs for her and encourage her to set in the barn instead of the hen house. (Because she will try to set on every egg she sees and get them mixed up!) Her chicks will hatch 21 days from the day she begins setting on them… even if some are a week old before she sets. I think that is absolutely fascinating.

And that’s what I know about chickens.

If you ever come visit, we’ll introduce you to ours!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

A Little Perspective…

Landscapes are not my “thing.”

I love landscape paintings, but have always had
a difficult time making them look realistic.
They always seemed a little “flat”… No depth.

But in the last couple of years, I’ve learned a few
tips for adding perspective to landscapes!

Tip #1… Overlapping

You can make objects look like they are near or far by simply
overlapping them… One will appear to be in front of the other!

Tip #2… ¬†Size

You can make an object appear closer by making it larger, and you can
make an object appear to be far away¬†by making it smaller…

Tip #3… Placement

Placing an object higher up on the paper
makes it appear to be in the background…
…placing it near the bottom of the page puts it in the foreground.
They higher an object is in the painting, the farther away it will appear!

Tip #4… Atmospheric Perspective

That one sounds pretty technical, huh?

One of the early masters of atmospheric perspective was Leonardo da Vinci! Atmospheric perspective simply means that things up close are bright and crisp, while things far away are lighter colored and a bit fuzzy. Maybe even a little blue-ish, or hazy. Next time you’re outside, and able to see a long way… such as at the beach, or in the mountains, or standing in a field… take a good look at how things look both far away and up close.

I’m still working on the Pumpkin Patch illustration…

Can you see how all four of these tips are being used in it?

Copyright Kim Frey, 2012

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!


Light and Shadow…

Whoops! I fell off the Blogosphere!

After a crazy weekend…

… And a Monday to gather my wits…

I’m climbing back on!

I figure I’ll just “count” posts up to 31, even if they don’t match the date.

So here goes POST #19…

Learning to Look for Light and Shadow…

Painting with different media provides different challenges in depicting light and shadow. I painted with acrylic paints when I was much younger, and always began with a dark background, building up to lighter colors. White highlights were the last thing added to an acrylic painting, such as the shine on an apple, or the twinkle in an eye.

In my 30’s, I took a watercolor painting class, and what a difference! Painting with transparent watercolor is completely opposite to painting with opaque acrylics. Because you can see through watercolor, you can’t just add white on top because the colors beneath will show through. Technically, there is no real “white” watercolor paint… most watercolor sets will offer some sort of opaque white pigment if you want to try to “fix” an area that you wanted to be white, but they don’t work very well. So how do you get white and other light colors?

You have to “save” the white. Basically, when painting with watercolor, you have to think ahead about where your lightest whitest colors will be, and paint “backward,” from lights to darks. If you want an area to be stark white, such as a highlight or gleam of sunlight, you can paint those spots with Masking Fluid. It’s sort of rubbery, so I like to keep a bar of soap nearby… you can suds up your brush on the soap before dipping it into your masking fluid. Oh… and use an old brush!

Once you have the white areas masked off, you can
paint a very light layer of paint over the entire object.
The lighter areas will be this color…

Since my light source is coming from the left,
the next step was to build up the darker colors
on the right side of the cream separator…

It works best to build up layers when the paint is still slightly wet…
Unless you want sharp lines, like you see on the legs.

When the paint is drier, you can use a “dry brush” technique
(As in not a sloppy wet brush)¬†to add in the darker details…

And finally, you can remove the masking with a rubber masking eraser!

I’ll probably add in some more shadows later, using some grays mixed from the orange and blue, but isn’t it neat to see how you can show light and shadow with a single color? I actually love “looking for the light” when painting, and when I’ve been painting a lot, it seems that I find myself looking at everything in terms of lights and shadows. The more you “look for the light” and see how it shines in contrast to dark areas… the more you take notice of how the white of the paper even glows right through the other colors… the better your eyes are trained to recognize the light.

I think that’s pretty profound.

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:105

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Pretend This is Yesterday…

The past couple of days have started early, ended late,
and were completely filled in the middle.

They’ve included watching a newborn for a few hours…
…working at the store… Fall days are BUSY!
…a night out with Hubby…
…Papercutting Orders…
…and oodles of phone calls and weekend prep…

…And so far today…
24 Cupcakes
4 Fresh Apple Walnut Cakes
8 ¬†loves of Rosemary Basil Artisan Bread…
…And about 1oo Chicken Dinners to follow.

The past couple of days did not include
ANYTHING related to Pumpkin Pie.

Or Children’s Book Illustration.


I’ll catch up, I promise!

Designing Sketches…

Sketches often seem to develop as they are worked on. The Whatchamacallit from yesterday’s post was going to be a small “spot” illustration, since my thumbnail for that page only included the one item. The sketch began with taking a bunch of pictures of it out in the sunlight. This one gave me the best light/shadow combination, which will help when it comes time to paint…

First, I sketched it in my sketchbook to practice the shapes and angles. Then I noticed an old milk can in the store that would look great beside it. And then I remembered that I want to try to tuck a pumpkin or two in each illustration, so in went a pumpkin. Then my kitty was playing the “I want in, I want out” game, which always involves lot of leg rubbing… and a bell went off in my head that she might be very interested if she lived on a farm, and this Whatchamacallit was in use.

Last, but not least, I looked back at my storyboard, and discovered I had drawn the whole scene backward. It needed to be reversed. So I flipped it over on my makeshift iPad lightbox¬†and traced the lines on the back of the paper. (VERY makeshift… You have to draw carefully so you don’t damage the iPad screen, and the touch sensitive screen will also wiggle around under your drawing if it senses your hand movement!) ¬†Then, I retraced a better version on my desk/lightbox… Several times, until it was “just right.” And then a final, very light tracing onto watercolor paper, using a sharp 4H pencil. (Not 4-H the club, 4H the hardness grade!)

It’s been challenging to learn how to design a sketch over the years. An artist has to think about the elements that should be in the picture, arrange them in the space you want to fill, and wiggle them around until they fit and seem balanced in the composition. I used to try to draw the whole thing from memory, and then get frustrated because it didn’t look right. Gradually, I’ve learned to take photos from different angles, use Google image searches to find quick reference pictures, and to keep a sketchbook filled with lots of various sketches that you might need later. And to be patient… a good illustration has been drawn and drawn and drawn again!

P.S…. Did you figure out what the mystery item is?

It’s a Cream Separator!

Fresh milk has the cream all mixed in with the milk, but if you let it sit for a short while, the cream will rise to the top. This style of separator has two small windows that lets the farmer see when the cream and milk have separated, and the milk can be tapped off the bottom. You can still buy a similar version!¬†¬†The “whole milk” that we buy in the grocery store today is “homogenized,” which means it’s been processed so the fat or cream is broken down into smaller bits that won’t separate from the milk. Not too long ago, they even sold milk in special “Cream on Top” bottles, so you could pour the cream off at home… They’re a fun dairy collectible!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Old Things…

Nana was an antique dealer. So are my Mom and Dad. My earliest days involved playing with spinning wheels and butter churns, collecting demitasse teacups, and going to yard sales, flea markets, and antique shows. Needless to say, I grew up around lots of Old Things. And now my girls collect Old Things. We all like different sorts of old stuff… Nana liked Primitive Country. Mom and Dad love Colonial Decor. Jo loves Pretty Blue China as well as Mid-Century Modern. Kate and her Hubby like Victorian through Vintage. I like Farmhouse and Schoolhouse, with a touch of Industrial. We’re quite the mix!

One of my favorite kinds of Old Things are things that DO stuff.
I have a few antiques that are just to look at,
but I really like the ones that still function.

Like this antique book press…

It’s one of my favorite new Old Things!

(I’d really like to discover a matching Printing Press…
…in case anyone has one lurking in their shed!)

At the Store, we have lots of Old Things hanging around, and we love it when customers ask about them. There’s a Corn Sheller, Hand Corn Planters, old Feed Bins, Lanterns, big and little Scales, and strange looking Tools, just to name a few of the doodads hanging around Hudson’s.

And there’s this…

It’s a guaranteed conversation starter!

And it’s going to be in Pie from Scratch!

Do you know?

What is it?

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Painting Prep…

Tonight, I had a chance to get a little prep work done for a full day of painting tomorrow! One not-so-fun prep job is cutting a bazoodle of watercolor paper down to the proper size for the illustrations. I’m working toward an 8″ x 10″ book, so I needed a bunch of 10″ x 12″ pieces, plus a few 10″ x 17″ pieces for the two-page spreads. I like to work slightly larger than the actual page size, but am limited a bit by my scanner. I did an unusual papercutting job several years ago, which required a long piece of watercolor paper… and the only way to get a piece that big was to purchase a gigantic roll of paper. It pretty much gave me what I thought was a lifetime supply! However, it’s been a huge help to have that roll of paper when it comes to illustrating a kids’ book! It’s a little awkward to unroll and cut the pieces, but nice to have it already on hand!

The next thing to do is to sketch or trace my drawings on the watercolor paper. I’d really like to get them all sketched before I start painting, but I’m not sure that will happen. I might save the smaller “spot” illustrations for later. Here’s one… I needed to re-do the original of this painting to move “Annie” over to the left a smudge, and also to re-do her skin tones. It’s hard to see online, but in the first painting, her face is slightly “muddy,” as my attempt at shading got a little heavy.

The pencil lines are faint, so hopefully you can see it!

Painting tomorrow!!!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!