Featuring Pacific NW Children's Book Illustrators, I've launched KidLit Illustrators Talk, a Podcast where Oregon KidLit illustrators share their process and progress in the art of children's book illustration, as well as what they've learned along the way. Take a listen and learn about Oregon Illustrators!
When I sing this song, I don't feel fierce. But I may need to call up my own inner fire again. I feel like I'm honoring a path that is old and rooted in my very bones and must be recovered and remembered and renewed in this age of deep forgetting. This is a song for my friends and loved ones and for those fighting for freedom throughout the world. Let us remember who we are.
In that spirit I recently initiated a critique group for SCBWI author-illustrators in Portland and will occasionally share ideas and images inspired by our work together. As we settle into a core group we're experimenting with ideas about how to meet individual and group goals. Below is a 2-minute movie sharing my results from the first assignment we gave ourselves. It's all about shape and transformation and playful exploration.
I didn't know what this shape wanted to be so I just started drawing using the digital program Procreate. And of course my mind eventually started 'art directing,' (liking this, but not that) and asking questions: "why did you draw a stuffed animal? It's static and boring and... what's the story? Where's the movement in these characters? Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. Wait a minute! This is supposed to be fun - FUN FOR ME! - now: just play and find what wants to come through. There's a story in there somewhere."
So much is happening in the world today that, as an adult, I often feel overwhelmed and muted by an undercurrent of despair. Today’s children are growing up in an era of great change and turmoil. My hope is that within this ongoing cultural transformation, the great Gaia-healing initiatives now in motion will support these kids as they grow. And may their lives be filled with stories of friendship and peace, challenges met, feelings honored, discoveries made, our wondrous diversity, history told true, earth wisdom, and every-day adventures, all told via exuberant, imaginative stories and storytellers.
The creative mind is a listening presence. It can connect feeling and thought in a provocative state of flow that invites the listener to playfully explore and discover. Creative play pulls me back into a current of possibilities and reawakens the impetus to live a life of curiosity and wonder and open-hearted sharing. A life of Loving.
PICTURE BOOKS AS POETRY
I've been taking lots of online workshops over the last year, mostly through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - an organization I joined in 2005. A fellow SCBWI member, Leslie Bernard Booth, is an Oregon Literary Fellow and published author. Among other genres, she is a nonfiction children's book author who writes about the natural world. Author Dana Johnson described Leslie's work in this way: "Her writing is as thought-provoking and haunting as it is beautiful."
During the course of this workshop I was wowed by the possibilities of poetic (almost musical) language and the ways in which it is being used by authors to add to a growing body of narrative non-fiction for the benefit and learning of kids everywhere.
Leslie's powerpoint was eloquent and succinct, interactive and thought-provoking. So - this is my shout-out to Leslie: thanks so much for your beautiful writing in service to the children of our world! Find her HERE. And look for her two books, A Stone is a Story and One Day This Tree Will Fall, coming out in Spring 2023, and Summer 2023, respectively.
I've just launched a new Podcast called VoiceMuze, where I'll be sharing moments of my journey with sound and improvisation, both past and present. I'm excited. The muses are calling me back in - to play, go deep, and learn. I'll be remembering (and forgetting and remembering) to let go of my ego, entangled with threads of vulnerability and self-worth, so that I can become an explorer again. . . and you're invited to join me. This may be useful to folks who are beginning a personal sounding practice, or who've been on this journey for a while. It's all about the heart and soul of who we are, and the expressive empowerment and joy that comes through deepening our relationship with ourselves, and, one another. Have a listen...now on Spreaker.
Here we go! I've been collaborating with colleagues and friends over the last 15 years, publishing a variety of graphic projects for (and with) them. Now, I'm offering these services to anyone who's interested in self-publishing. If you'd like more information, visit the Dreaming Earth Press Website. In the meantime, here's a short video about how we might collaborate on your project.
Hazel Hanson Chilstrom, third from the left, standing
My aunt Hazel was a member of Atelier 17 in New York in the early 1950's, part of the midcentury modernist printmaking movement. She was married to my father's brother, Ray, who was also an artist. Sorting through family papers today, I came across a little notebook in which she recorded her training as an artist - it was extensive. Her children, husband, and Hazel herself are all gone now, and I was struck by the knowledge that I'm one of the few people left who remember my aunt and uncle, so this is an honoring of them both. Hazel and Ray touched my life in inexplicable ways, some remembered, and others just vague, happy memories. As a young child stepping into their house during the holidays, I remember an amazing Christmas tree - it hung upside down in the front hallway and it wasn't green...it was made of lights and sparkly dangling things - this was in 1958! I later learned that Ray worked as a display artist at Lipman Wolfe (a high-end department store formerly located in downtown Portland). I was amazed when he made hand-painted cloth and then sewed it into a skirt for my aunt. They made toys from scraps of cardboard and felt for us: wonderful, imaginative, simple toys that inspired me to become a maker of unique things later in my life. Summer parties on their backyard patio were relaxed and full of laughter, with kids splashing in a blow-up pool and teasing everyone with squirt guns. I loved watching my father and his brother reminisce, kid each other, and just catch up on the comings and goings of their lives.
A is for Aardvark