Monday, June 27, 2011

get your paint on

Even though my summer is pretty booked, I could NOT resist the opportunity to join the summer e-course, Get Your Paint On.

I'm a major fan of both Lisa and Mati, and Mati is my second cousin, so I enjoy supporting and following anything she's up to. They're both out in San Franscisco, and it's fun to see their faces each week onscreen. I sketched Lisa while she talked.

This is my first e-course and I'm LOVIN it. There is a positive dynamic, so much to look at, links, and inspirations. 

I figured Id dig out my gouache from some neglected bin. I once worked exclusively in gouache early in my career. This was a promo piece from way back. I often relate former days of waitressing to illustrating: serve the customer HOT stuff.

The first assignment was to play with our materials using a Gee's Bend quilt as a jumping off point.
We could reference any one of these, or not.

I've always had a thing for quilts. Not that there were any quilters in my family. Maybe that was the attraction, to something handmade from another era. Quilts are like collages, pieced together and repurposed with love.

As I rooted around for my paints, I came across an unexpected find, an old photo of my Auntie Eleanor. She was a big influence on me, and I miss her still. I also got out a book from an exhibit of quilts I saw in Oakland, CA, back when I lived in SF.

I painted first a gradated background which, now that I see it, resembles a soft seascape.
Here's the final piece, with some scraps of wrapping paper, Eleanor at the center, and a stenciled area of dots.

 I titled it "heirloom" because I realized many connections woven into my life, treasured threads I've inherited that keep me whole. It was fun to paint again, too. Everyone posts their work on a flickr site, and can make supportive or "pushing" feedback. It's very cool to see the range of work, be part of a community playing with paint, multiplied by all the talents of the participants. 

I went right on to the second assignment, which involved choosing a painter that inspires us, and making something influenced by that inspiration. I chose Fairfield Porter, a painter I came across after moving to Maine. I discovered his work via this book jacket.

I identified with the old white cape, the black and white dog in the shadow. We saw a fantastic exhibit of his work at Colby College a couple of years later and I became a fan. He painted in the 40's and 50's, summered in Maine, and his work has lovely observed details combined with flatness. 

Here's my woeful attempt at capturing our old white cape, and our black and white dog in the shade.

This painting was a lot less fun for me, because I probably tackled too much in too short a time. I've been working in dry media, mostly pastel, which is much more direct. Mixing paint and waiting for it to dry are aspects that slow down the process. Often this is a good thing, but in this case, it gave me more time to find fault with the painting. The best thing I'll say is that it is done.

Today I'm back at the drawing board on my project for Portland Stage Company. And, checking in to the GYPO course and see what's up for this week!

Thanks to Lisa and Mati for getting me outta my comfort zone!

Friday, June 24, 2011

happy feet

I am excited! My illustration for the Wellness column by Genevieve Morgan appears in the July issue of Maine Magazine.

I just worked on another one for the same column. Love, love that mag. It shows Maine at it's best!

Monday, June 20, 2011

swingin saturday book launch

Saturday finally came. There was no Nana in sight, but her spirit was very present for the beach party book launch of Seven Days of Daisy.

My event planning heroine very thoughtfully brought proper signage, and this one 
hit a chord. 

My mum, aka Nana, passed away in April. She was my biggest fan and supporter, and loved visiting the island. This sign got firmly planted next to my seat.

The lovely captain of Curious City, Kirsten Cappy, brought along dotty decorations.

We rigged up tents, some tables, and Eddie Walsh carried down a little boat for pretending, just like in the story. Even big kids couldn't resist sharing some tidepool tea.

 It was an honor when other authors arrived. They appreciate what a big deal it is to have a story published. Sarah and daughter share some playtime by the shore.

The clouds came and went, ferries docked and departed, and the sun sallied with the rising tide.
Watermelon was a big draw.

Island neighbor and colleague, Anne Sibley O'Brien, arrived in a matching shirt.

Even Daisy, the narrator of the story, made a cameo appearance.

She and her friend, Imogen, also recreated the tea party scene from the book.

It wasn't until kids were clamoring to be in the boat that I realized what a metaphor we had on our hands. A wee boat can carry a launch loaded with cosmic freight.

I made a bunch of blank books for kids to create their own story about 7 days or 7 favorite summer things.

We've all got a good story in us. Susan, who appears in the book spitting watermelon seeds, brought her creation.

Her book is an ode to the fleeting cycles of life. Six Drops of Poppy is literally a collaged memoir of
fallen poppy leaves, pressed into a sequence of sublime serenity. No words. Just a witnessing of the passing of bright blooms.

Looking and noticing is what makes life a performance. We gave away little magnifying glasses, the better to see magical details with. This illustration opens the book. It says, LOOK!

Here's a curious boy.

Simone and Willow use their magnifying glasses to compare bug bites.

A mom is ready to cast off with her little deckhand.

First, better look for monsters on the horizon.

There were even some book sales, and signings.

It all was as fleeting as a summer day.

Below is Deb, the sales volunteer from Take a Peak, as she ponders the ripple effect. Thanks to Take a Peak for donating 50% of sales during the launch event to the Friends of the Peaks Island Library.

Take a Peak will be donating 20% of sales of Seven Days of Daisy all summer! My island community makes me proud.

I am grateful to so many for bringing this little story to a bigger audience: Kirsten Cappy, Eleanor Morse, DownEast, and my family that inspires me daily!

Friday, June 17, 2011

friday is ferry day

I'm marking the days to tomorrow's book launch with feverish anticipation. I helped Rose Ann dress the window at Take a Peak this morning. Cute.

Most people don't know that I worked on the interior design of this little shop next to Down Front,
the island's ice cream store and summer magnet spot. I illustrated a Queen Anne's lace for the logo, and staffed the store sometimes during the first summer it was open. I hand painted a children's table and chairs for display.
Look, now it has Seven Days of Daisy in the mix!

I've sent Marty to town for watermelon. There will be a seed spitting session tomorrow, no doubt.

You can spot an islander by these humble little carts, the workhorses that haul our lives back and forth.
The ferry is a significant feature of island living, one that is some days a blessing, other days a curse.

I made this pastel "Sweet Departure" after one summer of too many guests. The best part is watching a ferry leave and you can just go home and flop in the hammock.

Many people have come and gone from island living, and the ferry is probably one factor. It's a trusty and lovely way to commute, the deckhands are the BEST, but it's catching that boat that can make or break you.

Here's a shot of nostalgia, from the former Peaks Island Mercantile Calendar, a photograph by my neighbor, Dave Stankowitz. He knows a good visual pun when he sees one.

Of the 20 mommies and babies here, 6 are still living on Peaks. Four of the babies here are in Seven Days of Daisy. Can you guess who?

I happen to love the ferry, even the thrill of catching one. Of course, I grumbled last week when I left my cart on the morning boat to town, and only realized it as I opened the back to unload groceries in the ferry garage. It was safely waiting in the freight shed to be reclaimed (love) but there wasn't quite enough time to unload my grocs (hate) and make the boat. I stupidly fumed about my witless blunder for an hour til the next one. And then the view made me forget all about it.

I have featured both Peaks and some vintage tickets in collage cards, odes to my adoration.

It's a lovely trip, only 15 minutes or so, about equal to the time I once spent finding a parking spot when I lived in San Francisco. But Casco Bay Lines always guarantees a good view, salty friends, and fresh air.

The weather tomorrow may not be as divine as today. But as Nancy 3 Hoffman of the Umbrella Cover Museum sings, "Let a smile be your umbrella."

Only one day to the book launch!
Curious City will help make it shine, with or without the sun.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday is for thinking

It's been a big day, this particular Thursday. It was eighth grade graduation day. Whew. How did this happen so fast? Makes those long ago days of plush piggies and swinging in the hammock feel like another eon. 
These days DO add up, very sweetly.

Congratulations, Daisy, and all the bright students at King Middle School!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday is for walking

 In Seven Days of Daisy, Wednesday is about walking ALL the way to Whaleback.

For a young child, sometimes walking even a little ways is like a safari. Soooo long, soooo slow, and full of either obstacles or wonderment. After all kinds of strolling and carrying devices, walking very far is a stretch for the average American 4 year-old. Having a dog along makes for good company. And taking notice of just about every little thing.

This morning I walked out to Whaleback, a rocky ledge that juts out on the ocean side of Peaks Island.

The sun was finally out. Daisies are in bloom above, and a dad and his son were already exploring the spot.

The back shore offers plenty of opportunities to sit or climb, walk or bike. The thing that sets Peaks apart from many other islands is the public access to the shore. Properties are on the other side of the road.

Whaleback has a different shape now. During some recent storm, a big hunk got knocked off the top.
You can see it lying in the middle of this photo.

This is a place perfect for examining rocks, tide pools, getting splashed by waves, and viewing cormorants conversing. When you climb out to the very tip, you can almost feel apart from the land.
In the book, Daisy makes up a story about a whale named Wink. I've had whales on my mind lately.
I'll be illustrating a book Here Come the Humpbacks for Charlesbridge next. Hooray! 

Funny how my radar convenes a pile of references immediately.

Certain things showed up awhile before, like a postcard from my sister-in-law of a humpback whale, and a lovely sequined and squeezable whale by MECA student Michelle Cooney. This is Amamasu, her Japanese whale of fabled lore.

And then there's my neighbor Gerry's weathervane that overlooks our house.

 Even driftwood can look like a whale. Check out this cottage sign painted by Marty.

While whales can carry us to deep places, making up stories is a magical and necessary thing. 

I'm honored to be in an exhibit at University of Southern Maine's Lewiston-Auburn College, "Tell Me a Story: Folkstales and World Cultures" opens this Friday evening. The Atrium Gallery has gathered works from 13 Maine children's book illustrators including the venerable Ashley Bryant, the stellar Melissa Sweet, and my amazing neighbor, Anne Sibley O'Brien, among others. It will be on view from June 17 - August 12. 

Meanwhile, the countdown continues. Three days to my book launch. I'm getting nervous now.
I'm not really an extrovert! Hoping for sunshine, and maybe a friendly whale or two.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

tuesday is for tidepools

In Seven Days of Daisy, Tuesday involves a tea party with seaweed soup and jellyfish sandwiches.
Yum! Today, however, was not really a beach day. Still cloudy and damp. But, I learned the Peaks Island Elementary School spent the day at the beach. Island kids are impervious to the frigid waters.
Jump in, they do. Move over, urchins.

A few years ago, I helped coordinate art by island school students on a book bag, a fundraiser for the PTO. I love the sun with sunglasses by James Mitchell, and the ferry fairy by Imogen Moxhay.

Kids here learn respect for tide pools and the creatures within.

The illustration which appears in the book features a yellow boat. In fact, there is a yellow boat that
is often seen on the beach. I have drawn it many, many times. I did this pastel awhile back of that boat.

This afternoon when I walked the beach, I thought about Daisy's rope collection. We are thingfinders at the beach, like Pippi Longstocking. Rarely do I leave the low tide without a bit of flotsam or jetsam. Found this cheerful bobber and rope entwined with seaweed that begged to be brought home for closer inspection and admiration.

I sure hope the sun comes back. Four days left til the book launch!

Monday, June 13, 2011

I don't care if Monday's blue

I spontaneously made these "day cards" to spell out the days of the week. For the book launch on Saturday, I want to randomly deal out the days to kids and see if they can line up in order. A little body action is always good. Gave myself the challenge to try to post every day this week. I confess, I'm not that much of a blogger. The whole enterprise is something I need to mull over, and I'd stutter if I had to tweet. 
And here it is, Monday already. In Seven Days of Daisy, there are monsters in kayaks spied near Catnip Island, and wishing on the moon.

Today, too much cloud cover for sightings of monsters or moons. In fact, it felt rather blue, and my 
goal to visit bookstores (to spy on my book whereabouts...) felt a little lame. Still, I took the ferry and stopped at Longfellow Books, a dandy place for finding a good Father's Day gift. Can't say what I bought. But it's gonna be a gooood read. I gladly signed their stock of Seven Days.

Next stop: Nonesuch Books, where the magazine selection knows no bounds, and the store is piled with all categories. Dutifully left my book launch postcards.

After a few other stops, I made a blast to Portsmouth to the Manporium, newly opened by my gal pal, Jody, and her macho man, Earle. Man up! Found some seriously manly items for the Dad in the house. 

On the blast back, two auspicious things: a car passed me, with license plate: 7Seven7. A good sign?
And then a favorite Cure song came on the radio and it totally made my day.

It got better when I got home to the island. Good feedback on my sketches for Portland Stage Company. I'm working on "Marie Antoinette: Color of Flesh." I sent a record number of rough sketches. Fourteen. Sorry, sevens and multiples of sevens are stuck on my brain.

Here's one of I hope they pick:
Hey, Monday is not so blue after all.

Only 5 days to the book launch.