Monday, July 25, 2011

connections on the book trail

I recently visited Judy Labrasca's narrative book class at Maine College of Art, scene of the crime 9 years ago when I hatched my own Seven Days of Daisy. It's a marvelous class, and I enjoy revisiting the space where stories begin. Judy always brings in lots of supplies, all organized in irresistible fashion.

She also brings in loads of books for browsing when the mind draws a blank. Quite satisfying that mine are in the mix.

Judy shares a ton of information, which might seem overwhelming, but becomes a backdrop to all the inspiration.

She made small books for students to start visualizing. I was immediately drawn to the colorful energy splashing around this book.

It never ceases to amaze me the variety of ideas that come out of this class. Students generally have been carrying around either a specific story, or just the yearning for one, for a long time. The class provides the diving board. You bring a deep well of visions, and finally are given the proper space to tap them, with Judy's thoughtful guidance.

It changed my life. Thank you, Judy!

I showed the dummy made in class. It's only 3.5 inches tall but I remain quite proud of my story seed.

From MECA, I went to the Scarborough Library, where I made an Illustrating One World, Many Stories presentation to a group of young artists. I showed the process of making the illustrations for Rickshaw Girl and other projects that involved immersing myself in another culture through books, film, music, and live models getting into costume. Afterwards, kids shared my supplies and just started drawing.

Jillian so sweetly gave me this drawing, inspired by the alpana designs that the character, Naima, creates around her family's dwelling in Bangladesh. Thanks, Jillian!

Another artist, Lucy, drew this pink pig. You'll notice from the dummy page above, that Daisy has a pig collection. What's not to love about this? Thanks, Lucy!

This artist has a good eye. Heads are not easy to draw without a good sense of proportion.

This boy drew a killer whale which I immediately recognized, now that I am working on a current project about whales.

Once paper and pastels start flying around, it's a creative free-for-all and a sight to behold. Making art seems to be too often cut from the curriculum, or defined by a narrow product. Letting kids choose what to draw unleashes their imaginations on paper, and I encourage all of it. It's about paying attention, to their ideas and observations. Their creative identities make them who they are.

Thank you, Scarborough Public Library, for letting me connect with a fine band of young creators!

Once I got home, my daughter showed off books she made in a youth camp at the TEIA.

The making of books, and the filling of books, are wonderful acts of connecting to the world. Yes, I am biased about the tangible joys found in the book as an object and vessel. Why else would I head out again on the book trail?

On Saturday, I stopped at the Island Institute, where my books are on display at Archipelago, a swell shop featuring products made by Maine islanders.

I took a quick look in the Farnsworth Art Museum, where, among the Wyeths, Robert Indiana's work makes variations on an indelible theme.

My destination for the afternoon was the Maine Lighthouse Museum where I joined 8 other authors for a book signing.

It was fun to chat with fellow illustrator, Nicole Fazio, whose latest book is a charmer. I sketched her sitting across the room.

 I also drew some of the cool buoys, a colorful collection hanging from the ceiling.

 I was thrilled to find myself next to C. S. Lambert, whose Sea Glass Chronicles is a treasured book of mine. Here she shares a shadow box filled with favorite finds.

As a veteran thingfinder, I couldn't resist her latest, Sea Glass Hunter's Handbook. She introduced me to the term, flotsametrics. Who knew there was a cosmic flow? She also identified the shard I collaged into this illustration in Seven Days of Daisy,

Daisy, after all, has her own flotsam and jetsam collection, mostly rope. Peaks Island abounds with good spots for finding glass and shards. After meeting Carole, I looked the next day and found these without much effort. How many? Seven, of course!

It could be coincidental, but we have a rubber ducky collection that shares the wall with a compass rose mosaic mirror I made years ago from shards found entirely on Peaks.

No matter where I go, connections surface. It takes paying attention, and being open to what life brings to my shore. How fortunate that books are my vessel. 

Now, I'm back in the studio to go deep with humpback whales. Hooray!

1 comment:

Cathryn Falwell said...

Jamie---This is such a wonderful blog! So sorry I missed the Lighthouse Museum event. Alas--clumsiness caught up with me. Hope to see you soon.