Monday, March 22, 2010


This little hermit crab appears in "Nest, Nook and Cranny" more than once and serves as
today's mascot...he reminds me of the song in my head: I get by with a little help from my friends.

I can thank friend and former teacher at the Institute for Children's Literature for a great opportunity: Kirby Larson interviewed the author, Susan Blackaby, and I on her blog. Read it here.

I love when friends resurface from another chapter, a distant beach. Good friend, Kathy arrived on stormy seas to play catch-up in the world of art, elder care, and mothering.

Former Peaks Islander and my first island friend, Julie, will return to Maine in late May to photograph a wedding or two. She does amazing work. And there's nothing like original art as a wedding gift. Below is my pastel for my newlywed cousins, Mati and Hugh.

And then there's Ika, who knew my husband even before I did. She still creates out in the Bay Area, and out of the blue sent along her collection of vintage Beatle photos that she once had taped to her teenage bedroom walls. Now, they will be taped to OUR
teenager's bedroom walls. It inspired this by Daisy:

Friends enhance our lives in so many ways, more than a Facebook count can ever tell.

I called upon friends to share their expertise with my class recently. First, Scott Dimond, an art historian, curator, and collector visited with his vintage suitcase full of newspapers and ephemera dating back over 200 years. He talked about the role that illustration played in the nation's literacy, politics, and cultural mores.

Above, he displays a Molly Hatchet cover featuring art by Frank Frazetta to flesh out the early heavy metal genre.

Next up was Melissa Sweet, award-winning illustrator of picture books and products. She gave a spirited talk about the rewards of research and how process reveals the best surprises.

And then, with another nod to illustration history, Joshua Bergey, designer and curator, spoke about reclaiming the heritage of his grandfather, Earle K. Bergey, a preeminent illustrator of pulp fiction in the 30's and 40's. Students loved his pin-up glamour and the visionary sci-fi manifestations found on countless paperbacks.

It was a hectic couple of weeks, scurrying about the halls at MECA to make sure the right connections were on, the students were in attendance, and the timing was right.
Through it all, I get support from my faculty colleague, Mary Anne, who can listen and laugh about what we call Strange Maine.

She sends me little paper confections like this that just make my day.

As is written in the Apocrypha: "Forsake not an old friend; for the new is not comparable to him: a new friend is as new wine; when it is old, thou shalt drink it
with pleasure."

I raise a glass to all my precious friends: cheers!

Friday, March 12, 2010

looking out looking in

I am excited to be part of a group show: Looking Out Looking in at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn. Curated by Madeline Sorel, it is a tribute to both Women's History Month and the art of portraiture by 25 women artists ranging in age from eight to eighty.

My pastel of Amelia Earhart was done for a textbook story.

She's one of those heroines I can't shake. I should see the movie, but not sure I want to. She can still keep flying in the clouds of my imagination.

I did this drawing of Johnny Cash as a personal project. Ring of Fire plays in my head way too often.

Madeline asked for a self-portrait. I used to do them continually back in school, but this was done a few years ago, for a contributors page alternative in a magazine. Here I look serious yet dotty at the same time.

Madeline and I were classmates in illustration at RISD decades ago. Now that we are both teaching, I've been thinking about those heady days of art school. How did I learn?

I recently found some slides from my freshman drawing class with Lorraine Shemesh, an amazing teacher, full of energy and good example. I remember working on this self-portrait in layers.

During the first year of school, everyone's trying to discover their identity, finally apart from family and adolescent peer pressure. It's a new kind of pressure for the art student, but drawing from the self is a best practice. Nothing like contemplating your own skull.

And then, there's foreshortening. And feet. Two big challenges.

We also did a life size self portrait, a project I've assigned to my own class. This took me hours. I think I was trying to say I was a swimmer and a skier, without being too naked.

The motel pool where I spent much of my youth became a learning curve in perspective studies. I did this drawing for a sophomore illustration class, trying to combine real reference and the imagined, with 3 vanishing points.

Both my father and that motel are long gone. This drawing is my tether to that point in time, when I was growing and changing. It also serves as a reminder that I learned by looking out and looking in. Soon spring break will be over, and I'll be back in the classroom, hoping to encourage students to do the same.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

curiosity counts

Every now and then a good shindig comes along that brings my favorite people out of the woodwork. In this case, it was a surprise party for Kirsten Cappy, saucy diva of Curious City, who has celebrated children's books far and wide, making fans galore in her wake.

We were asked to create an interpretation of Kirsten for an instant show at Zero Station.

Here's mine, in which Her Loveliness sports a curious octopus ready to read.

My daughter, Daisy, got into the act, too:

doesn't usually do portraits, but his airbrush piece says it all:

Here Kirsten shares her glee with Cathryn Falwell, the swell mastermind behind the party.

So many luminaries created visions of Kirsten, I couldn't capture them all. Here are a few:

Melissa Sweet's paper puppet with signature Kirsten colors:

Mary Anne Lloyd's
cheerful Kirsten:

Scott Nash
captures Kirsten's frisky nature:

And Annie O'Brien shows Kirsten's love of characters:

So much great art, and so many scrumptious cupcakes. Life is sweet!

And the music! Who else but Phil Hoose could serenade such a siren for kids books?

His band, Chipped Enamel, rocked the crowd and made Kirsten blush.

Daisy and Eda were inspired to make some instant art for the wall, too.

Kirsten, of course, did what she does best: she makes us all feel young, believers of stories and dreams and rainbow stripes.

Thanks for making the world a snazzy, Cappyish place, Kirsten. Happy Birthday!