Sunday, December 20, 2015

Gecko sketches

© Sylvia Liu

Working on my gecko characters in PIRATE PARROTS.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Another Shark Snippet Plus A Deck of Cards Challenge

© Sylvia Liu

A snippet from the second infographic, on the oceanic white tip shark.

Also, here's my new thought for 2016: at least once a week, I would like to come up with an image that can be part of playing card (like queen of hearts, two of spades, etc). At the end of the year, I'll have enough images for a full deck. I'd like to stick to a theme, at least for each suit, like birds, sea creatures, cephalopods, or imagery from one of my stories.

What do you think? Any interest in adding this to your list of illustration challenges?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Another Pirate Parrot Illustration

© Sylvia Liu
Here's another pirate parrot illustration - will work on some feedback I got on it, but putting this up for now.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Gold Copper Dragon Stamp Effect

© Sylvia Liu

I've been experimenting with creating textures and came up with this stamp-like effect of a dragon, that I will overlay onto a dragon I am working on. I forget how fun Photoshop can be.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

Porbeagle Shark Image

© Sylvia Liu
Working on an Oceana infographic about sharks. This is a porbeagle. Playing around in Illustrator and figuring things out very slowly.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Goodies

© Sylvia Liu

Sarah's Brushetta Option 1
Sarah's Brushetta Option 2
Sarah's Bruschetta Option 3

The first three dishes were Sarah's creations for lunch. She experimented with three different toppings for bruschetta, onions/orange juice, onions/garlic, and onion/garlic/tomatoes.  The rest was our Thanksgiving fixings (a 21 lb turkey for 6 people, because, leftovers).

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Two and a Half Pies

two apple pies

half-made squash pie

Yesterday my in-laws came to town for Grandparent's Day at the girls' school, and for Thanksgiving. Today the girls had half a day of school and we relaxed the rest of the day, baking pies and playing games. It's only six of us eating tomorrow, but we needed an apple pie and a squash pie (that is a vegetable dish but is as sweet as dessert). The squash pie is not finished - it needs the brown sugar/cinammon/flour/butter topping, which is added after the pie bakes long enough to harden the filling. I will add the topping and finish baking it tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Free Set of Notecards for Email Subscribers

I'm giving a set of free notecards to my email subscribers (up to the first dozen who reply to the welcome email). Your choice between the penguins, or the sea creatures. (You can see them in more detail in my Etsy shop).

My newsletter will give you news about my art and my forthcoming picture book, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low, May 2016). So please feel free to sign up:

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Monday, November 23, 2015


I forgot to take pictures of these as they were nicely plated so this is leftovers at the end of the meal. I made my usual chicken stir fry and then tried a steamed pork coated with rice flour, a dish my mom always makes and that I never tried before.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pagoda T-Shirt Designs

© Sylvia Liu

© Sylvia Liu

I am designing a t-shirt for my tai chi class and this is one of the ideas, in two colors. The other idea is a bunch of lanterns, which I'll post tomorrow.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Little Red Riding Hood - In Progress

© Sylvia Liu
Starting to add color to the piece. My sketch of the wolf is slightly different too (head size & tail shape). I told myself I'd stop at lunch because I have another project with a deadline to work on, so onto the next for the day...

Friday, November 6, 2015

Apple Doodles

© Sylvia Liu
I signed up for a free graphic design course (Fundamentals of Graphic Design at California Institute of Arts) and the first set of lessons was about denotative work (fancy term for drawing things as they are). Basically, the idea is to draw something in as many different ways as possible, and just play. I did this for an apple while watching the video, using items within reach, a pen, pencil and highlighter, on Post-It notes.

It's quite interesting, but now there is an assignment to turn in, and I'm not sure I will have time to do it.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wolf and Red Sketches

© Sylvia Liu
Still thumb nailing ideas for the Tomie de Paola contest.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Mapping my Pirate Story

After I came back from the Better Books Marin workshop, I took Emma Dryden's advice to map out my story with post-it notes. Here, each note represents a different chapter, and the colors are different POVs (Dark pink and light pink are the two main protagonists, and yellow was neutral or a third POV).

It was such a useful exercise, because I could tell at a glance that there was no rhyme or reason for the POVs. Now I know how to fix that issue of inconsistently jumping around in POVs.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Sketch from Earthrise Retreat Petaluma, CA

© Sylvia Liu

A sketch I did while chatting with my friend Teresa Robeson. We're at the Better Books Marin conference, an MG/YA workshop that is amazing. We're near Petaluma, CA, north of Marin County in the Bay Area and it's very beautiful. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Apple Pie

Traveling Mom Tip: When you go away for a five day conference, bake an apple pie so your kids can have an easy breakfast every day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Grandmother's Watercolors

I'm cheating today, because I'm posting my grandmother's art. To read more about it, check out my blog post on my regular blog, Sylvia Liu Land, My Grandmother's Watercolors.

Monday, October 19, 2015

More Kids' Hot Air Balloons

Continuing with the never-ending hot air balloon crafts at my kids' school, I helped the first graders make these paper hot air balloons, and also did two more sessions with 5th and 6th graders on theirs.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Balloons Hanging in the Library

A few of the balloons that the kids did with me that we hung up in the library.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

More Crafty Balloons

Spent some time making decorative hot air balloons, to give ideas for sixth and fifth graders at my girls' school to make their own balloons. I also went into the first grade class and helped them make a different version of the balloons. I'll post a picture soon.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Bookstore Display

I made this display for the girls' school's bookstore. They're selling David Schwartz books in advance of his author visit in a couple of weeks. For some reason, I had a really hard time getting that bunting effect. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015


© Sylvia Liu
The NY Times Sunday magazine has a little feature that I enjoy, which is a column that teaches you how to do some random thing. One of my favorites was How to Fake a British Accent. This weekend's was How to Design a Font, which prompted me to doodle this.

Monday, October 5, 2015

#Inktober - Brush and Ink Smoke Pals

© Sylvia Liu
I spent an afternoon this weekend working at a bingo hall and inhaled about a pack's worth of cigarettes.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bulletin Boards

Helping decorate the kids' school library in preparation for an author visit with David Schwartz. Some of his books have parachutes in them, so we are using them as a theme. The baskets have covers of his books. His latest one sounds pretty fun, which covers the life cycle of a rotting pumpkin:

Each of the grades of the lower school have carved pumpkins that they are leaving out to rot as part of an experiment.