Thursday, July 20, 2017

National Lollipop Day!



Today is national lollipop day!  What better way to celebrate than with a painting of a sweet little girl enjoying one:)


Fun facts about lollipops (according to national calendar.com):

- It is thought that lollipops have been around since pre-historic times as a way to preserve nuts and berries in honey.

- George Smith invented the modern style lollipop in 1931

- The lollipop got it's name from it's inventor's favorite racing horse, Lolly Pops

- The best way to celebrate National Lollipop Day is to buy a bag of lollipops and share them with your friends!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Art Quote


A little inspiration from Picasso to get you through your day!  Make some art today even if it's just a doodle:)


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Because you wasted so much time....


I was listening to the radio while driving into work the other day and I heard the speaker say that the greatest form of love we can give another is the gift of our time.  Because when we give our time, our undivided attention to another, we are giving a piece of ourselves that we can never get back.  The words of the fox from the The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery, sums it up perfectly.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Children's Authors and Illustrators Interview - Wende Essrow

“ON A PERFECT DAY I HEAD OUT AT SUNRISE AND SKI THROUGH THE WOODS, AND LISTEN TO THE WIND. IF I AM LUCKY I HEAR THE OWLS AND SPOT A WHITE TAIL DEER PEEKING BETWEEN THE TREES.” 

  

It's time again for another interview with an author/illustrator as part of my Children's Authors and Illustrators Interview feature.  This month I'd like to introduce you to my good friend Wende Essrow!  She is author and illustrator of Paintbrush Dreamer and her latest children's book, If You Listen to The Trees.


I met Wende at a very serendipitous point in my life and it was my introduction to her that lead to me publishing my first book.  Wende visited the East Aurora Art Society meeting one cold February night to share her latest picture book with us.  I was immediately smitten with Wende and wanted to learn more about how she got published.  She readily shared everything she knew with me and we became fast friends over the last three years.  I can't wait for you to meet her!   Below is my interview with Wende that took place over coffee and e-mail.


Interview:


You have been an inspiration to me ever since I met you at the East Aurora Art Society meeting three years ago when you published your firstpicture book Paintbrush Dreamer.  Who are some people who inspire you?


I have been inspired by many authors and artists over the years. One author that I love is Sigurd Olsen. He has written beautiful books about his solo travels in North Country areas. I also love to solo hike and explore. Olsen's capacity to bring his reader along for his adventures at hand is exceptional. I also refer back to my childhood fairytale collection, The Fairytale Book (by Golden) illustrated by Adrienne Segur, a true master of beautiful fantasy illustrations. There are so many beautiful picture books I could go on forever. One book, The Whales' Song by Dyan Sheldon and illustrated by Gary Blythe is another favorite. I actually had the distinct pleasure of corresponding with the author who kindly volunteered to review my first manuscript.  I also received a beautiful letter from France from the illustrator. I was so overwhelmed by the art I wrote to the publisher who forwarded my letter directly to the artist. The artist wrote back a beautiful letter which I cherish and have kept in the book for over 25 years as a reminder to always try to connect with my reading audience in a personal way.


 The Whale's Song, an inspiration

 Wende's childhood fairytale book


What made you decide to become and author/illustrator of picture books?


I have always painted and written poetry and kept a journal. When my children were younger I would read bedtime stories and make up stories as well. My youngest son is a graphic artist and for my birthday decided to give me the gift of his time. He called and said Mom, "It is time you share your stories with a greater audience. I always loved them and I want you to learn how to design a book so you can share them." He basically encouraged me to put together a story and helped me work it into a manuscript. I loved the first project, showed to an indie bookstore owner and he said, "you have something very special here." From that point on, with a project in hand I met with a publisher and the journey began.

And that book was the Paintbrush Dreamer, right?    Yes!


You have both authored and illustrated picture books, which do you enjoy more, the writing of the stories for picture books or the creation of the illustrations?


I love to write. I always have and always will, as it is a part of my spirit, it grounds me and allows me to celebrate all that moves me. There is so much beauty, so much happiness in being alive, and of course sometime there are obstacles that need to be overcome. It is with a pen and ink that I have survived many challenges and celebrated my gratitude for all the beauty that surrounds us. I have to say both my writing and my art are tools for me to express the inner joy, the sense of wonder, the sheer amazement in this thing called, life. I admit I love writing as well as painting and it depends on my mood. Writing flows, illustrating a thought takes some planning and execution skill, thus I need to be very focused to paint. I love both forms of expression and my state of mind dictates what I can best accomplish in the studio on any given morning.


You have told me you have been writing and journaling a long time, do you have  special place that you like to go to when you write? 

 

I have done most of my writing on a ratty old green couch in my art studio with my muse, Charlie a beloved old dog by my side. We have what I call our coffee dates in the early morning and that is when I write. The studio is surrounded by woods and there is a creek that I can hear when the windows are open. It is really cold in the studio so I try to get a fire burning in the woodstove. I am a morning person. I usually do some painting later in the afternoon after a long walk in the woods. I need to be outside for awhile under any weather conditions to get ready to settle down and paint. There is something about hiking or xcountry skiing and listening to the wind that allows me to concentrate and sit still long enough to work on an illustration.

Can you share a picture of your art space with us?


Can you share with us where you get inspiration for your stories?


My inspiration comes from nature. I have always loved to be outside exploring. Whether I am hiking, skiing, canoeing, I am hypersensitive to the light and colors of the natural world as well as extremely observant of wildlife. This has always been the case. I feel more at home in the middle of nowhere surrounded by woods and listening to the sound of wind in the treetops than I do whenI am inside even my own house. Winter is my favorite season. When I study the geometry of an individual snowflake or look at the muted pastel colors of a winter sky I feel an abundance of joy. It is this sense of awe that inspires me to write and paint.


You are also a very accomplished photographer, what role does photography play in your book creation process?



I sometimes take a small pocket camera to record a particular scene or detail along my outdoor trails. I began to share a few of these shots that are useful in developing paintings from multiple references. Over the years with the advent of social media I have gathered an audience for my photography as a separate art form. I am currently working on a coffee table nature photography and poetry book for adults at the same time I am working on a new children's book.

(You can follow Wende's photography on Instagram at @Wendesworld.  Here is a sample of the work you will find there.)



Do you have any sage advice to offer someone who is thinking about getting into picture books?



Regarding advice to anyone aspiring to write a children's book, do it for love of your subject. There is a likely chance you will not make a fortune, but if you have the opportunity to share a piece of your soul, that will make you "richer." I suggest starting with a small local publisher and keep trying. If no one is interested in publishing your work, self publish it and share it with family and friends.

Thank you for sharing your art journey with us Wende:)  You can find Wende's books at her website www.ifyoulistentothetrees.com



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sunrise study in oil

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Here is a little oil study I did this weekend with my friend Sherida.  She came over on Saturday and brought this beautiful sunrise picture.  We decided to each do four little studies in oil.  I played with changing the colors and changing the size of the sun to see what it would do to the mood.  

What I think is fun about this little study is that all four paintings are on one canvas, so you get four sunrises in one picture!  I don't know if anyone would ever want to hang this painting up, but it just looks really cool all together on one canvas. 

 


Which one do you like?  #1 top left #2 top right #3 bottom left #4 bottom right.   Let me know in the comments below:)



Monday, March 20, 2017

SCBWI Spring Fever Conference




Ever have those days in the middle of winter where you are just feeling blah and can't get motivated? That's how I was feeling, and then the SCBWI Spring Fever Conference came around this past weekend.  It was the perfect prescription for the winter blah's!  I have been a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for three years now, and I have known about the national and regional conferences, but my schedule has never allowed me to attend one.  Until this year! 

 
What a wonderful day I had with so many serendipitous moments.  Meeting a professional illustrator, connecting with friends from on-line, and learning new things.  But the best part was being in the company of so many people who are passionate about storytelling for kids.  There was a palpable feeling of creativity in the air with so many authors and illustrators all coming together for the purpose of being inspired and pushed on in their craft.  Plus they set up a little book store with everyone's books for sale so of course I had to go shopping.


The day started with a discussion of query letters and loglines (two new terms for me!).   As I was sitting listening, I decided to post to Instagram what I was doing.  I quickly received a comment from a follower that she was there at the conference too!   Wow!  Technology is so cool!  I looked around me, where was she?  Nicolette was right behind me and at the break we got to meet each other face to face versus over Instagram.  She is an emerging author with kids and a day job just like me.  We had so much in common and it was fun to talk and encourage each other. 


After lunch Nicolette went to the author feedback session and I went to the illustrator feedback session.  It was run by our guest illustrator Elizabeth Zunon!  She presented her work and creative process to us in the morning session and now she was giving portfolio reviews!  What a thrill it was for me to have my work reviewed by such a successful illustrator.   





And I also got to purchase one of Elizabeth's books for my collection!  It's a true story of a boy who lives in Malawi and figures out how to make a windmill from old junk, to pump water to his village during a terrible drought.  The story is heart-warming and the illustrations are lovely!


I also got to meet a several great illustrators who live in the area.  We got to share our artwork, talk creative process and exchange websites.  One illustrator who I met is Jacob Souva who has amazing digital collage artwork.   It's sort of like a cross between Eric Carle and Miroslav Sasek.  Check out some of his work below: 


   
  

Isn't it great!  You have to check out more of his work via the link I included above. All in all the SCBWI Spring Fever Conference was just what I needed to get me through March.  I hope my story helped inspire you!