Saturday, December 24, 2016

New Year/ New Website and Blog

As a brand new year is almost here I'm looking forward to making a fresh start with a new website and blog. It's a chance to show my process and latest works in illustration, children's books and murals. Thanks for your support and for checking it out by clicking on the links below.
Rafael López Website
Rafael López Studio Blog

Exploring hidden beaches in Northern California

As the year winds down I've been thinking about wandering. Last month our family drove up the Northern California coastline discovering hidden beaches and taking in the remarkable power of nature. When my son Santiago found this stretch of sand, he threw off his shoes and socks, crossed an inlet of thigh deep water and started running. I eventually caught up with him, took a deep breath and there was this moment. With his help I connect once again to that part of myself, and of others that really never changes, but sees the world with the wonder of a child.

This December I'm waking up before the sun rises, walking the quiet cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende for hours just looking. There is a restlessness that comes with trying to find direction for a new children's book. I'm working on two books this Winter so my mind jumps from one idea to the next. I've come to embrace this time, tune my instincts and simply wonder as I wander. I've discovered that creativity takes discipline as well as listening to the subtle nuances of your own inner voice. In the chaos of modern life you realize the importance of practicing solitude.

A solitary dream. I woke up and painted this Arctic Whale.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

School Library Journal talks about people getting along with other people.

Thanks to Robin Smith for this article from the Horn Book about Maybe Something Beautiful at School Library Journal.

New York Public Library Best Books for Kids 2016

Grateful to the New York Public Library for recognizing Maybe Something Beautiful as one of 33 picture books chosen by the New York Public Library for Best Books of 2016. You can find out about other amazing books in categories like fiction for kids, fairy tales and folklore, graphic novels, non-fiction, poetry and best books for teens. Click on the link below to see the full list.

New York Public Library Best Books for Kids 2016 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Finding Direction for Bravo!

Process painting on wood-searching for direction

Study of Cesar Chavez

Sometimes I like working more traditionally. This was a study on wood of Cesar Chavez for an upcoming book Bravo! written by my friend, the gifted poet Margarita Engle. I ended up creating a more graphic and conceptual approach to the portraits of Latino heroes but this was a great activity to help me find my direction. Our book is due out next year.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Latinos in Kid Lit

Thanks to Latinos in Kid Lit for this great article on Book Fiesta that celebrates Día de los Niños/Children's Day/Book Day. To read the article and see lots of imagery please visit this link: Latinos in Kid Lit

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Maybe Something Beautiful Mural

San Diego Cooperative Charter School 2 Before

New Mural painted for El día de los niños/El día de los libros [Children's Day/Book Day] 

Community at work.

Maybe Something Beautiful Book Team: Author Isabel Campoy, Editor Jeannette E. Larson HMH, Stefanie Von Borstel of Full Circle Literary and Author Theresa Howell.

Grateful to SDCCS 2 Principal Anthony Villaseñor

Reading the story with authors Theresa Howell & Isabel Camply

Had a great time this last week preparing and painting the Maybe Something Beautiful mural to celebrate Children's Day/Book Day and the release of Maybe Something Beautiful. Thanks to all the amazing kids, volunteers, families and artist friends who made it possible at the San Diego Cooperative Charter School 2 in southeast San Diego.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Viva Cuba/Focus On

Cuba and the United States are only 90 miles away but for over 50 years have been apart. Teachers and students are discussing our changing relationship in their classrooms. Thanks to School Library Journal for posting a list of useful books and for including Drum Dream Girl written by Cuban born Margarita Engle on that list. Check it out at School Library Journal.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

¿Cachai? Chile

¿Cachai? is a popular expression that means do you catch or do your know? I just returned from an amazing trip to Chile, invited by Nido de Aguilas to speak to kids about making books. Wanted to share some memories and thank the many new friends I made along the way.

Connecting with new Librarian friends at Nido de Aguilas, Chile

Visiting Villalobos studio with Antonia López and Nevenka Pavic in Valparaiso, Chile

Peeling Textures

Museo Violeta Parra


Liguria, one of the oldest and coolest restaurants in downtown Santiago

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Read to Achieve

Kids discover Maybe Something Beautiful at Otis Elementary School 

Boston Celtic's Player Marcus Smart reading with kids

Thanks to Boston Celtics players for inspiring the next generation as part of Read to Achieve. Check out this short video of the event and appreciate Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for donating books to this worthwhile program.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Coming Soon! A new book Maybe Something Beautiful and a new mural


On Tuesday April 12 Maybe Something Beautiful hits the shelves. It combines the talents of F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell and tells the story of Mira who together with a muralist and the community bring color and joy to her gray city. You can follow the action on facebook as murals inspired this book which has inspired an upcoming mural.

Looking forward to creating a new mural with children and families in Barrio Logan, San Diego on April 30, 2016. Details on the way.

Beginnings and Endings

On Sunday I leave for Santiago, Chile and really look forward to discovering a new part of the planet and connecting with children there about books and murals. Over dinner, our son, Santiago asked what I am most looking forward to. I told him the beginning as there is much to explore and the ending as I get to tell him all about my adventure.

As a children's book illustrator I spend a great deal of time thinking about beginnings and endings. 

Endpapers for MAYBE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL due out on April 12, 2016.

Maybe Something Beautiful tells the story of a young girl and muralist who transform a gray neighborhood bringing their community together using art. The story is based on my own work creating the Urban Art Trail in the East Village of San Diego. I wanted to begin with actual buildings in the neighborhood and developed a technique that blended original photographs of local facades that morph into colorful endpapers. To finish the story the main character Mira’s painted bird can be seen flying up in the sky.

Endpapers for BOOK FIESTA! 2010

Book Fiesta! celebrates Children’s Day/Book Day and so the day begins and ends with a good book.

Endpapers are the start and finish line of a book. Vintage endpapers display an array of fascinating patterns that include marbled paper, geometric shapes and whimsical patterns. When I get a book deal I plead with the publisher to give me the chance to do a bit of extra storytelling to young readers as they open and close a book. If I can't convince them on the first round I will create sketches and even full paintings to plead my case. Many of my favorite endpaper designs never made it to print but I keep them in a flat file and open that drawer from time to time. The images on endpapers get closer to personal paintings. As there is no text you it can be a place to express your own visual take on a story.

You can find plenty of unique and beautiful vintage and contemporary endpapers online at places like Pinterest from innovative illustrators.

Search Pinterest and get inspired by amazing vintage and contemporary endpapers

Patterns, textures, compelling imagery…what a way to start and end the day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sneak Peek: Behind the Scenes of Creating Art for Maybe Something Beautiful

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Young Readers for their recent post about the process of creating art for Maybe Something Beautiful.

In this exuberant picture book about transformation through art, Mira live in a gray urban community until a muralist arrives and, along with his paints and brushes, brings color, joy and hope to the neighborhood. Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation-and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big. Pick up a paintbrush and join the celebration!

Available wherever books are sold on April 12, 2016!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Drum Dream Girl Thank you Video

Wanted to share this thank you video I was asked to make for the American Library Association: Youth Media Awards. GRATEFUL that Drum Dream Girl written by Margarita Engle received the 2016 Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration in this the 20th anniversary of the award. Thanks to readers, teachers and librarians for their support of our book.