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Friday, December 09, 2016

Friday Links List - 09 December 2016

From Bookshelf: 1,285 nails: Rocking chair bookcase - I want one of these!

From Giuseppe Castellano: The Illustrator's Portfolio - YES!

From AdWeek: Can You Figure Out the Mystery Inside This Remarkable Ad About High School Love? A message deeper than idle sketches By Tim Nudd - woah.

From Brightly: Books That Help Kids Walk in Someone Else's Shoes

From 99U: Take a Break: 5 Ways Freelance Creatives Make Unpaid Time Off Work

From Muddy Colors: Cory Godbey talks about Charles Vess' new book Walking Through the Landscape of Faerie of which I was lucky enough to see some of the originals when Charles visited Hollins University last summer!

For the budding Space Scientist in your life, check out NASA Astronaut Dr. Dave's TO BURP OR NOT TO BURP: A GUIDE TO YOUR BODY IN SPACE.

From 99U: Why Pride is Good

From GREAT!storybook: How to Overcome Depression and Write Again

From Treehugger: Artist repurposes vintage books as exquisite paper cups & bowls - gorgeous!

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Claudia Rueda's BUNNY SLOPE

I'm starting to identify a theme with the books I've been featuring lately - lots of SNOW! Claudia Rueda's new book is no exception. She stopped by to talk about BUNNY SLOPE.
e: What is your creative process, can you walk us through it?
I usually begin with a question. It could be why cats have whiskers or the purpose of life. The source of my ideas is always curiosity. Sometimes the answer to the question I ask becomes the theme for a story. I carry sketchbooks everywhere I go, so I can scribble ideas and play around with different styles. Once I have an idea for a story, I plan the book by drawing a storyboard on a plain piece of paper. The storyboard becomes the roadmap for the development of the visual narrative and for the words that tell the story.
e: What is your medium?
I like to reveal the pencil marks on the paper. I use graphite and color pencils, charcoal and ink on paper. Sometimes I use watercolor or I add color in Photoshop. The story usually tells me what the best medium for the book is.
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call “Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
There’s no formula for how to make art look magical. I think an illustration feels “magical” when it brings you a sense of mystery and when it creates an emotional connection.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Not to repeat myself.

e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
We could say that Bunny Slopes belongs to the interactive children’s books genre.
      Books that require the reader interaction have been around for more than a hundred years, Pat the Bunny (1940) being one of the most celebrated. These books are coming back again, maybe as the authors response to the current ubiquity of digital interactive media. Most of those books are playful and fun. Although Bunny Slopes has that playful element, my intention was to go beyond and to explore interactivity as a narrative resource. I wanted the reader to be able to move the story forward or to change the story. I find this possibility amazing and full of potential.
      I also wanted to develop Bunny as an adventurous and playful character, but also caring and warm-hearted.

e: I think it worked! Thanks Claudia!
      New York Times’ Bestselling author Claudia Rueda’s Bunny Slopes is swishing onto bookstore and library shelves! Time to tackle the bunny slope! Shake to help Bunny make it snow, tilt to help Bunny ski down the slope, and turn to help Bunny escape a cliff in his path. Is there any obstacle Bunny can't conquer? Bringing grins and guffaws with each turn of the page, readers will find Claudia Rueda's innovative bookmaking as entertaining as the twists and turns of a ski slope—and as satisfying as a cozy cup of hot cocoa.

Check out this adorable trailer on Youtube:

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Summative Review Time

This one is for a grade! It's end of the 3rd semester in my MFA in Illustration - our most difficult semester of all! I'm on the couch working on my dissertation, which I will submit this Friday. *pant, pant* Meanwhile, the studio is off limits to us because the tutors are reviewing our summative submissions. Mine looks like this.
On my desk are works-in-progress like my Textiles workshop projects. Gads, the pillow turned out so freaking CUTE!
Some finished projects, like the cover I did for the elementary school I visited - Vivian was doing a writing workshop with them and invited me along to show the kids how to draw manga. This is their story.
You saw my See Noise submission already.
And you've seen most of my Marginal Creatures project - in black and white. They're now in color, accompanied by haikus and I will make them into a book next semester.
There's also all my ongoing picture book projects - the ones I can share like this one.
And the ones I can't share just yet - you'll have to guess at that. All said, I'm pleased with my work this semester. However, I'm not done yet! Enough goofing off, I've got to get back to my dissertation. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Coloring Page Tuesday - Book Trees

     Holiday reveries are upon us, but take a moment to enjoy the quieter moments too. Of course, you can decorate the trees if you like!CLICK HERE for HOLIDAY-THEMED coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up for alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA! Makes a GREAT teacher gift! Click the cover to learn more!
     Don't live in Georgia? Check with your local bookseller - Sterling has a version for each state.

     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Christmas Decorations in Edinburgh

One of the best things about where we live here in Edinburgh is my walk to and from Uni. It's 1.6 miles and it goes through the heart of some of the best twinkle light displays in the city. Here's my path. I go around the castle, which has colored lights shining on it. Yesterday was blue, today was red. I go north on Lothian, cut across Princes Street, then hook a right on George Street. Which is where I encounter this.
It's a giant arch construction covered in lights choreographed to choral Christmas music and it is the main tourist draw this holiday season. It's so fun to navigate through the happy crowd on the way home.
     I then walk down the length of George Street where I see things like this.

and this
     The Dome is always spectacular. Sometimes they even pump fake snow onto the sidewalk!
     At the east end of George Street is St. Andrews Square (our square). They set up a skating rink around the monument and shine a light show onto the column, making it snow, saying "Merry Christmas (shown here), and then turning into a candle.
     I walk around the skating rink, listen to carolers, and watch little kids use penguin-shaped supports as they learn to skate.
     On the other side of the park is Harvey Nichols and Multrees Walk. HN always does crazy window displays.
     Then I cut left and go downhill, enjoying the view of the Kingdom of Fife in the distance, to finally get home. There's no better way to get into the spirit of the season!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

VIDEO: John Klassen's WE FOUND A HAT

I love this video of Children's book author Jon Klassen and the morally ambiguous universe of hats... Click the image to watch in a new window.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A Christmas Literary Salon

Each month I attend the Literary Salon hosted by the City of Literature. To get there I left the Edinburgh College of Art, walked through Grassmarket, and up Victoria Street...
which looks a lot better in the Edinburgh Holiday Guide - click their image below to check it out.
I cut across the Royal Mile and past the Writers Museum, which cuts through a wee alley that opens up to this view of Princes Street and the Christmas Village.
     Anyhow, I cut left to the Literary Salon, which is usually hosted by The Wash Bar... and stays there. But not this past time. We started at the bar, but we soon moved on to the John Knox House, home to the Storytelling Centre and the oldest house in Edinburgh, to kick off a new tour.
It began with roasted chestnuts. (I really love these things!)
And a story, of course!
The tour continued from there, but we hadn't eaten yet. So we headed to an Italian restaurant we hadn't yet tried. This was our view.
So, yeah. That was a Tuesday in Edinburgh. :)

Robyn Hood Black's artsyletters

Just in time for Christmas! I'm happy to feature a crafty friend who creates art, jewelry and the perfect gifts for the writer in your life. Introducing Robyn Hood Black's artsyletters!

Guest blog post from Robyn Hood Black – artsyletters
(Click an item image to view it in Robyn's online store.)

      I’m honored to drop into E’s blog today, waving from my artsyletters studio in balmy Beaufort, South Carolina, on the Southeastern coast of the USA. I know our gracious host is covered up in reading, illustrating, and writing that Masters dissertation, so I’ll keep this short and sweet.
      Elizabeth and I have crossed paths many wonderful times over the years, initially+ through the Southern Breeze region of SCBWI and even being in the same critique group a few years back. While I miss having her in my corner of the world, I sure enjoy these virtual trips to beautiful Scotland, and I’m so proud of her passion and initiative. (You rock, e!)
      I’m here this week because she invited me to give a holiday shout-out about my gifts for readers and writers. As a poet and children’s author (you can read about that side of my life here – ), I love making art that celebrates words, letters, books and writing. In 2012 I opened my Etsy shop and began filling it with original drawings, prints, mixed media collages, bookmarks, and note cards, all celebrating reading and writing. I also sold work at local art shows.
      In 2014 I moved to the SC Lowcountry and claimed for my studio an upstairs office space in an 1889 building smack in the middle of our charming little downtown, across the street from the Waterfront Park. Ahhhhh. Spanish moss dripping from live oaks, sea birds wheeling in the sky, and historic buildings around every corner. It’s heavenly.
      As I’ve become more involved in the poetry world, I’ve made more mixed media collages featuring found poems from clipped vintage texts. I also create typewriter key jewelry, and anything that strikes my fancy and fits my tagline of “literary art with a vintage vibe.” Each piece I make has its own story. It’s exciting and humbling to handle old books - or keys or watch parts or bits of hardware – and wonder who has touched them before? Where did that person live, and what was going on in the world at the time? I’m particularly drawn to Victorian and early 20th Century texts and treasures.
      My latest endeavors have included making glass cabochon jewelry with marbled endpapers from the mid-1800s. What stories those colorful swirls could tell! I’m always adding to my inventory, with more ideas and projects than there are hours in the day to complete them. If you drop by, please check back from time to time and see what’s new!
      Many thanks, e, for letting me come over to play today. Wishing everyone a holiday season filled with joy, and all your favorite things.

     In October, Robyn led a "Found Poem Makerspace Workshop" for participating poets and and the public in Bellingham, Washington, as part of Western Washington University's "Poetry Camp."
Thanks for sharing Robyn! Miss you!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Hollins University has a new President!

Welcome to Pareena Lawrence named next Hollins University president, where I teach in the MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating program each summer! We will sincerely miss outgoing President Nancy Gray, but Pareena looks to be a wonderful person to fill Ms. Gray's shoes. CLICK HERE or the image below to see the story at One News Page and learn more about our new President. Exciting!
And CLICK HERE to read the official letter of introduction from Hollins (PDF).

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Coloring Page Tuesday - Big Read

     I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the reading I have to do here at uni. Sort of like this mouse. He's trying this book on for size... looking at it sideways... I think he'll be fine, don't you? CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dissertation Writing

It's a bit quiet on my blog this week because I'm in the middle of writing my Masters Dissertation (called a Thesis in the US). It will be 6,000 words on, "Comparing US and UK Picture Books: An Analysis of Cultural Contexts Between Medal-winning Titles" - or at least, that's what it is right now. I'm at 11,000 words with more to go and lots to cut.
     I'm also finishing up studio work for our December 6th semester deadline. So, please be patient with me while I get through this enormous hurdle. And know that this is indeed part of my Edinburgh adventure - just a very demanding part!
     Meanwhile, here are some random images and hints at my experiences right now. This first one is a sign I pass every morning on my way to buy a cup of tea from Mustafah.

My textiles workshop, in progress...

I'm still finding gloves on fence tines and recording them. This will turn into something, not sure what just yet. I have about thirty of them.

Best of all, the MAs are graduating right now. Lilly (peace sign) came by to say 'hi' to all of us who are still slogging it out. This will be us come the end of May. Lilly is an inspiration to us right now. This is me, Karin (also graduated), Boris, Lily and Nadee.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

VIDEO: How Wolves Changed Rivers

"How Wolves Changed Rivers" is an amazing accounting of how the reintroduction of wolves can positively affect their ecosystem in ways one might never have considered. Fascinating and beautiful. Click the image to watch the video on Youtube.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016


One of my favorite publishing houses, Flying Eye, recently sent me a fabulous graphic novel for younger readers that I positively flipped over. Happily, the creator of ARTHUR AND THE GOLDEN ROPE, Joe Todd-Stanton is here today to tell us more about it.

e: What is your creative process, can you walk us through it?
The main thing I try and do is keep a sketchbook on me and draw whenever I get the chance. Living in London this means 99% of my sketches are done on buses and tubes, which I think are a great place for inspiration. My ideas pretty much always come out of these doodles and it's really rare for me to ever get an idea for a story or single illustration fully formed in my head. Once I have done a drawing that I like I will try and come up with an extra element or see if I can fit it into a bigger narrative. I will then obsessively draw it over and over again until I have developed it into something I want to take to final or never want to look at again. This means doing a final sketch and then scanning that in and doing the final line and colour work using my tablet.
e: What is your medium?
Very simple. Just a pencil, paper and Photoshop. I would love to branch out into other mediums but I am very non committal. I think these days Photoshop gives you the amazing ability to experiment with pretty much everything.
e: Your palette seems so strongly red and green - is that a conscious decision?
They are both colours I love a lot. Especially Turquoise, which is a colour I have to actively stop myself from using to much. One reason is probably that books like Where the Wild Thing's Are, which uses a similar dark colour scheme, had a massive influence on me. Also, up until my last year of University I had always worked in Black and White, so since then I think I have always felt more comfortable with a limited colour pallet.
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again? I’m looking for your definition of “Heart Art.”
That's a very hard question to answer! I think it's to what extent a book can inspire a kids imagination. When I was young, any book that gave me sense of a world beyond the pages would instantly have me hooked. Especially if that book gave me a sense of magic whilst still being somehow grounded in the real world so some part of me could feel like it was possible.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this story?
Well, it's not very funny but it did come out of an idea that was completely different. Originally, I wanted to make a book that documented different kinds of mythical creatures with a narrator that kept souvenirs from each discovery. It would have been much more information based and I wanted to do analytical cross sections of the creatures and their environments. This narrator ended up becoming professor Brownstone and then the rest of the story morphed around his character. I would still love to come back to the original idea one day.

e: What was your path to publication?
Three years ago when I finished university we had our final show at the Coningsby Gallery in London. Someone from Nobrow must have seen my work because the next day they contacted me asking if I had any ideas for a project. Then with the incredible help and patience of Sam and Harriet from Flying Eye it took nearly two years of on and off developing and changing my original idea to come up with a solid narrative.

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
I think that like pretty much every artist I am my own worst critic so making anything that I am kind of happy with is always great. I also love coming up with an idea and then trying to push it as far is it can go, whether that is just one character's individual expression or the detail in a massive image. (Joe's studio...)
e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
I put a lot of emphasis on books in the story because they are a great way of having adventures in the comfort of your home. I think that amazing ability of being able to get lost in a book is something we shouldn't forget about passing on to the next generation. Although, I guess I would say that being an author!

e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I am currently just about to finish the art work on my second children's book, which is about a girl called Erin from a fishing town that discovers a secret. The story is based on an illustration I did back in university so it will be so amazing for me when I finally get to see it in print. In terms of dream jobs I would absolutely love to illustrate Peter Pan as it has always been my favourite story. So if any publishers are reading this!!

e: Thanks Joe! And I hope you'll come back to share Erin with us when she's ready for the world.


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