Daily Sketches Begun! 1/365

Although I know I’m setting myself up for certain failure…here I go attempting to do daily sketches! I’ll be taking weekends and holidays off. And probably a whole lot of other days. 🙂 Let’s see how long it takes me to do one year’s worth! I’ll be exploring different themes, subjects, & techniques. First up: BEARS!

daily sketch 1

autumn 2014


Okay, so everyone says it rains ALL the time here in Portland, but I promise you, we had plenty of glorious golden days where you just want to bottle up all that crisp fall goodness as a little preserve for the gray days ahead.

swifts 2

Here we are waiting for the Vaux’s Swifts to make their way down the chimney for the night. Some nights up to 6,000 (!!!) swifts bunk down there to sleep! And notice: no rain! 🙂

big rock

Okay, I’ll admit, going to the Oregon coast is rather sketchy on the weather front, even in the middle of summer. But we got super lucky and had several beautiful days with Jay’s parents (visiting from Indiana) and sister and her family.

making sandcastle

sand castle

view of sea


mt hood curtains

We visited Timberline Lodge, on Mt. Hood with Jay’s parents, which is home to the World’s Best Curtains (in my humble opinion). They make me want to start and alpaca farm, learn how to spin yarn, and weave my own curtains. One day!!!

first birthday

We got to celebrate this cutie-pie niece’s first birthday!


Life isn’t life in Oregon without some hiking. waterfall

(so, that little blue dot in the lower right is Jay, just to put the size of this waterfall in perspective)

kelly and sergio

One of the really, really great things that happened this fall was the Western Washington/Oregon SCBWI Illustrator’s Retreat, up on the Puget Sound in Washington. We had the most FABULOUS faculty: Kelly Murphy and Sergio Ruzzier. They were just the BEST. So inspiring!

 informal critique

Impromptu dummy critique.

the water

And the view!

crazy beard 2

Some friends from Indiana showed up in perfect time for the World Beard and Moustache Championships. (MJ the Beard Boss definitely bossed their beards.) And I have to admit, it was raining.

crazy beard group

crazy beard 3

That is the most luxuriant beard I’ve ever seen. How much time goes into keeping that thing so smooth and silky? And seriously, how does he EAT?

pulling hair

More time at the beach with nieces and nephews on my side. I’m glad they’ve learned to put up with their uncle.

waiding in water

Wading in the ocean in late November. Not bad, folks, not bad.


And we finished up fall with a Thanksgiving visit from this most adorable cowgirl-niece ever from Colorado! Yippy-ti-yi-yay!

Blog Tour-a-Rama!

I’m participating in a blog tour! It’s like a chain letter, but a million times better, ’cause you only have to write once, and there aren’t any threats about receiving bad luck if you don’t do it on time!

I didn’t expect, when I moved back to Portland a year ago and started the path toward becoming a children’s book illustrator, that I would meet so many kind and generous artists. I kinda thought that being an artist was a solitary thing, and that I would just somehow try to find my way on my own. In the fall I began taking illustration classes, and since then I keep meeting the most wonderful people in the children’s book field, and they’ve blown me away by their openness and willingness to share, connect and encourage. Being new to this field, I don’t know if that’s normal or not…but it feels like a gift!


(Recent illustrator get-together that doubled as a baby shower. How cool is that???)

I was tagged for the blog tour by one of those wonderful illustrators, Victoria Jamieson.


Love this book jacket she illustrated…makes me want to be BFF’s with those girls!

I took two of her CE children’s book classes at PNCA this past year, and they were superb! She’s super talented (check out her books here!) and she’s given me tons of help and encouragement this past year which I’m so thankful for! You can read her blog tour post here.


And now for the blog tour questions!

What am I currently working on?

I’ve been working on a wordless mini-story of a croc and flamingo fighting over an ipad who end up re-connecting with the good ‘ol out-of-doors (and with each other at the same time!):



Today I’m finishing up this illustration for my local SCBWI chapter:



I’m also about to send out a mailing, so these gals will soon be out the door:



And I’m working on developing a few more stories:  one about a community of jungle animals and how they deal with those who don’t play fair:



A story about a polar bear and a snow bunny who would rather live in California:



And another story about a chicken pastry-chef :




How does my work differ from others in its genre?

One thing I love about children’s illustration is how much room there is for so many different styles and voices! Of course there are trends and such, but it seems that there’s a place for many different styles, from traditional to edgy, and that’s very freeing! As I’m on the starting-out end of things, it’s easy to stress about finding my place and my unique style. I’m doing my best to not worry too much about it…and to just keep making and making and making… so that thing that is “me” will naturally surface. So right now, I’m just trying to do my thing (and part of “doing my thing” is practicing and exploring and trying new approaches), and trust that since we’re all unique individuals, something special and different will come out.


Why do I write what I write?

I’m not sure I can yet claim to be “someone who writes” as I’ve only just begun, and the stories I have started are still very much in the development stage. But I know what I want to write! I was reading Tomie DePaolo’s Strega Nona: Her Story a few months ago, and it really touched me. I may have even cried a bit. It’s such a rich and wonderful story, full of heart and warmth, friendship and tradition and family. I thought, “I want to write stories like that!” So I decided I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending of my own story, where jungle animals capture and eat their enemy out of retribution. Maybe a little reconciliation and forgiveness would be more my style. 😉

photo-of-strega-nona600 vs.lion-eating-rabbit600hmmm…I don’t know…it is kinda funny…


How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?

For illustrating, I start off with lots of super loose sketches just to get something—anything!—down on paper where I can analyze it a bit better. I try to keep it super quick at this point so that I can easily change ideas and move in new directions.



Once I have the basic idea figured out, I refine the sketch, solving problems and developing ideas.



I keep revising the sketches until I get everything down just how I want it to be in the final artwork. This is the hardest part of the process! There’s definitely a LOT of erasing and re-drawing going on!



For the final art, I trace my revised sketch onto watercolor paper (I like Arches 300lb hot press) using a light box. I don’t have a window-less room in my apartment, so sometimes I have to wait until night to be able to see the sketch through that thick paper! I like using the 300lb because the thinner paper ripples which drives me crazy when it comes to scanning (and I don’t like to mess with stretching my paper)!

I use a combination of watercolor, gouache, colored pencils, ink, and graphite. I usually do some tweaks and adjustments in Photoshop, but for me there’s something hugely satisfying about using traditional, hand-held materials. Plus my neck and shoulders get all cramped up when I draw for more than like 20 minutes on the computer!

newt lake for web


Who are the two author/illustrators that you are passing the interview on to?

Like I mentioned at the beginning, this town has the coolest illustrator/writer types, and it’s been such a kick meeting them! I’m tagging two fabulous gals that I’ve recently met through a children’s writer/illustrator group: Brie Spangler and Heather Ryerson. They’re both wonderfully talented and inspiring! This is a great town! 🙂






So incredibly thrilled to announce that I now have an agent! I’ll be working with Lori Kilkelly of Rodeen Literary Management to create lots of magic and fun! 🙂

Here’s their Facebook announcement:



DEBORAH HOCKING, Writer/Illustrator

Excited to share our fun news on a summer Friday!! Please join us in welcoming brand new RLM client, represented by Lori Kilkelly, DEBORAH HOCKING!

They must be doing something special to the water in Portland with all the crazy talent pouring forth. Debbie’s family has lived there for 100+ years and includes adventurers, homesteaders, lumberjacks, and farmers. Raised in the city, her heart lies in forest exploration, mountain lake swimming & bramble fort building.

Debbie had 4 majors in college – painting, illustration, graphic design, and Spanish and studied abroad in Madrid and Central America. She and her husband once took a 2.5 month, 1,100 mile hiking/backpacking trip which began in Paris and ended on the Atlantic coast of Spain. She did a sketch a day during their journey. They ate more chocolate, baguettes and butter than they thought possible, saw back-roads and hamlets, met kind and generous people, many of whom opened their homes freely, and had plenty of time to be still and quiet and take in life at a completely different pace.

They also lived in France for six years where they ran a conference center in an old castle. And while she adores Portland – its endless parks & neighborhoods to explore – a part of her dreams of being able to live in France again some day.

Please be sure to pop over and “like” Debbie’s Facebook page:
Deborah Hocking Illustration
Visit her portfolio (link at top) and her website:https://deborahhockingillustration.com/

Welcome, Debbie!







Recent Work: African Animals

Creating characters!

Rabbit Hoodwinks Python

Rabbit and Python

Lion and Turtle Guard the Path

Lion and Turtle

recent work: sleep illustrations

Three illustrations I did regarding the complexities of sleep:


Insomnia. Dang I feel so bad for anyone suffering from this.

Segmented Sleep Phenomenon

Segmented Sleep. So I just learned that back in olden-times (well, actually, not ALL that long ago) a lot of people used to go to bed at sun-down, and then get up in the middle of the night and do stuff. Then they’d go back to sleep and get up again at sun-up. Weird! Check it out.

Mystery of Sleep

The Mystery of Sleep. Sleep is no mystery for my husband. He falls asleep like 15 seconds after his head hits the pillow. His whole family is that way, lucky bums. But for the rest of us, it can feel a little unsure and unpredictable…lovely but not entirely secure.




Portland Mercury: Earthquake Retrofits

Bolt House for Web 2

This is a piece I did last week for the Portland Mercury, a local paper (article here). It’s about bolting down houses to make them more earthquake proof…’cause we all know The Big One is coming. I personally want to go build my own completely earthquake proof house and never drive over any of the Portland bridges again (I can’t help it: the images from the LA quake of ’92 were permanently seared into my 12-year-old brain!). For which my husband laughs at me. (If he would only read this article he might be with me!) It’s almost enough to make me pack up and move back to Indiana. But then I realize it’s like -20 degrees there, so I guess for now I’ll take my chances here in Earthquake Territory.

***For the record: I honestly love Indiana, especially the wonderful people I know there! 😉 But the winters…those are crazy, man.***