Monday, January 10, 2011

in with the new

I found some mitten wrapping paper by Graham & Snow that became a collage card to ring in the new.

The first week of the year was busy with newness. I went to an opening for an exhibit of photographs by Peaks Islander Zev Eisenberg in the lobby gallery of the Chestnut Street Lofts in Portland. Zev, a junior in the new media department at U Maine in Orono, possesses an eye for the surprise moment. As the son of Avner the Eccentric and Julie Goell, he's wise to the slight of hand and lyricism that are everyday in his household. Here he is straightening his work with the level in his phone.

He was clearly excited for this first showing of his photographs, and fellow photographer and islander Arthur Fink was there to cheer him on. 

As one who almost switched majors from illustration to photography in college, I appreciate the thrill of a good eye, and a group that hangs well. Congratulations to Zev!

From there, I headed to the Friends School, for a book launch for "Fufu and Fresh Strawberries" written by two Telling Room students, Caitlin Lowell and Charlotte McDonald. The story about a young Sudanese boy who makes friends in his new neighborhood is illustrated by Anna Boll, a friend and cohort in the Maine Illustrators Collective. It was fun to share in another first for everyone.

Here are Charlotte, Caitlin, and Anna, all smiles.

Both young writers spent many formative hours at the Telling Room, followed by a grant and a trip to Haystack in the fall of 2007, where the story was born. It went through many twists that stories often do before publication. 

Anna, the illustrator, began the event with a paired drawing game, in which one person thinks of an object without naming it, but instead gives directions to a partner on what to draw. Good example of the humorous perils of visual communication, which sometimes resembles mind-reading.

Hooray for first books!

The next day, I was a visiting artist at King Middle School for their World Languages Expedition Kick-Off. Students are researching a famous French or Spanish-speaking artist; as part of their research they met local artists to ask questions, like: how does culture inform my art? I brought in books, a portfolio, a couple of sketchbooks, reference photos, and working sketch and final pastel illustration, along with paper samples, pencils, and pastels. 

On the cue of Ms. Emily Zack-Farrell, groups of students filled 9 tables for 20 minutes to hear what we had to share, take notes, ask questions, handle the art. After 3 rounds of students, I began to forget if I was repeating myself to the same table. I was in terrific company, with designers, musicians, painters, a printmaker, a dancer, and a few King teachers with amazing talents, such as Peter Hill, who teaches 8th grade science by day, and handcrafts custom guitars by night.

I put out blank paper and pencils, but few were brave enough to try drawing. I can usually spot the artists, they have doodles all over their notebooks. It was probably no coincidence that Charlotte Eisenberg, cousin of the above Zev, not only tried the materials but did a drawing of me. Go, Charlotte!

It's a kick to be part of anything at King, where the energy and pride run high. They know how to get students into their work, as witnessed by a display for another expedition, 1000 Years Without a Bath, in York 8. They placed themselves in roles, while exploring costume designs of the medieval period.

Getting reference for a visual project, and making it personal, is a regular part of my process, too.

In a pinch, I got my resident model to pose as the 11 year-old boy in Ice Harbor Mittens.

I work from many sources, real and imagined. Author Robin Hansen has a great phrase on her blog, "not everything true is real."

Calling all knitters: Robin will be at Kennebooks on January 29. Ring in the new with learning to knit compass mittens!

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