Robert’s Snow illustrator profile – Jeff Ebbeler

Click here for information about Robert’s Snow. Click here for the auction pages for this and many other amazing snowflakes. (This snowflake is part of Auction 1)Click here for a round-up of other illustrators being interviewed today and everyday as part of a huge multi-blog effort to publicize this worthy cause.————————————————————-I’m excited to have an interview with mic-rocking illustrator Jeff Ebbeler today.  I  just got the photo of his snowflake and seeing it for the first time makes me say: WHOOHOOO! Could this be the best snowflake of the whole batch? Right here on my blog?

snowflake2.jpgTell us about your snowflake. When you got the invitation did you immediately know what you were going to put on the snowflake?

-This is the second year I’ve made a snowflake. I’m so happy to be able to contribute to Robert’s Snow. It’s a great cause and there are so many friendly and talented people involved. On this snowflake and the last one I wanted to use the shape of the snowflake to help determine the subject. The first snowflake I made a flying saucer, abducting farm animals. There’s a little cowboy lassoing the the flying saucer to rescue them. I had fun building onto the the snowflake with additional pieces of masonite.

snowflake by Jeffrey Ebbeler

This year it took a while to come up with what to do. I was thinking that the shape resembled a gear or spokes on a wheel, so I came around to the idea of making an old time bike. Those bikes are so fun and preposterous looking. It’s great to break out the power tools for a project too. I don’t get the opportunity to do 3D work when I’m illustrating. I worked for many years for a couple of puppet theaters in Cincinnati sculpting wooden marionette so I miss that aspect of making art.


Another blog recently revealed that an illustrator who specializes in animals has a taxidermy collection for reference. Do you have that sort of skeleton in your closet? If not, what’s your secret?

-My wife and I are both artists. We don’t have a collection of taxadermied animals, but I have collected handmade puppets. My best find was trunk full of marionettes from a Chicago PBS kid show from the fifties called Fin and Haddie. I play drums in rockabilly band so we’ve got a number of Elvis paintings on Velvet or painted by artist friends. We also really like folk and outsider art and we’ve taken road trips down south and out west to visit with to a few pieces from the artist we’ve met.

I’ve written before about artists who are really good at drawing clothed animals. You certainly proved that you’ve got the touch with Punxsatawney Phyllis. Any tips/secrets/rules/advice you can share with us for drawing well-dressed animals?

-Doing a groundhog book was a pretty big challenge for me. They are the most nondescript rodent. Every time I tried to exaggerate a facial feature to give one of the ground hogs personality it ended up make them look more like a rat, bear, mouse etc. In that case their clothes can go along way to giving each character personality.


(Her outift is perfect! And a great contrast to the Edwardian hogs.)

How much are your drawings today like those you did as a kid? What’s changed?

-In someways my drawings haven’t changed a whole lot. Especially the subject matter. I was really into drawing comics as a Kid. I did a comic about a gopher fighter pilot, and a series of cartoons about a bunch of oval headed characters who were all named George. I wrote and illustrated my first kids book in 8th grade called Marvin’s Marvelous Mission. It was a space adventure with slime aliens.


(Yep, he’s still drawing aliens.)

We’re all kidlit lovers here. So we want some geeky stuff. Who’s at the top of your favorite illustrators list?

– When I was in high school and early college I started noticing and collecting children’s books. Books by Lisbeth Zwerger, William Joyce, Stephen Gammel, and Lane Smith really showed me that there was a great place to do the kind of art I liked to do.

And answer as many or as few of the grab bag questions as you have time/patience for:

Hardest thing to draw: – Hands

Favorite Wyeth: – I have to say Andrew, I just saw a show of his loose water colors sketches and it blew me away

Favorite “fine art:” – Vermeer. I saw a large collection in a traveling exhibit in Washington DC about 10 years ago. I’ve never seen anyone else who can paint like that.

Favorite post-80s music video: – I’m not sure I ever seen more impressive choreography than OK Go’s treadmill dancing. I think the song is called Here it goes again.

Least favorite Bible story: – I always felt bad for the charioteer and all the first born sons of Egypt.

This year’s Halloween costume: – Sadly, nothing. I love Halloween too.

Favorite comic book artist: – Jon Muth did some fantastic water color comics. Dave McKean’s Mr Punch comic is amazing

All-Time Greatest Kids Book Illustration? – That’s a really tough question. There a bunch of books I always flip through when I’m having a mental block to remind me why I love kids book illustration so much. Tony DiTerlizzi’s book Ted, and William Joyce’s Santa Calls for example. I’d have to say my favorite is Lisbeth Zwerger’s book Christian Morgenstren. The illustration for the Poem Mr. Spoon and Mrs. Fork is such a perfect mixture of skillful draftsmanship and a great sence of humor.

Don’t forget to check out the Ebbeler-site for more great pictures!

Robert’s Snow – Illustrator Interview: Tracy Mcguiness-Kelly

Robert’s Snow is an auction of illustrator painted/donated snowflakes to benefit anti-cancer activities. For the official site where you can bid on this and other flakes, go here. For other illustrators being interview today as part of the Blogging for a Cure effort, go here.

 We’ve got something pretty interesting here, folks. It’s a snowflake like no other. Illustrator Tracy Mcguinness-Kelly took a risky approach and decided to create an abstract design on her snowflake.

I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a smashing success — although probably even more smashng in person — but what’s the story behind the flake?

Here’s Tracy Mcguiness-Kelly to tell us….



Tell us about your snowflake…  

I wanted to do something a little bit abstract,its hard to see in the picture but its lots and lots of little circles of different shades of white and lightly coloured papers all layered on top of each other.I wanted to get the feeling of how even the smallest of objects iea snowflake is actually made up of even smaller particles exploring the idea infinity going in the direction of smaller and smaller. I also added very fine glitter to capture that magical sparkle quality in snow. 

When you got the invitation did you immediately know what you were going to put on the snowflake?

Not really I left it quite late,but once i started it just came to me,I also felt I wanted to do something a little bit abstract. and I was happy with the result as it still came out quite decorative, it will go very nicely on someone’ s xmas tree.


When I look at a Bad Cat spread, I see so much wacky stuff, yet it’s not a mess. It’s clear what’s what and where’s where. Can you explain how you do that at all? Is it controlled exuberance or exuberant control?

I become totally absorbed in my work,down to every little detail, Even my work as a child was extremely detailed,In my Bad Cat books alot of the characters, even in the background can be found throughout the book you can kind of follow each characters own little story.its A little bit like continuation as in an animation.I have been told that children really notice this and make games out of finding them throughout the book, I wanted the books to be strongly held together with a real neighbourhood feeling.


How much are your drawings today like those you did as a kid? What’s changed? 

Locked Diary [BOX SET]

I think my work still is like the work I did as a child.
I really try to hold on to that freshness you find in childrens work,

But its alot more sophisticated and designed than when I was a kid,but that just comes from experience.

(By the way, folks, Tracy has a picture on the front page of her site that I am just bonkers for! Please, take my word on this and go check it out…)


We’re all kidlit lovers here. So we want some geeky stuff. Who’s at the top of your favorite illustrators


I really love Maira Kalman, her illustrations and her wonderful sense of humour.

So unique and original!


And answer as many or as few of the grab bag questions

as you have time/patience for:


Hardest thing to draw?


Best post-80s music video? 

I love Peter Gabriels’ Sledgehammer’ I think it was created by Aardman Animation the same people who do ”Wallace and Gromit.’ [Since that’s actually an 80s video and I’m looking for a post-80s video, I’ll just put her down for Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract.” Why? Because of MC Skat Kat, of course.)

Favorite Wyeth (NC, Andrew or Jamie?)

All amazing that kind of painting just astounds me its so unlike how I approach my own work. (Eventually, she picked Jamie.)

Favorite piece of “Fine Art?”

I love Paul Klee’s work his use of colour texture and shape. I can relate to it.

Alright, get over there and get ready to bid on that flake! TMK is in the first week auction round.



Erin Eitter Kono / Robert’s Snow Contest WINNER!

The winner of a genuine piece of artwork from the hand of super awesome illustrator Erin Eitter Kono is….

Cloudscome from over there at a WrungSponge.

If you didn’t win, there’s another great way to get an original work by Kono or one of many other fabulous illustrators…

Visit the Robert’s Snow site for information about the upcoming snowflake auction!!!

Robert’s Snow – Juli Kangas & her Cozy Snowflake

Robert’s Snow is an auction of snowflakes painted/created/donated by some astounding Children’s Book illustrators. (Click here for official information. Here for other artists being profiled today as part of the wondrous Blogging For a Cure project.)

Today, one Rober’ts Snow artist, Cece Bell, writes about the work of another Robert’s Snow Artist, Juli Kangas:

Kangas’ Snowflake: A Cozy Night for Cuddling Up


Juli Kangas is The Master of Cozy.

Her delightfully detailed drawings of animals wearing period clothing may initially make you think of Beatrix Potter, but look again and you will find that Kangas has created a unique world of her own.

The animals in Dennis Haseley’s Photographer Mole (2004) and in her own The Surprise Visitor (2005) are expressive and beautifully clothed, but what I like best is how she depicts excitingly believable places for her animals to live in. Kangas loves patterns and repitition: leaves and berries and stones; the animal-made stone walls (in Photographer Mole — AMAZING!) and furnishings and bookshelves and doorways; even the animals’ clothing with its ruffles and pinstripes and flowers on hats. The repitition of patterns and details contribute to the believability of Kangas’ world, which is the coziest I’ve ever seen, and quite possibly the most endearing.

The Surprise Visitor

 I had the same sensation, upon looking at her illustrations, that I have whenever I read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden: How do I get inside the garden? PLEASE let me inside! I love Tasha Tudor’s illustrations for The Secret Garden, but I think Kangas could do her own take on it beautifully.

 I was not able to find any of her books at my local libraries or at my local bookstores, which is an outrage. I used to find as many images as I could from the books mentioned above, and am hoping to find more by simply purchasing some of her books.

As to Kangas’ snowflake, it, too, is a superb depiction of coziness. A small circle within a collage of printed text shows a small child, reading a book in bed with his teddy bear. Again she uses patterns and repititions (stars outside the window, window panes, quilt squares, and curtain folds) to make the scene super-cozy, and masterfully keeps it all under control.

 I was not able to find a website for Juli Kangas, so I wasn’t able to reach her for an interview. What I found out from a book flap (it felt like cheating for a book report!) is that she was born in Cleveland, Ohio, received a BFA in Illustration from the University of Kansas, is a full-time artist, and has two children. She is also, judging from the artist’s photo, cute as a button.

Here’s hoping that she has more books a-coming! Juli, if you see this, get your mitts on The Secret Garden and have at it!

–Cece Bell

Roberts Snow Mania begins….

I can hardly imagine that anyone reading this doesn’t know all about Robert’s Snow and the Blog Blitz to promote it.

Go here and check out the right hand side to keep up with each day’s action.

My action starts on Thursday and MAN DOES IT ROCK!

I’ve gotten a great interview with Erin Eitter Kono and she has generously agreed to offer up an original sketch as a door prize!

You’ll have to come back on Thursday to get the full scoop, but here’s a sample of her work:

Can I also point out that I;m busting with pride that Cece’s snowflake is on the Snow poster?

publicity image for Robert's Snow, used with permission from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Click on image to launch the Robert's Snow site

It’s the yellow lion just to the right of the mouse’s nose.

Cece views ALL of the Robert’s Snow snowflakes…

I hope this won’t cause consternation from the coordinators, but Cece has written up a fantastic report after looking at each and every one of the snowflakes! Take it away, Cece….

Sam and I are such Luddites at home that I had to go
to the library and use their high-speed Internet
access to check out the Robert’s Snow snowflakes. I
had been busting out of my mind to look at them, and
look at them I did — every last one of them. I
should’ve written stuff down, but didn’t, and so if my
descriptions of some of them are not spot-on, do
forgive me.

Every one of them is something special to behold, and
being included among the illustrators who participated
leaves me with a happy, happy feeling. Looking at them
made me realize that even though I do like my
snowflake, I could have pushed myself harder to, say,
tell a little story, like John Hassett does in
“Geographic Compromise”: on the front, a penguin and a
polar bear are playing checkers and arguing over
North Pole!” versus “South Pole!”; on the back,
they’ve not only made up, but are drinking cocktails
on a warm, tropical island. Or I could’ve used both
sides of the snowflake (lazy me painted the back one
solid color) in a nifty way, like Elizabeth Dulemba
does in “Give a Little Push”: Santa’s on the front,
looking a tad bit discombobulated; on the back, a
little mouse (I think!) is giving him a push down the
chimney. Both sides work so well.

Some other favorites are Scott Bakal’s “The Joy of the
Future”. This one is just simply beautiful, in concept
and design and execution. It shows a simply drawn
snowman whose nose — a stick — has begun to sprout
leaves. Something about the image, and the bold,
“elfy” font used for the title of the snowflake on the
back, left me with an odd feeling of nostalgia for the
excitement I used to feel when the Rankin-Bass Rudolph
program would air during Christmastime.

I also loved the hilarious, slap-happy look on the
goofy Humpty Dumpty in Diane Greenseid’s Humpty Dumpty
Had a Great Fall, And A Great Winter, Too. The pun is
terrific, of course, but sillier still is seeing ol’
Humpty, grinning away in his Autumn-leaf-print coat,
enjoying the heck out of the fall season (as well as
the winter season on the back).

I love Rebecca Doughty’s work as it is, and her “Flake
with Holes,” featuring her signature enigmatic rabbits
poking their heads out of rabbit holes, does not
disappoint. It is one of the sort of “stark” ones
(“stark” in the very best sense of the word). I am
drawn to those the most, in some ways, maybe because
my own work never does end up looking that
mysteriously cool.

And finally, my all-time favorite would have to be
Mary Peterson’s “Snowy Snooze”: a really beautiful
painting of a red fox curled up with a white mouse (or
a white rabbit — forgive me again for not writing
this stuff down in the first place), sleeping in the
white snow. It conveys a message of holiday peace and
camaraderie, two things that Christmastime often seems
to lack. And what a beautiful design, to boot!

Again, all the snowflakes are just fantastic, and I
really do hope that they raise a ton of money for
cancer research, and that they are enjoyed by many.
My holiday wish for everyone is high-speed Internet
access, so you can view these as well as I did at the library!