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It's here! It's officially here! In New England, we are clinging tightly to the hope of Spring! It comes after the longest, meanest winter I can remember. It wasn't so much the ferocity of it, but the length and the relentless pace of its storms. No sunshine for weeks, white on white. I heard a meteorologist explain that this pummeling-by-snowstorm all the way to the bitter end is the atmosphere's way of balancing out. But! No more snow talk! You know what Spring is? Brave. And so is color. We can help speed the new season in with pops of it...
A color CAN save you. Green always will.
Dear-to-my-heart Annie Moore of Candlewick lore, color-comrade, and writing partner with some brave green growing right out of her pocket!
I am convinced tubes of paint are magic charms. This particular shade of new-shoot green is my current color affair. It is also conveniently bottled as "April Green" by Dr. Ph Martin. #colorfever
I'm turning 30 (oomph) on Sunday. I was born in the heart of winter. I will be honest and tell you 29 has been hard. (I hear the 30's are a piece of cake! ;) But this year, friendship is what has pulled me back when I reached for it. I am learning too, that it is OK to reach for it. Does it make us grown-up to realize we're small? That it's ok to be vulnerable? That we can't do everything ourselves? That sometimes we need to rely on hearts around us...that it's an honor to rely on, and to be relied upon.
Friendship is the thing I am most grateful for as I come to the end of this decade. It is a deep treasure! To have one and to be one. To need one and to search for one. To find one and to become one. It's what can bloom between us in the heart of Winter, when we are not afraid to let it Spring. â™¥
An enormous Happy 30th to my best childhood friend, Kay, today! (She goes over the hill first!)
Hey, Tuesday! Interrupting fairy deadlines with a bit of news: I'm excited and honored to be included in this cheery collection of contemporary watercolorists. The book is beautifully designed and includes some of my esteemed favorites like Becca Statdlander, Sujean Rim, what company! Watercolor hits stores in April. Thanks to the fine folks at Chronicle, and author/curator Leslie Ann Dutcher.
Good morning! (Sidenote: I've just broken my own freelance-rule: walked into the studio in my jammies. Oops.) Oh well, such is January. Everything I've been working on in here is top secret, but since that's no fun, I'll share some warm-up sketches. Here goes:
In the fairy realm I am working in, the author has decided to treat wings as detachable accessories, which is very kind of her considering there is a lot of dressing up and going to balls (wings and gowns-eek). Swimming might be another perfect situation to take advantage...
After drawing her, I realized she might be my own version of Thumbelina(above).
Hope you have a lovely week! If you spot a fairy under your nearest toadstool, be sure to report.
It's crunchy out. The sun is in your eyes, ice is underfoot. City people hurry by, faces wound in scarves. We are on the freshest edge together, newly whet by winter.
Isn't it exciting? There is hope on this edge, that things can change, that we can shape our own little worlds. It's fresh and clean and everything is new...you've got new ideas, (new socks, maybe), new plans, new hopes. It's a time for travel, opening the eyes (I've been keeping my eyes on this important movement), learning a language, reading deeply, and dreaming long dreams, interior adventures, interior decorating, prayer, nesting, gathering friends and family to light up the corners. It flavors your back-to-work tasks with possibility, re-enlivens your livelihood.
My sister, Christa, aptly dubbed it, "home keeping/possible magical worlds season"...YES. (She always says it best.) I like the in-between-seasons, maybe even more than the main events. I think it's because of their quiet power. It's when all the secret work is being done before something is ready to bloom....
As far as seasonal nesting, my eyes always return from break fixed on pattern and color. I've been aiming to surround us in delft blue and Scandinavian pattern. I love how pattern can turn a corner into a "place" with a story of its own. Another domestic-cozy goal has been to create a homemade "hearth" for folks to sit around. We started to bring it to life this week (and escaped a fire emergency!) At least I can pretend it's the real thing. Isn't it neat what a little dancing flame can to a dark room (and cat)?
Right now is also a time of visual starkness. Color and imagination are VERY powerful because of that. The palette here in Quincy is gull-gray, white, and sharp sea blue. Stories are clearer and louder against those colors. Dream-life seems to mix with real-life too...a winter alchemy. I always dream vividly when the new year begins, too. Do you? The past few nights mine have been full of symbols, adventures, tunnels and good advice from strangers (is it weird to dream of strangers?) Every dream has been focusing around the prospect of "being ready"...(I hope this is a good thing!) I think it's all part of the humming work that has begun. Here's a doodled symbol from a dream: full of roses.
So Happy New Year, friends! And vivid dreaming too! I hope you are refreshed and ready for it. Can't wait to watch it bloom together, I think it's gonna be a good one. Display CommentsAdd a Comment
Ah! December? Where is the time going? How have you all been?
I've been writing my novel (thanks for the encouragement!), revising fairies, heading south for research interviews, and getting lost in journals of people that lived hundreds of years ago. Before the holidays totally consume us, I wanted to quick get this old post up. Because it's all about Almost-Winter in New England, which is one of my favorite times, and it's nearly done already.
During this particular time of year, the land here is enchanted:
(I tried to paint it last week, out the studio window.)
The palette across our land here in New England becomes rich and complex during this season. Out on an echoing walk through the hollow woods you can see mulberries, purples-bruised-to-blacks, plums, poisonous reds on neutrals, rumbling umbers, steely evergreen and that perfect hard-to-mix slate blue sky. It is soggy under your feet, the light is long and a little bit sad, the air is dense and sweet with the smell of leaves turning to earth. You think about the people who have felt home here too, over thousands of years, and everyone, for a moment feels connected and alive. The deciduous trees become ringed kings topped in copper crowns. Forests seem alive with old-fashioned ghosts...and Christmas will settle into the land if you cue a Coventry Carol or two!
At the very edge of night and day, was when we'd love to go out and play in it, wrapped up in old table cloths for "old-fashioned dresses", "stewing" our rotten Halloween pumpkin in the burgundy dark over a flashlight, pretending we were putting up onion grass for the long winter under the deck, being chilled to the bone so when our mom would call us in for soup, it would be an unimaginable luxury...
I actually wrote and re-wrote this post about a dozen times, because it's nearly impossible for me to talk about my landscape. So, I usually don't. My relationship to the land here is personal and bone-deep. I have entries saved about New England in the summer, the spirit in the land, the seagulls and the green. But I'm always stopped from posting by two things: (1) the belief that no one would want to read about things like seagulls and ocean! and (2) I am always at a loss for words, re: the land. Sometimes something is too beloved to explain.
(If you have read this far already, you should have a copper crown yourself!)
When I view hazy New England hills on a car drive, my reaction is always immediate. It's from the center of my chest. Peace settles through me while I scan the stacked golds and fire-tinged sphere against sphere. Is it having been born here? Having been lulled to sleep in the backseat watching them roll since I was born? Maybe. I will probably always always live here, I don't think I'd ever be able to part with them (the hills-or the ghosts).
Sometimes just doing a little painting unlocks the language of the land for me, keeping my imagination planted firmly in the cold wet dirt while I write.
Is there a place that bewitches you, where you live?
Can you imagine the mess a flock of fairy sisters (and each with a pair of wings) can make in your house? Well, imagine it, and you've got my studio for the next few weeks! The music is loud, inky bristol board is everywhere, and if you come to the door, I will greet you in all my sans-make-up-scary-haired-brow-furrowed glory, while whisking my collection of old tea mugs away to the sink, Kathleen Kelly style. I become slightly non-verbal in final art mode, too. It's a strange thing. For days, my eyes and hands do all the conversing by pushing and pulling line, shape, and value. In my head it sounds a little like this: "WIDE GREY THING, CHALKY EDGE, SPLATTER, BRINGS THE DARKS OUT, MUTE WITH OPAQUE, DEFINE LINE, MORE CAFFEINE." I become a render machine. Am I making sense? No? Here, have some toast...
This coming Saturday, I'll have an excuse to put pants on and remember how to talk: I'll be speaking at Foundation For Children's Books "What's New In Children's Books" with authors I admire,Grace Lin and David Yoo. Details HERE. Come say hello!
It's class picture day today in Room 23. Everyone is dressed in their best pose, plaid, and pencils. I have good back to school memories, do you? The morning air has a cool edge while you wait for the bus, the smell of new erasers overpowers your jitters over gym class. A shout-out to my sister, Anna, for whom the blonde was named! More children's fashion HERE.
Last week my studio was turned into an all-hours kitty hospital of sorts. My steadfast and whiskered coworker got himself a life-threatening case of FLUTD. He came into the studio as I finished a book cover, hung his head and cried. Off to the hospital we went. A week of invasive cat hell ensued. But he is home now and recovering! Thank you, Hancock Animal!
The hardest part of Seri's ordeal was encountering my human frustration with the animals I love: not being able to speak to them, especially in times of need. It would be my SUPERHERO POWER of choice. Interspecies communication is mind-bending and heart-melting when you think about it: To converse, we slowly construct a common language together with eye contact, voice, and patterns of touch. But there are moments of fear and heartbreak, when you would give anything to SPEAK CAT or RABBIT or DOG, just so you might explain. Luckily, after all he went through, Seri was still wagging his taped-up little tail when I sung to him from across the room. He was still speaking our "language" and that's the most humbling thing.
Do you and your pet have a "language" together?
Editor in chief:
Ay! Get to work!
Hopefully he'll be back to his usual "wild foal" energy levels next week (thanks Boggy!) :
The second president of the United States once lived down the street from our house:
View of the Adams' Peace Field, Quincy MA
This morning, one of his letters came to me by Twitterfeed (not messenger, horse, or carriage) thanks to the MHS. The letter is an antiquated thing dotted with agelessness. From his spot in the 18th century, from our spot in the 21st, especially this week, we are sharing something pretty fantastic: WONDER. He asks the same grand questions about our universe, ones we are still shouting out into space today. Considering his level of excitement over the view of the Milky Way via Sir William Hershell's new-fangled "glass" (telescope), let's imagine what he would have thought of the view from the Curiosity! (I'm taking historical liberties to imagine he'd probably yell "Great Animalcules!", drop his pen, have a merry fit and then sit down to feverishly pen some new correspondence...)
Happy August! How have you been? I've missed you so, blogger buds!
Work has really ramped up. The blog and house have grown quiet except for the sounds of tweeting and talking to my cat to keep sane (do you Tweet? let's Tweet...@JuliaDraw).
Matt is also art lead on his company's latest video game project so our little family is running an art marathon together! WOOSH. There are dreams of vacation in September (Virginia or Nantucketâ€“any hotel recs. welcome!) but for now, summer exists in savored little visits: blueberry farms, escape-for-lunch dates, late night walks on Wollaston beach ("around town" Quincy pics to come). My work-away-from-home spot : Crema Cafe in Harvard, where the food is good, the tables have a charming wobble, and the people are tip top...
Speaking of little visits, I just had two virtual ones. One was at The Girls of Summer blog by two award-winning authors and women whom I greatly admire,Gigi Amateau and Meg Medina. The other was an interview with the very gracious Rosa St. Claire for Examiner.com. Monday, I real-life visited a beloved spot with my talented lady-friend Amanda Atkins,The Curious George store in Harvard Square. We met the lovely manager and buyer, Broche Fabian, and friendly staff and I signed some stock. As you know, this was my first place of employment in Boston, under the original owners. I'm so glad the space has reopened as a bright spot again in the heart of Harvard Square. It's beautiful!
SUMMERTIME! I've been out exploring the wilds of Massachusetts. In the studio, I've been drawing a lot of be-wing-ed little girls for an upcoming project (eee!) Have you ever touched the inside of a milkweed pod? I can't remember if I have, but it's one of my summer goals.
Have you spotted Alice McKinley in the wild yet? I was invited into her zany world by the good folks at Simon & Schuster to repackage Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's classic series. They're out in bookstores now just in time for summer reading. Alice's voice is so blushingly honest and true through the entire ordeal of growing up, so I tried my best to zoom in on her open heart. She is the queen of quirk and awkwardness, the best mixture of courage, freckles, and innocence. She cracked me up. I loved meeting her. I hope you will too!
Big thank yous to the talented Jessica Handelman for her introduction to Alice and her fresh take on the design (don't you just love her san serif punchiness?) It was fun going bold, graphic, and candy-colored for this series. I painted these in watercolor, with a background in one layer of acrylic paint. These Alice covers made third place in the 2012 New York Book Show, for Trade Paperback Series!
"The kiss went on so long, I wondered when I was allowed to swallow. What we the rules about this? Should the boy let you up for air every ten seconds or were you supposed to sort of keep your nostrils to one side?" â€“Alice's second kiss, Alice In Rapture, Sort Of
Click on the image to see them up close on my website...
Meet Indigo, Saffron and Cadmium and Permanent Rose Casson, children of two artists, living outside of London, and all named after colors on the color wheel that hangs in their kitchen.
The whole family arrived at my door last week, care of McElderry/Simon & Schuster (merci, Michael!) It was thrilling to see all of the covers together. The Casson siblings, who enchanted me from the start, weave in and out of a 6â€“book family epic by Hilary McKay, the acclaimed award-winning author from the UK. The repackages were done in time for McKay to release the prequel Casson fans have been waiting for: Caddy's World. With a starred review from SLJ, I think Caddy and the Cassons are set to fly. It was an honor to be involved in this process.
I worked with a splendid team: prolific art director and designer, Michael McCartney, and editors Karen Wojtyla and Emily Fabre, to bring a fresh look to McKay's series for what we all hope will be a new batch of readers in America.
After signing on, I received a bit of some of the most memorable art direction to date. It made me both wonder if I could and fill with determination that I must, the best kind of art direction an artist could get. Michael wrote:
".....Hilary McKayâ€™s work is charming and endearing beyond compare. Her readers are as completely smitten with the Cassons as the loves of our youth....We must have artwork that possesses the same ability as the characters within the text to induce a captivation li
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When thePlymouth Antiquarian Society put out a call last week for help at an archeological dig they've begun in Plymouth Center, I said: Yes, please! Digging for history is probably the EXACT way I'd like to spend any Sunday afternoon, so we jumped in the car and headed south once again to grab some shovels. (Thank you to husband! His sifting skills were much appreciated <3.) They are still working and needing volunteers to anyone who might be local.
We met Donna Curtin, curator at P.A.S, when we arrived and she set us out on a hunt for 2 types of evidence to prove this storage shed was a Slave Dwelling. We worked under the direction of local archeologist Craig Chartier (director of the Plymouth Archeological Discovery Project). Having met the rest of our digging team: Joyce and Noelle Poremski and Robin Tozzi (all lovely and welcoming and connected to PAS as well), we set out to find chopped bone and shell bead evidence...here let's let Donna explain more (by Rich Harbert via Wicked Local):
If you are living near the East Coast, chances are you've been living in a cloud for the better part of this month. I don't mind cloud-life too much. Rain wakes me up on the skylight in the morning, birds still go on building their nests in the rafters near our windows. The storms haven't been meddling or mean, but mild enough to just add a little curl to your hair or an umbrella to your bag. Rainy days make me FINALLY sit still and that's good for work! And I can't get over the GREEN that they bring.
The best studio days are rainy. There is a productive energy to them, the Earth is busy with photosynthesis and you are busy at your desk. I'm usually (selfishly) wishing for a week full of them. They have always soothed me, been able to put me under a spell. It's that constant chanting, hushing "shhhhhhhh" outside the window. Nature's entranced too, I think...the birds sound like they are singing in the shower. And my cat is seriously cozy-ing himself out in here:
Good morning busy bees! Hope you had a restful little holiday. I've been secretly assembling a new home for my fashion work and I can't wait to share it with you!
Today, I'm happy to introduce :
It's my new fashion blog. You can click here to go and visit if you'd like. With the launch of several recent style projects, my fashion work requested an exclusive place to sprawl and stretch and spread its wings. "The Cinnamon Rabbit" continues on as a blog for all things narrative and children's publishing. "Palette" is a fresh new place for all things visual, a place for color and line to live and breathe! ENJOYâ™¥
"The earth spins at a thousand miles an hour. Sometimes when I remember this, it's all I can do to stay upright â€“ the urge to flatten myself to the ground and clutch hold is that strong."
I'd like to describe Summer of the Gypsy Moths as haunting and moth's-wing delicate...Sarah Pennypacker deftly weaves an impossible balance between the macabre, innocence, and balmy summer vacation. Stella and Angel are two abandoned girls who summon incredible courage during one fateful summer, and learn how to survive together. I am so afraid to give anything more away! I read it in one sitting...page one cast its spell and I didn't look up again until it was time to make dinner:
Many thanks to Amy Ryan and Donna Bray for their keen eyes, design and delicate direction. And congratulations on a stunning piece, Sarah Pennypacker! Published by Balzer+ Bray.
Why I Love Making Book Covers
I presented to Lesley University this weekend (mother university of my alma mater, The Art Institute of Boston) and spoke on the creation of a book cover. I admitted to the audience that book covers were possibly my favorite format because of the challenge they pose: the challenge of funneling the entire written work, and characters you've become attached to yourself, into that one gripping moment. This cover was the stage for Stella's moment.
There are many elements that need to be working together for that moment I'm working toward... I'm thinking first about choosing style: it needs to aid the moment while also translating the author's voice
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