Wednesday, March 13, 2013

moving notes

Ahoy! I have created a new site, where I will be blogging. This spells the end for jamiepeeps on blogspot.

It's been a fine five years. Thanks for reading! Please check out and subscribe to my posts over there!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Peaks Island School

What a treat to visit the amazing kids at the Peaks Island School on Read Across America Day!

I brought along my latest book, Here Come the Humpbacks to talk about reading pictures. Color and composition are part of the visual narrative. Color can tell us about time of day, temperature; how cold is the water? Scale can show us size relationships.

I showed this spread to talk about why I take a plastic bag to the beach every day, with my dog.

First, there's the poop business to pick up. Then, always some plastic: a bottle, a coffee cup, part of a shoe. Every little bit I carry away makes a better habitat for our marine friends.

One way of helping is adopting a whale from any of these organizations: the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, the World Wildlife Fund, and Allied Whale. I adopted a whale from each of them.

I shared my plush whales, tokens of my donations, and their curious octopus friend. They proved ready prompts for eager artists.

One girl drew a manatee from memory!

Lots of blue pastel dust, urgent mark-making, textures, blending, and more...

 Thing 1 drew with great concentration.

This octopus has a lot of personality.

Another girl drew her favorite part of the ocean: jumping in off the dock!

This artist drew his favorite character from Sponge Bob, a fun scale paradox here, big Plankton and small humpback together.

Sometimes the joy is in the act of making a color, as this student demonstrates:

All together, the Peaks Island Elementary artists created a vibrant ocean of colorful creatures.

Thanks for letting me be part of your day!

I'm in the process of making a new website, so please stay tuned for my launch news.

Friday, February 22, 2013

art from there to here

It's always good to get off the Rock. We enjoyed a rare visit to the Amherst home of James Steinberg and Paola di Stefano, fellow artists and fond friends from way back. Their feisty chickens inspired this quick pastel.

After a breakfast of fresh eggs, James gave this wee book he illustrated to our juggling daughter.

I love their art collection, especially a mask with some Year of the Snake spirit.

They pointed us west and we headed to Mass MoCA, where we were riveted by Xu Bing's Pheonix Project.

It's gigantic and resourceful, made entirely from construction debris in Beijing, referencing new wealth and excess.

The enormity of it, over 20 tons in all, is jaw-dropping, and yet the fluid design is breathtaking. Metal canisters and hard hats become frilly embellishments.

 Another exhibit, O Canada, featured other surprises. We all wanted to hug this, titled Widow by Janice Wright-Cheney.

This mural made us wonder how the Forward on Climate rally was shaping up in DC. Maybe not everybody in Alberta wants to drill for tar sands.

Sol Lewitt's retrospective of wall drawings made us all SO happy. What's not to love about color immersion?

It fueled us for the long haul to Boston, where our hotel had some art on view as well.

After a trip to the moon and beyond, we browsed around, taking note of the current owl invasion, this one at Anthropologie. Window dressing is an art in my book.

Same trend only different over at Paper Source.

Mannequins never cease to please me, this one at Betty.

This one at Boomerang in Jamaica Plain had character to spare.

There's just no resisting Marimekko, is there?

Even a small thing, a polka dotted mug, can make a trip complete. That, and drawing it!

There's beauty to be found in moons, chickens, dots, everywhere I look.

Friday, February 15, 2013

happy new year

I'm very fond of the Chinese New Year. As a former resident of San Francisco, I relate to all the Asian wisdom and ritual around new beginnings. And, it's nice to have another fresh start, since the calendar new year seems to come too close behind the holidays for a truly clean slate.

However, I am NOT fond of snakes. In fact, I am totally phobic! I repurposed my illustration of a snake from Nest, Nook & Cranny by Susan Blackaby for a New Year's card for my SF neighbor, Frank Ching. I guess the snake is all about transforming with ease, so I will embrace my fears, shriek some, and carry on.

The week began with a Maine meet-up of area members of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I knew I was in the right place when this door handle greeted me at the entrance to Bull Feeney's in Portland.

It was a lively gathering of writers and illustrators hearty enough to brave the enormous snowbanks.
On Tuesday I made a presentation at the Curtis Library in Brunswick, alongside author Robin Hansen, telling our yarnish tales of making Ice Harbor Mittens

If you can judge a library by it's art collection, the Curtis is chock full. Found this cool creation hanging:

From there, we ventured to the Peary-MacMillen Artic Museum at Bowdoin College nearby, where an inspiring exhibit of Inuit art from the collection of Rabbi Harry Sky blew me away.

Several sculptures are carved from whale bone, such as this voluptuous polar bear.

The show is nearly over. So glad I caught a look in time! They have a cool family event planned for February 23, with toy and puppet-making at 10 AM. Maybe I can disguise myself as a musk ox.

Valentine's Day proved incredibly SWEET. I brought my MECA class to visit the studio of award-winning author/illustrator Kevin Hawkes, who graciously shared his college portfolio, works in progress, and boundless humor.

Here's a sketch he refers to while keeping a character's markings consistent in the final illustrations for a current project.

He showed us several personal paintings, such as this one of a former Peaks Island neighbor hauling in his boat.

I met Kevin when we first moved to Peaks Island and always marveled at his prolific capacity to do amazing work amidst a bustling family. The Hawkes clan left for the mainland many years ago, but his influence has carried me far and wide. Now I'm illustrating children's books, too, and proud to be mentored by him. Here we are with my latest, Here Come the Humpbacks!

Thanks, Kevin, for sharing your professional wisdom with us!

The day only got sweeter, when I met my cupid, Marty, for lunch at the Blue Spoon. Intimate and delicious, this place never disappoints. I wisely skipped dessert, because I was later surprised with an amazing plate of treats crafted by Marty. Who knew he was such a pastry chef?

I hope you're all off to an auspicious new year. We head to Boston today for new scenes, visits, some art, and more great food.

Happy trails!

Friday, February 8, 2013

love letters

'Tis the season: love's gonna get me through the blizzard outside. I've got my valentine making station all ready.

If the power goes out, I still have hands, glue sticks, scissors and paper. I've been thinking about the power of old fashioned love letters lately. Who still sends them?

What a joyful greeting this door made when I visited my dear friend Mary Anne Lloyd!

We share a love of snail mail and fond attention to hand lettering, groovy stamps, and stickers. Oh, and illustrative tape, too! Here's a recent batch of my mail on it's way.

My love of letters could be one reason I seized on the chance to illustrate the poster for Portland Stage Company's upcoming production of A Song at Twilight by Noel Coward. The play turns on a batch of old love letters, with considerable drama.

These are a couple of sketches I liked that didn't get picked:

This sketch got the nod for further development:

It so happens I came across a batch of old letters in my parents' basement that became a reference point in my illustration.

And here's a little known fact: my almost 25 year marriage was born in a long-distance exchange of love letters. Got 'em stashed somewhere...

So then I sent this color sketch:

Marketing director Carole Harris was not keen on the red here, so I ditched that in my final, and she was, as always, right on the mark.

Meanwhile, valentines must be crafted. I've got all the fixin's...

I invited my fellow paper vixens over to make a fine mess.

Eda French, Nancy Gibson Nash, Mary Anne Lloyd, and Daisy Braun made the day so sweet!

Here's a few of our confections:

What's not to love about pink paper and polka dots? Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Check here in the next couple of days for some downloadable valentines.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

boston blast with MECA seniors

My Maine College of Art senior illustration students recently blasted to Boston, with department chair Scott Nash at the helm of our rocket ship. Our first landing was Cloud Kid, where we received warm and furry greetings.

Creative Director Dave Schlafman gave an engaging talk about their work, specific projects underway, and a tour of the lively studio. It's true, every member of his team has their head in the clouds!

We loved the murals..

and the toy collections..

Thanks to Cloud Kid for sharing their professional wisdom and awesomeness. The glimpse of real-life creativity totally fueled our jets!

Next, we were off to the Boston Public Library, to view in dim light and hushed quarters the Dwiggins Collection. William A. Dwiggins (1901 - 1986) was a type designer, calligrapher, typographer, illustrator, marionette designer and performer, and writer from Hingham Massachusetts.

These are a few of my favorite Dwiggins' covers.

Scott gave a brief talk about Dwiggins and we saw original sketches for his typeface Caledonia, as well as a room full of his books and personal effects. Even his pipe.

His marionettes were the biggest hit, like ancestors to animated characters.

He even carved one of himself. Love this!

From there we launched over to FableVision, where art director and illustrator John Lechner gave us some company history and showed us behind the curtain.

They have a reception area chock full of collectible fun, too.

Our final stop was at Mike's Pastries in the North End, for sugar to take us all the way home.

Yeah, Boston, we love your dirty water.

What's a trip without some illustrative gratitude?

This is Daelyne Bell's thank you:

Even I could not resist drawing the marionettes:

Michelle Cooney drew this for FableVision:

And Devon Johnson summed up our feelings with a pun:

Thank you, Scott Nash, Cloud Kid, Boston Public Library, and FableVision for giving my class a trip to remember. 

The inspiration certainly took Peter Rimkunas' first project for class out of this world:

 May the rogue mothership of MECA seniors be ready for another blast-off soon!