Book signings with your birdie are so much more fun! Thank you all for a lovely day at The Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough. Beatrix had a ball.
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It is always so inspiring when I get to step out of the studio and work in the field with sketchbook in hand. My most recent painting trip was in France.
My goal was to gather ideas for a book I am just starting that is set in France, but even more importantly, to take some time away from the intense studio work and create an atmosphere of creative play and exploration. I want to see and record as much as I can when I am working in a sketchbook. But I also want to stretch myself as an artist, try new methods, experiment with new surfaces, tackle paintings I would never do in the studio, basically just climb out on a limb and PAINT. On this trip I painted in gardens and on street corners, I painted rooftops and sculptures, I even painted self portraits of myself because I wanted to record how happy I was while exploring. I worked in ink and watercolor, fountain pen and pencil. I had fun collecting bags from Paris shops and experimented with watercolor on toned surfaces. The warm brown paper bags made a wonderful surface to bounce the blue skies and dazzling light of Paris. Sketch trips are always a wonderful time to really push yourself to see new things and play with ideas on how to capture them in paint. I always feel thankful after painting trips and even a little reluctant to give up the freedom I find in the field as apposed to the studio. But journeys with sketchbooks always recharge me and fuel my ideas for stories. They make the work I create in the studio all the more meaningful because the work was started during such joyful adventures.
Here are a few of the sketches from this last trip.
Happiness is arriving at Hawley Elementary School to find every student has made a red hat to wear and drawn a picture of their favorite animal wearing a red hat. Here is just one class. So fun to see the whole school in red! Thank you all of Newtown, CT for an awesome week!!
Fight School The Musical! If only I could go back in time and tell my little girl self when I was going to school in a small logging town -- that someday I'd have a book getting adapted into an off-Broadway musical for a children's theater in New York City! What miracles may come when you choose to believe in dreams! Thank you Vital Theatre for making Flight School The Musical a reality.
Just home from New York City -- what a great time at the Society of Illustrators Original Art show!! It was such an honor to be a part of this fantastic show and get to see so many wonderful friends and colleagues. It was a special treat!!
I love back to school time - I'm looking forward to going into classrooms again this year! I get so inspired talking with the kids. As we head into the school year I thought I'd update my school brochure. To all my teacher friends, here is a link.
Download my School Visit Info: Schools_2014-15.pdf
I just finished the jacket art for my next book, Good Morning To ME! It's always a great feeling to bring a project to this stage. After more than a year of sketching, and revising, and re-sketching, then painting up a storm, at long last, the art and words are in place and the book is taking shape.
I've written a lot about how the animals I love and draw inspire my stories, but this story came directly from my household of critters, so I look forward especially to sharing it. A real team effort this one is!
I'm woefully behind on providing an activity around my book, How Big were Dinosaurs?, but some dear young readers have inspired me. So I have just created coloring pages from the book. These can be downloaded as a pdf file from my website or from my pinterest site. I hope they offer a launching off point for activities in classrooms and at home with little ones who are interested in the topic of dinosaurs. I remember as a youngster, I drew and drew and drew, mostly dinosaurs. I believe this passion is what led me to take the plunge into a career as a writer and illustrator. So I plan to provide more activities in the future around my books, in hopes they foster creativity and imagination with my young readers.
Download these new dinosaur coloring book pages for How Big Were Dinosaurs. Includes Velociraptor, Ankylosaurus and Stegosaurus.
I finally did it - I decided at long last to check out pinterest a few weeks ago and I have to say, I like it. It's a great way for artists to store reference and show creations. And even better, a place to discover the work of other artists. So I just thought I'd mention it here today. I just created a new board (here's my pinterest link) sharing some images of my home and studio and how I set about creating a space in which I find inspiration to work and live. I'm a novice at this new pinterest platform, but finding it fun.
Working from a studio connected to home presents both challenges and luxuries. The down side is that escaping work can be difficult, it's so easy to sneak into the studio at all hours of day and night and feel the pressing need to work on projects in progress. But it's also a luxury to go to work simply by trotting down the hall with your favorite birdie and puddy cat as companions. It means having a lot of discipline and focus to maintain sane hours, but I really love it and feel fortune to have worked from home most of my adult life. But I didn't always have such surroundings in which to paint. I spent years working on kitchen tables of cramped homes, painting in poorly lit spare bedrooms, or in the middle of living rooms. Our early house was cluttered with paintings, frames, easels, crates, panels, and the smell of wet oil paint stifled the air. The scent of baking bread never had a chance over turpentine. Now I'm spoiled, I have a spacious studio filled with light and beauty (and I dropped the toxic oil paints for the lovely soft scent of watercolors). I saved for years for this studio, feeling in my heart that creating a space to work in was an important part of the act of creating. And not just the space became meaningful, but all the totems and art objects that fill our home and studio. Today, as I start a board on pinterest that'll focus on the home and studio, I'll share a few photos of where I work and the art totems it holds.
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The beginning stage of creating a book is such a delightful time for me. Lots of unanswered questions of course, and yes, many doubts, but it's also the high octane exciting time of creating. Knowing which idea, from hundreds that occur to the one that becomes the main focus of a year's work, can be a bit of a mystery as well.
Some of my books have come from true life events that I wanted to record, or consider more deeply, or share with others. More and more my stories are completely fictional, growing out of my own imagination. But these still have true life experiences and emotions that rest close to the surface. I find for me the most important thing that allows me to "notice" or "grow" a story is just to be open to the beauty around me. To do this I carry a sketchbook just about everywhere, recording life through drawings and writing. I try never to judge the work when writing in a journal, just record. More often than not, I'm so completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the thing I'm recording, there's no time to judge. Later is the time for thoughtful contemplation and a "going over" of these ideas. That’s when the "one" rises to the top and becomes a full fledged story.
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