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- Art Festivals
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Sherry Meidell’s Teetertottertales
1- It’s good to have a guide: Someone who has hiked the trail before. Someone who knows when to lead and when to bring up the rear. Someone who can rub a little Inka medicine in your hands and with a deep breath in, get rid of nausea. Someone who can tell you to start early because it will be a hard day.
2- You can plan on what to carry but that might change after you hit the trail: You can do research and try to figure out what to bring in your back pack but once you are on the trail at high altitude, everything is heavier. Do you plan for cold weather and if so how cold? How much water can you drink. Do you carry that big camera that takes the nice pictures. Do you carry your sketch book. Half way through the hike you may feel like sending it flying.
3- Do you use the hiking stick or do you get down and use your hands: Sometimes the trail is so steep that you can put your stick in your pack and use your hands to climb. Nobody else may be doing it but it might be the safest way, up and down.
4- Honor the Porters: You don’t carry the entire burden: There were porters on the trail. We would yell, “Porter coming” and get out of the way. They were carrying tents and pots and pans and food, back packs that towered over their heads. Old men and young boys who would steady up the trail past you when you could hardly move. Porters carrying big packs and running down the rocky stairs.
5- It’s nice to have something to share: One of the guides we had before we hit the trail said she had hiked the trail. She told me you need some coca leaves for energy and she had me buy a small green bag from a man with a face wrinkled by the sun. She also showed me how to use the leaves. You take three leaves put them together and rip off the stems. You roll them up and chew them three times and then just leave them in your cheek and about 5 minutes later you chew again and then keep it up. It’s suppose to give you energy. I tried it hiking up to dead woman’s pass. Hiking down the trail we met porters done with their job hiking back up the trail. One asked for coca leaves. I smiled and said, “Why yes I do.” I reached in and pulled out the leaves and handed him the whole bag. He was grateful. I also reached in my back pack and pulled out an orange and handed it over. I made a new friend on the trail.
6- It’s not whether you fall but where you hit: As the porters ran down rocky steps past us we asked our guide if they ever fall. He said, “No, Every morning the porters throw a rock and say a pray. I should have thrown a rock. Rocky steps mixed with misting rain equals slick trail. I was watching my step and I watched my feet go out from under me. Down I went in the soft dirt at the side of the rocks.
7- Take some time to listen to the frogs: We were hiking in a cloud with just enough sight to realize the trail dropped off forever on the left. We had our ponchos on because it was raining. On either side of the trail was a cacophony of frogs singing. It was magical. (Haven’t you always wanted to use the word cacophony in a sentence?)
8- In a pinch take your carry on luggage: If you didn’t bring what you need, use what you have. One of my friends didn’t bring a back pack big enough so his carry on with back straps, wheels and handle made the entire hike.
9- Sometimes it takes a little faith to get the right shot: The last day we woke up at 3:30 so the porters could pack up and make it down to the train. We were hiking to the Sun Gate which would be our first view of Machu Pichu. We arrived at the sun gate but clouds surrounded our view. I put down my back pack and reached in and pulled out my big camera. I had about time to adjust the lighting when the clouds lifted and there was Machu Pichu. I took some shots before the clouds closed in again.
10-Good friends can be the best thing to take on your journey and the best thing to bring home with you.
Check the Utah Watercolor Web Site for information on the Competition and the workshop I will teach at the Cougar Ridge Ranch, Torrey, Utah. Come down and watch the watercolor artists in action June 10th through June 13th.
“Wind Blown Sand” 22″x15″ original watercolor will be displayed along with “Navaho Sandstone” 22″x15″ at the Sears Museum Gallery for the Dixie Invitational Art Sale and Show. The opening will be February 13, 2015 at Dixie College, St. George, Utah. Last day of the Invitational will be March 29, 2015 You can check out their Facebook page and the other artists at https://www.facebook.com/SearsMuseumGallery
The first time I heard Faye Gibbons voice was when I read her words. They were typed on a 8 1/2” by 11” sheet of paper. It was the manuscript for “Emma Jo’s Song”. Her words captured my imagination and I immediately saw pictures in my head which is what you want if you are going to illustrate a picture book. I loved her story and had great fun coming up with the illustrations.
There are a lot of unwritten rules in children’s book publishing. One of those rules is that writers and illustrators should not communicate, it might interfere with the illustrators creativity. But with a twist of fate, I called Faye Gibbons and heard her voice on the other end of the phone, a nice gentle southern voice. I felt an immediate connection and count her as one of my friends. I was lucky to illustrate two more picture books by Faye, “Full Steam Ahead” and “The Day the Picture Man Came” all three books were published by Boyds Mill Press.
I was very excited to hear that Faye had sold another manuscript to NewSouth Books “Halley”. This book is a young adult novel. I couldn’t wait to read it. I was not disappointed. I was transported back to the Georgia mountains and the hard times of the depression. The story tells how one young woman rises above the the death of a father and the hard times that she finds herself in. It is a great read. It kept me captivated to the very end. If you would like to hear Faye Gibbons voice, I recommend you get the book and read it. You can get it at New South Books or Amazon.
I drove down into Cache Valley and even though my heater was cranked, the temperature in my car dropped. The cold seeped in around me. 11 degrees. First stop Edith Bowen Elementary on the Utah State Campus to visit three different classes, fourth and fifth grade, second grade and 1st grade talking about the life of a children’s book illustrator. But first I had to make my way into the school. I dragged my suitcase across the ice about half a block from the parking terrace to the school. The cold bit into my hands. Just keep walking and hurry. I made it to the school doors and read the sign. “For the students safety these doors are locked. Please enter through the north doors.” I thought I was going to freeze to death before I found the right door. I found the right doors and the right classes and the students were great. Day one down.
The rest of the week was at Greenville Elementary as Artist-In-Residence. The fourth graders learn about the five Utah Native American Tribes and the teachers wanted me to integrate that into my visit.
I walked the students through a portrait of a Shoshone. We talked about the Southern Paiutes and listened to a bit of the Paiute language. The fourth grade art was amazing.
The students concentrated and drew carefully. The room was absolutely quiet except for the sound of pencil to paper. The teachers were very supportive and the art specialist jumped in with some great help with logistics.
Here is a picture of the art specialist and the Cache District Arts Coordinator. They were great.
I saw one of the students sitting in the back and holding his portrait so no one else could see it. He was looking like someone had just ordered him to eat the rest of his over cooked broccoli.
I went back to him and said, “That is a mighty fine portrait of an Indian.” He held up his feather that we were suppose to attach to the portrait. He had cut off the hole punch. I told him to bring it up front and we would punch another hole. I told him that is such a good portrait that he should give me a nice big grin. He stretched his lips thin but neither end curled up.
The next day we worked on drawing and watercoloring chuckwallas. He brought up his finished chuckwalla to show me. He held it out for my inspection and asked, “Does this look like a lizard?”
I said, “That does not look like a lizard. That looks like an amazing CHUCKWALLA!.” He gave me a genuine, full faced grin.
That is what these visits are for, sharing with students the joy that comes from creating art and letting them be the artist in charge of their own work. It was a great week.
(Thanks to Aurora Hughes Villa for many of the photos.)
The Utah Watercolor Society combined with the Intermountain Society of Artist for their meetings to watch me do a watercolor demonstration applying the John Salminen Workshop to my children’s book illustrations. The crowd started to gather.
It was great to have my Mom-in-law there.
When I’m working on children’s book illustrations there seems to be inspiration I can use all around. Some of the techniques taught by John Salminen seemed perfect for the illustrations I’m working on now.
There are a lot of things you can do to create texture with watercolors but they have to fit the mood and design of the illustrations. Spattering with a bit of miskit can create some great texture and great sound effects.
I masked out the trees and ravens with some masking tape so I could put a nice wash in the sky.
John Salminen taught us how to use a hockey brush to make a wash.
I told the audience that there was a bit of controversy on how to pronounce hockey brush or hake brush but that Salminen pronounced it “hockey brush” so I introduced them to my homemade “Hockey brush”.
I whisked the top of the wash lightly with the hockey brush. The audience was amazed with the technique.
When the wash was dry I took the masking tape off the paper being careful to pull towards the edge of the paper.
Once the tape was off, I painted in the trees and then used an atomizer to put some atmosphere into the sky. The ladies in the front row got a bit of the atmosphere on there knees. Then like Martha Stewart I pulled the finished illustration out of the oven to show the audience. My illustrations will be better because of the workshop and instruction taught at the John Salminen Workshop.
The evening was great. It was a great group of artists and we had a very enjoyable night.
Winsor Newton Masking Fluid
I traveled to the Flaming Gorge Resort to present my “Finding Motion & Life in your Watercolor’s” Workshop for the Uintah Mountain Artists last month. Dave and I wound up hair pin turns on a dark road the night before with blackness pressing in on the headlights and owls and racoons darting in and out of view.
The next morning the sunlight and a beautiful view met our gaze. A nice group of ladies met at the conference center
but you never knew what they were doing behind your back.
Students brought a photo of a family member or an old photo of a relative to use in there paintings. I demonstrated some of these principals by painting a picture of a great grandmother.
We talked about getting life into the figures we paint using angles and putting your mind into your painting. We discussed what makes a figure really say what we want it to say. Here is a sketch of Colleen with Colleen. It’s amazing how just a few lines can capture personality.
Great conversation and painting during the day and mountain sheep and great views at night. It was a perfect two day workshop. Thanks to Deena Millcam for the invitation and for many of these great pictures.