Tuesday, July 28, 2009

news splash

You've heard that, right, that no man is an island? It's pretty cool that being three miles out to sea (give or take several strokes, if you are swimming the Peaks to Portland Race) doesn't necessarily put me off the map. I've hit the online trifecta with recent blogposts that feature my work.

Three cheers and a splash for my mermaid cohort, Judith Hunt, in the Maine Illustrators Collective for posting bios of all those featured in the current show at the Kennebunk Free Library.

Hooray to Liz Yanoff of the New York Reading Association Youth Book Blog.
I was interviewed as a nominee in the Charlotte Awards, for Rickshaw Girl. Kids get to ask questions online of authors and illustrators and it's always fun to share the backstory.

And then, bravo to my alter ego, the divine Jami G at the iSpot. Quick as a bunny, there appeared some of my recent references for my job for Cricket Magazine.

Jumping into the pool of connections online, I have time to draw dreamily, and swish my
scaly tail.


Monday, July 27, 2009

seeds of conflict and peace

One aspect of illustration I relish is the chance to do research. Maybe I miss doing those book reports from school, or maybe it's my keen curiosity. I had a fantastic opportunity to go back in time, waaaay back, when I worked on a project for Cricket Magazine. "Jason and Jonathan" is a story by Eric Kimmel, set in ancient Judea. Two boys from opposite sides of their village, one Greek, the other Judean, meet in the caves above the town and become friends.

Art director Karen Kohn provided some reference, mostly of Greek soldiers and Greek vase art, while I scoured the local library and my own clipping files for something to spark my sense of that time and place. The illustrations also involved battle, not something I have drawn before. There's nothing like primary sources to get me going, so I found some island models. Since Cricket is aimed at 9 - 14 year-olds, I contacted Liam, who is 14. He found another friend, Jack, to come along. I asked them to wear shorts and sandals and bring something like a sword.

In the first scene, they are lying on a cliff, gazing at shooting stars. Here's the shot I used for reference.

And here's the sketch.

I also contacted a neighbor, Steve Schuit, who has been to Jerusalem and traveled in the Middle East. Steve and his wife, Marsha, are consultants to groups, while being civic leaders and art advocates in their community, and have hosted numerous art shows in their home. He showed me great landscape shots like this one.

It informed the setting for the final illustration.

The boys took many poses, getting into the act. Liam here finds a live Greek on the battlefield.

It's Jack, his long-lost friend.

Here's my sketch, in which I accidentally switched the players.

It was the Judean standing, not the Greek. So I revised that in the final illustration.

In the final scene of the story, the Greek boy encounters other Greek soldiers, and he pretends to take his friend hostage. My models were great:

Here's the sketch.

Karen asked me to refine the helmet a bit more.

While I was in the middle of this project, Steve asked me to join him for the Educators Evening at the Seeds of Peace International Camp in Otisfield, Maine. It felt completely relevant to my state of mind. The boys in the story I was illustrating had decided that, although they had different customs and beliefs, "Our prayers just take different paths."

If only their descendants could have been so open-minded.

Seeds of Peace was founded in 1993 to bring together youth from countries around the world in a state of conflict. Teens from Israel, Palestine, Pakistan, India, Egypt, and Jordan go through 3 weeks of intense workshops, facing ancient fears and hatreds with dialogue, activities, and when it's not raining, swimming in Pleasant Lake.

This is Annie O'Brien, who also attended the Educators Evening, at the gate.

It was a soggy camp when we arrived, nobody jumping in the lake.

Yet, when you gather 14 and 15 year-olds, the energy is high. Here they are busting out of dinner.

The rest of us gathered at the Delegation Center, where most of the session work takes place. Every country sends along Delegation Leaders, adult educators who work with Seeds of Peace facilitators to arrive at open communication models they can bring back, planting those seeds of peaceful respect in their classrooms and lives.

Marsha and Steve led the discussion, in which everyone in the large circle stated their country and their educating role. Then for short sessions, we all mingled and spoke to those with parallel areas of interest and/or experience. This was a heady moment: to be in exchange with so many people from all over the world in one room. I met Nadim from Pakistan, Drora from Israel, Fatmah from Egypt, and so many I could not spell their names. It was humbling and exhilarating all at once. My contribution was a lesson activity using zines as a vehicle for self-expression, a merger of visual and language arts to communicate a student's viewpoint in unexpected and revealing ways. I shared some student zines and talked about visual art as a medium that can sometimes go beyond the limits of language. Here's the mingling.

The whole room was wallpapered in big lists made during sessions.

What if we ALL kept this list front and center? To learn to be peacemakers and live with people we disagree with?

I came away from Seeds of Peace feeling like a new person, an ambassador for being human, wanting a peaceful world, and teaching others to get along. See where illustration takes me? I thought I was looking for photos of Jerusalem, and I wound up meeting people who live there.

I thank Cricket for publishing stories that illustrate friendship and understanding. And I thank Marsha and Steve for being ambassadors for peace, in their work and dedication.

Monday, July 20, 2009

so many moons

Whoa! The summer pace of activity has reached a sweaty pitch. I've been dashing to art events, scribbling towards deadlines, and swatting mosquitoes. Who said summer was a lazy idyll?

I blasted down to Kennebunk for the MEIC exhibit opening at the Kennebunk Free Library. What a lovely gathering of talent and delectable food.

I saw some familiar faces, like Cristina Siravo, a busy MECA grad who creates sweet whimsy with her watercolors and sushi cats.

And I made a new friend, Robin Swennes, who I swear I met years ago, maybe at the former Imageset. She now does every manner of design, illustration, and creative service as chocolatedesign. Here she is, standing next to my two pieces.

Only two days later, I was part of an island group show, The Color of Peaks, at the TEIA. The Trefethen Evergreen Improvement Association is a beloved island summer establishment, the classic "club" right down the hill from my house, also built by Trefethens, a pioneering Maine family. The building has often been the subject of my pastels, along with the nearby shore and sky. As a perfect venue for art and art lovers, the TEIA draws a loyal crowd.

I did this pastel, "Glow", after one of my evening walks with the dog at low tide. Portland and Little Diamond are so close, yet so far.

The best part about the TEIA is the porch. Rock on.

Only a few days later, it was Marty's turn at Pecha Kucha, a brisk event sponsored by the Maine Center for Creativity. Doug Green is a killer MC, providing up tempo intros of each of the presenters who, in PK tradition, must show 20 slides, each for 20 seconds. That's a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds, but who's counting?

Marty decided to show a central image of illustration, his "Visual Bait" along with a small inset of his moto adventures, "for those of us who need to multi-task" and a counter in the corner, for "those who need to be somewhere else."

Yeah, he was a little nervous. He got in the groove quick. He showed a few slides on process. His tool of choice: the Paasche airbrush.

He closed out with this slide, featuring his "Big Catch" for the Down Front ice cream store on the island. And me, his other big catch.

All those pix of motorcycle rides made us need another one. We rode over to Ossipee, NH on Sunday, through Buxton, Waterboro, Limerick. I just had to document this funny diner sign with my space cowboy.

Can it really be 40 years since man walked on the moon?

Friday, July 3, 2009

pixie peeps

Here's a detail from the piece that is in the Maine Illustrators Collective's "Working Artists Show" at the Kennebunk Free Library. Man, that is a lovely library. When delivering my art, we got there a bit before it opened. We enjoyed taking in the magnificent entrance, complete with cheery cafe umbrellas outside and a bronze statue of kids reading on a bench.

There is a stellar permanent collection of Maine children's book art that includes familiar greats like Kevin Hawkes, Melissa Sweet, Charlotte Agell, Lisa Jahn-Clough, Judith Hunt, Wade Zahares, Holly Berry, Matt Tavares, and the list goes on.

The Working Artists Show is hanging in Hank's Room, a separate gallery space downstairs off the Youth section. The reception will be this Wednesday, from 4:30 - 7:30, so do stop in!

The really cool find was the fairy garden tucked into the back yard of the library. We are pixie people, so this discovery made our day.

It was chock full of every sort of pixie. Like the ones that love a good fairy tale.

And those cool blue types.

And these peeps having tiny tea....

reminded me of a fairy I drew for Maddie's Magical
by island author Jeanann Alves. This one's sittin' pretty on an urchin cushion while her fairy horse flies on over. You have to read the book....

Here's our own pixie a few years ago after sewing her costume at the Peaks Island Fiber Arts Camp.

She never gets tired of drawing fairy fashions...

When you need a little sprinkle of magic in your day, swing over to the Kennebunk Free Library.

And check out the illustration show!