December 27, 2017

Libraries & Cathedrals

I’ve been thinking a lot about how a library and a church fill so many of the same roles. Both are places people go for refuge and silence. A quiet place in a noisy world. They both offer consolations and hope for a better life. A library and a church both have people whose work is to offer guidance and help in finding a way to accomplish that.

Both a library and a church offer deep meanings to be discovered. They both offer the prospect of uncovering great rewards of knowledge and redemption after a bit of effort through learning. They both offer lasting joys that might change one's life and mind.

And they’re both run as community resources, usually hard pressed for every dollar spent.

I’m lucky that my library actually looks like a beautiful church - so needless to say it’s my favorite building to visit on a bike ride. Sometimes I go past on Sundays when unlike the church, it is totally closed. But I still like sitting beside it’s gothic arches to soak in the sense of peace and stability it offers. And when it’s open, even a simple walk up it’s curving granite staircase can feel like an edifying experience. 

I think libraries ought to deserve the same tax exempt status that churches enjoy… especially in this day and age when it’s the library and librarian who have to offer the final safety net to homeless populations who have slipped through every other safety net. 

So that’s that’s how I feel about my library. And beyond all that, sometimes I just like being around lots and lots of books. It is a heady, reassuring experience. In this age of vanishing books, it is wonderful to just have a lot of books that exist on the shelves, just being there. Real books... not virtual books. 

December 24, 2017

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays! My favorite holiday things are the tree, snow, twinkly lights in the dark and the day after Christmas, once all the pressure is off! Time to curl up with a good book.

The spirit of the season starts with a tree for me - along with giving away a bag full of books to Seattle Children’s Hospital felt just right. I saw so many people in despair at the hospital - understandably - and any little bit of joy a bookmaker might bring is work well done.

November 22, 2017

The magic of bookmaking...

First I hatch the plot... and that happens without any drawing. I don't rush. Many, many plots are turned away and recast until finally the right one arrives... usually half by accident.

The ideas are shy and hard to catch sometimes. But finally they peek out and get placed where they belong.

Next step is to have a casting call... and audition for all the character types that will belong to the story. I might invite 20 characters to try out... but on a select few will win.

And now the plot is decided - the characters are cast - the setting is decided and it's time to fill those 32 blank pages with a real book.

That's when the mumbo-jumbo-mixup-magic of putting it all together begins.

That's always fun - a big puzzle that keeps one occupied through an entire snowy season. So that's how I manage to spend my days all alone, pulling rabbits out of thin air.

October 27, 2017

The owls were hooting and cats meowed...

With a creak the barn doors open wide.
Scarecrow held up his lantern and cried

This is our night of Jokes and Jitters!
Tonight’s the night to pretend ourselves silly...
Pigs can be pirates and hogs can be frilly!

The washboard started thumping loud.
The owls were hooting and cats meowed.
Bessie the cow got dressed in a gown

with fancy buttons up and down.

October 12, 2017

Tonight’s the night to rouse this farm!

Out in the field where the cornstubble grew
stood poor old Scarecrow, hanging forlorn 
with his shirt all tattered and trousers torn.

With lantern lit, he scrambled for the barn
sayin’, "Tonight’s the night to rouse this farm!"

August 17, 2017

If mice had milliners...

If mice had milliners... and goats had goatees,

 there might be more round hat-boxes and muffins.

And fewer problems... who knows?

July 23, 2017

Some favorite book pages...

It's fun to remember pages from books past that most viewers to my blog never saw.

This is from 'Stella... Almost' by Willy Blevins from Red Chair Press.

Such a delightful book to make. Doing the woods scenes was especially fun - a decorative pastorale.

May 31, 2017

My books in Suzzallo library!

Well that was SO much fun - dropping off some of my picture books to add to the collection at Suzzallo library. Believe it or not, I had NO idea a bookmaker could just donate books to a library collection. So now my little selection of books will live a quiet life on the shelves in the children's collection.

Most of my books just vanish in a short while. They vanish into remaindering bins or vanish into children's libraries - where they get crayoned and torn up pages and then they vanish. But hopefully these books will last longer. And that's actually important to a book maker.

I felt like being an author and illustrator was almost like being a celebrity! Usually in bookstores, when I go in and introduce myself as a local children's book author, the clerks will roll their eyes and look irritated, like they wish I hadn't walked in. But today, the librarian seemed astonished. First she thought I had only written the books - then when she asked 'Who did the pictures?' and I said 'I did' - it was like amazement. Usually I feel more like a nobody when I go to the library - not like a Somebody!

So I'm more than happy to quaff down some imaginary champagne of 'author recognition'. lol!

May 30, 2017

Pencil? or Pen Brush?

Pencil? or Pen Brush? That's the question of this little film. With the magic of photoshop it's possible to switch out the line by itself on a drawing - to see how they look side by side.  This makes deciding much easier. And after looking it over I decided to vote for the pencil line - at least for this page of the book.

May 9, 2017

Imagination sometimes arrives on it's own...

Been having too much fun compiling this new poem-picturebook - it's an exercise in imagination. 

When interpreting a poem one is free to take any tack or try a number of solutions. So I sift and compile through my scrap pile, often finding older drawings that have just what I'm looking for. It occurs to me - as an illustrator I am as much an editor and chooser of images as I am a drawer.

The process of intuitively choosing the right image seems to arrive on it's own. I know exactly what I'm looking for arrives.

The idea that somehow an artist could go out and draw all that is kind of absurd.

April 24, 2017

Been Busy Bookmaking...

Writing, writing, re-writing.... brainstorming, dreaming, gnashing teeth, revising, redrawing, drawing, coloring, erasing, computing, Indesigning, Photoshoping. That's my life lately - with the re-writing being prominent.

It's true that one does not write so much as one re-writes. And one does not paint so much as one re-paints! (which is easier to do with digital art)

April 23, 2017

The Missing Link In Bookmaking

If you're a picture book maker with words and pictures, you probably have some experience of 'the missing link'. 

What is the missing link? It's that sticking point that's stuck in your story - where something is wrong and you don't know how to fix it. Believe me, I've been there.

I remember when I was taking a picture book class from Maurice Sendak at Parsons, he had suffered from 'the missing link'. There was one page in 'Outside Over There' where something was wrong. It puzzled him for weeks until he finally discovered the art of the ice babies page needed to be changed... and then things worked. 

One mistake at a time - fixing up a page of art or changing the ending of the words or the dozen other changes one makes in a book are all part of the fun. I'm totally bored with crosswords or other puzzles, but I'm as stubborn as a donkey when it comes to trying to solve 'the missing link'

March 20, 2017

Book making is odd...

I feel like I've been in the maternity ward, giving birth to my new characters and stories. I had a wonderful time making up a new story with pictures - crafting a dummy.

I used Indesign for all the thumbnail boards and page turns. One does not write and draw so much as one rewrites and redraws I find. I made many dozens of changes - changing names - changing locations - changing page sequences - changing text. But the last thing is to send it away to my agent. Too much fun! I wonder if the world will like my stories as much as I do?

Book making is so odd. Maybe the first drawing arrived years ago - and then got lost in a folder - and was forgotten. But then everything comes together years later. Funny how that works.

So what's the last thing I do when I'm making a new picturebook? The last thing I do is I try to forget it all. Yes, bookmaking is odd...

January 27, 2017

A Book From the Time of Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs are always something to wonder about.  For one thing, they're really BIG. But this particular Dino is very easy going and fun.

It's been interesting to recreate the classic art of Syd Hoff for these books about Danny and the Dinosaur. They seem to come from a simpler time... the time of Dinosaurs!

January 22, 2017

Never Lose Hope

On the train yesterday was a child with a tiny pink knitted hat. It was pinned on since it was far too small to fit. She was also wearing a silly backpack and carried a handmade sign. Outside on the station wall was a poster of MLK looking out that read 'Never Lose Hope'. I had to sketch it out from memory when I got home.

So many parents brought their children to the march - and to great effect I would imagine.

Pinklash in Seattle

It was a bright beautiful day to get out and keep hope alive in Seattle.

Last November America got a dose of what Van Jones called 'Whitelash'. Today is what I think might be called a good dose of 'Pinklash'.

It was the largest march and public gathering in the history of Washington state - so that means something!

January 6, 2017

A new year message arrives!

The old year has grown old with woe... but a message arrives from the New Year requesting imaginations to alight and rejoice.  And so we might try... having little choice in the matter.

This is from a hilarious graphic novel sort of story I wrote up. I think it's hilarious... as penguins tend to be.