Inspired by UNICEF photo Sep. 21, 2015: School girls jumping for joy in JUBA/ South Sudan
In an age which lauds the LOUD.
Let us pause and praise the quiet.
Being with a blank white page
A bow to the empty moment
A nod to the negative space
The pause in a friend's sentence
The quiet in the company of others, before you try to fill it up.
the power, the color, the unlimited universe in these spaces, already there.
What is perching on an empty branch?
These spaces are NOT empty.
They are wild things with names.
Why are we so afraid of these friends?
Who know our own names?
Why are we so afraid of QUIET?
Because in the quiet we face ourselves.
And we are taught to be afraid of ourselves.
And there is truth in the quiet.
Why do we not want to face the truth?
The truth isn't so bad.
The truth is:
we are loved.
We ARE love.
Swatch's life depended so heavily on music, so I knew that if I made a trailer for her, music would have to be the heartbeat of the whole thing. I thank my lucky stars for the opportunity to work with mega-talent / composer Steve Pardo, who wrote that heartbeat, his original melody: "Swatch's Song".
Steve is prolific in his personal and professional work; his repertoire includes songwriting, performing, arranging, producing, recording for blockbuster video games, his project, Skewsound, and folk band Opal Puckkett, among other teaching and performing endeavors.
He suggested enhancing Swatch's track with some live strings, namely, The Videri String Quartet (high masters of the video game soundtrack!) When he invited me to come watch Videri RECORD their track live, I jumped at the chance.
Here's a glimpse of recording day in Steve's studio in Somerville, MA. The Quartet is: (founder) violist Rosalie Samter, Jeremiah Barcus on cello, Lizzie Jones and Michael Hustedde on violins. They were all so casual, friendly, and unassuming (like most geniuses are) until the second their bows hit string and I was like: ......................................................................... just listen:
When their music filled that little room, there is no other way to explain it, except for the distinct feeling that Swatch was right there! Made of sounds and words and paint. Now with this new musical facet, she was somehow finally and utterly FREE, which is what (like her wild colors) she most wanted. No longer an idea, circling restlessly in a jar. She was a book, a song, someone who could be a friend to somebody new. Meeting Steve's interpretation of Swatch's spirit was truly incredible...
From Videri's gorgeous mission statement :
Videri, a Latin word meaning "to be seen" and the quartet’s namesake, alludes to the role of music in illuminating visual narratives....to celebrate the dynamic link between music and storytelling
Ah. Confession: on the way home, I had a good cry. (Strings do that to me anyway) but this time they heralded something very specific: a long journey had ended, and a new one had begun. It was the moment Swatch was handed over to the Wild. We had spent a good deal of time together; this girl and Yellow, and Blue, and Bravest Green. They had set up shop in my brain and heart, through some tough seasons, spreading color and light even when I didn't want to pay attention; we remained devoted to each other. I will miss her. But this is the way of it! It's all set free in the end. This has to happen so the best, deep magic can start.
There is magic between children and open books, paint and blank white, violins and silence: It is Wild possibility. Co-creation. Swatch is just about that: making things together. It took many people to get wild and make this trailer: Steve illuminated Swatch's story in richer color than I could have done alone. Videri sung her right out of thin air. Media artist Luke Boggia lended his talents to make Blue shimmer and butterflies dance. My husband Matt helped me storyboard, did the laundry, and believed the whole long way. Thank you to Brenda, Wendi, Alessandra, Martha, Kelsey, Booki for your enthusiasm.
Let's keeping making stuff together. It never has to end: as soon as YOU open the book, it will happen again!
Each carving thread of sunset strand
Burnishes to mind
The lowly things inside the sand
Which have lately come alive.
How wondrous is our oval place,
The bay yawns open wide.
Its teeth the little houses face
In company confide
All ages here within one time
All years and journeys met
Without the worry of when or then
Gulls strung up from tip to tip
Strings in bellow curl
Glassy toes of pebbles whet
The clarity of home.
Oh Quincy Bay, and wild marsh
Your Spirit is alive.
And ever play around my neck
Sunset sad and sunny fleck
Deep hearted tree
Deep heart in me
This time, in November, the Yellow Days, the veil is thin.
Ghosts and dreams share sidewalks. Words drift in and out like tide.
You watch and you do not speak. This is the time for listening.
To tread as if a ghost yourself, among stones and stories; an inch above the ground, an inch below.
Day-haunting houses with lovely corners, and filling up on invisible meals.
Unseen work is being done.
Last weekend I took a class with artist Lisa Daria. I found her blog after Googling "acrylic paint" one bleak day last January, craving color and thick paint. An admirer of her work and story, it was so incredible to have a chance not only to meet her, but paint under her guiding eye. Some of her stunning work:
Class was held on beautiful Cape Ann, at the charming Rockport Association. Registration was last minute (I found out just in time!) leaving one day to run around Boston for supplies, book a little B&B, gather some still-life, put food out for the cat. And we were off!
I hadn't painted from life in a long time. It felt good (and daunting) to be back at the easel, trading watercolor for lusciously chunky acrylic, making a mess. Lisa had devised many brilliant exercises all aimed at reminding us to FOCUS, SEE, OBSERVE. Mindfulness has been a life-line for me this year amidst challenges and changes in our personal lives. Like other mindfulness practices (yoga being a favorite) painting from life simply demands presence in the moment. And if we are lucky, we have a moment. And another one after that. Moment-living is a practice in itself, a dedication to the gift of being alive.
Lisa's story (and dedication):
"I mark each day with a painting. After 1700 days (including Christmas) I've no intention of stopping. Painting, for me, is a physical act of being able to leave proof that I was here. Having cancer as a young adult, I discovered living is not just surviving. I wanted a way to embrace each day, no matter how typical, so without excuse or hesitation, I begin each day by painting."
That's every morning at 5am, folks! Paint tubes by the coffee pot so she won't forget. Practice.
Still-life. There is, perhaps, nothing more alive than color in a moment! It vibrates before you. It demands your attention now. When you are mixing color, you are having a conversation with it. Adding tiny dabs of alizarin crimson, white, ultramarine until you match what you see. Matching life to life, making it your job to celebrate and to notice. It's a challenge. I remember discovering this silent dialogue as an art student. Color is an intimate friend, reminding you to BE AWAKE.
So, thank you, Lisa, for reminding us to be awake, and to practice.
The night before we left, we went for dinner in Gloucester and strolled by The Bookstore (it was really called that). It was so inviting in the sunset, and so I went in and found:
How had I never seen this one before? I flipped out, bought it, hugged it the whole way home. Another reminder of the gift of Life. And Now.
"The stage is set, the time is now, and the place wherever you are."
Thanks to you too, Virginia Lee Burton.
Ah. SO thrilled to be in this new space. What do you think? It's new and shiny (GIANT thank you to Squarespace team). Now everything is all in one place, so it will be easier to go on adventures together, link to news, and have some great conversation. I will be adding my Shop back in soon and have added a FAQ section.
It's been quite a journey since 2011, the year I published my last picture book. Jumped off-road and started to hike, climb, and wander far out. I've been a teacher, an archeologist, a student, moved studios, much has changed in the landscape of our lives, and yours I'm sure. And now here we are, Spring, three years later, and things are BLOOMING. It feels like the perfect time to throw open the windows here, have you in. Thanks to the friends, and my best friend, Matt, who patiently supported and came along as I wandered.
(Yes! That IS a real four-leaf clover up there, my little brother found it. I think he's magic.)
So why "Wonderblog"? The name is a dedication (and a reminder) to remember why I went wandering in the first place. To reclaim Wonder! I learned a lot about it. How to do it like a kid again. How the wondering part of us is really ageless. How it connects us as creatures. How it is essential to making, inventing, being brave, becoming. These three years I've been figuring out how to make books from that specific place. I cleared schedule to write and draw like I used to, finally give Wonder my professional attention. Life is short, so I figure there is no better time to try to do it for a living. I want to ask questions, explore, dig, wander with books, and with you. I have a dozen titles ready to go, and some good news to share soon :)
So let's keep it going! There's nothing like wondering together, so let's make this a place for that, yes?
Glad to see you again!
I've always loved this brightly lit and mysterious saint's night, especially because of its interwoven indigenous roots...
I was raised with saints, and songs, and lighting candles in the dark. Every Christmastime, before dinner, we would go around the house turning the lights out while my mother would light the advent wreath. We'd return to huddle around her guitar in the dark so we could listen to this song. I will never forget the way the eerie tune shimmered with the flame in the black, transforming our living room with thrown shadows. Shoulder to shoulder with my siblings, it was ancient and anticipatory and made the hairs of our arms stand up.
Tonight, in many nordic countries, girls will wear crowns of lit candles, there will be saffron buns, and songs, and if you dig WAY back into history, you can find more solstice-based Celtic/Germanic/Nordic traditions that still remain part of Lucia's night. Here is a warm up sketch I did in the studio today. Though she does not wear candles, I still named her Lussinata. Perhaps she predates Lucia, and is on her way to a bright Yule festival (Jól).
A peaceful and bright holiday to you, my friend!
, join picture book makers for a family event on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. There will be music, story hour, book signing, book making with Peter Reynolds and David McCauley, and I'll be drawing free stuffed animal portraits alongside Kelly Murphy, Barbara McClintock, Scott Magoon, Matt Tavares, and more! Donations will benefit the Boston Children's Hospital Emergency and Trauma Unit.
We Art Boston is a picture book-themed fundraising effort orchestrated by local illustrator
and his wife, Susan. Read Joe and Susan's touching mission statement
is on NOW through October 24th, with all proceeds funding the Boston Children's Hospital Emergency and Trauma unit. My limited edition Dotty g
and signed (and glittery) copy of Dotty HERE.
Lots of love from my little city. See you there!
September is all about this question though, isn't it? Back-to-school, new starts, many people in our circle, dear friends, family are being asked that question too. Yum. There is nothing more delectable to me than crisp-edged transition! And a precipice should always be located between seasons, I think.
The leaves have not yet changed, so you can have one foot in Fall and one foot in Summer.
Betsy's looked like a sacred fairy place, a good place for a wedding?
Good morning! Today is the second installment of the blog kickoff for the Fairy Bell Sisters! Books 1 and 2 are out on shelves now. For Part II: Behind the Scenes With the Bells, I'd love to show you some sketching from the studio...
Once again, I found myself drawing siblings, and sisters, no less! As the oldest of five kids, it's always fun to seek out that "family resemblance" and build from there. There were lots of conversations about the Bell sisters between Margaret, Donna, Amy and the sales team. We settled on the idea that every fairy would look related but be distinctly individual (in hair color, skin tone, facial features, clothing style). I knew from the manuscript that these fairies lived in a very natural world and loved to play and accessorize with mussel shells and pine cones, feather skirts and milkweed pods...
Today is the day Clara, Rosy, Golden, Sylva and Baby Squeak (Hortensia) officially fly from the island to bookshelves everywhere! They would absolutely love to meet you, and I'd love to introduce them:
Last snowstorm, I fought off Winter with a tube of aqua and some grocery store alstroemeria....