What have I been up to for the past couple of months?

Well, here’s the rundown:


mary mary det      humpty dumpty

New prints: a new series based on Mother Goose nursery rhymes is available in the shop. Have you seen it yet?



This website. I decided that it was time to put the idea of running my own online shop to rest and leave it to the pros. So, commercial activities have been transferred completely to the Etsy store, and Picture a Tale, the website, is now entirely dedicated to blue-sky pursuits… such as: blog, pictures, FAQ and taking comments and suggestions.



Pinterest. It’s hard work, but somebody has to do it. Also, rethinking the best way to spend precious time and energy for marketing (hint: Facebook and their practices towards small businesses are becoming more and more irritating).




Looking forward to getting back in action!

Talk soon,



Mary Mary Quite Contrary

The first time I started looking up nursery rhymes was a few years ago, after Baby #1 was born. Not having grown up with Mother Goose, I did not have many associations with the different rhymes. I just liked them for what they were. And because some of them did not make that much sense, I also started looking up their meaning. What a great surprise to learn about the more or less gory origins of many of them: plague, executions, terrible monarchs, battles of long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I like these things, but it was very interesting to see how the popular culture dealt with these negative events and characters and turned them into them into children’s rhymes: harmless play and history lesson to be remembered, at once.

As I decided to illustrate some of the rhymes, I kept the childish, light-tone that makes them great for kids. But, I also went back to the original meaning and researched it a little more. Not all of them have hidden connotations, and of those who do, it is not certain how much was added much later. Regardless, they do make for intriguing bits of historical trivia and over the next few weeks I will share with you some of my findings.

Here is the first one:

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

Mary, Mary quite contrary

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockleshells

And pretty Maids all in a row.

The first theory on this rhyme involves Mary I of Scotland. The first line how does your garden grow possibly refers to the length of her reign (25 years, during which she lived mostly in France). Silver bells would be a reference to the church bells of the catholic cathedrals. Cockleshells could be an underlying statement that her husband was unfaithful and pretty maids would be a line about the death of her babies.

Another of these theories is about Mary I of England, also known as “Bloody Mary”. Mary Tudor was well known for her obsessive mission to return England to its Catholic religion. The most popular theory about Mary, Mary quite contrary is the one that describes the how does your garden grow as the growing size of the graveyards. The graveyards were growing so rapidly because there were Protestants who were executed because they were unwilling to give up their faith and practice as Catholic. Silver Bells and Cockleshells refer to torture devices. Silver Bells were thumbscrews, which caused the thumb to be smashed between two flat surfaces by a screw being tightened up. Cockleshells were a device for torturing that was placed on the genitals. Then of course the pretty maids would refer to the guillotine type machine called “the maiden.” Beheadings and being burned at the stake were very popular during the reign of Mary Tudor.

As I was saying, executions and mean queens, the stuff of children songs… More to come.

Talk soon,


Lucy in a Simple Drawing

“Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green,
Towering over your head.
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes,
And she’s gone.

Lucy in the sky with diamonds

Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain,
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies.
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers,
That grow so incredibly high.

Newspaper taxis appear on the shore,
Waiting to take you away.
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds,
And you’re gone.

Lucy in the sky with diamonds

Picture yourself on a train in a station,
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties.
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile,
The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

Lucy in the sky with diamonds”

When I was in school, a long time ago, in a land far away, I used to spend many hours trying to come up with essays about the hidden meanings in poems, novels and such. A real torture! I remember thinking all along: why do we have to write about this? Can we just enjoy the images as they come to life? Now that I don’t write about it, I just enjoy the images and sometimes draw them. Like I did with “Lucy”.

OK, so it’s not Wordsworth, but “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is one of those songs that everybody knows and sometimes wonders what it is about. Well, it turns out that (contrary to the urban myth) it’s about this drawing made by Julian Lennon of his school mate, Lucy. And about things that a kid could dream up. At least, that’s how I saw it and I’m sticking to it!

Getting to the final version wasn’t all that obvious, because I kept second guessing myself about this or that color and this or that composition element, but in the end it all came together. I have had this idea about starting a series based on miss-interpreted songs. There are at least a couple that I can think of that could use to be put just plainly in a drawing. I will keep you posted when that happens. In the meantime, there are a few other ideas that really need some attention.

Talk soon,


(Disclaimer: Shameless self-promotion) You can find beautiful full color art prints of “Lucy” in the Picture a Tale Society 6 store.

The Giving Blog Post

The end of 2012 is close, and, as promised Picture a Tale will be donating 5% of all sales from this year to “Reading is Fundamental”. Many thanks to all of you who have made this possible!

Giving something back was an easy decision. But how and to whom? While the idea behind my artwork and the emphasis on storytelling is aimed at developing children’s imagination, there are still many that I won’t be able to reach this way. I believe that, once the basic needs met, literacy is the most important aspect in a child’s life that must be looked after. So, the next step was to find a way of contributing to making stories and books more available to kids.

Here is a helpful list I made in the process:


Reading is Fundamental is the largest children’s literacy non-profit in the U.S. RIF provides 15 million books each year to children who need them most.


First Book provides access to new books for children in need. To date, First Book has distributed more than 85 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada.


Room to Read works globally in 2 areas: literacy and gender equality in education. In collaboration with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa it aims to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the life skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond.


Better World Books is a for-profit social enterprise that collects and sells books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide. With more than six million new and used titles in stock, Better World Books is a self-sustaining company that balances the social, economic and environmental values of its stakeholders.


Special mention – local organization: Paia Youth and Cultural Center‘s mission is to provide a safe place emotionally and physically for the youth of Pa’ia and surrounding communities with a variety of social, educational, cultural, vocational, and recreational activities.


Special mention – for cyclists: World Bicycle Relief is dedicated to providing access to independence and livelihood through The Power of Bicycles.

If you already plan on giving to charity this year, then I hope you consider one of these organizations. Any amount makes a difference and will give somebody, somewhere, a better chance at achieving their potential and living a meaningful life.

Thank you and talk soon,



So, here we are: it’s been already a year of Picture a Tale online!

It has been a sometimes fast, sometimes slow year, with a long break right in the middle of it for which I have an adorable, one-toothed excuse.

It has been a year of lessons, some of the “yay, I got it!” variety, some (most) of the more banging-head-against-the-wall kind.

It has been a year of making connections with other talented and self-driven people.

It has been a year of rediscovering how great it is to just sit down and draw sometimes and not think about how many “likes” the Facebook page has or how many people will retweet it.

Before we move on into year 2, I want to send out a big thank you to you all: blog readers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Etsy shoppers and all the other very supportive people who like tales and art!

Happy birthday, Picture a Tale!

Talk soon,