Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Notes From Rabbit Hill

Two field trips in two weeks is a cool thing indeed.

This past Saturday I joined two of my writing group buddies again, at the Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature, where we were treated to presentations by a group of awesomely talented authors and illustrators.

I took sparse notes, preferring rather to look and listen. Plus I forgot to bring my reading glasses, so I couldn't see what I was scribbling. (But you can make out the pigeon that Mo Willems taught the audience how to draw):

Some brief notes:

Steve Jenkins was interested in science at a very young age. His love of the natural world influences his art.

E.B. Lewis calls himself an "artistrator," and considers himself a documentor of life. For him the joy of making art is more in the process than the final product. He approaches illustrating a book like making a movie, but without the motion picture camera.

Barbara McClintock doodles a lot in her sketchbook as a way to inspire ideas. When she was just starting out and living in North Dakota, she phoned Maurice Sendak in New York to ask his advice on how to become an illustrator. And he graciously talked to her for 20 minutes!

Grace Lin's stories and art are inspired by her Chinese heritage. She wants to create art that has important personal meaning for her.

David Wiesner is a visual storyteller who uses unique points of view in his artwork. Much of his imagery is inspired by his childhood in New Jersey.

Mo Willems thinks of his audience while writing. As an author he wants to get out of the way and let the reader bring something of themselves to the story. He considers himself a craftsman rather than an artist. He spoke about the power of words, and also about the importance of encouraging kids to draw. "Drawing is physical empathy," as he put it, and the individuality of each person's drawing is important. (He is also quite possibly the funniest person on earth.)

For more detailed notes, click here. (Thanks, Julie, for the link!)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Fun: Still Undecided?

Okay, I'll change my vote if John Cleese gets to be Minister of Silly Walks.

I'm thinking Monty Python just might be able to save the world. At least we'd all have a good laugh.

(Thanks, Sue L-W., for making my day!)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Field Trip!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting my writing group buddies at the Chappaqua, N.Y. library to hear Leonard Marcus speak to a group of librarians. Leonard is probably the top authority on the history of children's literature, and has written and edited many books, including Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, and A Caldecott Celebration: Seven Artists and Their Paths to the Caldecott Medal. (Oh, and he's an awfully nice guy, too. We had a chance to talk with him. Of course my "shy" gene kicked-in. But at least I managed not to drool on myself.)

His presentation was based on his most recent book, Minders of Make Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children's Literature. (Whew-- these are some long titles!) What can I say-- it was fascinating. I love history, so when an author can take a specific subject such as children's lit, and weave it together with what is happening socially and politically in the wider world, well, I'm hooked.

His book covers a huge span of time, from the very first children's books imported from England to the Harry Potter phenomenon and beyond. Plus just about everything in between. (Did you know there was a time when books were hand-colored, usually by women and children, each person in charge of a single color as they passed the book around? Or that there was basically no copyright law in colonial times. If a printer/publisher saw a book they liked, say, in Virginia, they could copy the book and reprint it in Massachusetts. Interesting stuff!)

I wish there was a crystal ball to tell us what the future will bring for children's publishing, especially in these scary economic times. But learning about the ups and downs, what survives, what changes and adapts, and figuring out where you fit in the grand scheme of it all-- still leaves me an optimist.

(And here's a big thank you shout-out to Jody, my writing-group-librarian-buddy, who told us about this event. Go hug a librarian today!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pre-Winter Sketch

I'm getting a bit ahead of myself with the seasons here. This is from that page of messy doodles I posted a few weeks ago... can you tell which one it is? I'm still trying to decide how to crop it-- a silhouetted edge? Or perhaps a cropped square would be more dynamic? We'll see...

There are more in the works, but maybe I'll do some ghosts and goblins first.

Today I'm going on a children's-book-related field trip-- will post more tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Pictures from this past weekend...

Some autumn color-- the trees have already started dropping their leaves.

Some old house chores-- cleaning and putting up storm windows. This corner looks so quaint. But when the wind blows hard, we get little puffs of blown-in-insulation inside the house. Somebody added it the '50's in a futile attempt to keep out drafts. (The mice appreciate it, though.)

So much for color IQ tests-- I like messing with my reds.

Everyone found their little spot in the sun and relaxed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday Map (A Day Late): Denver to Aspen

I spent the 3-day weekend outside in the mild air and rich autumn colors, away from the television, the radio, the internet, politics. It was a refreshing and much needed break.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Fun: Cookies!!! (And Poetry)

When my son was very young, nothing could make him come running faster than the cry of-- "COOKIES!!!" We still laugh about that. And not surprisingly, he loves to bake. (Which is wonderful, except for when he goes off to school and I'm here at home with the... cookies...)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mary & Samuel

These are a few small pieces I did over the summer for Weekly Reader. They look kind of funny here, silhouetted in space, but the Art Director was placing them into a background with color and lots of photos.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What's Your IQ?

Your color IQ, that is. This link was posted on an illustrator's list that I follow. Challenging, no?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Itsy Bitsy

While going out to the car the other morning, I almost walked into this:

Yep, I shrieked. (A small one.) But then I got to studying this little guy's web. It was a masterful design. Delicate, strong, and catching lots of critters. He must have seen me too, because he scooted off to the side.

The web looks huge in the pictures, but it really wasn't all that big. I'm just glad I didn't walk into it face-first! (It was up high, attached on one side to a clematis trellis and on the other to the house gutter.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008