Tuesday, December 2, 2014

PiBoIdMo 2014

Back again after a major hiatus. The impetus for this post involves the completion of PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) 2014, an annual online event organized by the amazing Tara Lazar.
This year I came up with 71 ideas, one third of which are probably tossable. A handful however, are actual candidates for books. For 2015, my goal is to complete at least one of these ideas in the form of a manuscript and possibly a dummy. I am debating about whether to do 12 x 12 (12 PB manuscripts in a year) run by Julie Hedlund. This is a large order for me, but after having done three PiBoIdMo's in a row, there must be enough material there to complete the challenge. (Or sink a boat....)

Once again, I've discovered that my writing style leans toward making lists. Maybe this satisfies my research tendencies. Looking up goofy words or discovering lingo from a sport I'm not 100% familiar with is a fun task for me. This year however, I incorporated more scribbling and proto-dummy stuff that I didn't give myself permission to do in the previous years. Why a newbie illustrator needs permission to draw is a topic for later discussion!

Anyway, thank you Tara Lazar for organizing this whole affair. The planning, managing and cheerleading of this event boggles my mind!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Maira Kalman and Mary Blair

I recently read “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything” by Maira Kalman. It’s basically a short picture book biography of Thomas Jefferson, but with Maira’s wonderful paintings and focus on unique details. This made me wonder, what else has Maira been up to? So I checked out her book, “The Principles of Uncertainty.” This is a great book, based on a column she did by the same name for the New Yorker. It’s essentially a journal and not really a children’s book. With Maira, however, her children’s books have an air of sophistication and her adult books are kooky so it all blends together ultimately.

I remember having read a few of Maira’s children’s books before (The Max series: “Ooh-la-la” etc) but not really liking them that much. Sure, she had a few quirky illustrations, but a lot of it didn’t hang together for me. Her book from 2003, “What Pete Ate from A to Z” I remember as being more cohesive (because it had a format: the alphabet?) Anyway, her artwork has, for me, now reached an amazing level!

Coincidentally, I was flipping through "Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books" and was almost as jazzed-up about her work. I kept thinking , how could I like and be inspired by two artists that are so different? But alas, dear Sherlock, they're not that different. Both of them exude joy and slight zaniness (Maira a bit more perhaps). Also, their color choices are out of this world. Look at the skin tones and lack of blending on Maira's people and the odd color choices for objects (moons, trees etc.) with Mary. Both women, separated by decades and backgrounds have a similar zest for life. 
How inspiring!

In tribute, I thought I’d paint a portrait of Mary Blair if Maira Kalman were to do it. 
An exercise, hopefully not in futility!

Here's a bonus: Maira Kalman giving a TED talk.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Live Animal Study at RISD's Nature Lab

This past Sunday was a day well spent. Most of the afternoon, I was at the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab at RISD sketching live and taxidermied animals.
"Posing" for us was a dog, rabbit, turtle and I believe, an African Gray parrot. 
The proceeds went to the RISPCA, Providence Animal Rescue League and Sweet Binks Rabbit Rescue. What a great way to spend an afternoon: sketching, hanging with the animals and fellow artists plus supporting animal welfare. The whole time I went to RISD I never did more than pop my head into the lab (I missed the evening class "field trip"). Now I can't wait to get back. It's really a great resource. I'd even consider bringing my kids, though I might wait until they're pass the "Eww, that's so gross" stage!

Thanks to Christina Rodriguez for setting up this animal study. To my knowledge, it's at least the third time that she's organized this. Also thanks to Laurelin Sitterly for bringing in the animals, managing their set up and explaining some behavior and anatomy to the artists.