April 27, 2009

Some Cheery Reviews

It's always heartening to get an uplifting review after the long, long wait for any book to come out. I thought this review from Publisher's Weekly might send the book-maker's spirits aloft. So that's a good sign:

Cromwell Dixon's Sky-Cycle John Abbott Nez. 
Putnam, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25041-5 
Nez (One Smart Cookie) 

Cromwell Dixon's Sky-Cycle introduces an obscure figure in flight history with engaging artwork that jazzes up this jaunt to a golden age of invention. In the early 20th century, 14-year-old inventor Cromwell Dixon, obsessed with airships like many Americans at the time, begins work on one of his own. He “took apart his old bicycle and rebuilt it in a different way. Land's sake! What a mixed-up contraption began taking shape in the barn.” Despite one major setback and with the help of his patient mother, Cromwell finally pedals his machine aloft over Columbus, Ohio. Set mostly against a robin's-egg blue sky, the detail-rich scenes (Nez even captures the wry expressions of some chickens put out when Cromwell lands on their coop) offer ground-up and bird's-eye views of the action. Nez's direct-from-Main-Street narrative (“that boy had more gumption than a gopher”) and cartoons present a keen, smiling Cromwell not easily deterred—his attitude will be infectious. Brief endnotes and photos of Cromwell, his mother and his flying machine conclude this cheery portrait of “America's Boy Aeronaut.” Ages 5–up. (May)

Also, Kirkus Reviews seemed to think my little book might pass muster: 

Nez, John Abbott 
Illustrated by the author 

This fine tribute to teenage inventors everywhere retraces the true early exploits of a handy Ohio lad who converted his bicycle into a homemade dirigible, then successfully (more or less) tested it out in the skies over Columbus. He even went on to win a prize at the 1907 St. Louis Airship Carnival. The picture of smiling confidence in Nez’s bright painted illustrations, Dixon constructs several ungainly devices with active help from his mother, before wheeling out the sky-cycle and soaring off above crowds of admirers in period dress. 

“Dare to dream” is the clear message here.

So I guess that makes me one happy chicken!

I'll be a guest blogger on the Putnam blog in May, so that's looking like it ought to be fun.

April 26, 2009

Nature, that is, perfection itself...

Spring unveils it's wonders in my nearby haven of urban countryside. Apple blossoms pop out pink and then turn white as they open. Perfection itself.

What is it about sails that seem so iconic to me? Ideas for paintings abound.

The blackbird shows his red feathers... with patches extended almost like a bird of paradise.

Sometimes I don't even know why a photo intrigues me. I like it better when I can't figure it out.

April 15, 2009

Babybug... the real and the digital

I greatly enjoyed doing these 6 pages of artwork in the new Babybug magazine, which just came out.

It was interesting in that I first was going to do the final version with photoshop. But then I changed my mind and decided to do the real paint instead.

It's hard to decide which I like more. Each has it's pros and cons. Since the publisher seems to very much prefer real paints, I stuck with those... even though I spilled some paint on one of the faces and it was a bit of a pain to fix with real paints. That sort of thing wouldn't have taken 20 seconds with the digital version.

I had numerous different backgrounds in mind for the digital version... which is one of the fun things which that medium allows. And I have yet to find any paint that can equal photoshop for doing opaque highlight details.

It's all in the drawing anyhow, so the medium is secondary I guess.

April 10, 2009

Cherry Blossom Time

It's cherry blossom time on the quadrangle... a glorious time indeed. Imagine a faux-elizabethan college square lined with 100 year old cherry trees... all in blossom.

The many Asians here are especially devoted to cherry blossoms. It's easy to see why.

We are fairly choked with cherry blossoms.
But never fear, rain & snow are in the forecast. April is the cruelest month, they say... but actually it's June-uary that takes that prize here in Seattle.

Last weekend I was there in a sunny crowd of cherry blossom fans.

An aged and very frail old woman in a motorized wheelchair went by. She looked to be on her last legs... but the wonder of it all seemed to have entranced her completely. Her face lit up with joy. She caught my eye and declared... 'Isn't it all wonderful?'

Yes it is!