Monday, December 8, 2014

Environment- Enviro-Cycle - cell phones

Periodically I will post information about great causes you can support, important awareness issues, and how you can make a difference related to the environment and animals.

In today's post the topic is deforestation due to illegal logging. I was saddened and angry that so much illegal activity continues to thrive. Consumer demand for exotic wood found in the rainforests is big business. According to one account I read, a single tree can be worth $10,000. The real cost is the effect on our environment as rainforests help to regulate climate. Yes, they also provide unique food sources and drugs, but what about the effects on the animals, endangering species and destroying their habitats? The changes eventually effect us as a species too. How can you make a difference? Buy sustainable wood, and only wood from a company that is transparent in it's sourcing and follows best environmental practices. To learn more about this issue and a company that works to thwart illegal logging, watch the video about Rainforest ConnectionThey can use your old cell phones to help combat the problem. Get involved - before you upgrade your phone as a trade in, consider donating your old cell phones to them HERE

Friday, November 28, 2014

PiBoIdMo 2014

Yep, I'm in. I signed up at the beginning of the month for the picture book idea month challenge, affectionately known as PiBoIdMo, where you pledge to come up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. And now that the end is at hand with 2 days to go, I can say that I've actually done it. And it was a great experience. Of course the ideas were the easy part. The real work begins with fleshing out those ideas into a viable book project.
(designed by Vin Vogel)
 This event was started by Tara Lazar, and PiBoIdMo takes place every year in November. I certainly have enough to keep me busy for 2015, but I'll do the challenge again next November too.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Character Blog Tour

It's a blog tour! This is your opportunity to get to know some wonderful work by authors and illustrators focusing on the children's book market. If you follow the trail back and forward, your in for a real treat. Enjoy! Here's a taste from my novel.

What is the name of your character?

Where is the story set?
The Seven Tales of Omar, is a novel that takes place in Jerusalem, Petra, and Alexandria. 

What should we know about him?
The Seven Tales of Omar is a story from his journal.

What messes up his life?
He sets out on a journey and gets kidnapped!

What is the personal goal of your character?
To convince his captors to release him.

Is there more we can read about The Seven Tales of Omar?
It's still a work in progress, but I hope you can read it when it gets published. There's food, animals and travel, no surprise to those who know me. 

Meanwhile, subscribe to this blog for news! (see sign up box on the right). 

Thank you to Patricia Keeler for inviting me to join the tour. Read about her "scrappy" characters and her work in progress picture book WISH by visiting her blog

Now I'd like to introduce you Vicky! I LOVE her artwork. It's smart and funny.

Vicky Rubin is an author/illustrator who does wonderful, humorous artwork. She's at work on a new book, and you can read about it on the next stop of this blog tour CLICK HERE.

Both Vicky and my art will be on view at Dickens: A Celebration In Pictures, a selection of work from the original Dickens' bicentennial exhibit on view at the Poe Park Visitor Center in the Bronx February 3 - 21, 2015. Just in time for Dickens' birthday!
For further info visit

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Art Of - Writing

Tolkien did it masterfully. He's one of my favorite authors and I get lost in his storytelling. George R.R. Martin is the contemporary master. The world he's created is fantastic and as a writer I know I can learn a lot from his work.  I came across this interview with him and wanted to be sure you saw it. He talks about world building, and for his new book, he sought some of the best fantasy artists to illustrate it. Their work is also featured here too. Enjoy. INTERVIEW

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Exhibit News

I will have recent nature watercolors on view at The Dobbs Ferry Woman's Clubhouse as part of their Beaux Arts Exhibition October 18-19, 2014. The reception is Sunday, Oct. 19 from 2-4pm. Award: Tomatillos took 2nd place in the watercolor category.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Exhibit News - Yonkers River Fest

I will be exhibiting on Saturday Sept. 6 at the Yonkers River Fest in the artists showcase area. Festivities start at noon, admission is FREE. For more information click HERE.

Monday, August 18, 2014


My work will be on view in the Art of the Heirloom exhibition at the National Heirloom Expo in CA September 9 - 11, 2014.

Heirloom Eggplants, watercolor Donna Miskend 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014


Teaching is awesome. I enjoy being able to share my love of art. It's rewarding when a student who said they can't create art proudly displays their finished project. My students learn something new, they learn art is interesting, fun and hard work. And it gives them a great sense of accomplishment.

Creativity is about a sense of play and wonder and that forms the basis for critical thinking and problem solving throughout life. I'm happy to be a part of anything that gets the message out there that art is a vital part of our lives. I could go on and on, but instead I'll leave you with your new motto - get out there and CREATE! (Students from my workshops:)

through the generous support of the Sils Foundation
Funding through the US Dept. Ed. Arts in Education-
Model Development and Dissemination Grant Program

3rd graders working on their ecosystems mural
detail from one of the murals, cold and hot deserts

Monday, August 4, 2014

NEW WORK - Nature Illustrations

I'm adding to my repertoire of nature illustrations.

This and That, Donna Miskend 2014
These are things I've picked up that I thought I wanted to paint. Sometimes it's the color, or the design element, so to make sense of them individually I decided to put them all together. Acorn, ginko leaf, pine cone, the fruit from a cherry tree, maple seed pods, a dried cherry and I think the other seed pods are either also maple or oak.

This bunny was at the botanical gardens.

Red Cabbage and Rabbit, Donna Miskend 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Work - Food Illustrations

I enjoy painting in both styles and tonight I eat my subjects (stuffed eggplants), ah, summer!
Donna Miskend 2014,Rosa Bianca Heirloom Eggplants, watercolor

Donna Miskend 2014, Heirloom Eggplants, watercolor

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Workshop: Beatrix Potter and Botanical Art

Beatrix Potter is most known for her children’s books about Peter Rabbit and other animal stories. How did she create such a believable world in which they live? Through observation of the natural world of their environment.  While it can take hours to create a perfect reproduction, in this workshop we’ll take our cue from Beatrix Potter to introduce you to botanical illustration and then use the work to create a spot for a children’s book scene. Come join me for this painting and drawing workshop. Children and adults.

Funding is thanks to Regeneron and Con Ed

July 19th -  1pm-3pm     at  ArtsWestchester
31 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains, NY 10601
For further info: CLICK HERE

Monday, June 30, 2014

Looking Ahead

After a long hiatus on my 'Conversations...' blog, there's finally a new post with Robert Greer, Artistic Director of The Strindberg Repertory Theatre.

Exhibits Coming up: Selections from the Dickens 2012 exhibit, Dickens: A Celebration in Pictures  will travel to the Poe Park Visitor Center Gallery in Feb. 2015.

Monday, June 16, 2014

What's New

New art

Donna Miskend 2014, Lotus Views, watercolor

Donna Miskend 2014, Tomatillos, watercolor
I love doing this type of painting.

New blog post on the Conversations blog.

Friday, May 23, 2014

ABFFE Auction 2014

Donna Miskend 2014
Once again it is time to support the fight against censorship in books for kids through the American Booksellers Freedom For Expression Auction of artwork by illustrators in the children's book industry. This year, the special tribute is to Dr. Seuss whose books were challenged for their content, especially those that made social commentary or criticized big business. This quick sketch in the Whoville Library is my contribution this year.

The Kids Right To Read Program is co-sponsored by ABC Children’s Group of the American Booksellers Association and American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) with the National Association Against Censorship.There will be an on-line auction open to the public CLICK HERE (opens: at noon Monday, June 2, 2014 and closes June 9, 2014 at noon), in person ticketed auction (Wed. May 28th at BEA may be purchased online) and a holiday auction in the fall. For more information visit the web sites highlighted.  

Examples of books that have been banned or challenged effecting availability:
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; Angels in America by Tony Kushner, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Click HERE to see more books, many considered literary classics and important portrayals of American history.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

World Book Night 2014

handing out my last 3 copies
thanks to Zahra, Yonkers Riverfront
Library for the photo

Readers like to share books and I have a cache of titles I give to friends and family.  World Book Night allowed me to reach strangers, and in my case, kids, to entice them to want to read when video, computers, TV and other activities compete for their attention. I was ready for the challenge.  The book I was assigned was the Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan, the first in a twelve book series. As a big kid, (meaning now), I had already read all twelve books.

An argument can be made that it might be harder to convince someone to read a series when that person doesn’t read much, is a reluctant reader, or only reads when the teacher gives a book as an assignment, as Nathan, a 10 year old said to me. Then again, it was a mystery series that got me to become a regular reader when I was a child.  Would I have wanted to be a knight like Will in The Ranger's Apprentice? Sure, in my dreams where I can be brave and daring taking on the enemy. But in reality, I’m a confirmed chicken. Perhaps Alyss’s training in the diplomatic branch suits me better. I’d still get to travel.  John Flanagan has characters kids can identify with. In fact he wrote the stories for his son who was small and slender, not the body type of a typical knight. Most of the boys I encountered on World Book Night were small too.  Would they want to be a knight and go to battle school? Most said yes. I told them they’d probably be sent to train with the Rangers instead like Will, the character who also wasn’t big and strong. That wasn’t what Will dreamed of. But Will learns that he’s perfectly suited to be a Ranger after all. He finds out he has other important skills critical to the kingdom and that enticed Gabriel also 10 to want to know what those were. Girls will find characters they can relate to as well.  And it was easy for both boys and girls to understand that a girl might want adventure especially if you were a princess like Cassandra. Another theme or message is that friends help and support each other.

Michael, 12 didn’t know why he didn’t like to read. I suggested maybe he hadn’t found the right book yet. Everyone loves a story, right? But the book that will speak to you, where you block out everything else and are in the moment of the story, well, it’s amazing and worth trying. He promised to try to read the book and I hope it opens a whole world of experience for him. John, 15 only likes graphic novels, but he too said he would give it a try. And Duane didn’t much care for reading, but his younger brother loved to read. I told him I thought this book was a bit too difficult for him to read on his own, but if Duane would read to him, they could both enjoy the book. They thought that was a good idea and said they would read together.

Chantalle was my first "victim" who I approached to give away the book. She actually liked to read already and was excited to go on an adventure with the characters because “it’s cool”.  World Book Night is cool too. I’m able to share the excitement of visiting real and imagined lands, introduce the kids to good and bad people and creatures the author has created for them. I hope the book I’m giving out is the one that will hook the kids on reading or help to continue their interest in it.  

So do you think you’d like to meet a Wargal? What or who is a Wargal, you ask? You’ll have to read The Ruins of Gorlan to find out. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Theatre Illustration

Here's the poster for the new production by the August Strindberg Repertory Theatre. This was a tough one. I usually send in quite a few sketches of ideas but I only had one and I was unsure if my interpretation would be okay. I thought the graphite portraits fit the era, and played up the tension. As it happens, their PR company independently got the same vibe and used a similar style photograph with a juxtaposition of the two main characters. I was glad to find out my take was right on message.Whew!

Robert Greer, director has set the play in 1962 Harlem. Read my conversation with him about the play soon on my conversations blog. For further information, visit the company's web site.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Morgan Book Project

This has been a busy month! I was fortunate again to join several judges for the Morgan Book Project, hosted by The Morgan Library and Museum. I'm touched and amazed by the wonderful illuminated manuscript inspired books created by the kids in the program. Congratulations are in order to Marie Trope Podell, Manager of Gallery Programs. Her program is thriving thanks to a generous grant from the Brooke Astor Fund for NYC Education. This program uses art to support other disciplines, or in other words, it fits in beautifully with core curriculum standards.

In the program, the children have the opportunity to view original illuminated manuscripts in the Morgan's collection. They learn an appreciation of books, art, design and history. Then they learn to make paint from scratch, crushing materials such as saffron for yellow, cochineal bugs for red (what kid wouldn't want to do that?) and other material. They combine the finely ground materials with a binder to create the final pigment that will be used. They are given archival paper and real gold leaf for embellishments. The kids write and design their illuminated manuscript inspired books. The subjects range from poetry and fiction, global culture, family history and social studies. It was difficult to choose only a small number of those books we felt stood out the most as all of them were wonderfully creative and beautifully executed. For further information, read an article highlighting the program in the New York Times from last year.

Special awards: click to see the books 2013   2012 and 2011
The ceremony. The school in CA that participated was skyped in so winners there could take part. One of the kids flew in and accepted his schoolmates' awards.

Winning books were displayed for all to see. And a selection from these will be on exhibit in cases April 8-20.

 Some of the winners with their books. Congratulations to all of the winners.

Read more HERE. Do stop in to see the books in person. I know you will be impressed. Other exhibits worth a look: an exhibit on woodblock printing and The Little Prince manuscript by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry. If you have never visited, the Morgan is truly a gem.

Monday, March 3, 2014

World Book Night - April 23, 2014

I'm so excited that I will be a "book giver" in the wonderful World Book Night. This program, began in the UK and now on this side of the pond, will take place on April 23rd. A selection of books (adult and childrens) will be given out to the public in an effort to get people to read. I will be giving out John Flanagan's The Ruins of Gorlan, the first book in his Ranger's Apprentice series for kids.

I was introduced to the books through a giveaway by Random House publishers. I then went on to read the rest of the 11 books, and couldn't wait until they were published. I've always recommended them, but now I am paying it forward with a broader platform to encourage kids to read the books.

I love this series. It's certainly good for boys, but girls who love adventure stories will also enjoy these. And it's also a great series for reluctant readers. For more information about the series, visit the web site. And stay tuned as the movies are in the works.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Draftsman's Congress - New Museum

It was great fun to get together with my colleagues from CBIG for a painting/drawing event at the New Museum. In association with an exhibit by the artist Pawel Althamer, the creator of the Draftsman's Congress who designed the event as a collaboration with other artists, (fine artists, cartoonists, engineers, designers, illustrators). Visitors to the museum were invited to participate too. The first event was held at the Berlin Biennale in 2012. I spoke with Pawel and his plan is to continue to hold these events in other countries to bring together the arts community and engage the public. The fourth floor of the museum, walls and floor were covered with drawings, paintings and collage. It was great! The experience continues through April when the art will be cut up and given to the public. Had to get the peacock in there.
My friend Amalia and I get down to business!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Draftsman's Congress

I will be participating in the New Museum's Draftsman's Congress event along with my CBIG colleagues:  Diane Allison,  Angelique Anderson,  Yuko Katakawa,  Amalia Hoffman,  Kitty Leech, Madonna Davidoff,  Marilyn Papas,  Nancy Doniger, Lisa Cinelli. Our session takes place on Feb. 16th. This event created by the artist Pawel Althamer first took place at the Berlin Biennale 2012. A new event will recreate that experience at the New Museum in association with an exhibit of Althamer's art. Throughout the run of the exhibition, the blank white space of the fourth floor gallery will be transformed with drawings and paintings by Althamer, visitors and invited art groups from all disciplines. (Please be advised that this is not strictly a children's program. Fine art nude representations may be included by collaborating artists). In the last week of the exhibition the walls will be cut into pieces and distributed to visitors. Photos and videos documenting the event will be posted to the museum's web site. Check back here for more info and photos specific to our group. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Teaching Workshop

Here are photos from my workshop this past winter teaching art to seniors. It's so important for them to stay engaged, socialize and learn new skills. Art is a wonderful avenue to accomplish this. We did projects in paper arts, clay, some crafts and my favorite, upcycling. I'm so proud of the projects they created and I loved working with everyone there. This program was made possible by a generous grant from the Sills Family Foundation and administered by Arts Westchester.