Monday, March 17, 2014

My time in Moab...


(click on picture to enlarge)

We were up in Moab, Utah this past weekend, most doing this...


I did a little bit of hiking, but with others to entertain my "mountain goat" family, I took the opportunity to get some serious sketching in...

(click picture to enlarge)

This, about half way up the trail to the Corona Arch, which I had sketched before... 


It was a real fun weekend, with old friends from college, their and our kids, not that much younger then when we first became friends, in the Campus Crusade group. Now we are the old ones and our kids are in college and getting married, yikes, but time doesn't stand still, though one old friend we haven't seen in over a decade, told our daughters we hadn't changed at all, while we were arguing about how to cook dinner in the campfire.
Of course we ended the weekend, grabbing really good food at Milt's, the parking lot full of like minded adventures- mountain bikes and Tulle carriers on top of SUVs and those waiting in line looking a little bit wind swept...

(click on picture to enlarge)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Adding to my Bug Collection....in the March SPIDER MAGAZINE...


Have I told you I am bad at this self promotion thing? Well, it is almost the middle of March and I totally forgot to post that my above illustration is in the March issue of SPIDER MAGAZINE...


This is my third illustrations for the "Bug" magazines, but all with the wonderful Art Director Suzanne Beck. This project was to illustrate a recipe, a Welsh scone recipe and I had a lot of fun researching all things Welsh, like their amazing textile patterns...

 And their Gaudy pottery...
I'm not insulting the Welsh, it actually is called that.

I really wanted to find a way to get these gals, with their traditional top hats above lacy bonnets in, wondering...

how did that tradition evolve exactly?

Then it was a weekend of sketching...


and brainstorming on paper, moving things around in Photoshop and sending ideas to New York on a Sunday, when apparently me, in the Four Corners, Sue and her editor had nothing better to do then to email back and forth. Have I said how much I love the internet and what it does for me! 

 Really loved that pottery, though the poem is about having a picnic...


Oh, how many antique lunch boxes did I pin on pinterest.com?


Kept trying to get a spider, a bug or a mushroom in there, just wasn't working. Then Sue pulled me from my fixations and suggested the rainbow and the jam. Uhhh, don't even want to think how long it would have been before I thought of jam, my brain was still on getting old women with top hats in...

When everyone was happy with the sketch, I went to appliqueing and stitching and ta.....da....


The Guady pottey had to go, but I kept the Gaudy pattern for the tea towel in the pail. The design on the picnic cloth is from the textile above and was X stitched on actual X stitched fabric, though I did four X's per square. The jar was done with a sheer tulle type fabric and the jam on the scones are french knots. 
It was another fun and challenging project, did something better this time and of course still could point out things I will do differently next time. Let's see, I've collected a BABYBUG, a  LADYBUG and a SPIDER. But still need a CRICKET. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Stitch Therapy....


I stitched this weekend, well yesterday, on my bed, all afternoon long. I needed it. Since the beginning of the year, and since cutting back on teaching, I have been trying to adhere to a schedule, to treat my illustrating and writing like a real job. Monday, Tuesday and Fridays...writing all morning, do art in afternoon. Wednesdays....write social media-blogs and twitter and go to yoga. Afternoon....teach Art to kiddos. Thursday mornings...I cook for a soup kitchen and afternoon.....do art, take a nap.
I read others blogs and interact with Twitter in the morning. Problem is I get up 5 o'clock mountain time and the only illustrators up at that time are in the UK. But wow, have I found some wonderful artist and illustrators over there and have really enjoyed following them.
 I made a pact with myself not to work on my manuscript on the weekends, but to work on blog post, peruse Twitter and do art. Saturday, I didn't listen to myself.
Spent most of the day, here, in my office, the kitchen table and outlined a prequel to my work in progress that is in revisions. The idea sparked by my work on Friday basically building a family tree for the characters, to keep track of all their names. But in the process, a story started to come out and excited, I devoted my Saturday to getting it down.
I should have stuck to my pact because now everything is off kilter and  am writing this in the am on Monday and should be starting to work on my manuscript.
But stitching yesterday helped get things back in line. Too much grandiose thoughts can come when you are creating a world that does not exist and the brain hurts too much. I have to actively push words out of myself and onto the paper, with many fits and starts.
On the other hand, when all the design decisions are made, stitching is effortless, feeling the drag of the thread through the fabric I also can feel the release my tension with it and a balance to world. I stitch on my bed, while listening to a movie or the whole season of a television show I have seen before, so I don't have to look up at the screen so much to know what is going on.
One series I love and should  buy to watch when it  is no longer airing is PBS's CRAFTS IN AMERICA...

I could go on and on how wonderful this series is. I won't know, cause I am thirteen minutes late for work, which working on that manuscript is, but I will leave you with the words for the title song, an old Shaker hymn that I want sung at my funeral, I love it so much, to see the YouTube video go HERE...
"Simple Gifts" written by Elder Joseph
(From Wikipedia page... "while he was at the Shaker community in Alfred, Maine in 1848)

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right

from the Enfield Historical Society Webpage

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Belated Valentines...


Meant to post this on Friday. But, alas, it did not happen. Could have been that I was finishing up mailing 200 Valentines postcards out to Art Directors, or that I was hanging my charter school's art show at our local Art Center or that I had whooping cough and a fever, probably thanks to the little darlings. But I did save back a couple dozen of the valentine postcards to give to them, complete with a Kit Kat bar taped to it.
As they filed out of the art room, after their tables were clean on Wednesday, I "mom-ed" them and told them it was polite to appreciate the card and sentiment, before ripping off the candy.

But a late Happy Valentine's Day to you...

I shouldn't admit to this, but I will, cause well, that is what I do. The illustration is heavily Photoshopped because of changing my mind midway and well, not seeing some errors early enough.


I started on my 2014 Christmas card early in January, cause well, I have a hard time getting it done. This...


was actually my 2012 Christmas postcard, which just didn't happen and having the illustration from a year ago I still barely got out my 2013 postcard, which I sent out to 400 art directors at book publishers, magazines and ad agencies.
Promo is something that really slid when I was teaching three days, so now that is down to one and I'm in my studio four days, really trying hard to do it.
Where was I?
Oh, yes, so I started a very early attempt, still somewhat in the Christmas spirit of getting an image ready for next year, Card companies actually have a year lead time for Christmas illustrations. So started on collaging the illustrations, using a dark blue for the night sky, stitching the window, etc. Then...
I realized I am an illustrator not a fine artist and why was I illustrating pomegranates? And, Valentines was coming up and in my 400 postcards from Christmas, I had concentrated more on general markets and there was still many from the 2014  Children's Writers and Illustrators Market book, I had not sent a postcard to, so.....switched gears, kept the window, the snow scene outside, the cat, changed the holiday to Valentines and stuck a kid in it!
But I think moving on to make the collage, after all the planning is done, the fabric chosen, is kind of like finally getting in your car and heading out for a long road trip. It is when your mind relaxes and boom, you realize you forgot to turn off the iron or forgot your children, etc.
I was almost done when I realized there were some color problems. Here is the untouched original...


I'm sure many of you are thinking, "its wonderful," cause my readers are such nice people, but if you "squint" at it, you will have to admit that the girls overalls, her shirt And the chair behind her are ALL the same value!! The glue bottle is the same value as the table cloth and the scissor handle and her hand are the same value!! 
The same value as in squinting you can not differentiate between the two colors.
Plus on the other end, the night sky is so dark and the snow on the mountains is so white, well in digitizing that extreme in color value it gets..."whonky" and that is a technical term for " unsteady, shaky,awry or wrong"
Arghh...not like I went to Art School or anything!
But almost done and well, having as of late ripped apart too many illustration, I decided to use it as a practice in correcting in Photoshop, so finished the illustration and digitally did this...


The chair, shirt and overalls are still on the dark side, but they have contrast, as does the glue bottle and the green of the scissors handle, stands out from her hand. I did lighten the sky a little but too much messing can really effect the digital file, there is only so much you can do in Photoshop, well I can do in Photoshop.
I also realized too many of my illustrations are more of a landscape view and really need to more close up work, of faces and detail, so on the back of the postcard included him...


And am now, working on a whole gob of spot illustrations, which was hard to get started, but picked the Beach as a theme, cause it is February and the Blahhhhhs are setting in and my thought went here...



I'm collaging away at them and will post as I get them done. Kind of fun to have pretty much a one day project and am using a lot of my scrap fabric.
I have to give credit where it is due and a thank you to...


I just "snipped" his twitter header @pinocastellano  because his name is too hard to spell. It took me three days to pronounce it correctly at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference this summer in LA, where he gave several great workshops, real nuts and bolts stuff like...
1. Be on Twitter...check, you can find me at @moonflowermuse
2. Show process, sketches, line drawing....check
3. Throw out your neon colors......I'm trying!!
4. limit orange.....can't remember if he said it or someone else taking the workshop said it, but orange can get "whonky" in CMYK- what most books and magazine publishers are printing in, cause it is cheaper then what a fine art printer would use.
5. and no job is too little....which I totally agree with and would so love to get a bunch of little jobs!

Thus working on the spots and then am going to try and get some work in my portfolio for the educational market, as in "See Spot Run" sort of thing.

So get on twitter and let me know so I can follow you and follow Giuseppe for some good advice, he even does portfolio reviews on occasion.

Friday, February 07, 2014

IF: Prehistoric


According to my husband , the Great Salt Lake and the Salt Flats around it,  is all that remains of a greater prehistoric fresh water lake called Bonneville that mostly evporated away. If you have been there, you know what I am talking about if not, read HERE...
I so have to put new art work up on my website, I have it, just needed to block out the week to updates things!

Monday, February 03, 2014

Routines of Writers and Artists...But Who Does the Laundry?

Been reading a really interesting book by Mason Currey DAILY RITUALS: HOW ARTISTS WORK. . It is a fun quick read. You can just skim through the one to page descriptions of well know visual artists, composers, poets and writers. Of course I am most interested in the women, though there are few and are spread far between the men.

Jane Austen (1775-1817) ...

wrote her wonderful novels like...

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

at a tiny wobbly table facing the door, early in the morning, so that if anyone was coming in the room, she could hide them. She also helped oversee the household with her mother and sister. In Austen's case, many hands made light work.

Agatha Christie (1890-1976)...

 who wrote riveting mysteries like....

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

 always put "married woman" as her occupation, never "writer" and slipped away, after her other duties  were done, to write...

On the other extreme were artists like Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1996)...


who coming from a certain level of society and having a certain level of success, could stay in bed as long as she wished and paint as long as she wished, either on the East Coast or in her hide away in Abiqui New Mexico, because others were figuring everything else for her. No need to think about food, house hold duties or traveling itineraries. I know that from reading many of the letters between O'Keeffe and one of her assistants Marla Chabot,


who would get the artists homes in New Mexico ready for her through World War 2 and then cook and drive the artist around the high desert to paint scenes like this...



Having staff, an assistant, a spouse or a lover that pretty much took care of everything else was certainly a big perk for the artists featured in Currey's book and Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein's companion certainly has to take the cake for the most willing to support Greatness...




Wikipedia list Toklas' occupation as Avante Garde, didn't realize that paid so well. 

In DAILY RITUALS:HOW ARTISTS WORK, Currey describes a ritual, that even if it is only half true is pretty crazy. Stein and Toklas,  would drive out into the country, after Toklas took care of the morning ritual of bathing their poodle and brushing its teeth, and find a cow, for Stein to gaze upon to be able to write. I am not, nor I think Currey is making this up. Toklas job was to herd said cow into the right position for inspiration to come and if it did not, to go find another cow. 

I asked Jon if he would go find me a cow to gaze upon....or bring me croissants, if he determined by how I was pacing in my studio I wanted another one, the ritual of bring scheduled food to writers mentioned several times in Currey's book....yeah, not happening. 

Are you a woman, are you laugh? Are you not surprised, that circumstances could slowly evolve where the wife/lover/housekeeper of these male writers would find themselves with strict instructions on the level of noise, visitors and eating times...

Pablo Picasso...

who was  a friend of Stein and painted her, in the Avante Garde years in Paris...


had a lover, Fernande, who waited around for him all day to come out of his studio for dinner and then he was grumpy when he did.

Yeah, that would not fly in this house. But I have been a wife and a mother for over twenty years and guess who has played the support staff around here all that time. It was not I who declared that my favorite hard pillow was not getting to my side of the bed on a regular basis the other day, with the expectation something would be done about that.
I am the one driving around and finding the cows...or driving back and forth from our little "village", where daughter #2 still goes to school and taking her to after school activities in the bigger town some distance away, where there is no coffee shop, no starbucks at all, that is open after 4 pm, so I go to the library and try and get some more work done, though really want to be in my studio that time of day. I am really only good at writing in the morning....yeah I know I used "good" incorrectly, but it's getting late in the day.
Yeah, finding cows. 
There is grocery shopping, laundry, proclamations of hair cuts and needs for dress shirts for court the morning of, there are fifteen togos needing to be made for costume for the High School One Acts and the nearest fabric store is a hour and a half away. 
I spent Saturday, figuring out how to watch the Super Bowl through our internet but viewed on our flat screen. With twist ties in hand, plus  a vacuum and a broom, I was also the one to organize all the cables that had been intertwined amongst the said TV, the Blueray, the Xbox and the Roku box. All covered in dog hair and dust in the corner behind the TV stand and I hate the sound of sports broadcast and we don't watch football and I don't want to talk about how I am from Colorado! But I was most definitely spent the weekend finding other peoples cows.
I really am not complaining, I think it is kind of  funny, that O'Keeffe or Stein needed to stay so far away from the reality of our world as women to create. 
I don't know what I would create if not finding cows, being a taxi service and a support staff and am eternally grateful to Jon, that over the past twenty years, he has worked so hard to allow me to stay home and make my art, write and most importantly be a mother to our girls.
I can find some cows for him, or make sure the pillow he likes is on his side of the bed.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Musing on the Caldecotts and my favorites...


This Morning the ALA, the American Library Association announced the  winners and honors for 2013's best work in Juvenile  Literature. Amongst other awards the Newberry for the best writing went to Kate DiCamillo, who has to also get the award for getting the announcement up on her website the fastest...

FLORA & ULYSSES


and  the Caldecott, for the best of Illustration of a picture book went to Brian Floca's...

 LOCOMOTIVE

It's a big deal, this year with a live feed Monday morning, which I watched on my laptop, in my PJ's, in bed at 6:30 my time, while trying to keep up with the #alayma or #ala14yma on my tablet... yeah it is a bit much for someone with dsylexia.

For the Caldecott, I was rooting for David Wiesner's MR. WUFFLES...


An absolute hilarious depiction of tiny aliens invading our planet and becoming play things for a bored cat! The near wordless picture book did get a Caldecott Honor Silver award this year.

I have taken workshops from Wiesner, twice at the SCBWI LA Conference and this last August he treated us to the process of making MR. WUFFLES , from the pretty "loopy" spark of an idea that started with mini plastic soldiers in a sand box and then evolved to the hilarious first steps of the aliens on our plant and well, Mr. Wuffles, who is based of his cat. Wiesner following the poor cat around with a "kitty cam" on a stick! Go HERE for more delightful info on an ingenious book!

Wiesner is such a delight to learn from, for him everything goes back to craft and excellence,  and it is so nice to hear, amongst the ever present push of platforms, social media and well "hyping" up your book. Wiesner's books need no hyping up, proven by  his 2007 Caldecott wining book...

FLOTSAM
a gorgeously illustrated picture book with panels visually telling the story of a boy's discovery of a magical old camera on the beach and where it transports him to. 

Wiesner has actually won the Caldecott three times, also in 2002 for...

THE THREE LITTLE PIGS

and in 1992 for...
TUESDAY

I couldn't get my hands on a copy of MR. WUFFLES at the last conference, but did pick up another one of Wiesner's great books....

ART & MAX

and he was gracious enough to write a little note to my art students in it...


Well, I actually asked him to write "Miss Julia is right, draw all the time" but he corrected me and wrote correct.

I'm planning on using the picture book to teach an art unit this spring. The antics of Arthur and the hard to handle Max, who won't slow down. Wiesner's book of two lizards with the back drop of the Southwest experimenting with splashy painting  like Jackson Pollock and dots like George Seurat will be a wonderful connection for my Native American and rural ranch kids who live very far way from high cultural.

I'm exicited now for the 2014 Society of Childern's Book Writer and Illustrator Conference in August to see who will be coming... probably not Wiesner this year but who knows, maybe Brian Floca or Aaron Becker, who also won a Caldecott Honor for ....

JOURNEY
another gorgeously illustrated picture book. Maybe lush and detailed is coming back in?

The third Caldecott Honor goes to Molly Idle, yeah A girl!!! for...

FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO

So apparently Flora was a popular baby book name, for writers a few years ago!

All the news, so very exciting, as was cheering along with everybody else live this year. To read all about it go to NPR's coverage on their blog HERE

Oh and one more shot out for Holly Black's DOLL BONES, a Newberry Honor this year,  which I have not read, but have chatted with Black when she was at SCBWI LA a couple of years ago, so big Congrats! but have to say Eliza Wheeler's illustration is my favorite of all the book covers up for awards...


Is there an award for the best illustrated book cover?... there should be!