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My New Studio

by abby on May 16, 2016 | Comment

children's book designer's office with bookcases

Happy Spring to all! It’s been a busy last few months. D and I bought a house! (Eeeeeeee!)So our hands and minds have been very busy settling into our new home. I’ve also been creating a new studio.

This studio space wasn’t just going to be “good enough” or “yeah that’s OK”. NO! This one was going to to hit a few of my dream check list items. What items, you might say? Well, first colorful walls, then white bookcases that fill entire wall, and third let’s have a window seat to dream up big ideas. Check, check, check!

The renovation started with refinishing the wood floors, painting all the walls and built-in bookcases to brighten up the space. Yesterday afternoon, I finally found the time to empty out 15 boxes of books to fill my bookshelves with books: that I’ve designed, books I admire, and books that inspire. I also added in pieces of my own artwork and little touches of photos and collectibles that make me smile.

children's book designer's bookshelves

When everything was in it’s place and the boxes were are gone. I toasted the new space with a glass of champagne. Here’s to dreams coming true!

Art Girls’ Road Trip

by abby on March 8, 2016 | Comment

Eric Carle workshop
{Painted tissue paper that our workshop created}

Artists need artists. Last weekend, myself and 3 other wonderful creative ladies took a road trip to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Northhampton, MA!

Our goal was 2-fold: The first goal was to visit this museum whose intention is to share the beauty of the artwork of illustrators of children’s picture books. Carle and his late wife, Barbara, said it best themselves with this quote on the wall when you enter the museum:quote from Eric carle at Picture Book art museum

The second goal of this trip was to take a workshop where we would practice the technique of painting tissue paper to create our own textures in the same manner that Carle uses to create his own art. The art studio was a lovely room with an entire wall of windows. Half the room is open for children and families to come and create artwork all day long. We had a few short leg visitors wander over to our painting tables while we created.

Art Studio at Eric Carle Picture book art museum
{The wall of natural light in the art studio}

art studio
{I adore the twig alphabet in the art studio}

We had an hour to create several patterned tissue papers. There were no rules, it all happened quickly. The decision making of layering the paint was a bit intense, but also therapeutic since you had to make the choice and then move on. We evened listened to classical music, just as Carle does when he creates.

Once the papers were all dry, each participant selected 9 pieces of textured paper to create a hanging window shade. Here are my papers and my final window shade:

pained paper from workshop at Eric Carle Museum

Abby with her painted paper window shade

After the workshop we toured the gallery which had a fun A to Z exhibit of Eric Carle’s collages that described his life. Did you know he as born in Syracuse, NY?! I enjoyed seeing the illustrations in person. In books there’s a separation from the art, but when viewing the art in a gallery you could see the human hand again in the illustrations.

Abby and Kari
{As you can see, my friend, Kari, and I are all smiles!}

Overall, I was delighted to visit this museum and check The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art off my “to-do trip list”. I know I shall be back this Fall for the Robert McCloskey show (think Make Way for Ducklings). It was a happy, art filled road trip with a great group of gals.

The Pages Between Us-Part 2

by abby on February 9, 2016 | Comment

interior book design and artwork by Abby Dening
{I designed the interior of this book and created the interior artwork, too}

It’s today! It’s today! The Pages Between Us officially publishes today. Eeeeee!

This morning, I headed over to my local bookstore and found it on the shelf. It also never gets old to actually hold a book in my hand that I helped to create. It feels like seeing an old friend after several months.

This publication is even more special because I was able to contribute illustrations within the book. Wanna sneak peek at the inside? You got it!

The book design is a combination of set novel type and handwriting along with taped in pieces of paper. Like this:


Along with those notes and narrative text the girls have doodled in the book. Here are some of my interior illustrations:

interior art for The Pages Between Us

interior line drawing in middle grade novel by Abby Dening

There are more illustrations, but I do want you to pick up the book and see the rest in context. I think it’s a good sign when your own artwork still makes you grin.

I’m so proud of the design and artwork in this middle grade novel. I was even genuinely surprised that during a book review I was mentioned by name!

I hope you will take a look at the book for yourself. It would make a wonderful gift for a girl from 7-12 years old.


Don’t Call it a Dream, Call it a Plan

by abby on February 5, 2016 | Comment

Abby Dening's drawing table covered with sketches and text for her picture book {My drawing table with my picture book in the works!}

I found this quote yesterday: “Don’t Call it a Dream, Call it a Plan”. I’m in love with it! This quote is exactly what I need as my motto for 2016. Does this phrase motivate you too?

I’m a natural planner and goal setter, because I like to see where I’m heading. I also like to break down a larger goals into manageable steps. I can see my progress and have small successes along the way. I’m using this strategy for a personal dream.

Over the past few years, when I’ve had some time, I’ve been working on writing and illustrating a picture book of my own. But 2016 is the year, where I’m making this a priority! No more dreams. Now this is a goal with a plan.

Anna from Anna's Big Idea
An Anna, the main character, sketch testing out how she would look afraid.

In the last month I’ve sat down more often to work on this project than I did all of last year. I’m working on text and images all at once since picture books are so intertwined. I have a rough draft and I’m storyboarding right now. Amazing! Let’s hope this motivation stays with me.

Do you have a dream that you are turning into a plan this year?

The Pages Between Us

by abby on January 25, 2016 | Comment

book design and interior illustrations by Abby Dening {I designed this book and created the interior illustrations}

I couldn’t contain myself any longer. I have something fun to share with you today! In about 2 weeks, a book that I designed AND (AND!) illustrated is being published by HarperCollins! The book is a middle grade novel, called: The Pages Between Us.

This book is so cool in story and in book concept. The narrative is told through a collection of notes and doodles between 2 best friends, Piper and Olivia, as if they were written in a notebook the girls pass back and forth. There are handwritten text elements and pages of: flyers, homework assignments, notes to boys, invitations that appear to be taped into this notebook. It’s a very visual novel! The big question of the story is if these two friends can wade through the tricky waters of 6th grade without loosing their friendship.

This project was a challenge, but I was am so proud of the final result. I designed the interior layout, designed and created all the extra taped in paper elements, AND illustrated the 2 girls’ drawings. What fun it was to sculpt this book!

The Pages Between Us officially publishes on 2/9/16. As soon as it’s out in print and ebook I’ll share some interior images of the book with you, too. I hope you will see this book for yourself!

A Book is a Dream

by abby on December 31, 2015 | Comment

Niel Gaiman quote on books

Well, we made it to the last day of 2015 and I thought I’d end with this fabulous quote I came across this month on a holiday visit to NYC. Don’t you just love this Niel Gaiman quote: “A book is a dream you hold in your hand.”

It hits home for readers, but also for the people who make books: authors, illustrators, editors, art directors, and book designers. I’m so grateful to be in an industry where we can inspire, educate, and provide joy to others.

I want to take a moment and thank you for all your support in 2015 and wish you a very Happy New Year!

Children’s Print Sale!

by abby on December 11, 2015 | Comment

get a free matte on selected art prints at AbbyDora Design's Etsy Shop

Happy Friday!

I’m spreading the holiday spirit this weekend by offering a deal on selected children’s art prints!

Now until SUNDAY DEC. 13, selected prints will come with a FREE WHITE MATTE when purchased through our Etsy Shop!

I’ve created a separate Shop Section to house these special prints.

sale at Etsy Shoppe for AbbyDora Design, children's art

Here are the details:
To get the special free matte, you do need to order directly through Etsy and have it shipped to you (but this means a present is delivered to your doorstep, less work!).

Also, not all print sizes are available for the special matte deal, so please read the descriptions carefully when you click on an item.

Quantities are limited. Shop Now!

This special holiday sale ends at 11pm EST on Sunday December 13th, 2015.

#EtsyGifts Promo Help

by abby on December 4, 2015 | Comment

cake baker bunny hug artwork

This holiday season Etsy has offered a free gift promo app that builds an instance gift ad for its store owners. Cool, right?! I’ve tried it and started to share these images on the AbbyDora Design Facebook page. Here’s where I need your help!

Will you be a holiday elf and help spread the word about my artwork on Facebook? Sharing any of the #EtsyGift ads or artwork posts would be simply awesome.

I am so grateful to you all for your constant love and support. Big hug!

The Lightning Queen-New on Shelves

by abby on November 3, 2015 | Comment

middle grade book designed by Abby Dening
{Title Page with front cover reference}

I’m very proud to be sharing this interior book design with you all. It’s a work of love! THE LIGHTNING QUEEN by Laura Resau was published last week by Scholastic. It’s a beautiful story and I wanted it to have an equally beautiful interior book design.

middle grade fiction book designed by AbbyDora Design
{Part Section Opener}

The story takes place in an area called the Hill of Dust in the remote Mexican mountains. There’s an emphasis on the dry, rural aspect to Teo’s village. I visually wanted to reference this dust on the title page and on these part openers. I used layers of scanned dry media textures, like chalk and crayon, to create the designs. Part of the story is also flash back to a “long, long time ago”, so the interior design also has an aged quality to it with hand-drawn elements.

AbbyDora Design created this chapter opener
{Chapter Opener}

Life is quiet for Teo until Esma, The Lightening Queen, comes to town with a group of gyspsies. The Mistress of Destiny predicts that Esma and Teo will become life long friends against all the odds and dangers. Their story spans across generations and will take the help of Teo’s grandson, Mateo, in the end to fulfill their destiny.

Ooooooo…sounds good, right? Happy reading!

National Color Day

by abby on October 22, 2015 | Comment

oct 22nd is national color day
{My watercolor palette}

Happy National Color Day, everyone! Did you know about this holiday? I just discovered it and I will now be marking my calendar. One more reason to LOVE the month of October!

In honor of this special day, I’m sharing another colorful watercolor sketch I did while on our first day in Paris.

watercolor sketch of carousel in Paris

Behind the Eiffel Tower is a lovely small carousel. It was a sunny day and there were lots of children scrambling on and off. This little sketch is certainly a celebration of color!

How will YOU be celebrating color today?