RISD By Design 2013

The second weekend of October marked a very special event: RISD By Design, an annual alumni reunion and parents weekend occurring all over campus. The event coincided with RISD's Alumni and Student Art Sale, as well as numerous presentations, tours, open studios and receptions. Every year, RISD by Design offers a chance to reunite with old friends, make new ones, rediscover the campus, and realize just what makes RISD so special. Click on the photo above to see more of the festivities from RBD 2013, or hit this link to visit the RISD Alumni Flickr page.

This year, in addition to being one of the biggest events of my event coordination career, was also my 10-year college reunion.  I enjoyed a house full of friends and more than a few adventures to commemorate the occasion. I'm so proud to be part of the team that pulled this off, grateful, and honestly a little surprised to be exactly where I want to be with my life.

Thanks to all my friends who made it out here for the weekend, RISD Alumni Relations + Special Events for all their tireless work, & my bosses for loading me up with drink tickets at the alumni dinner!

Kidlit Salon: 2013 Exhibition

Thanks to Lin Norman-Lyman for the banner design!

Kidlit Salons are back, and you're invited to an opening reception of artwork by professional and aspiring children's book illustrators!

Kidlit Salon: 2013 Exhibition
Date: Friday, Sept. 20, 2013
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Place: The Olive Tap, 485 Angell Street, Providence, RI 02906

Participating artists include yours truly, Roxie Munro, Ernie D'Elia, Sheli Petersen, Lin Norman-Lyman, Gaia Cornwall, Michelle Martins, Russ Cox, Sharon Wagner, Tal Levitt, Cat Smith, Courtney Autumn Martin Peck, and Jennifer Marsh Morris. 

Light refreshments of wine, sangria, and tasty appetizers made with artisanal olive oils and vinegars from The Olive Tap will be provided - including a special Kidlit Salon-inspired non-alcoholic cocktail of my own creation!

Please RSVP on Facebook. The show will remain on view at The Olive Tap until mid-November. Thanks, and we hope to see you there!

NecronomiCon-Providence Recap

Photo of Big Nazo puppets by Asylum House Images.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending, volunteering, and vending at NecronomiCon, a fantastic convention honoring the life and work of H.P. Lovecraft. I met a ton of friendly people, watched some great panel discussions, and enjoyed one of the most unique events Providence has ever seen (can you say "Cthulhu-themed Waterfire?")!

The reception of The Antarctic Express, a Lovecraftian children's book I illustrated, was beyond anything I was anticipating. I completely sold out after only a few hours! There was a constant stream of folks coming up to my table, grinning wildly about the concept. Fearless parents bought copies for their kids; subversive aunties and uncles bought copies to scare wee nieces and nephews (I can relate to that!). Others were on a mission to own everything ever made by author Ken Hite. This is a book that confounds most mainstream kidlit folks, but at NecronomiCon it was at home.

Without a doubt, this was one of the best conferences I've ever attended. I look forward to the 2015 NecronomiCon with much excitement - and armed with more books! In the meantime, I recommend everyone check out fabulous NecronomiCon photos over on the Asylum House Images Facebook page.

Happy Birthday, H.P. Lovecraft!

Providence is getting pretty pumped for this week's celebration of H.P. Lovecraft, NecronomiCon! It's going to be an event of truly cosmic proportions, with lectures, film screenings, art shows, a masquerade, and even a bazaar where yours truly will be selling autographed copies of The Antarctic Express, all to celebrate the "Old Man of Providence!"

The Antarctic Express Book Sale/Signing at NecronomiCon
: Saturday, August 24th, 2013
Time: 9:30 a.m. until sold out
Place: The L'Apogee at the Biltmore Hotel, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI
Fee: Admission is free to all Necronomicon passholders.

For those of you who can't make it to this exciting conference, I'm holding an advance sale of The Antarctic Express - online until 8/24 - to celebrate Lovecraft's 123rd birthday! Order using Paypal below to get your autographed and inscribed copy ahead of the fans. This price includes tax and shipping, but only for buyers in the U.S.

The Antarctic Express

The Next Big Thing Blog Book Tour

Abby Murphy, one of my fabulous critique group buddies, tagged me for "The Next Big Thing" blog book tour. Illustrators and writers everywhere are blogging about their forthcoming publications or up-and-coming book projects. Today I'm going to post about A Charmed Life, the bilingual children's book I'm currently illustrating for Arte Público Press.

  1. What is the working title of your next book?
    A Charmed Life, written by Gladys E. Barbieri. This is her third book for children. She and I share the same middle name!
  2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
    I think Gladys based the story on an experience from her own childhood. My ideas for the illustrations are coming from photos and suggestions from the author, images that came to me while reading the manuscript, photo reference research, and my own thoughts as the daughter of a Mexican immigrant.
  3. What genre does your book fall under?
    It's a fictional, though very realistic, bilingual (Spanish and English) children's picture book.
  4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
    The story involves a little girl, her immigrant Latina mother, and her mother's employer, Mrs. Fitzpatrick. I love Selma Hayek and think she and her real-life daughter, Valentina, would be great to play the mother and main character. The mother doesn't actually get much dialogue in this story, but older readers will definitely pick up on her strength as a mom, her struggle to provide a better life for her daughter, and the sadness that any parent feels when they want to give their child everything but can't.
    Mrs. Fitzpatrick is in a late stage of pregnancy in this book, with all the hopes and dreams of raising a daughter of her own. As I sketch I'm spinning an additional narrative in my head where her pregnancy is actually very difficult and doing anything physical is risky, and that's why she hires the main character's mother to clean her house. I'd want a redhead who can portray sensitivity, warmth, and a sense of hope, so I'd cast Amy Adams.
  5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
    This story recounts a time when a young girl accompanies her mother to her job cleaning mansions in an upscale California neighborhood, and what happens when she meets the wealthy homeowner there.
  6. Who is publishing your book?
    My longtime publisher Arte Público Press. This will be my 6th book with them!
  7. How long did it take you to create the illustrations?
    I'm getting about a year to complete this book. They specifically requested that I paint this in my watercolor style so I'm definitely going to need ALL of that contracted time! A Charmed Life is scheduled to debut in the Spring of 2015.
  8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
    Since the story deals with the common immigrant issue of trying to provide a better life for one's family, I'd say it falls in with From North to South and My Shoes and I, both awesome bilingual books by René Colato Laínez.
  9. Who or what inspired you to illustrate this book?
    I found the story to be unlike anything I've been invited to illustrate before. It's a quiet sort of book, yet the topic speaks volumes. I'm also reminded of the sacrifices my parents made to provide my siblings and me with a better life than they had growing up. The mother in this story actually reminds me a lot of my own mother.
  10. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
    I live in a cozy New England home that reflects my rather spartan sense of home decorating, which is pretty far removed from the rich Beverly Hills mansion in which the book is set! I'm really scouring high-end home decorating catalogs for compositional ideas for interior scenes.

So there you have it! I hope you'll stay tuned for more updates on A Charmed Life in the months to come. Have a great week, everyone!

Major Updates!

Without meaning to, I've completely neglected my blog this summer. Recent events have reshaped my schedule and priorities, and I'm only just now able to wrap my mind around it all to craft a coherent post. 

Back in May my GI tract bailed on me without the decency of leaving a note. Months of appointments, tests, dietary restrictions, adverse reactions to medications, and a seemingly endless parade of medical bills have pretty much reduced me to this:

It will all be worth it once I reach a diagnosis and successful treatment, right? Right?!

There is a bright side, though! Around the same time some great opportunities came up for me. First, I was offered a position on a fabulous team that coordinates events for RISD's vast alumni network. It has been wonderful validation for years of volunteer experience with an organization that not only appreciates me, but also offers new challenges.

Later, I joined the staff at Studio Goodwin Sturges! Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges, owner and founder of the Studio, is one of my longtime mentors - I interned for her while a student at RISD and credit her with my decision to illustrate books for children. As a member of her team I'm critiquing artwork, reading manuscripts, promoting her authors and illustrators and coordinating the studio. The experience offers fresh and welcome perspective as "the other side" of the publishing industry, all very useful information as I continue to grow my own list of publishing credits and my mentoring and critique service for aspiring authors and illustrators.

Finally, I'm very pleased to announce that I'll be illustrating another bilingual children's picture book with Arte Público Press! A Charmed Life, written by Gladys E. Barbieri, will hit the shelves in 2015. My work has been quick, digital-heavy illustrations and design for the last year and it feels great to get back into traditional watercolor painting for this project. I'm looking forward to sharing my progress on this book with you!

Here's to covering a few more medical bills!

Have a great week, everyone!

NESCBWI 2013 Conference Recap

I presented a workshop at the NESCBWI Regional Conference this past Saturday, moderating a panel of art directors during an anonymous illustrator's critique. The following gifs serve both as my recap and commentary of my Conference experience.

When I met my amazing panel of art directors:

Finishing my workshop with only a few snags and having no one come at me with pitchforks and torches afterwards:

When I got to the Conference bookstore:

When I saw so many illustrator friends at the Portfolio Showcase:

This year my longtime friend Matthew Althof joined me for his first conference ever. By the end of the day we were both like this:

See you at the hotel bar!

Adelita and the Veggie Cousins Fan Art

These adorable drawings arrived in the mail recently: 

It took me awhile to tell what these were (my first guess was pickles), but then I recognized them with delight: calabacitas! Calabacitas are a type of squash and prominently featured in Adelita and the Veggie Cousins / Adelita y las primas verduritas. I gifted these two artists, nephews of my very good friend, with a copy of the book when I met them during a fabulous vacation in New Hampshire last summer. Both their Dad and their Uncle Matt were painted into the book as children, thanks to some great photographic reference loaned from the family.

Getting fan art, letters, and notes from kids is the best part of this job! Thank you, Alex and Eliot, for bringing a smile to my face! 

Live: My Post for Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros Blog Hop

I hope you've all been reading and commenting along with the Latinas 4 Latino Lit Día Blog Hop!

Head on over to Growing Up Blackxican to read my entry in this series: Encouraging Early Childhood Literacy in the Latino Household, where I relate the vital role my multicultural parents had in the development of my love of reading, books, and eventual career as a children's book illustrator.

Comment to enter the amazing Grand Giveaway of more than 30 Latino children's books for your school or library. Thanks and happy reading!

Día de los niños / Día de los libros Annual Sale

For my beloved educators: April 30th is Día de los niños / Día de los libros and a great chance to celebrate children's literacy at a great price! Pick up any of the bilingual books I've illustrated, as well as other fantastic titles, straight from Arte Público Press at 50% off (!). Click here to shop my booklist and be sure to use the coupon code below:

Dia logo
Save 50%

This special offer is good on books ordered before April 30, 2013, for events celebrating El día de los niños / El día de los libros. Visit our online catalog at www.artepublicopress.com. Fax your order to (713) 743-2847 or e-mail your order to bkorders@uh.edu


People all over the country are celebrating Día de los niños / Día de los libros, Children's Day / Book Day. Click on the links below for founder Pat Mora's guides and resources for creating your a memorable Día event in your community! 

Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros Blog Hop Kickoff

 Promo image for Latinas for Latino Literature Blog Hop.

The Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros Blog Hop has kicked off! Follow the calendar of entries below to join in this exciting celebration of Latino children's literature (and please note my post on April 20th)!

Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros Blog Hop:

April 10th - Pat Mora on Latinas 4 Latino Lit
April 11th - Alma Flor Ada on All of Me...Now
April 12th - Margarita Engle on The Wise Latina Club
April 13th - F. Isabel Campoy on Autism Wonderland
April 14th - Joe Cepeda on Mommy Maestra
April 15th - Lulu Delacre on Modern Mami
April 16th - Jorge Argueta on Sweet Life Bake
April 17th - René Colato-Laínez on Latinaish
April 18th - Amy Costales on Mami's Time Out
April 19th - Monica Brown on New Latina
April 20th - Christina Rodriguez on Growing Up Blackxican
April 21st - James Luna on De Su Mama
April 22nd - Brian Amador on Moms LA
April 23rd - Mara Price on Mama Latina Tips
April 24th - Jeff Zorilla on Multicultural Familia
April 25th - John Parra on Mami Talks
April 26th - Duncan Tonatiuh on Spanglish Baby
April 27th - René Saldaña on Living Mi Vida Loca
April 28th - Eric Gonzalez on Unknown Mami
April 29th - Irania Patterson on The Domestic Buzz

Remember to comment on any or all posts to enter the Grand Giveaway! On Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros, a collection of 25(!) books of Latino children's literature will be awarded to a commenter for their local school or library.

Have fun and happy reading!

Drawn to Spring 2013 Recap

This past weekend marked another successful Kid Lit Salon event: Drawn to Spring! Several friends and I explored the offerings of the Harvard Museum of Natural History - and then later, the offerings of John Harvard's Brewery. We sketched life-size animal models and taxidermy specimens, chatted and caught up with one another, and then shared the morning's work over a meal. This was my first time visiting that particular museum and I could've easily spent several more hours there! We are definitely doing this event again in the future.

Huge thanks Jason Hart of Raspberry Productions for providing the idea and event logo, all of the talented New England illustrator-writers for attending, and my friend Diane for watching all my resident animals so my husband and I could make this day trip to Boston.

Stay tuned for more Kid Lit Salon events in the coming months! Send me an e-mail or connect with me on Facebook if you'd like to be on the mailing list.

Día de los Niños / Día de los Libros Blog Hop

I've been invited to participate in a fun Latino children's book-themed online event next week: a "Blog Hop" to celebrate Día de los Niños / Día de los Libros.

Sponsored by Latinas4LatinoLit.org and kicking off on April 10th, 20 Latino authors and illustrators will be featured on a different Latino blog each day. There are some fabulous storytellers involved, including Pat Mora, Alma Flor Ada, René Colato-Laínez, Joe Cepeda, and James Luna, and an accomplished group of Latina bloggers.

I'm very excited to be a part of this! Join me on Ruby's blog on April 20th, 2013 as we celebrate growing up bicultural in a military family and the important role of parents in the development of early childhood literacy.

This is also a great opportunity to benefit readers in your community! At the end of the hop on April 30th, Día de los Niños / Día de los Libros, a Grand Giveaway package consisting of a collection of Latino children's literature will be awarded to a commenter for their local school or library. Comment on any (or all!) of the blog posts to enter. It seems that now more than ever, communities everywhere need these books!

Check back soon for the official kick-off post and links.

Technical Difficulties

Happy April, everybody! It’s crazy that we’re a quarter of the way through 2013 already – where did the time go? At any rate, I’ve been steadily bringing a brand-new look to my website behind-the-scenes and hope debut it before half the freakin’ year goes by. I’ve got a lot of changes to make, but I’m excited about them. Wish me luck!

Drawn to Spring 2013

Event logo by Jason Hart.

Celebrate spring with children's book writers and illustrators at a field trip to The Harvard Museum of Natural History! We’re going to spend the morning gathering inspiration from the best scientific displays and natural exhibits that the museum has to offer. All are welcome to explore with new sketches, write a children’s poem, develop a character or story idea, research a scene, or experiment with creative techniques. Look closer and dig deeper into your imagination!

Kidlit Salon: Drawn to Spring
Date: Saturday, April 6, 2013
Time: 10:00 a.m. to noon
Place: The Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA
Fee: Free to join with $12 admission to the museum.

Meet at the Oxford Street Entrance at 10 a.m. The group will explore the museum until noon, and afterwards will convene at John Harvard's Brewery (33 Dunster St.) for a drink and to show each other our work. This is a great chance to mingle with some of your fellow kidlit enthusiasts!

To register, go to drawntospring2013.eventbrite.com or use the form below:


Things I Saw This Week: Book Sculptures

Using books as sculpture materials seems to be all the rage these days. I LOVE the delicious new forms that are created but a part of me also tears up a little at the almost sacrilegious destruction of the books themselves (sacrilege + delicious - does that make them "sacrilicious"?). But most people would just consider them "repurposed," and they are art no matter what.

I like Isaac G. Salazar's almost ironic message:

Guy Laramee makes Lilliputian landscapes with his books: 


Alexander Korzer-Robinson cuts out the words in antiquarian books (controversial since some volumes are nearly 150 years old), leaving only the gorgeous illustrations between the covers:

Maria Popova's work is fueled by classic children's literature:

Jodi Harvey-Brown makes Harry Potter out of Harry Potter:
Seems like a great medium worth exploring (just please refrain from using any of my books for the time being)! You can purchase a plethora of neat book sculptures on Etsy.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Live Animal Study 2013 Recap

February weather didn’t put a damper on the fun that was had at Live Animal Study this past Saturday! A group of local children's book illustrators joined humane educator Laurelin Sitterly to study both live and taxidermy animals at RISD's famous Nature Lab. This was the second year Laurelin and I have collaborated on this workshop, and thanks to our generous attendees we’ve raised several hundred dollars in donations for the RISPCA!

My favorite highlight of the day: having Shelldon, the baby sulcata tortoise I fostered, as a model this year! He has probably tripled in size since he was adopted last fall and is quite the handsome and hefty boy! I’m so grateful to his adopted family for taking such wonderful care of him.

Laurelin is not only a rockstar in educating people on animal behavior, anatomy, and husbandry, but she’s also a super-talented illustrator. You can check out her amazing animal-themed artwork over at Blockhead Craftwerks.

Special thanks to RISD for letting us use the space, Jesse Smolover for volunteering as our “roadie,” and Renee Kurilla and Laurelin for all the great photos:

Valentine's Day Book Sale

Do you LOVE books? Well, the fine folks at Arte Publico Press sure do, and they're proving their love with a book sale!

Save 35%

Enjoy 35% off when you buy books from www.artepublicopress.com now until February 25, 2013. Just enter coupon code ILOVEBOOKS at the end of the check-out process and enjoy!

Bilingual picture books illustrated by Christina Rodriguez.

You can now pick up any of the bilingual books I've illustrated at the best price anywhere! Click here to shop my booklist. Be sure to check out their entire catalog, too!

Happy Valentine's Day!

First Look: Your Single Best Piece Critiqued

Banner for First Look by Christina Rodriguez.

Registration opens this morning for a fun panel I'm moderating at the upcoming NESCBWI Regional Conference:

First Look: Your Single Best Piece Critiqued
Date: Saturday, May 4, 2013
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 2:55 p.m.
Place: Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place, Springfield, MA
Fee: Included with Saturday's Conference registration

Ever wonder what that art director thinks when your promotional postcard crosses their desk? Watch as an experienced panel of industry professionals share their first impressions of artwork submitted by conference attendees. All submissions are kept anonymous, so you can secretly take in compliments, constructive criticism, and see how your single best piece stacks up against your peers' in a theatre-style critique setting. Panel moderated by Christina Rodriguez.

Participants will walk away from the event with:

  • A beneficial peek at the work of other illustrators, including their artistic triumphs and mistakes.
  • Insight from a panel of professionals in the industry as they quickly critique a range of styles and illustrations.
Only attendees who register for the workshop can submit an image for consideration. Once you have confirmation of your Conference registration, e-mail 1 (one) image to mail (at) christinarodriguez (dot) com:
  • Image format: JPG
  • Resolution: 150dpi
  • Maximum image size: 1 MB
  • Artist's name is to appear NOWHERE on the artwork.
  • Deadline for all images: April 17, 2013

The images will be compiled into a randomized slideshow to be displayed in front of the panel and audience. Each image will get between 1-3 minutes of critique by the panel (as time & number of entries permit), and I will be auditing for time and guiding discussion as needed.

Please contact me with questions and be sure to register for this workshop at the Conference. Good luck!

Providence Kidlit Salon Recap

Business cards from the first-ever Providence Kidlit Salon.

Thanks to everyone who made it out to last week's first-ever Providence Kidlit Salon! A sizable group of 16 people convened in the lovely upstairs lounge of The Dorrance to chat about books and the children's publishing industry. Attendees included authors, illustrators, and graphic designers from a variety of backgrounds, all coming together for a rare networking opportunity.

Discussion varied over the two-hour roundtable, but several topics were raised, including:

  • Kickstarter as a publishing platform
  • Self-publishing pitfalls and recommendations
  • Celebrity Books, yay or nay?
  • Book design woes
  • Wacom Inkling and other digital art tools
  • Critique groups: what works and why
  • The influence of animation in children's books

The casual, free-form style of discussion, combined with the relaxing atmosphere of The Dorrance, made for a great January get-together. New England illustrators are set to convene again in February for the second-annual Live Animal Study sketching event at RISD's Nature Lab. The workshop filled up in just over a day, but if you'd like to be added to the waitlist please do so here.

I hope to continue coordinating events for area authors and illustrators this year! If you would like to notified of future workshops, field trips, and networking events, please send me an e-mail or message me on Facebook and I'll add you to the mailing list.