The Clandestine Life of a Children’s Book Illustrator

 

clandestine100a

I was out as evening broke, when car lights had to be on but it was still light enough to see the color of things. I was snapping pictures of cars as they drove by. I could see drivers inside the vehicles with questioning looks. What is she up to? Why is she taking pictures of my car? She doesn’t look like James Bond. I wanted to see the effects of headlights on the back of the vehicles in front of them.

carlights

It’s just one of those activities that I get involved with because of illustrating children’s books. I run home to get my camera when I walk by a field of sheep with curly horns. I’m sure I can use those sheep in some illustration I’m working on. And more often than not, it will end up in a book.

dolleen101a

Other times I just happen to have my watercolors in the back of my car and I get a call that says your mom is upset, can you come over here. I’ll head over to mom’s and she watches me paint one of the other ladies. She is fascinated with the process. She asks me how long those paints last. She asks me where do you start when you draw a face. She tries to get the lady to sit still because I’m painting her. I tell mom it’s ok. People move. That’s all part of painting from life.

cowscomehome2

The cows come home

 

So how long was I out their taking pictures of cars? Well I was out there long enough to see the cows come home.

cowscomehome2a

Detail of When the cows come home.

 

 

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Art in Transit

school10

Using Japanese Dyes for Feathers

I just received a video from Aurora Hughes Villa who is the Cache Valley School District’s Art Coordinator, about the artist-in-residence that I was invited to participate in at Evergreen Elementary School. The student art was put into a city bus up in Logan, Utah.

Here are a few of the things that I thought the students got out of the experience:
Students witnessed the creation of art in person and the fun an artist can have creating art.
It gave kids confidence in their own decisions.
It helped teachers be ok with a little creative chaos.
How to begin and how to end their own project.
How to take a risk.
How to follow directions.
Helped kids go beyond the directions.
Helped kids to reach out and ask questions.
Students had the joy in seeing something they created, displayed for others to see.
One boy that never commented in class before, raised his hand excitedly and contributed his answer to the group.
Art really did become a way to communicate.
Here is a link to the Video

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A Weekend of Show Openings

The Cocks Comb by Torrey Utah

The Cocks Comb by Torrey Utah


This last weekend was a weekend of show openings. Friday was the opening for the Utah Images, Equitable Life show, down stairs in the City County Building at Salt Lake. I have a painting of the Cocks Comb close to Torrey Utah in the show. As you come down the stairs, it is to your left. That is if you go down the same stairs I came down.
Two watercolors painted in the Second Annual Watercolor Plein Air Painting Competition at Capitol Reef

Two watercolors painted in the Second Annual Watercolor Plein Air Painting Competition at Capitol Reef


Later that night was the displays of the paintings from the Plein Air Watercolor Society Show in Conjunction with Entrada Institute and Capitol Reef National Park at the Concept Gallery. It was fun to see all those paintings again. They were there for one night only.
"A Little Child Shall Lead Them"

“A Little Child Shall Lead Them”


Saturday Night was the opening for the Show “Prophetic Visions of Peace and Justice” Artists took inspiration from Isaiah 11:6 Here is my artists statement from the show:
Artist Statement
I love Isaiah and the beautiful images that come into my mind as I read “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. I pictured a child leading all these animals but didn’t know what the child should carry. It seems very appropriate that I asked my granddaughter what should I put in the child’s arms? She said a baby lion. It was the perfect image. The adult male lion trusts his offspring to the little child.
I love the promise of righteousness and peace that Christ will bring to the world when he comes again and the love and peace that He brings to us as we invite him into our lives.

This painting can be seen at the the Cottonwood Presbyterian Church 1580 E. Vine (6100 S.) Murray, Utah. I believe it’s open 3 p.m. til 5 p.m. but I would call to double check on that.

"Dear Santa"

“Dear Santa”


"Tulips 1"

“Tulips 1”


Finally I have 15 paintings on display at the Centerpoint Theater at 524 N. 400 W., Centerville, Utah 84014 with Robert Mackay for about a month. They are on the second floor of the lobby and can be seen from 10 a.m. until show time. This is a fine show. So if you would like to see some of the paintings I’ve been working on lately, head to these shows.
My next watercolor class will start at Bountiful Davis Art Center January 6th 10 a.m. Go to http://www.bdac.org to register
Robert McKay http://www.robertmckayart.com

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Controlled Spontaneity

There is some anticipation when you sign up for a workshop. I have heard the name Charles Reid from the time I started painting with watercolor and he was coming to Utah.

Charles Reid in Cache Valley

Charles Reid in Cache Valley


There is so much to learn in a week. I tried to capture all the information in my sketch book and watch how he painted through binoculars. It was suggested in the equipment list for the workshop and proved very helpful. I could see how he mixed the paint on his paper and made his washes and how he used his brush even from the back row.
Charles Reid painting still life.

Charles Reid painting still life.


I love to see people work who have worked for a long time. There is an expertise in motion, flick and spatter of brush. You can learn a lot from watching how painters put color on the paper and use their brush. You learn from watching how they work and you learn things that can’t be taught from a book.
Charles Reid painting at worshop in Cache Valley

Charles Reid painting at worshop in Cache Valley


There is also what you learn when you try to apply what you’ve watched and incorporate it into your technique of painting and bring it in to enhance how you paint. I have noticed that some of the painters who look like they attack the paper and fling paint around on their paper also are very careful and controlled in some areas, much more controlled than you would realize.
Charles Reid's palette filled with fresh paint. He dipped his brush in and put it on the paper.

Charles Reid’s palette filled with fresh paint. He dipped his brush in and put it on the paper.


People want to capture that loose free feeling in their paintings. Charles Reid called it controlled spontaneity. So even though Charles’ paintings look free and loose there were times when he was very slow and controlled and careful when he puts paint onto the paper. At other times he flicked his brush and the spatter went out and around making a perfect shape of the feather. Now that is controlled spontaneity.
Charles Reid painting from the model in Cache Valley

Charles Reid painting from the model in Cache Valley


A couple of things that I personally learned from the workshop were don’t be afraid of the white of the paper. It can enhance your paintings and make them vibrant. It is a great advantage to be continually sketching in your sketch book. It helps you to see angles and shapes quickly and put them down on paper.
Here is my painting from the model at the Charles Reid Workshop.

Here is my painting from the model at the Charles Reid Workshop.


And last of all don’t be afraid of pure pigment. Thanks to Charles Reid and his wife for a great week of learning and getting to know them both better.
This is my painting from the Plein Air Day of the Charles Reid Watercolor Workshop in Cache Valley

This is my painting from the Plein Air Day of the Charles Reid Watercolor Workshop in Cache Valley

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Three more inktobers

Inktober 5

Inktober 5

Inktober 3

Inktober 4

Inktober 4

Inktober 4

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#Inktober

1st day of inktober, a day late.

1st day of inktober, a day late.


In high school I spilled a bottle of India Ink onto my mother’s living room rug. You can’t get that out of the carpet. We ended up moving the endtable over the spot. Now that is a mother that supports the arts.

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And a little child shall lead them.

A Child shall lead them

A Child shall lead them


Here is a detail from a watercolor that I just finished. It will be in a show at the Cottonwood Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City, during November and December. The theme is Isaiah 11:6. This scripture has always intrigued me.I wondered what to place in the little girls arms so I asked one of my granddaughters. Her answer was quick, “a baby lion”. It was a perfect idea. I guess a little child lead me. I’m pleased with how this watercolor turned out.

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A Package Full of Thanks

Pein-Air painting Bountiful Main Street

Pein-Air painting Bountiful Main Street


About a year ago I did an artist-in-residence at Greenville Elementary. We were creating art for the “Art in Transit” program. The art from the high schools and elementarys are displayed on and in a bus.
The Art in Transit Bus

The Art in Transit Bus


They wanted the art to tie into the curriculum they were studying. The other day I ended up in Logan and was able to catch the bus with the art work. It was so fun to see the students art printed and displayed in the bus.
Student art inside the bus

Student art inside the bus


Sometimes you get a lot of critiquing when you are doing children’s books. My favorite critiquing is done by the students I teach. Here are a few excerpts.
“Thank you for chosing my school for the art thing. I am very thankfull. My favoret thing to do is art so this was fun. From Kaeli
Student art displayed in the bus

Student art displayed in the bus


“Thank you for helping us to draw stuff. I really liked it. It was super duper fun.” From Jack
“Thank you so so so so much for teaching us how to do art. You’re AWSOME. Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you.” From Lauren
“Thank-you for coming to my school (greenville). You are very good at art. You are the best art teacher ever. I hope you can come again soon.” From a student Adele
Thank you cards

Thank you cards


“Thank you for helping us drow and Paint. My favifort thing was dipping the fethers in the colerful water. Thank you for helping us draw the Native Amerians and Paniting them.” From Katelyn
“Thank you for helping us become better dawers. I miss you.” From Lauren
A lot of the cards had portraits of Native Americans and chuckwallas drawn. When students draw, they remember the lesson.
So a big thank you from the students at Greenville for putting a smile on my face.
Blue Ribbon award winner "Old Glory" received 1st place in the watercolor division at the Utah State Fair.

Blue Ribbon award winner “Old Glory” received 1st place in the watercolor division at the Utah State Fair.


A little bit of show news, “Old Glory” won the blue ribbon at the Utah State Fair in watercolor.

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Handcrafted Scarfs, Hugs and “Emma Jo’s Song”

"Emma Jo's Song" and the hand crafted scarf.

“Emma Jo’s Song” and the hand crafted scarf.


About 14 years ago, I heard a quiet voice with Southern tones answer the phone. It was Faye Gibbons from Alabama which was so very far away from Utah. I’m not sure what ties us to other people but I felt an instant connection with Faye. Maybe it was the spirit of her story that I had been illustrating, a picture book of family and music and overcoming insecurities. I had six spreads done from “Emma Jo’s Song”. It was right before Christmas and I received a certified letter that said the small publisher was canceling the book. The publisher gave me Faye’s phone number and told me to call and tell Faye.
"Pucketts singing and making all kinds of music"

“Pucketts singing and making all kinds of music”


At that time in publishing, the writer and the illustrator never talked to each other, one of those unspoken rules. Here I was talking to an author. I told Faye the publisher had cancelled the book and she was shocked. She was working with this publisher as a favor. Faye said for me to send her pictures of the art spreads and she would send it to her agent and see if the agent could find a home for the book.
"We told the Pucketts, the Deals, and the Hamricks."

“We told the Pucketts, the Deals, and the Hamricks.”


“Emma Jo’s Song” found a home at Boyds Mills Press. The book was followed by “Full Steam Ahead” and “The Day the Picture Man Came”. I stayed in contact with Faye through emails and Christmas cards. I received a photo of her and her husband and their dog sitting on a wood-worn porch. I pinned it up on the wall of my studio under a picture of my husband and an illustration by Michael Hague. The picture on my wall became surrounded by photos from Africa and handprints of grandkids.
pinned to my studio wall

pinned to my studio wall


Yesterday there was a knock on my door. I ran down to answer it. The Gibbons’ were standing on our porch. I gave Faye and her husband a big hug. Though we had never met, they felt like old dear friends. They had made the long journey from Alabama to Utah. We chatted over Chicken Pot Pie and French Bread, corn on the cob and garden tomatoes. They entertained my family with tales of times past in the Georgia mountains. Faye gave me a hand crocheted scarf. When I illustrated “Full Steam Ahead”, Faye had sent me a photo of some of her relatives if I wanted to use it in the book. It worked in perfectly. Yesterday I gave her that illustration from the book.
Alabama and Utah Meet

Alabama and Utah Meet


I went to a get-together of Utah Authors and Illustrators Saturday and listened to Shannon Hale say that one of the great gifts of writing and illustrating is the relationships we form with other people. As I watched Faye and her husband drive off down the road, I agreed with Shannon. Here was someone who lives on the other side of the country, and a picture book story and illustrations brought us together.
Faye signed a couple of her books for me.

Faye signed a couple of her books for me.


www.newsouthbooks.com

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Ten Things I learned while hiking the Inca Trail

Our Guide

Our Guide


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.
Sketch from sketch book second night.

Sketch from sketch book second night.


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.
Spiral staircase

Spiral staircase


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.
Porter on the trail.

Porter on the trail.


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.
Selling Coco leaves

Selling Coco leaves


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.
Steep slick Inca Rocks

Steep slick Inca Rocks


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.
Hiking in the clouds

Hiking in the clouds


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?)
Carry on luggage in a pinch.

Carry on luggage in a pinch.


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.
The first view of Machu Pichu emerging from the clouds

The first view of Machu Pichu emerging from the clouds


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.
Arrival at destination Machu Pichu

Arrival at destination Machu Pichu


10-Good friends can be the best thing to take on your journey and the best thing to bring home with you.

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