Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ed Emberley

I got to go to The Tattered Cover in Denver the other day. I love bookstores and this big marvelous bookstore is my favorite! We were at the one on 16th Street which is in an old building that has incredibly high ceilings, worn wooden floors, old furniture, and just feels like a perfect bookstore.

I spent time in the children's section of course. But I also looked very closely at the art books. I never get to browse art books anymore! I had four books picked out but I knew I could only buy one. The one I settled on surprised me. It's a very big book about the artwork of Ed Emberley by Todd Oldham and Caleb Neelon.

My brother and I grew up learning to draw from his Drawing Book of Animals. We drew on big stacks of old-school computer paper. My mom was studying Computer Science in college when the paper for printouts had holes running along the sides to feed it, and each sheet was connected to the next with perforated lines so you could have one long continuous printout. We drew his animals on that computer paper over and over again. We LOVED this book.

I knew that Mr Emberley was also a children's illustrator beyond the drawing books, but I didn't realize just how many books he's created until recently. He's made about 80 books!

The reason I kept coming back to this book while trying to pick one to take home was because of the many different styles, the fun exuberance of his artwork, the skill, and the variety of subjects. It's pretty amazing! I want to share some of the pages that I like best.

And here's a quote that made me really happy:
"I didn't consider myself an illustrator. I considered myself a book maker."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! I have always been preoccupied with the health of our planet. And feeling helpless to do anything about it is a terrible feeling. I do my average American best to recycle, reuse, conserve water, use non-damaging products, etc. But compared to the issues our world faces, my tiny contribution is nothing. So I do what I do and make art to express my thoughts.

I have made so many images of Earth over the years. You can see my evolution as an artist and experiments with media though these images. Above is my first and only attempt at scratchboard. I think it's from 5 or 6 years ago.

Here's a photo of one of my very early pieces that's hanging at my mother's house. I used to collect different colored dirt, and using glue I'd make dirt paintings on wood. This one even has some gold leaf on the words Divinity and the stars. I don't have a full photograph of this piece, just this artsy one I took last time I was visiting my mom.

Above is the same quote in a stamp and mixed media experiment. A long time ago, I got this book The Home Planet edited by Kevin W. Kelley. It has influenced me so much and made me want to make my own book about Earth. This big book of photos and quotes from astronauts, cosmonauts, and other space explorers is from 1988!!!! Isn't that incredible that a compilation could have been made so long ago? We humans have been in space for a long time already. If you can get your hands on this book, do. The quotes are the most precious thing to me. These people who left our planet and came back had very insightful and touching things to say about it. Many beautiful coffee table books have been made about Earth since, but none is as wonderful as this book, in my opinion. I wish someone would remake it with newer material but the same concept. Oh, and if you want, I'll tell you about the compilation book I want to make…….

Here is a little boy sleeping in my sketchbook of many years ago.

This is a card image that I made while learning Adobe Illustrator about 10 years ago.

This is an early linocut of our home. I like comets, too! I think I could draw comets all day.

Here is my next attempt at a linocut of Earth. Early on, I realized I couldn't ever duplicate the delicacy, richness, and detail of our world. So I didn't even try. Instead, I was trying to find an interesting graphic way to show the world and surrounding space.

Above is a test I did trying to figure out how to do a multi-color linocut with text, either carved text or letterpress. I was never able to make the piece, but it evolved into it's own picture book dummy over time.

Here is the first linocut for the dummy Home. I wound up changing the style and text a bit so this didn't make it into the current version. I still think its a nice image on its own, though.

And here's a more recent version of our home from the same picture book dummy.

And if you are familiar with my work you've seen these before. They are the 9 views of our planet that I made for a hand-bound book titled Earth.

Here is the cover made of cut and painted wood. 

And a view of the painted linocuts mounted onto black Somerset Velvet paper.

This book is listed in my Etsy shop right now for half off. You may not be about to save the Earth by yourself, but at least you can save money. And think about our gorgeous planet while holding a hand-made book.

I saved the best picture for last- isn't it beautiful?!! I am so glad that I live in a time period when I can see photos of the entire world set against space. The only thing that would be better would be to be up there looking down and that's just not going to happen. 

If you love pictures of our world, check out the NASA website and follow Terry Virts on instagram from the International Space Station.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Book Feast

The library in my small town is the best library in the whole world! It's beautiful, dynamic, friendly, comfy, modern, and has anything you could ever want or they will get it for you if at all possible.

An example of how great my small town library is: The Bud Werner Memorial Library hosts a one day Children's  Book Feast that is a celebration of children's books. This year Caldecott winner, Brian Floca will be here as one of the guests along with Newberry winner, Avi who lives near here and is pretty active as a guest star at the library when they have an event.

And this year, I get to do something fun during the Book Feast, too. There will be a Creativity Fair for the 5 and under kids and I'm going to be helping them do some very basic printmaking: stamping. I haven't done this exact presentation before, so I'm figuring it out as I go along. 

The paintings above aren't done, I'll post photos when they are. I've made simple drawings on full sheets of  paper and I'm painting them with very watered-down acrylic. It acts like watercolor. I'm trying to work fast and not worry about being very precise. These will be the backgrounds for the kids to stamp onto.

And here's my test of the blocks. I got particle board scraps from my lumber store and my husband and I cut a zillion little blocks. The I used Creativity Street Wonderfoam Peel & Stick Sheets to draw and cut these flower shapes out with scissors. The back is sticky, so it's easy to attach the shapes to the block. They soak up stamp pad ink and work really well! I plan to make a bunch of different stamps and 2 or three different background scenes. It's going to be so much fun! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Ugly Duckling

I'm working on two new pieces for the Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson. I'm happy to do some linocuts after taking a break to experiment with mixed-media. I'm going to try some decorative borders, just because I like them!

I'll be doing a wedding commission at the same time, so it might be a bit before you see an update on these. Don't hold your breath (haha). But I'll show them as soon as I have something worth sharing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tessa's Book of Paintings

I'm so excited that my daughter Tessa's book of paintings turned out so well! 

For the straps I used (fake) leather with some decorative painted squares. 

Above are all of the colorful pages.

On the inside I included a few photos of her painting. 

I'm going to give it to her for her birthday in a couple weeks. I hope she loves it! I like the idea that she will see from the very beginning that her work is special enough that it can be turned into a book. Throughout my life I've wanted to be an author and make picture books. But the idea that my work is good enough to be published has sometimes been a struggle. Tessa loves books and she will grow up seeing her art and writing in books. That means a lot to me even if it turns out to be unimportant to her. Yay for books!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Big Linocut Blocks & Update

I've been cleaning and rearranging my studio trying to make space to put Tessa's easel and desk. I pulled these big linocut blocks out to repack them somewhere else and the sheer amount of TIME I've spent making them kind of overwhelmed me. They look neat in a photo though, don't they! And they feel pretty cool to walk on with bare feet, both Tessa and I did that a couple of times.

I am almost done with the book of Tessa's paintings which is going to be sooooooo neat! I ran out of PVA glue to finish the inside covers so as soon as I get that in the mail I'll finish and show photos. Here's a sneak peak---

I've also started a couple of drawings for new linocuts. I will show them as soon as I can. They for a fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. Can you guess which one? Here's a little clue by illustrator Josef Paleček.