Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Not so creepy anymore!

Here is the completed watercolor painting of my son, Alex. This is the end result of the eyes that I showed a few posts ago. I love doing these portraits. I think that sometimes people are surprised (shocked, astounded, aghast?) at how much I charge for these.
I'd like to take a moment to point out that this took me weeks to do. And, in fact, my prices are actually lower than many portrait artists I've seen out there.
I'd love to do more of these portraits in the future and I know you'd love a picture like this hanging on your wall. Or perhaps laminated and used as a placemat?
How cool would that be? There's more information on my website. Go check it out. You know you want to...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Or even some really scary kids.

Part of my job as a really, really famous author is to go visit schools and talk about being a really, really famous author. My brother has helpfully pointed out to me that I make more money talking about what I do than doing what I do. To extrapolate on that theme yields the result that talking about what I do is doing what I do. I don't know where that would leave the writing and the artwork, so I prefer not to wander down that dark mental alley.

Visiting schools is always a lot of fun for me. I get a chance to show people how I write my books and how I create the artwork that goes into them. Sometimes I do writing workshops with students and teachers. I love those because I get to share my passion for writing and I don't have to correct any papers after.
I also get a chance to answer questions.
That's when things get really thrilling. Especially when I visit a kindergarten class.
I usually don't have kindergarten come to my presentations, but occasionally, I will go to their classes and read a couple of books to them.
Then I ask if they have any questions.
They always do. Here are a few of my recent favorite kindergarten questions:

"I go to bed at 7,  but sometimes I eat Pop-Tarts for dinner."

"My father works in Boston."

"I love you. What's your name?"

"When is snack?"

And, my all time favorite question asked by a kindergartener:

"Do all wrestlers drive trucks?"

"You bet they do," I told him, "Big red ones. With thumping stereos and giant tires."


He was happy. And I presume I'll see him in the ring some day, sweating and grunting and throwing his opponent around before he drives home in his shiny, red truck.

My first job out of college, with a teaching degree clutched tightly in my hand, was as a kindergarten teacher. It was a summer program and I was able to last for almost a whole month before I teetered dangerously close to the cliff of insanity. I was obviously not built for kindergarten in large doses. I love visiting their classes now, though. Because I know that, no matter how scary those kindergarteners might be, I can visit with them, make them laugh, and then escape!

Typically, I find that things go very well with the older kids, too. Even the ones who start out being too cool to listen to a lame-o picture book writer usually have a very good time in my presentations. Possibly because I remind them frequently that they are out of class and not currently taking a math test.  That makes me look cool to them.
Either that or my shiny red truck.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Or A Horse. A really, really scary horse.

You passionate, devoted followers of my blog (I'm sure there are millions of you) know that I did a portrait of my neighbor's daughter in exchange for a really cool go-kart for my son. Actually, as a funny side note, I get lots of people coming to my blog because of the label "really cool go-kart". Imagine how disappointed those poor people must be.
"Hey!" They cry, their eyes welling with unshed tears, "This blog isn't about really cool go karts! It's not about go karts at all! I've been lied to!"

Just to keep it interesting, I think I will label this post with the  go-kart tag. It will be fun to see if they come back.

"Ah Ha!" they will say, licking their lips in anticipation of finding out about really cool go-karts, "Now we're talking... What?!? Again!?! AAAAAARRRRRRRHHHHHHGGGGGGG!"

But then they will look more closely and they will see that there is more to life than really cool go-karts. There is more to life than even lame go-karts.

There are horses!

Personally–and please don't get all up in my face about this– personally, I'm not a big horse fan. Honestly, they frighten me. Horses are big and powerful and could, should the mood strike them, stomple me to a pudding and eat me.

I have been assured by many people that horses will not eat me (nobody, I note, has assured me that horses won't stomple me into a sort of lumpy Marty-jelly). And I reply that just because it hasn't happened before in the entire history of human experience, does not mean that it won't happen now. New, unprecedented things are happening all the time. And when the first horse decides to eat its first person, I do not intend to be among those present.

Which leads me to my daughter, who loves horses and is among those at the forefront of the movement to convince me that horses are peaceful, Gandhi-like creatures who would never, even for a moment, consider eating me.

Possibly because I'm too gristly.

My daughter takes horse riding lessons from my neighbor at Toad Hill Farm and is entirely, clinically loony about horses. Something, I'm afraid we will never see eye to eye about. And speaking of eyes, have you ever seen a horse's eye? They are huge and frightening and always seem to be looking at me with an aim toward deciding just how I might taste. Perhaps with some barbecue sauce.

I have also had my parenting skills called into question about this. "So," my sharp-tongued friends will say, "You think horses are these terrifying, death-dealing monsters, yet you allow your fragile, sweet eight-year-old daughter to ride them?"

"Sure." I reply.

And why not? I'm the one that's terrified of them. Not her. If she wants to risk her life riding one of those slavering man-eating monsters of the pasture, then good for her.

To that end, the same neighbor who traded the terribly dangerous go-kart for a portrait of her daughter has also agreed to allow my daughter to pet, care for, and ride the dangerous horses that swarm over her entire farm like... like... evil swarming horses.

So that's why I had to do another portrait. At the top of the post is my most recent portrait, created in exchange for a chance for my daughter will be allowed to continue risking life and limb with these terrifying land sharks of doom.

Yee Haw!, Tori.  Have fun.

I'll be waiting at home.

Under the bed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Hope you didn't already get that tattoo...
I'll be speaking at The Keene State Children's Literature Festival on OCTOBER 30th next year.
Not November 30th.

I seem to be calendar disabled lately.

If you already got my name and the wrong date tattooed on your forehead, I'll consider still giving you the free books I promised in that previous post.

We'll see.

I'll also be posting some ideas for the Marty Kelley tattoo contest very soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Just a quick posting. This is a watercolor portrait I'm starting of my son. I tried painting just the eyes first. I don't normally work that way, but it seemed like it might be fun to try. It looks really creepy with only eyes finished.

So. Yeah. That's it. Just wanted to share.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Wanna hear something really cool?
Seriously super cool?
You do, don't you?
You might want to sit down for this.
If you are sitting down, stand up and sit down again.
Really. Do it.
It's that cool.

It's official. I'm going to be a presenter at the Keene State Children's Literature Festival next year.
How cool is that?
(Answer: Super Rockin' Cool!)

Every year David White puts together an incredible festival with presentations from some of the best known authors and illustrators in the world: Caldecott winners; Newbery Award winners; and other various hotshots who have won big awards. So why was I chosen to be a presenter, you ask?

I have no idea.

But that's not the point. The point is, I was!


Other presenters next year will be : Susan Cooper, Paul B. Janeczko, Chris Raschka, and Jeanette Winter.

At the risk of sounding like a pathetic sycophant, I have dreamed of presenting at this festival ever since I attended my first one a dozen years ago. Now I have that chance!

Mark your calendar for October 30th next year. In fact, go out and get a tattoo on your forehead with that date on it. While you're at it, get my name and a picture of me tattooed there, too.

And because I'm so excited about this, I'll make a special offer. Anyone who shows up at the Literature Festival next year with a genuine, real-life Marty Kelley tattoo (no, scrawling my name across your ankle in magic marker does not count, smart guy; I'm talking about a real tattoo) will get a free autographed set of my books and a free copy of each of my future books. If your tattoo is cool enough, I'll put you in one of my books.

Come on. You know you want to.

So go. Now. Get a rockin' Marty Kelley tattoo and then go register for the festival.

I'll be looking for you.

Ahhh, and, in case you were wondering, the owl painting up top was donated to the Keene State Literature Festival's owl collection. It's hanging as part of a permanent collection of owls donated by some of the greatest illustrators in the world. Like me!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Now they are Famous

Hooray, Hooray, Hooray!
As announced in a much awaited previous post, the winners of the "Gee Your Hair Looks Terrific, Marty Kelley Contest" were Oliver and Olivia.
That was a very odd coincidence, I must say.
They have both fulfilled their sacred duties and sent pictures of themselves with the books they won.
Oliver already had a copy of The Messiest Desk, so chose to donate his copy to his school library. See how happy that librarian is?
Olivia got to keep her copy and now she is famous AND has a free copy of my book.
What could be better?
Keep your eyes peeled for a new contest whenever I can think of one.