A little elf magic for you on this winter solstice.
I was inspired by the arrival of the elf (on the shelf) at our house last week. My daughter has been writing letters to our elf every day.
This little guy is more of a cross of a Christmas Elf and Jack Frost. There is no limit to what he can create and winter is his time to shine.
Here I go. As I embark on this kid lit adventure, I find it to be so satisfyingly challenging. Not only does it involve writing and art making, but it also requires a deeper synthesis of details than either of those two activities compels by itself.
In 1879, John Muir visited Glacier Bay, Alaska for the first time. He was accompanied by Native Tlingit men and a missionary. To envision this historical narrative I've needed to dive into another world, informed by historical resources (both primary and secondary) and images. In August, I will return to Alaska myself with eyes wide open to fill my story idea with the spirit and the feeling of the place.
I can't wait!
It's 1879 and John Muir seeks knowledge. He risks lives to see the Ice Mountain. Will it tell the story of Yosemite's history?
What you just read is my twitter pitch, my 140 character teaser for my most recent picture book project, meant to entice art directors and agents to touch the heart button during a twitter pitch fest. When they like my post, they have given me an invitation to submit my work to them with the promise of special attention.
Crazy, right? It's amazing the impact a tweet can have these days. No names mentioned.
About a week ago I volunteered in my daughter's 1st grade classroom. On Friday afternoons they have been working on a 100 Book Challenge where the children read aloud to adults. Lucky for me, this day included a reward for earning so many brownie points. The children were allowed to bring in a sleeping bag, stuffed animal and flashlight so that they could read in the dark!
What a great opportunity for everyone involved! I really enjoyed having my daughter and several other children read to me.
Back to Aesop. Today I played around with a composition for Jupiter and the Bee that I used for a woodcut print a few years ago. In fact, if you google "Jupiter and the Bee" you will see it because someone used it in a blog post that apparently gets a lot of hits. Now, he didn't ask for my permission, but he did put my name on my work which I appreciate.
The story. A little bee is tired of others stealing her honey. She brings Jupiter a gift of some honey, then Jupiter asks, "What can I do for you, little bee?" The little bee says that if only she had a stinger, she could protect her honey herself. Juno steps in and Jupiter agrees that there should be a cost. Juno suggests that if the stinger is used, the bee must pay for the act with its life. Each bee must choose - protect the hive and die, or share the honey.
The moral. Be careful what you wish for.
A telling lesson in this age of protectionism we've just entered.
I've always been pretty mesmerized by the depth and simplicity of Aesop's Fables. These ancient Greek stories reveal so much that is true, and therefore often contain a darkness.
This story about the Tortoise and the Birds has a third character, the Crow. The Eagle is happy to help the Tortoise in his move (for a price) because he doesn't think he is able to eat this creature with a hard shell. It's the clever Crow that tells the Eagle that if he were to drop the Tortoise on the sharp rocks, they could share a meal.
Despite the serious look on the Eagle's face, I chose the short happy moment before the Crow's intervention. It would be quite thrilling for a tortoise to fly, right? However, the moral of the story, and there ALWAYS is a moral with Aesop, is to never soar aloft on an enemy's pinions (flight feathers). Consider yourself, and everyone else who has heard this story in the last 2500 years, warned.
The joy of human interaction with nature is the idea behind the project I've been working on for some time. The visual narrative, sketched out almost a year ago then brewed on the back burner, is now pushing itself into bloom. I'm working full steam ahead on developed drawings and some color sketches, like this one.
"Pages 6 & 7" is about 4 x 10 inches.
Going to school can be a big job, so sometimes you need big tools! The whimsy of this image attracted me. Believe it or not, this pencil is a real object in our house. It was made by a 9th grade student several years ago in my art class, then graciously gifted to me. (Thank you, Dara!) The amount of fun this object brings is a gift that just keeps on giving.
"Big Pencil" is 5 x 5 inches.
I love picture books. I love kids. And, I especially love kids who love picture books. Feel free to give a hug for me to any small person you may know who fits this description.
Here is my daughter with a friend of hers when they were 4 years old. It wasn't too long ago, but long enough to grow out of those lovely dress up outfits given to us by our dear Mèmè. As Caitlyn is learning to read on her own I know that our picture book era is beginning to draw to a close. I'm excited for her to jump into the world of literature in a whole new way, and I'm savoring this precious time we have left with picture books.
For me, 8 years of reading about a thousand picture books to both of my children has been quite a tutorial. I've become a sincere fan of the genre.
Now...to making my own!
"Reading Buddies" is 4 x 6 inches, in watercolor.