Posts Tagged ‘illustration’

Last night I attended a course on “Writing and Publishing for Children and Teens.” It was jam-packed with good advice and important resources, but the most interesting thing to me was the “other” facilitator – an illustrator. Her name is Mary Reaves Uhles and I happened to pick up one of her picture books while waiting for class to begin – I absolutely loved it! Lots of shenanigans and different skin colors at a Grandmother’s holiday celebration:

“The Little Kids’ Table” by Mary Ann McCabe Riehle and Mary Reaves Uhles http://sleepingbearpress.com/shop/show/11704

At first I wondered if I should have been named Mary with multiple surnames, like all the nuns who taught me how to perfectly diagram a sentence, and probably set the stage for my love of reading and writing. Before popping into my class, I delivered two children’s books in Spanish to the Grands; one on Frida Kahlo and the other on Julio Cortázar! After all, they will be learning Spanish in school and why shouldn’t they think of art as a career choice? The Bride smiled at my obvious motive while she cooked up some delicious beans and rice.

One of the most important things I learned from Uhles is that when a manuscript is accepted by a publishing house, the writer has basically zero influence on the illustrator. For some reason I’d thought I would have to provide the artist along with my book, that writer and illustrator came as a duo, a married couple ’till death intervened. I might be able to suggest someone for the job, but nope, the editor gets to pick the person she/he likes. Uhles mentioned a friend who wrote a book about a family, only to find out it was finally published as a PIG family, which was not her intention, but hey…

I also learned I don’t have to rhyme, although I love reading aloud in rhyme to children. It’s like a melody that’s enhanced by harmony. But Dr Seuss seems to have cornered the market on couplets, still I’ll leave a bit of my idea for a another book on Buddha Bear. Y’all know Buddha was our wonderful part-Samoyed rescue who looked like a polar bear. One hundred pounds of pure love. https://mountainmornings.net/2011/11/03/to-a-good-dog/

Buddha Skates Across the Pond

Snowflakes settled on his nose

As Buddha stepped outside to find

A fox left tracks in the tall sea grass

And chocolate milk was on his mind

The school was closed, so back inside

He jumped to pull a crazy quilt

From Lena’s bed, “Up, up, up, sleepyhead!”

He begged with paws of icy silt

I envision a series, Buddha in the Morning, Buddha at the Beach, Buddha Gives Chase, Buddha on a Plane, etc. Which reminds me, when we arrived in Mexico, a police officer was strolling through the airport with a proud German Shepherd dog. who started sniffing all around my bag. Oh Oh, was I carrying some contraband into the country? We always thought Buddha was a drop-out from a K-9 program. It turned out this drug-sniffing dog had smelled my half of a ham sandwich from Starbucks. Needless to say, it was confiscated.

Our current combined pups:  Guinness, Ms Bean and Maple the newest IMG_2040


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Two things happened to collide in my first week home. One was our overabundance – how big America is, how wide our roads, how many choices we have for cereal. And “B” (it’s a family joke) was a New Yorker article I was reading at the gym about Walmart art. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/02/walmart-art.html#ixzz2MfZBirVd

Artist Brendan O’Connell worked for the Winn Dixie as a teenager when he had the brilliant idea that he wanted to paint the patterns and colors of store shelves. He saw beauty in the endless void of our material world, someone called him the Warhol of this generation. But he didn’t actually start painting until he started to photograph shoppers and shelves in Walmart. Imagine, Cheeto bags inspired passion; well actually he hasn’t painted a Cheeto bag, yet…

Now, his is the only art hung in Walmart’s corporate headquarters in Arkansas, and Alec Baldwin is a collector. “A company executive said, (O’Connell is) capturing ‘the art in the Wonderbread; the art in the Jif.'”

I like to think that’s about how I write. Something ordinary, or maybe newsworthy, might catch my eye and off I’ll run with words. Seeing something extraordinary in everyday things. The Flapper and my beautiful sister Kay were the artists in my family, so drawing was out of the question for me, but painting a picture with words and metaphor seemed doable. Still, I can appreciate art when I see it.

Like the lovely Art in Place project that has sculpture and murals popping up all over Cville. http://www.artinplace.org I am consistently  delighted to see ever-changing roadscapes while I drive around town.The fin of a giant whale, a zipper being unzipped, a harried commuter with his tie flying in the wind, or even a butterfly made out of stone by Philip Kyle Hathcock hathcock  

Since I don’t go to Walmarts, here is my photo montage of O’Connell-like shelves I found intriguing after getting through customs, my dignity somewhat intact and my avocat lotion not confiscated:
A still life of 100 calorie snack packs at a Harris Teeter grocery store. The French do not have a word for “snack.” photo copy
The Starbucks mermaid.photo copy 3
A favorite chip for teens in Target photo copy
And a woman looking for beauty products photo copy 3

What is art, what is beauty? Discuss.

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