Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More snow in Boston

Its New Year's Eve and snow is falling again in Boston. Here are some pics from last week's storm that dropped nearly a foot. This time we are not in for so much, but it is nice to watch from my window.





The sun reflects of the Prudential tower downtown.



Look at those mean, mean icicles.



A bench got buried.



A berry got frozen.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Art project to do list for 2009

This year instead of focusing on personal resolutions, I decided to make a list of all the art projects I've been meaning to do, but always put aside so I can focus on writing and painting books. What I'm realizing is that if I don't do those other projects, my writing and illustration will suffer, I need to dabble more to feed my inspiration! So here are some of my artistic goals for 2009. I may not get to all of them, but I like the idea of starting a list so that I can do them, eventually.

- Start a series of pet portraits (along the lines of this painting I did for a friend's wedding).

- I'd like to do some little paintings on miniature square canvases of trees and flowers in interesting color palettes.

- I'd like to do more sewing. Its something I grew up doing quite a bit, but again always something that gets pushed to the bottom of my creative list. In particular I'd like to sew little animals like these, and maybe some table runners with matching cloth napkins.

- I'd like to learn an animation program, and animate some of my drawings. I've had an idea about flying cats thats been flapping its wings in the back of my brain for a long time!

- I'd like to do more drawing from life.

What are your artistic goals for 2009?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Furball Friday

In light of the holiday season, and because I posted a pic of George and Wilbur already this week, for today's Furball Friday I am featuring a different feline. This is Marge, office cat at the Providence Pheonix. Check out those chops!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Celebrating

Happy holidays everyone! This year we are not traveling, so we decided to get a tree! In lieu of xmas decorations (of which I have few), we mainly decorated the tree with ribbons, cards and wrapping...



On the top a paper flower:



In tribute to Beatrix, a Peter Rabbit ornament:



A sweet little ornament Grace made (it says "Hen Harmony"):



And next to the tree, George and Wilbur sleeping soundly:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday crafting

So each holiday I like to make a little something for the publishing folks I've worked with that year. This year it seemed fitting to pick an activity from my craft book, What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?, since I spent much of the year working on it. Sadly many of the projects are not easily shippable (I was definitely not going to send a dozen little red shoes in the mail), so I thought I'd make some good old recycled crayons. Who doesn't need crayons after all?

First I gathered up my bits of crayons from past art classes taught, and melted them in my oven. Then came the fun part, splattering them into ice cube trays:







Here is the result, in their imperfect glory (it is good for perfectionists like me to do something messy now and again):



I got some little envelopes from Paper Source and covered them with my web site stickers:



Then packaged up the little guys so they were all ready to go:





This is what my ice cube tray looked like after:



It was not, unfortunately, the only thing in my kitchen to get melted, colored wax all over it (the stove, counter, pans and the floor got their fair share)... but like I said, its good therapy for someone like me, who spends quite a lot of her time sitting in front of a computer or painting teeny tiny pictures of bunnies.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Furball Friday

Here are George and Wilbur once more, enjoying a little quality time together.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

NY Times article

Alvina (fellow Blue Rose Girl) recently passed on a link to this article in the New York Times, and I think is worth repeating here. Its the first optimistic view of how changes in technology will affect publishing that I've read. It can be hard to keep a positive view of the future of the book, considering the economic hardships everyone is facing, and a publishing industry that has been struggling for quite some time. But if we really believe that a book is a unique and perfect tool, then we can have faith that it will always have a place in our lives.

Some highlights:

"As a technology, the book is like a hammer. That is to say, it is perfect: a tool ideally suited to its task. Hammers can be tweaked and varied but will never go obsolete. Even when builders pound nails by the thousand with pneumatic nail guns, every household needs a hammer. Likewise, the bicycle is alive and well. It was invented in a world without automobiles, and for speed and range it was quickly surpassed by motorcycles and all kinds of powered scooters. But there is nothing quaint about bicycles. They outsell cars....

...Now, at this point one expects to hear a certain type of sentimental plea for the old-fashioned book — how you like the feel of the thing resting in your hand, the smell of the pages... that’s not my argument. I do love the heft of a book in my hand, but I spend most of my waking hours looking at — which mainly means reading from — a computer screen. I’m just saying that the book is technology that works.

Phonograph records and CDs and telegraphs and film cameras were all about storing and delivering bits — information, in its manifold variety — and if we’ve learned anything, we’ve learned that bits are fungible. Bit-storing technologies have been arbitrary, or constrained by available materials, and thus easy to replace when the next thing comes along. Words, too, can be converted into bits, but there’s something peculiar, something particularly direct, about the path from the page to the brain.

It is significant that one says book lover and music lover and art lover but not record lover or CD lover or, conversely, text lover."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

NYC Food Bank Raffle

I quite adore the handiwork of Ann Wood, and just discovered some of her handmade birdies are being raffled off to benefit the NYC Food Bank. If you want to do a good deed and be entered into the raffle, see details at jewelry designer Bonbon Oiseau's blog here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Furball Friday

I've decided to dedicate Fridays to cute pictures of my cats. Since George made his debut already, this week I will feature Wilbur, his brother. He likes to sleep like this:



It is only a matter of time before he makes it into a book.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Inspiration

Inevitably when I'm working on a new book idea I run into stretches of time when my ideas come at the rate of molasses. That is how I felt today. When that happens, my favorite way to get things going again is to pull out some of my favorite books, read them cover to cover, then sit and revise my project. At first I start to revise in the voice of the author I've just read, but after a few minutes my own voice kicks in again. Its kind of like a jump start for my creative battery. These are the books that jump started me today...

I've used this one more times than I can count, I can't get over how much I love it:



Oh how I wish I could have written this book:



Or illustrated this one:

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bazaar Bizarre in Boston


This weekend, amidst our first snow, I attended the Bazaar Bizarre in downtown Boston at the Castle (pictured above). Its the ultimate in handmade crafty goodness! This year, despite the state of the economy, I was amazed to see the line to get in running about a block long. I had thought things might be slower this year, but that was not at all the case. I was chatting with a friend who had a table inside, and she said at all the craft sales she's done lately sales have been up compared to past years. Interesting. Maybe folks are just thinking more about how they spend their money, and trying to support local artists?

Anyways, here are some highlights. The place was filled with adorable tiny plush toys, silk screened t-shirts and handmade things of all kinds.

I've always loved looking at vast quantities of colorful yarn:



I LOVED these little guys. They are by an artist called Ashley Anna Brown, she calls them Fern Animals. I love the kitties in stripes!



These guys are by Soto Softies. The details on the owls are so lovely:





More plush goodness by Wren Handmade. I'm not a big into dolls usually, but these were so meticulously crafted and beautiful. I especially loved the pile of little coats:



And lastly, rows and rows of handmade soap by The Fuzzy Bunny. I bought the citrus basil, lilac, and white tea and ginger. Yum!



See the Bazaar Bizarre link above for dates in other cities. And support local artists this holiday season!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

First copy

When I went out to check the mail today I was surprised to find my very first copy of What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?, at last! Nothing compares with holding a freshly printed book in your hands for the first time, especially one you've been working on for several years. Its a thrill to see the way all the little details came together. I love the smell of the ink and the crackling of the binding when I open it.

I have to say I am really proud of this book. I don't say that to brag, its just that I feel that in every way it was the best that I could do. Usually when I look at a book I've worked on, there is always something I would go back and change if I could. Maybe I could have used a more interesting color combination, or tweaked the text one way or the other. But I truly feel, as I look through this book, that I did my best job and that is that. Its a nice feeling.



And on top of everything, the publisher synchronistically picked endpapers that are my very favorite color, a lovely pea green. This is the color I painted our dining room wall, that I wake up looking at every day (I don't sleep in the dining room by the way, but do live in one big loft-y room). This is surely a good sign.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Literary Lodgings

I was doing some holiday shopping last weekend when I spotted these delightful book birdhouses, made artist David Vissat. I love the honey wand on the Pooh house!





This one makes me especially happy, as I recently reread To Kill A Mockingbird. It was just as magical reading it as an adult... what a beautiful book.



When I got home I realized I had seen some of David's work awhile back over on Shelftalker (see write-up here). I have not yet ventured into creating my own birdhouse like Alison did, but I will have to put it on my ever growing art projects "to do" list...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Kazoo activity sketches

Last week I posted some photos of an activity I was working out for a new book proposal (see here), here are the sketches that resulted...