Quick Acrylic Painting: Tamar

I’ve been drawing my FB friends, and some of them have been drawing me in return. We all love selfies, so having a drawing of yourself is twice the fun!

But then, for a change, one of my friends did an actual PAINTING of me! So…. I had to return the favor. Overcame my laziness, got out my paints, and did a small portrait painting of her. It felt great to be working with my acrylics again!

Tamar, 5.5×8.5 inches, acrylic on paper

Here are the paintings she did of me…. yup, two of them! The first one she said aged me 10 years. so she did another one. I definitely got the better end of the deal… two for the price of one!

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In addition to portraits, Tamar does breathtaking landscape of Israel in oil. Check out more of her work on her FB page Tamar Rund Artwork.

Hilarious Facebook Portrait Swaps!

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve been doing sketches of my Facebook friends. Some of them have drawn me in return, so it’s become a kind of portrait-swap thing, and it’s really fun(ny) to see how very different I look in all my friends’ drawings!

Here are some of the results of the portrait swaps. As you can see, my friends have varying levels of talent, but what matters is that they took the time to draw me and I appreciate their efforts!

Some of them are really fabulous… and some of them just make me laugh (and think to myself, dear G-d, do I really look like that…?)

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You’d never know this was all the same person, would you?

(Except for my nose. My nose looks the same in every single picture. *sigh*)



Book Cover: Rebbe Nachman’s “Master of Prayer”

I just finished illustrating a story called “The Master of Prayer,” to be published as a 5-volume set by the Breslov Institute.

Here’s the cover that I just completed today:


Then there are 19 black-and-white illustrations inside the book. Here’s a preview!


Rebbe Nachman’s stories are parables used to impart deeply spiritual messages, but they read like fairy tales. Kings and queens, demons and dungeons, castles and quests! These elements of magic and fantasy make the illustrations really fun, especially for someone like me who grew up devouring the children’s fantasy section in the library.


For this book I am using Micron pens for the drawings, and inserting the textured background digitally. This is the fourth book in a set of five, so one more story to go!



Thanks for looking! Leave a comment & make my day!

My Thoughts on Free Drawings & Having Fun

A few weeks ago I became friends with someone on FB who, upon learning that I’m an artist, asked me if I would draw his picture. I was a bit taken aback at first, because I didn’t even know this person, and you hear a lot of artists saying, “Never do work for free!” But I’d recently been hearing the flip side of the issue, like Will Terry who says “You SHOULD work for free!” Personally that resonates with me more than those who keep harping on the fact that my time is valuable and I should be payed for every line I draw. I am lucky to be able to make a living with my artwork, but I also want to use my talents to have fun, and to make other people happy, even if it’s not bringing in any income.

So I said, “Sure, I’ll draw you.” I posted it on my FB page and tagged it #DrawYourFriends, and other friends started asking me to draw them too. I said, “Sure, I’ll put you on the list.” I felt that doing a quick sketch once a day or whenever I had free time was fun for me, a good warm-up to my illustration work, made my friends happy, and to be honest, drew attention to my artwork. And did I mention that it makes my friends really happy??

Now I have a list of people who want me to draw them and I’m trying to slowly get through it. Here are some of the beautiful people who make my life better by being in it (even virtually!). I am glad to get a chance to do something for them in return!

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As an extra bonus, I was commissioned to draw a couple of folks that I know and love, to be used on their website , Sukkah Hill Spirits, which features hand-crafted, award-winning liqueurs (no, they did not ask me to include a plug!) So in the end, my efforts did bring in some money, though that was not the goal starting out!


I will continue drawing my friends and spreading the love… for free. Stay tuned!

Quick Daily Painting #1: Baby Moses

I’ve started a new art challenge along with a group of Jewish artists on FB. The goal is to do a quick painting in about 30 minutes, with a Jewish theme for the month of January. I really want to explore some biblical scenes and personalities so, for my first painting I chose a scene that I find incredibly powerful and moving, as a mother…


I hope the subject is obvious but for those who are not familiar with it, it’s baby Moses and his mother  Yocheved, right before she sets him afloat on the Nile to save him from Pharaoh’s soldiers. This 9×12″ watercolor took close to an hour, so I will have to try to simplify my subject matter next time!

Shavuot means Cheesecake… and Paper dolls!

Last year I made up some paper dolls from the story of Ruth, which is read on Shavuos. I wish I had time to post a little bit more about Ruth and why we read about her on this holiday but you can go to Aish.com and read up on her yourself! I have to get back to my drawing :)

Hope the kids enjoy these, and gives you a few minutes of peace and quiet. Chag Sameach!

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If you like this project, please LIKE me on FB Art by Dena for more art & illustration!

Bats, Cats, & Hats: Counting on Kindle

I was recently asked to illustrate an e-book. I don’t know much about the topic but I was curious about the process and whether I could actually make any money from it.

I wanted to keep it simple, since I wasn’t sure how it would go over. The results are this super cute counting book for kids, which also has a kind of Halloween theme for the upcoming holiday. “Bats, Cats & Hats“…it’s up now on Amazon!It was fun to make, and I hope you’ll find it fun to read, too! I can’t wait to do more!


How to get your Jewish Children’s Book Published

I received the following email from someone who is looking for advice on publishing and/or self-publishing and finding an illustrator for a children’s book. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I figured I’d post whatever I have learned that might be helpful, in case it can help any one else out there!

QUESTION: I have a few questions, if you have time to answer. Any info or advice would be really helpful. 1. Can you choose the dimensions and paper stock of the book? 2. How do you submit the work once the text and illustrations are finished? 3. How do you get an ISBN and copyright? 4. How does distribution work? Can u choose where you distribute? 5. How many copies will be distributed? 6. How does profit work? 7. Where do you start? Do you know of good self publishing companies? Are there Jewish ones that I can submit to? Thanks!

DISCLAIMER: this post is really only about publishing children’s books with Jewish publishers. If you are looking to publish a book for the general public, then this post will probably not be helpful, as the process is often more complex.

Submitting Your Book to Jewish Publishers

For people like me who want to focus on their art (writing, illustrating) and not on the nitty-gritty business end of things, or who don’t have the funds to invest, you should submit your book to a publisher who will cover the costs of editing, printing, marketing, and distributing your book, as opposed to self-publishing. You may be paid an advance and/or earn royalties when the book starts selling.

It’s a good idea to do your homework first by reading the submission guidelines of various publishers, looking around their website, or browsing in your local book store to see what type of books are being published by which publishers.

Here is a list of the Jewish Publishers I know of, who publish books for children. If anyone want to add to the list, please leave a comment, and I will update it! If you click on any of these links, you will be taken to their Submissions Guidelines.

The ones with a star after them cater to the Orthodox community. The others have a broader Jewish readership (correct me if I’m wrong!). Some of these publishers accept very few children’s books manuscripts annually. Like I mentioned before, you should figure out which publishers would be the best fit for your book, rather than sending it out randomly.

Most publishers do not appreciate simultaneous submissions. This means send each manuscript to only one publisher at a time, and wait until you get a response before sending it to someone else. This can take a few weeks to a few months. If you don’t get any response after a couple weeks you can follow up just to make sure they received your submission.

Finding an Illustrator for your Children’s Book

Most publishers do not require that you submit illustrations with your book. Many do not even want you to, preferring to chose their own illustrator. Then there are some publishers that do require the author to hire their own illustrator. In this case you can include sample illustrations or a link to the artist’s portfolio. The author then has to pay the illustrator out of pocket, find a sponsor, or  make some kind of deal with the artist, such as paying an advance (this means some money upfront- artists have bills to pay too!) and splitting royalties.

However, I have learned that even the publishers who do not request illustrations are open to receiving samples and suggestions. If there is an illustrator you admire or really want to have illustrate your book (ahem!) you should let the publisher know, and they may well agree to it.

Self-Publishing: I don’t have much information on self-publishing, other than the fact that is involves a big investment on the part of the author. The author finances the entire publishing process and works with the distributor. There is always an element of risk since you can’t be sure how well the book will sell. But if it does sell well, you make all the profit as opposed to just earning a small royalty.

Some publishers also offer joint-publishing, where the author and publisher share the costs involved.

Book size, Paper stock, ISBN, Copyrights, Distribution…. If you find a publisher to take on the costs of your book, they will deal with all this stuff. You can discuss everything with them (from my experience they’re all really lovely people and aim to please!) but they’ll probably have the final say. If you are self-publishing then, again, I’m not sure how it would work.

E-books: Not the topic of this post, but a whole new way of publishing that requires a minimum (if any) investment and can be accomplished in a fraction of the time it takes to publish a “real” book. And of course you don’t have to wait for an editor to accept your book!

Anyone out there who wants to share their experiences and advice would be very welcome. Thank you!