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1. Since Spring Break...

Happy Anniversary to Me! @moonflowermuse has been tweeting for a year, sending the first tweet out from Taos, New Mexico on  July 5th 2013, waiting in the rain for a table at Orlando's New Mexican Cafe...



If you have never been there, go, the wait  is worth it for their posole alone.  I also realized I haven't put up a post on Moonflower Musing in about two month and only looking back through my photos did I remember why, been kind of busy...
those would be orca whales in British Columbia. 

How did I get up there? Meandering, like I always do and to tell you the tale, I have to start way back at our Spring Break when we went wandering on the  west side of Lake Powell and hugging the Utah/Arizona border, did a little research for a project I'm working on  at Pipe Springs National Monument...

 a waystation, supply depot and polygamy hide out for the Mormon's living in Southern Utah...




Apparently, she acts all nice and sweet until she gets close enough to the wooden fence to whack it hard with her horns and watch the tourists "have a cow"!...
From Pipe Springs we headed to Springdale and explored the backside of Zion National Park, just for fun...





where, in a wash,  we saw desert sheep up close and personal, thanks to loud and obnoxious tourist above us...




Leaving Zion, we kept to the "back of things," leaving the pavement to drive a "seventy five" mile shortcut to Lake Powell and Hite's Crossing, the only bridge either direction for hundreds of miles, the ferry at Bull Frog broken down. Down through Water Pocket Fold we went...


weirdly the few cars that pasted us all from Washington State. When the tiny dirt road started to look more like wagons tracks, I got concerned, glad when we finally came to pavement again, Daughter #2 drove for a bit, in her permit year with literally, nothing to hit except for some sagebrush...

In  three days, we drove in a 900 mile circle and  never hit a interstate, getting about 30 minutes away when we were Springdale.  So what do you do after that, you come home and drop the husband off then take the kids, who are still on Springbreak to see Grandma, nine hours the other direction in Northern Colorado. Then you drive back home and picked up our new puppy...


Cause that is what you do when you have a crazy spring and summer...is get a puppy! Next up, Piper and The Bike Race.



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2. You Can Give A Kid A Diverse Book But You Can't Make Him Read It...



This weekend, everyone is  "twitterpated" on a viral campaign for #WENEEDDIVERSEBOOKS. It has been an on going discussion in Children's Publishing for some time now, but the issue is definitely "trending" due to the announced panel  of the Children's Book "Rock Star" authors  at BookCon this year will all  be white and male,  read about that HERE...
Yes! We need diverse books, but we also need children to be literate enough to read them!
I have taught Art, Reading and Writing Enrichment programs to  Native American and Hispanic kids for over a decade, I'm also a freelance writer and illustrator and it baffles me that this industry does not talk more about literacy then it does. Giving a kid who can't read or reads way below their grade level a book, does not teach him or her to read, it just frustrates them, forget about expanding their world!
Years ago,  an illustrator friend of mine and her publisher very generously donated a huge stack of  her new book to my kindergarten and first graders. The kids were hugging their books as they left to go home. A next day survey revealed that none of the parents had taken the time to sit down to read the book with them. One parent sending her daughter to tears for badgering her. Knowing the parent, I had to wonder if the refusal came from her own poor reading ability.


Why aren't we talking about this side of problem?

I teach at a charter school in the middle of nowhere, near the Four Corners of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, across the County Road is the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation. Down the road, is the start of the Navajo Reservation. Some years over half of our students are Navajo. The schools on the "Rez" so bad, their parents drive them forty five minutes to the nearest bus stop to get to our school, which is not great in comparison to the schools in the nearest town, thirty minutes the other direction and in comparison to the school my children go to in our district still another twenty minutes away,  it is down right bad.
Two years ago, word got out we were bringing a modular in to have a library. Reading the article in the local paper, people in the community assumed that meant we did not have books and started donating them. We had books, lots of books, the kids just didn't read them, unless forced too.
It is also a misnomer that these families are too poor to buy books. They aren't. This families might live in shacks and run down trailers, but they have enough money to buy cheap laptops, tablets and video games from Walmart and when it is free time at school, that is what they reach for, not books.
How do you get a kid to read a book? Yes, having characters and stories they can identify with is important. But not struggling over every word is more important.
How do you get reading to come easy? Well, you send home plastic baggies with little books, to practice every night with a reading  log. What do white, educated, middle class parents do? Sit down with their kids and read every night. What do Migrant families do? Make darn sure their kids are learning to read, write and speak English and do their homework, even if they can not understand it themselves.
Sadly, that does not happen in the families who have been in poverty and illiteracy for generations, whatever their skin color. Lack of education drowns  trailer trash white children as well as minorities.


What can we do about it?
If parents are not or can not help their kids practice reading at home, then the schools have to do it and one or two teachers can not practice with twenty some children everyday, so it is up to local volunteers to come into the schools. Who would that be?
Well, I go to the mid day yoga class and it is full of retirees, bored retirees who take yoga everyday and then go work at the Humane Society catching feral cats in town. Nothing against cats, but if those ladies would donate an hour or two of their time a week and read with kids that would make a world of difference and yes I have encouraged them to do so.
What can the Children's Book industry do? Stop thinking the solution is to give kids a book!
The ski industry of Colorado could teach us a few things. Telluride is over the mountain from where my own kids go to school and like most schools near a ski resort, we have a ski program. From a very young age and for a very small fee, the Telluride Ski Resort gladly buses our kids up the mountain a half a dozen time a season, provides equipment and lessons to .........Teach Our Kids To Ski!
Why do they do that? Well, because  full day lift tickets are around $80 dollars and season passes can be upwards of $1000. They are trying to get kids addicted to skiing and build the next generation of people who will keep them in business!

We need to get kids, all kids, addicted to reading and then we would not be having the discussion we are because Publishing is a business, it is not a charity and when publishers take a chance and publish a book for minorities and no one reads it, they have to look at the bottom line.
What else can be done? Send authors and illustrators into low income schools. But who is going to pay for that?  Right now, often a published children's author or illustrator gets a large percent of their income from school visits. What schools can afford to pay $1000s of dollars for fees and travel expenses in this day and age? The well off one, which by the way, those school's  parents ARE making sure their kids read those little baggies of take home books and ARE taking their kids out to see the world and into bookstores. Hum?
Besides the epidemic of illiteracy is not going to be fixed by one time school visits and  the kids in these schools are too uninformed to know to be impressed by a Newberry or Caldecott winner.
Actually, because Art so much better bridges gaps between cultures, we should be sending illustrators out first! Brooklyn Illustrator Sophie Blackall proved that, taking paper and markers to children in Rwanda, scarred with years of brutality...

read about it HERE


I've been part of that magic, with Native American kids, time and time again. Without a word, we start drawing together and their world opens up and mine too!
If each of us connected to the Children's Book Industry, made the commitment to adopt our very own classroom, locally or through technology like Skype, and had an ongoing relationship with those 20 kids for the school year, it would make a world of difference.
Say, once a month, a one hour Skype visit. Sending out writing challenges to the class connected to what we write and then giving them individual feed back and praise for their work. Heck, you could even have the same book and help kids learn to read over Skype. Join in with the classrooms book club discussion. The ideas are endless and no longer is distance or time an excuse.


Or....is pushing publishers to produce Diverse books really only for those kids who can already read? Which according to several studies, collected HERE , is a shockingly low number of the US population. The US Adult Literacy rate is around 75%-90% , whether that is just addressing the ability to read labels on medicine bottles, for work, daily living, etc. Those who can read, read, the average for adults is around a 7th or 8th grade level.  15% of us are at the reading level of those in an undergraduate program and well, that would be Us- those in this industry and our children, my argument is what about the other 85%? Pleasure reading is a self motivating activity, surely we all remember that from days when we had to read something we did not want to. You can give a kid a Diverse Book, but you can't make him read it.
Which brings up my last point and I have debated including it, but here goes. Piggybacking more liberal idea like sexual orientation into the discussion is a mistake. The lack of representation in publishing of books by and about people of races other than White European is a huge problem and yes, too few of these are being made, but reading up on industry news, books about gender identity and sexual orientation have greatly increased over the past couple of years. That is all I am going to say about that, but let me illustrate my point with my own experience.
The Four Corner is Conservative in their politics to say the least and the Art Teacher before me, was fired because a parent walked in to see this...

Botticelli's Venus

Not that she was showing it  to the children, but it was the cover of one of her reference books, in her bag, behind the teacher's desk. They fired her. Well, she was also teaching the children to love and protect predators in cattle country....most of the children's families were ranchers.
When I got the job, I had a choice to make. Push my agenda on these kids, or teach them up to be educated people to make their own decisions about well nudity in art, environmental issues, etc. I have lasted at that school for over ten years, because I leave my personal political and social slantings at the door and work to give them the tools to form their own. 
We, as a nation, have a lot to answer for before bringing Native Americans or any other minority in line with our agendas. My bet is they are more concerned about saving and preserving their own cultures, literally what is left of them. We can help them by giving them the tools- literacy, education, a way out of poverty before we start trying to bring them in line with our own way of thinking.
















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3. Here Come the Illustrators...



Oh My!! Life has been crazy, but finally got a chance to look at the line up for this year's Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference....Wow~! Here is INFO from their site, but wow~did I say that?! The faculty includes very knowledgeable writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, a huge amount  of African American , Hispanic American and Asian Americans  this year- kudos! But, no Native Americans that I can see either writers or illustrators, but I am not going to go off on that, because I'm impressed in what SCBWI did accomplish. 
And the illustrators, well start off with Tomie dePaola...



who I always thought  was part Hispanic for the books he has illustrated for the last forty years or so, but, nope, he is Irish/Italian, just loves to study and bring forth other cultures. 
The Saturday Gala is celebrating his 80th birthday. I've been going to the summer SCBWI conference for seven years and this is the first time he will be there. 
Next up is Aaron Becker...


One of this years Caldecott 2014  Honors for his wordless picture book JOURNEY.

SCBWI did "pretty good" this year on the women illustrators I have to say, some years it' an all male review, out of editorial or fine art background for speakers,but.....well, again, I am not going to rant, because this year's line up looks great since a female, cat loving illustrator, Judy Schachner...


 is giving one of the keynote talks and a workshop on animal characters, which I am not good at, can illustrate them in their natural habit but not so well in overalls!

What is really exciting on the illustrator front is Monday's intensive, which started about 3-4 years ago and to be honest, the illustrator side did not sound very appealing to me, the first few years more on watching the "big namers" demo their process. Now don't get me wrong, that would be unbelievable fasninating to watch someone paint, I could do that for days, but don't know how helpful that would be be to me, a collage artist in furthering  my career.

But this year, it is all about  inspiration from the Masters, something every artist no matter what the medium we use or how experience we are can benefit from.  There is a option to send in an illustration inspired by a master.....hum, do I want the likes of dePaola or a 2014 Caldecott Honor commenting on my art, have not decided that and while the SCBWI assignment is probably for younger children's illustrations for picturebooks, I already am working on an illustration as a promo for book covers that is much inspired by Wood's American Gothic...

and the works of photographers during the Great Depression that I have been pouring over as of late, these are gorgeous....


I'll show you when I get done and we shall see if I do one for a younger audience for the SCBWI Intensive. But as an art teacher, I love studying the Master and am excited about this years line up of Illustrators for the LA conference, plus the whole conference  is a really great "mom" escape at the poolside bar with a mojito or two, since I just have to find my room, no driving involved.


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4. My time in Moab...


(click on picture to enlarge)

We were up in Moab, Utah this past weekend, most doing this...


I did a little bit of hiking, but with others to entertain my "mountain goat" family, I took the opportunity to get some serious sketching in...

(click picture to enlarge)

This, about half way up the trail to the Corona Arch, which I had sketched before... 


It was a real fun weekend, with old friends from college, their and our kids, not that much younger then when we first became friends, in the Campus Crusade group. Now we are the old ones and our kids are in college and getting married, yikes, but time doesn't stand still, though one old friend we haven't seen in over a decade, told our daughters we hadn't changed at all, while we were arguing about how to cook dinner in the campfire.
Of course we ended the weekend, grabbing really good food at Milt's, the parking lot full of like minded adventures- mountain bikes and Tulle carriers on top of SUVs and those waiting in line looking a little bit wind swept...

(click on picture to enlarge)

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5. Adding to my Bug Collection....in the March SPIDER MAGAZINE...


Have I told you I am bad at this self promotion thing? Well, it is almost the middle of March and I totally forgot to post that my above illustration is in the March issue of SPIDER MAGAZINE...


This is my third illustrations for the "Bug" magazines, but all with the wonderful Art Director Suzanne Beck. This project was to illustrate a recipe, a Welsh scone recipe and I had a lot of fun researching all things Welsh, like their amazing textile patterns...

 And their Gaudy pottery...
I'm not insulting the Welsh, it actually is called that.

I really wanted to find a way to get these gals, with their traditional top hats above lacy bonnets in, wondering...

how did that tradition evolve exactly?

Then it was a weekend of sketching...


and brainstorming on paper, moving things around in Photoshop and sending ideas to New York on a Sunday, when apparently me, in the Four Corners, Sue and her editor had nothing better to do then to email back and forth. Have I said how much I love the internet and what it does for me! 

 Really loved that pottery, though the poem is about having a picnic...


Oh, how many antique lunch boxes did I pin on pinterest.com?


Kept trying to get a spider, a bug or a mushroom in there, just wasn't working. Then Sue pulled me from my fixations and suggested the rainbow and the jam. Uhhh, don't even want to think how long it would have been before I thought of jam, my brain was still on getting old women with top hats in...

When everyone was happy with the sketch, I went to appliqueing and stitching and ta.....da....


The Guady pottey had to go, but I kept the Gaudy pattern for the tea towel in the pail. The design on the picnic cloth is from the textile above and was X stitched on actual X stitched fabric, though I did four X's per square. The jar was done with a sheer tulle type fabric and the jam on the scones are french knots. 
It was another fun and challenging project, did something better this time and of course still could point out things I will do differently next time. Let's see, I've collected a BABYBUG, a  LADYBUG and a SPIDER. But still need a CRICKET. 

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6. Stitch Therapy....


I stitched this weekend, well yesterday, on my bed, all afternoon long. I needed it. Since the beginning of the year, and since cutting back on teaching, I have been trying to adhere to a schedule, to treat my illustrating and writing like a real job. Monday, Tuesday and Fridays...writing all morning, do art in afternoon. Wednesdays....write social media-blogs and twitter and go to yoga. Afternoon....teach Art to kiddos. Thursday mornings...I cook for a soup kitchen and afternoon.....do art, take a nap.
I read others blogs and interact with Twitter in the morning. Problem is I get up 5 o'clock mountain time and the only illustrators up at that time are in the UK. But wow, have I found some wonderful artist and illustrators over there and have really enjoyed following them.
 I made a pact with myself not to work on my manuscript on the weekends, but to work on blog post, peruse Twitter and do art. Saturday, I didn't listen to myself.
Spent most of the day, here, in my office, the kitchen table and outlined a prequel to my work in progress that is in revisions. The idea sparked by my work on Friday basically building a family tree for the characters, to keep track of all their names. But in the process, a story started to come out and excited, I devoted my Saturday to getting it down.
I should have stuck to my pact because now everything is off kilter and  am writing this in the am on Monday and should be starting to work on my manuscript.
But stitching yesterday helped get things back in line. Too much grandiose thoughts can come when you are creating a world that does not exist and the brain hurts too much. I have to actively push words out of myself and onto the paper, with many fits and starts.
On the other hand, when all the design decisions are made, stitching is effortless, feeling the drag of the thread through the fabric I also can feel the release my tension with it and a balance to world. I stitch on my bed, while listening to a movie or the whole season of a television show I have seen before, so I don't have to look up at the screen so much to know what is going on.
One series I love and should  buy to watch when it  is no longer airing is PBS's CRAFTS IN AMERICA...

I could go on and on how wonderful this series is. I won't know, cause I am thirteen minutes late for work, which working on that manuscript is, but I will leave you with the words for the title song, an old Shaker hymn that I want sung at my funeral, I love it so much, to see the YouTube video go HERE...
"Simple Gifts" written by Elder Joseph
(From Wikipedia page... "while he was at the Shaker community in Alfred, Maine in 1848)

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right

from the Enfield Historical Society Webpage

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7. Belated Valentines...


Meant to post this on Friday. But, alas, it did not happen. Could have been that I was finishing up mailing 200 Valentines postcards out to Art Directors, or that I was hanging my charter school's art show at our local Art Center or that I had whooping cough and a fever, probably thanks to the little darlings. But I did save back a couple dozen of the valentine postcards to give to them, complete with a Kit Kat bar taped to it.
As they filed out of the art room, after their tables were clean on Wednesday, I "mom-ed" them and told them it was polite to appreciate the card and sentiment, before ripping off the candy.

But a late Happy Valentine's Day to you...

I shouldn't admit to this, but I will, cause well, that is what I do. The illustration is heavily Photoshopped because of changing my mind midway and well, not seeing some errors early enough.


I started on my 2014 Christmas card early in January, cause well, I have a hard time getting it done. This...


was actually my 2012 Christmas postcard, which just didn't happen and having the illustration from a year ago I still barely got out my 2013 postcard, which I sent out to 400 art directors at book publishers, magazines and ad agencies.
Promo is something that really slid when I was teaching three days, so now that is down to one and I'm in my studio four days, really trying hard to do it.
Where was I?
Oh, yes, so I started a very early attempt, still somewhat in the Christmas spirit of getting an image ready for next year, Card companies actually have a year lead time for Christmas illustrations. So started on collaging the illustrations, using a dark blue for the night sky, stitching the window, etc. Then...
I realized I am an illustrator not a fine artist and why was I illustrating pomegranates? And, Valentines was coming up and in my 400 postcards from Christmas, I had concentrated more on general markets and there was still many from the 2014  Children's Writers and Illustrators Market book, I had not sent a postcard to, so.....switched gears, kept the window, the snow scene outside, the cat, changed the holiday to Valentines and stuck a kid in it!
But I think moving on to make the collage, after all the planning is done, the fabric chosen, is kind of like finally getting in your car and heading out for a long road trip. It is when your mind relaxes and boom, you realize you forgot to turn off the iron or forgot your children, etc.
I was almost done when I realized there were some color problems. Here is the untouched original...


I'm sure many of you are thinking, "its wonderful," cause my readers are such nice people, but if you "squint" at it, you will have to admit that the girls overalls, her shirt And the chair behind her are ALL the same value!! The glue bottle is the same value as the table cloth and the scissor handle and her hand are the same value!! 
The same value as in squinting you can not differentiate between the two colors.
Plus on the other end, the night sky is so dark and the snow on the mountains is so white, well in digitizing that extreme in color value it gets..."whonky" and that is a technical term for " unsteady, shaky,awry or wrong"
Arghh...not like I went to Art School or anything!
But almost done and well, having as of late ripped apart too many illustration, I decided to use it as a practice in correcting in Photoshop, so finished the illustration and digitally did this...


The chair, shirt and overalls are still on the dark side, but they have contrast, as does the glue bottle and the green of the scissors handle, stands out from her hand. I did lighten the sky a little but too much messing can really effect the digital file, there is only so much you can do in Photoshop, well I can do in Photoshop.
I also realized too many of my illustrations are more of a landscape view and really need to more close up work, of faces and detail, so on the back of the postcard included him...


And am now, working on a whole gob of spot illustrations, which was hard to get started, but picked the Beach as a theme, cause it is February and the Blahhhhhs are setting in and my thought went here...



I'm collaging away at them and will post as I get them done. Kind of fun to have pretty much a one day project and am using a lot of my scrap fabric.
I have to give credit where it is due and a thank you to...


I just "snipped" his twitter header @pinocastellano  because his name is too hard to spell. It took me three days to pronounce it correctly at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference this summer in LA, where he gave several great workshops, real nuts and bolts stuff like...
1. Be on Twitter...check, you can find me at @moonflowermuse
2. Show process, sketches, line drawing....check
3. Throw out your neon colors......I'm trying!!
4. limit orange.....can't remember if he said it or someone else taking the workshop said it, but orange can get "whonky" in CMYK- what most books and magazine publishers are printing in, cause it is cheaper then what a fine art printer would use.
5. and no job is too little....which I totally agree with and would so love to get a bunch of little jobs!

Thus working on the spots and then am going to try and get some work in my portfolio for the educational market, as in "See Spot Run" sort of thing.

So get on twitter and let me know so I can follow you and follow Giuseppe for some good advice, he even does portfolio reviews on occasion.

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8. IF: Prehistoric


According to my husband , the Great Salt Lake and the Salt Flats around it,  is all that remains of a greater prehistoric fresh water lake called Bonneville that mostly evporated away. If you have been there, you know what I am talking about if not, read HERE...
I so have to put new art work up on my website, I have it, just needed to block out the week to updates things!

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9. Routines of Writers and Artists...But Who Does the Laundry?

Been reading a really interesting book by Mason Currey DAILY RITUALS: HOW ARTISTS WORK. . It is a fun quick read. You can just skim through the one to page descriptions of well know visual artists, composers, poets and writers. Of course I am most interested in the women, though there are few and are spread far between the men.

Jane Austen (1775-1817) ...

wrote her wonderful novels like...

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

at a tiny wobbly table facing the door, early in the morning, so that if anyone was coming in the room, she could hide them. She also helped oversee the household with her mother and sister. In Austen's case, many hands made light work.

Agatha Christie (1890-1976)...

 who wrote riveting mysteries like....

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

 always put "married woman" as her occupation, never "writer" and slipped away, after her other duties  were done, to write...

On the other extreme were artists like Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1996)...


who coming from a certain level of society and having a certain level of success, could stay in bed as long as she wished and paint as long as she wished, either on the East Coast or in her hide away in Abiqui New Mexico, because others were figuring everything else for her. No need to think about food, house hold duties or traveling itineraries. I know that from reading many of the letters between O'Keeffe and one of her assistants Marla Chabot,


who would get the artists homes in New Mexico ready for her through World War 2 and then cook and drive the artist around the high desert to paint scenes like this...



Having staff, an assistant, a spouse or a lover that pretty much took care of everything else was certainly a big perk for the artists featured in Currey's book and Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein's companion certainly has to take the cake for the most willing to support Greatness...




Wikipedia list Toklas' occupation as Avante Garde, didn't realize that paid so well. 

In DAILY RITUALS:HOW ARTISTS WORK, Currey describes a ritual, that even if it is only half true is pretty crazy. Stein and Toklas,  would drive out into the country, after Toklas took care of the morning ritual of bathing their poodle and brushing its teeth, and find a cow, for Stein to gaze upon to be able to write. I am not, nor I think Currey is making this up. Toklas job was to herd said cow into the right position for inspiration to come and if it did not, to go find another cow. 

I asked Jon if he would go find me a cow to gaze upon....or bring me croissants, if he determined by how I was pacing in my studio I wanted another one, the ritual of bring scheduled food to writers mentioned several times in Currey's book....yeah, not happening. 

Are you a woman, are you laugh? Are you not surprised, that circumstances could slowly evolve where the wife/lover/housekeeper of these male writers would find themselves with strict instructions on the level of noise, visitors and eating times...

Pablo Picasso...

who was  a friend of Stein and painted her, in the Avante Garde years in Paris...


had a lover, Fernande, who waited around for him all day to come out of his studio for dinner and then he was grumpy when he did.

Yeah, that would not fly in this house. But I have been a wife and a mother for over twenty years and guess who has played the support staff around here all that time. It was not I who declared that my favorite hard pillow was not getting to my side of the bed on a regular basis the other day, with the expectation something would be done about that.
I am the one driving around and finding the cows...or driving back and forth from our little "village", where daughter #2 still goes to school and taking her to after school activities in the bigger town some distance away, where there is no coffee shop, no starbucks at all, that is open after 4 pm, so I go to the library and try and get some more work done, though really want to be in my studio that time of day. I am really only good at writing in the morning....yeah I know I used "good" incorrectly, but it's getting late in the day.
Yeah, finding cows. 
There is grocery shopping, laundry, proclamations of hair cuts and needs for dress shirts for court the morning of, there are fifteen togos needing to be made for costume for the High School One Acts and the nearest fabric store is a hour and a half away. 
I spent Saturday, figuring out how to watch the Super Bowl through our internet but viewed on our flat screen. With twist ties in hand, plus  a vacuum and a broom, I was also the one to organize all the cables that had been intertwined amongst the said TV, the Blueray, the Xbox and the Roku box. All covered in dog hair and dust in the corner behind the TV stand and I hate the sound of sports broadcast and we don't watch football and I don't want to talk about how I am from Colorado! But I was most definitely spent the weekend finding other peoples cows.
I really am not complaining, I think it is kind of  funny, that O'Keeffe or Stein needed to stay so far away from the reality of our world as women to create. 
I don't know what I would create if not finding cows, being a taxi service and a support staff and am eternally grateful to Jon, that over the past twenty years, he has worked so hard to allow me to stay home and make my art, write and most importantly be a mother to our girls.
I can find some cows for him, or make sure the pillow he likes is on his side of the bed.

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10. Musing on the Caldecotts and my favorites...


This Morning the ALA, the American Library Association announced the  winners and honors for 2013's best work in Juvenile  Literature. Amongst other awards the Newberry for the best writing went to Kate DiCamillo, who has to also get the award for getting the announcement up on her website the fastest...

FLORA & ULYSSES


and  the Caldecott, for the best of Illustration of a picture book went to Brian Floca's...

 LOCOMOTIVE

It's a big deal, this year with a live feed Monday morning, which I watched on my laptop, in my PJ's, in bed at 6:30 my time, while trying to keep up with the #alayma or #ala14yma on my tablet... yeah it is a bit much for someone with dsylexia.

For the Caldecott, I was rooting for David Wiesner's MR. WUFFLES...


An absolute hilarious depiction of tiny aliens invading our planet and becoming play things for a bored cat! The near wordless picture book did get a Caldecott Honor Silver award this year.

I have taken workshops from Wiesner, twice at the SCBWI LA Conference and this last August he treated us to the process of making MR. WUFFLES , from the pretty "loopy" spark of an idea that started with mini plastic soldiers in a sand box and then evolved to the hilarious first steps of the aliens on our plant and well, Mr. Wuffles, who is based of his cat. Wiesner following the poor cat around with a "kitty cam" on a stick! Go HERE for more delightful info on an ingenious book!

Wiesner is such a delight to learn from, for him everything goes back to craft and excellence,  and it is so nice to hear, amongst the ever present push of platforms, social media and well "hyping" up your book. Wiesner's books need no hyping up, proven by  his 2007 Caldecott wining book...

FLOTSAM
a gorgeously illustrated picture book with panels visually telling the story of a boy's discovery of a magical old camera on the beach and where it transports him to. 

Wiesner has actually won the Caldecott three times, also in 2002 for...

THE THREE LITTLE PIGS

and in 1992 for...
TUESDAY

I couldn't get my hands on a copy of MR. WUFFLES at the last conference, but did pick up another one of Wiesner's great books....

ART & MAX

and he was gracious enough to write a little note to my art students in it...


Well, I actually asked him to write "Miss Julia is right, draw all the time" but he corrected me and wrote correct.

I'm planning on using the picture book to teach an art unit this spring. The antics of Arthur and the hard to handle Max, who won't slow down. Wiesner's book of two lizards with the back drop of the Southwest experimenting with splashy painting  like Jackson Pollock and dots like George Seurat will be a wonderful connection for my Native American and rural ranch kids who live very far way from high cultural.

I'm exicited now for the 2014 Society of Childern's Book Writer and Illustrator Conference in August to see who will be coming... probably not Wiesner this year but who knows, maybe Brian Floca or Aaron Becker, who also won a Caldecott Honor for ....

JOURNEY
another gorgeously illustrated picture book. Maybe lush and detailed is coming back in?

The third Caldecott Honor goes to Molly Idle, yeah A girl!!! for...

FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO

So apparently Flora was a popular baby book name, for writers a few years ago!

All the news, so very exciting, as was cheering along with everybody else live this year. To read all about it go to NPR's coverage on their blog HERE

Oh and one more shot out for Holly Black's DOLL BONES, a Newberry Honor this year,  which I have not read, but have chatted with Black when she was at SCBWI LA a couple of years ago, so big Congrats! but have to say Eliza Wheeler's illustration is my favorite of all the book covers up for awards...


Is there an award for the best illustrated book cover?... there should be!





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11. A Moment...


A moment, from my week, loving my kindergartners "mixed media, mixed animals"
To see more bloggers "moments" go to SouleMamma

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12. Above Salt Lake...



I can't take credit for this amazing picture, taken above Salt Lake. My daughter took it at the top of one of Park City's ski runs, or I should say snowboard runs.
After two days humoring me and going along for the ride around Salt Lake City, see here, we headed up into the Wasatch Mountains, and in about forty minutes were in Park City...



Where much of the 2002 Winter Olympics took place and where in a few weeks the slopes and streets would be filled with actors and "beautiful people" for the Sundance Film Festival.
But a week ago, they were filled with my beautiful people, daughter #1 brushing up on her snow board "toe side" skills, whatever that means....


And Daughter #2 doing some Nordic and X Country skiing with her dad....


 After dropping everyone off on the mountain, I intended to "get some work done" for the afternoon, but ended up going back to the hotel and taking a nap, Holiday planning is exhausting for the mom. But after a few hours , everyone was ready for a break...



and  we warmed up at Atticus Coffee and Books.... 


Which has the coolest painted floor.

It was rather a long time before one daughter, I won't say which, admitted she had just realized the coffee shop was inspired by Atticus from TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD, this after I pointed out the dozen cut out black birds hanging from the ceiling and the Boo Radley peanut brittle and yes, both girls have read the book in school.... and seen the movie.

 Oh my, think the brain just gets shut off for the Christmas break.

Everyone warmed up,  some went back to the hotel for another nap, not saying who and some went back to the slopes, now lit up against the coming dusk...




And then a little while later, we met up again and drove back to Main Street, this time surrounded by colored lights against the snow... 


                                    where we found food and drink at the Wasatch Brew Pub.


And then came Sunday and it was time to go home, so we drove back down the mountain, but timed it just right to hit Salt Lake City's  IN- N -OUT. Yup, they have one, the Salt Lake Basin must be only's a days drive from America's best burger and fries distribution centers. There are only three choices for burger combinations and fries, that is it on the menu, but yum....

Even though it was a little weird to have IN-N-OUT in the snow. Places we usually get it- Arizona, Nevada or California where you can spot the burger joint by the towering crossed palm trees....I don't think palm trees would grow in Salt Lake.

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13. A Gentile Weekend in Salt Lake...


Usually to ring in the New Year we go south into New Mexico and Indian Country...


 but this year we celebrated the coming of 2014 at home and then the next day drove north into Utah and Mormon Country.
Meandering  up through the familiar scenery around Moab...

 we finally reached 1-70 and took it west and then at Green River followed the railroad and old Highway 6 up north again past Price where we took a detour around the old town of Helper....





and I was amazed that such a little town had so many old hotels. Situated at the mouth of Price Canyon since the early 1880's, Helper is a railroad/ mining town named for the "helper" engines that were needed to get the coal trains over the steep grade leading up to Soldier Summit. I guess many railroad worker and miner needed a place to stay, but also wonder if Helper, situated a little bit more than half the way from Salt Lake City and the outlaying setttlements such as Moab, Monticello, Bluff and Blanding, catered also to the Mormon traveler on their way to the Salt Lake Temple.
Continuing our journey,over Soldier Summit and past the wind turbine farm below on the other side, we popped out at Spanish Forks, where we headed north between the Wasatch Mountains to the west...


and the Great Salt Lake and Flats to the East to downtown Salt Lake City...


Now you are probably wondering why "Gentiles" would want to spend a weekend in Salt Lake City, where up to a few years ago was so vastly Mormon it was hard to find coffee or tea in any form, let a lone a good micro brewery and everything, except Temple Square was shut down tight on Sundays, yes it is open all day Sunday.
I remember passing through, when the girls were little, Jon being highly motivated to find his morning coffee. We drove around and around  trying to find any place that had some caffeine and finally found a "Gentile" Auto Garage mechanic who shared his hot pot from behind the counter. Another time in the heat of the summer, I ordered ice tea off the fresh new menu and was told that the tea was actually coming, as in the whole set up of serving tea was coming but not there yet.
Guess what, things have changed, thanks hugely to the 2002 Winter Olympics that brought this city and the ski resorts above it to world wide attention and as of  the 2010 census, Salt Lake is over 50% Gentile.
And now there is some pretty cool revitalization downtown, complete with a tram...


The Gateway Mall, built up around the old Union Pacific Train Yard and just a  few blocks  from Temple Square hosts some fantastic shopping, nice hotels, a great Mega-Plex movie theater and a Starbucks in the Clock Tower.
But since its establishment in 1847, when Brigham Young, the LDS colonizer and second president, upon seeing the Great Salt Lake basin, declared"This is the place", Salt Lake City was intended to be the capitol of a new nation, Zion...


A stark contrast to another old capitol, where streets in Santa Fe, made a Spanish Capitol in 1610, are barely wide enough for two burro carts to pass...


Salt Lake City was from the beginning a planned community, with extra wide streets...


and "awe" inspiring monuments like the Eagle Gate, which you pass under on your way down from the Capitol Building on State Street, where if you turn onto  S Tempe you go past Brigham Young's grand residence, the Bee Hive House, which was being de-decorated while we were there, the holidays finally over...


and past the old Utah Hotel, now known as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building...


grand enough to be built in Washington D.C.

But in downtown Salt Lake the grandest of them all, is Temple Square. 
Mormon or not, anyone interested in architecture and the history of how "the West was won", has to be impressed by the tenacity that it took to build the Temple...


and the Assembly Hall, built in 1880 with the left over stone from constructing the Temple...




Another beautiful fascade, around the corner from Temple Square on Main St.  is the old  ZCMI building....



Created in 1866, the Zion Cooperative Mercantile Institution's  purpose was to either protect the Mormons from the price gouging of the Gentile merchants around them, or to drive out the competition that had come to make the Salt Lake basin their home as well. Which way it was is up to interpretation, but the original store still stands, an amazing example of Victorian architecture and has now been taken over by Macy's. 
And the Mormon church is not out of the mercantile business, investing millions if not billions in a downtown revitalization where across the street from the old ZCMI,  the new crowning jewel is the City Creek Center, upscale shopping complete with fountains and  a constructed creek...
.

But don't be fooled by Salt Lake's squeeky clean appearence, it still is a big city, with all the big city stuff, including almost getting my purse, cell phone and tablet ripped from my hands at the Gateway Mall, a  man, complete with hoodie over his head and dark glasses, who abruptly changed course right near my shoulder, when at the bottom of an escalator, a mall security guard just happened to walk by. The reason I was carrying my purse, loose in my hand is because running back to the car alone, well with a kid in tow,  I was also carrying  my husband's very valuable work laptop, as in the family's source of income, secure in a backpack, I usually do carry my purse diagonal across me and zipped. 
Well I spied the man, switched my purse to the other hand and then became a "Mamma" Bear and glared at him until he crossed over to the other side of the street. 
But the thing I have learned about Salt Lake and the Four Corners, is where the "rubber band" is too tightly wound one direction, eventually, the extreme opposite comes to exist as well. Parts of Salt Lake City have a "hipster" and alternative vibe to them, none more than the Sugar House neighborhood, where on 15th and 15th there is an Eisenstein Bagel, Starbucks, contemporary gallery, a cool bookstore with  a very contemporary and liberal clientele and surrounding the intersection, a neighborhood of renovated Arts and Craft style bungalows...




and an inordinate number of double entry "duplexes" or what we like to call "polygamy houses"...


  for such a neighborhood built in the 1920's and 30's. Seen throughout the Mormon communities in the Four Corners, double entry houses or duplexes were a convenient layout for those following "the Principle" set forth by Joseph Smith and practiced until the church began excommunicating  members for having more then one wife in the beginning of the 20th century. 

For many things in Salt Lake, I am too liberal and to the left, for some other "new" ideas I am too conservative, but again that is what brings me again and again back to Utah. A  place much like Jerusalem, The Salt Lake temple is aligned to the Holy City which was an inspiration to the founders the New Zion and like the Holy City, Salt Lake has always been and will always be city in conflict of culture and beliefs, in a place as inhospitable as the Holy Land.








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14. Season's Greetings.....

May you and yours have a Blessed Christmas! 

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15. IF:Spirit


The Illustration Friday prompt this week was Spirit. First words that came to mind when reading it was "...in the spirit of Christmas", the idea that something outside yourself inspires you. So in the spirit of Christmas, I'm posting a nativity scene I stitched a long time ago, back in 2009. Still love the idea, Mary resting and Joseph, as a new dad, holding and admiring the little baby, before....all the rest of the Christmas story and what was to come after.
The scene was also inspired by my own experiences, gladly handing over our daughters to their dad to close my eyes and try to get the room to stop spinning.
We had one of our daughters at the start of the Christmas season and so the verse in Luke 2...
"But Mary treasured up all these things
and pondered them in her heart (vs 19)"

is very special to me as is the memory of Jon, at every opportunity holding, loving and getting to know his daughters. Both went through daily crying fits. The oldest could only be soothed by her dad dancing with her in the living room to Micheal Martin Murphy's Christmas album...

one song in particularly was very fitting, Two Step Round the Christmas Tree.


For mobile devices go here...



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16. All the pretty lights...


( I apologize for the green highlighting below- either I or Blogspot is having some difficulties and I can not "unhighlight" a few paragraph- so decided to go with it and write another post, instead of trying to "fick it" as my daughter said when she was two- and yes half the time it sounded like something else!)

Our farmer's market is continuing through the winter, thanks to the availability of some toasty warm greenhouse space at the nursery. Saturday morning, we moseyed on over there to buy our poinsettia, gets some fire oven baked pizza, from the chilled, brave and very pregnant vendor outside, think she was hoping the shock of cold might finally send her into labor, she is three days over due. Bought some locally made sausage and buffalo steak, some hot house tomatoes and kale.
Also went to a Christmas Arts and Craft show at the local brew pub where we got a few gifts and jewelry, along with some much unneeded but yummy handmade chocolate. It was a very pretty and festive day, with beautiful decorations, trees and well, prayer flags, lotus symbols along with ornaments for those who love Twitter and Facebook. What I did not see, though I didn't think about it until driving home, was a Creche or Nativity scene of Joseph, Mary and the Baby Jesus...


In fact, last year I remember also noticing the lack of the "Holy Family" amongst the decorations, I did see a Buddha themed Christmas tree though.

This isn't a post bemoaning  how we have taken Christ out of Christmas, because I'm not sure Christ has ever wanted to be the inspiration for winter time festival declared by the Catholic Church to give an alternative to the pagans who were celebrating the Winter Solstice...


God has always proclaimed his dislike for festivals, no matter how well, festive and pretty they are. In Isaiah...
 "I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, 
They have become a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them." 1:14

He has always warned against traditions, monuments and festivals. Why? Because as Paul says in 
Romans 1:25, it is too easy for us to exchange the Creator for the Created. 


Christmas is great, it comes in the dark of winter, when the grey skies are looming, the decorations, the lights, the music bringing good cheer. But for one, Christ wasn't even born in December. He was born during lambing season, so probably April, "the shepherds out tending their flock by night".

The other reality is that there is not much in the decorations of Christmas that actually do not have a pagan root to them, most especially the beloved Christmas tree. The tradition starting in Germany way, way, way before  Prince Albert brought it to Queen Victoria and the rest of Europe.


 It really isn't that much of a stretch, in the dead of winter, when everything else has lost it leaves between the white span of snow and grey skies, that the Evergreen would be a symbol of life, as is any light in the dead of winter...

My roots are in the far North, in Denmark and we still keep lights in the windows in the dead of winter. The light a beacon for travelers and to provide warmth and security in the darkness. It is the light, such a part of Christmas, the strings of lights surrounding our trees and framing our house that truly hearkens to Christ, the light of the world....
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming
 into the world. He was in the world, and though the world
 was made through him, the world did not recognize him. John 1:9-10

Even back in Isaiah, his coming was hearkened to with the symbolism of light...

The people walking in darkness  have seen a great light;on those living
in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9: 2


 I love Christmas, it is absolutely beautiful, a festive start to a long winter. A chance for families and friends to come together.There is so much history in the cultures that celebrate it. 

How much Christ is actually in this Winter Festival is our choice and it is certainly hard to keep the focus on him, I haven't even mentioned the horrid aspect of well what starts with "Black Friday" and doesn't end until "Boxing Day", whether that is packing up the old to make ready for the new or if that means a mad rush to the stores to buy even more then what was under the tree. 


But it is hard to keep the focus on him, any time of the year. Guess what, Easter is no better, the Christian, pagan and well commercial traditions in a great swirl. 

What is so important about Christmas, to quote Dr. Seuss...


"And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. 
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Sadly, that is as close as the festiveness of Christmas will allow the contemplation to go. The sentiment echoed in classic movies like...

It's A Wonderful Life

We like the residual-ness of what Christ brings, but it is safer on the edge of it, where we have the control. 
 PEACE ON EARTH

is declared from cards, banners and lights on the hillsides of towns. But rarely is the whole verse quoted..
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

That last bit of a downer- "on whom his favor rests". 

So why is Christmas important, if it has been so, well, adulterated? It is the time of year, if not the wrong time, that maybe, we will focus just for a moment on the story. The story of a young girl, who might have been as young as twelve years old, who God blessed and cursed with being the mother of the Messiah. God did not "clue in" everyone else, only visiting Joseph a few times in dreams. But Joseph did marry her and the Christmas story unfolded.
The Nativity scenes still needs to be set out, the scene of Mary and Joseph, with the Wise Man and the shepherds needs to hold its ground in this Winter Festival that all to easily starts to loose it's Light.

 





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17. A World Unlike My Own: An Introduction


I'm really bad about anniversaries, have a hard time remember my own, plus birthdays, well other than my daughters, cause I was kind of an active participant. I was curious and looking back, this blog has been running since June of 2006, that's over seven years, I think, I counted on my fingers.

Of all the people who follow it, I've only met one person that I did not know before, through Her blog..

Jill Bergman makes the most adorable colored linecut prints of cute dump trucks, adorable kids, birds and the scenery around her home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I got to met up with Jill and her husband while they were on a vacation in the Four Corners and love to see her at the annual SCBWI conference in LA, though she did not get there last year, entering the thrilling and exhausting world of motherhood!

Now, I see, she is back at posting fun things on her blog and finding time to make some art! Meeting her, after getting to know her through our blogs- commenting back and forth- was a real perk, but most of the people following this blog, live much, much farther away then a few hundred miles and have yet to invite me to lunch, but here is hoping!

I am still amazed I have blog followers from all over the world- Finland to Turkey, England to Australia and other then Jill and those I am related to, I have never met any of them. I hope they follow this blog, not to even out the score because I posted something on theirs, but because for the simple reason what I wrote, my photographs or art moved them, it is what artist hope for.


I have never asked why, I'm guessing. I just know it's the reason I read theirs, to see some amazing art and to see a bit of the world, that is so unlike mine.

It is also the reason I write a blog centered on the Four Corners, because this place, sitting on top of the Colorado Plateau, where the Colorado river and all its tributaries cut through the red rock to make canyons that go down is not where I grew up. I grew up farther north where canyons went up between hills and mountains.

I won't speak for others, but I am inspired to write this blog and make the art I do...


 because I am really a stranger in a strange land, amazed by the people and places around me. I just can't believe I have been writing Moonflower Musing for as long as seven years!

In the next few blogs, I intend to highlight some more of my favorite bloggers, who are all not artists by trade, but who have done a wonderful job bringing a bit of their world to us through blogging and tweeting, something new I have ventured into. What do these blogger and.....what do you call a person who tweets.... have in common, well, the worlds they have so graciously shared online, have moved me in some way, so I guess they actually are all artists.







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18. IF: Secret


This secret place is called Lost Park, off of Highway 285 cutting through the mountains, in the middle of Colorado, headed towards Denver. This isn't an actually representation of me and Jon, it is more a combination of memories, of when we lived up there while he went to grad school.
It's where, leaning against the back of his truck, he asked me to marry him and we took many a weekend drive to get away from the big city.
I remember one in particular, after circling South Park, actually the real one, which did  inspire the horrid comic series, which my daughters love, apparently  the authors of it grew up in Fairplay, a town nearby.
But the real one, is a great wind swept valley, with rounded hills in every direction encircling it and we had spent the day driving and driving, assuming we could pop out on the other side of the park and meet back up with the main road.
Rain came and it started to get dark and almost to the main road, we hit a gate, a gate with skulls and more then one spray painted "do not trespass" pictures of guns, we sat there a long time and debated- seeing the headlights in the distance marking Highway 285 in the distance.... then we turned around and in the dark, went back the way we had come, it was a long, long night getting back home!

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19. What does it mean?

 
I circled the West twice this summer- no joke, just did it in a back#@! kind of way. All totaled-
2 Weeks in Northern Colorado and Wyoming
2 weeks in California- 1 in LA and 1 on the Central Coast
+
trips to Taos, New Mexico, Moab, Utah and to Grand Junction, Colorado
and not even done...
will be going back to Wyoming, Grand Junction, Northern Colorado and hopefully Salt Lake  before Thanksgiving.
About a fourth of my wandering was for R and R- much was to see or help extended family move, mom downsizing. It just was one of those odd summers and every trip was needed and a benefit in some way.....I'm just now really, really tired- kind of feel like this cat- snapped at the Pismo Beach Pro Surf Shop...
 
One trip was for business- fun business, to the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators Annual Summer Conference- I posted a fairytale about working in Children's Publishing HERE, a few weeks ago, I think- it is hard to remember back that far! I came home on the train and went back to California with my family on a great roadtrip- two day later- then came home and the next day took my daughter back to college to help her set up her first apartment ever.
Enough of my family's itinerary!
What Does my summer of enlightenment in some awe inspiring places mean...
 
 
from watching marine life- dolphins, seals and sea otters on the California Coast to mama moose bedded down with their babies in Grand Tetons...


 bison grazing around Yellowstone Lake...
 
 
 or trying to get close to a gathering of butterflies drinking from tiny pools left by tire tracks coming out of a stream in the La Sal Mountains, Utah...
 
I have no idea, other then what I always conclude- that we live on an amazing planet that couldn't have happened by accident and was created by a loving Creator!
 
And it is time to slow down and "feed the whales" for awhile.
 
 
I know- it should be "fill the well", but that is such a boring image to illustrate and I'm dyslexic, often my brain misfires and something close to what I meant to say comes out and "Feed the Whale" came out in a conversation with my husband, whose lawyer brain can hardly handle such things, but now he knows what it means.
I need to slow down and well- live in my studio, or out sketching, drawing, a lot! I am not going to proclaim how much, no goals, just me, a bucket of fish and a hungry whale, we will see what happens when he is full!
 
 
 

 
 

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20. Redo and redo...


I have actually been working, while I have been driving circles around the West...just on the same thing, well actually the same two things, doing them over and over again.
The story starts months ago, if  you're interested.
Last year- defined by the school year, since I am a teacher and a mom, the year starts in September and last year I taught three days a week, did the same the year before, because the year before that my illustration biz wasn't very busy, so I taught art and creative writing at a little charter school one room school house on  the edge of two Indian Reservations.
Hugely rewarding, but not so good for my illustrating, because three half days, driving 45 minutes even down a glorious canyon to get there, between my kid going and getting home from school, really leaves two days to do art and promotion and keep the house up, go to the grocery store and yoga.
Last school year, I started to feel the need to be in the studio, thanks to a out of the blue email from LADYBUG magazine and the opportunity to do this for them...
 
Stitching it reminded my what I really wanted to be doing  and by the end of the year, I had resigned from a charity board position, back out of other commitments and I was only teaching two days and had pretty much decided to not come back this year.
But the summer finally arriving, I hardly had any new work to put in my portfolio for the SCBWI LA showcase, where agents, art directors and editors from New York would be looking for illustrators to work for and I did not have my picturebook dummy ready for an expensive additional intensive I had signed up for on a whim.
So what did I spend my summer doing?
Well, traveling and actually redoing and redoing two illustrations that were not coming out the way I thought they could.
But the SCBWI LA conference was good for me- probably not getting new clients this year- but in giving me a deadline and a focus. Focus being I needed to revamp about everything- portfolio, website, not that what is there is bad, but that I feel a new level for me starting to come out, thus the redo and the redo, I learn in the process and so have to stitch and rip out, sometimes to the point of destroying the collage. I learn by trial and error, just would be better if the trial did not come two month before a very expensive conference, but so be it and walking away from the conference, I have a lot of specifics to tailor things, lay out of website, better understanding of color and printing, and the publishing process to hopefully make my work even more appealing.
So yes, one step forward and about a dozen back is where I am, but I now have four days, minus yoga class- that if definitely needed or I kind of go crazy- ask my husband- to be home and in the studio.
The fifth day? Well, I'm still teaching Art...
 
one afternoon a week. I mean how could I not get out of the studio at least once a week and make art with these cuties!
 
So that is where I am at, the beginning of this new year and hope to pour what I am working on over this blog- and yes twitter, go can go to @moonflowermuse if you are even wanting more pics and muses from me.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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21. Repeat of '76

I should be working, I'm trying to, but also have live feed from 9NEWS in Denver on the other monitor. The weekend was spent looking at Twitter, the Denver Post and my home town paper.
But I didn't whip out this illustration over the past few days, this is actually an illustration inspired by another flood, called a "once in a life" time 100 year flood. The one in 1976, when I was nine which killed 144 people, I wasn't in the Big Thompson when a sixty foot wall of water wiped down the canyon in the dark of night, but my grandmother was and my family came to help her just a few days later and my brother and I hiked up high to get a first hand view of the destruction- I wrote about it HERE.
But this below isn't from thirty six years ago, this is from this weekend...
 
 

 
There should be a road, along side the river, there shouldn't be a waterfall at the mouth of the canyon near what is called "the Narrows", I think that is Drake, though I.D. ing communities in a canyon you have driven a hundred times is hard from the air. Like I said, my grandmother lived for many years in by the Big Thompson, we had a cabin up in Glen Haven. I was married up in Estes Park.
 
Funny, I feel more stress about this, then I did facing a raging fire wiping up our canyon here in the Four Corners, last fall, our house is right on the other side of the road...
 
 
But I was right there, watching the whole day the absolutely amazing fire fighters who saved my house!! and I'm concluding that being there you know what is going on, and you just get to doing what you need to, where when you are watching from afar, with nothing to do, you can well, obsess!  My family back on the Front Range are very calm and going on with their lives, none of their houses are near the flood plain thank goodness, I am heading up to Wyoming to meet up with some of them, this weekend, so will hear the stories and will be in the Front Range for Thanksgiving, when I will be able to see for myself that where I grew up is "moving on", which we Coloradoan are very good at doing, whatever Mother Nature throws at us.


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22. Growing up Dsylexic...


This week is Dyslexia Awareness Week in the UK. I happened upon that information reading Hot Key Book's blog last night.
Having not thought of such things for a long time,  I did some dyslexic "surfing" on the web, and yep...I'm as dyslexic as I have ever been- still strong in fourteen  or fifteen traits of thirty something, when ten is all that is needed.
I'm Ambidextrous- though haven't doodled with my right hand for a bit. Pretty impressed with my drawing, even though it kind of made me dizzy doing it.
I still mix up words and phrases- Feed the Whale (see here) instead of fill the well.
Still don't have a sense of direction and still don't know my right from my left.

You can test yourself (here). But can you read this?

if not flip your laptop of tablet over

Its funny, something that can be so overwhelming for so long can eventually move into the shadows and you kind of forget about it.

Perusing the web I also found...

To be honest, whenever I come across any idea of Dyslexia being a "gift" my initial reaction is to laugh, though reading and writing upside down comes is awful handy teaching kids, working across a table from them, though it freaks my husband out.
But growing up, there was no hint that I had been blessed, instead I have memories seared in my brain of spending part of my day in Special Ed, or my fourth grade teacher's look of disgust when I wore my shirt backwards or couldn't put my shoes on the correct feet. One summer I had a large R and L drawn on my hands and I was continuous drilled on my right from my left. I couldn't remember, either, after the letters faded.
I was deemed lazy by the history teacher in Middle School, because he knew I was smart and had no excuses for the grammar on my papers. Thank God for Word and spellcheck now.
But I could draw...
Princesses in ball gowns for my friends and so was not considered too much of a freak. Though when
anyone would go on about my artistic abilities, my family's favorite joke was "Don't you mean autistic?"
Which, according to THE DYSLEXIC ADVANTAGE, could not be farther from the truth!
Apparently, there is a thin sheet of cells in the brain called the " cortex" where cells, called mini columns,  are stacked on top of each other. Well in Autistic brains, the minicolumns are tightly clustered together and in Dyslexic brains they are...well loosely spaced and in Autistic brains only make connections between the minicolumns locally, where the Dyslexic brain have long connections, well, all over the place, surprise, surprise!  Literally according to one theory, Dyslexia is the exact opposite of Autism. Autistics  see the trees where Dyslexics see the forest.
I don't know how I feel about that I just read it last night, I'll let you know, only on Chapter 4.

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23. Evolution of an Illustration...


Often people ask about the process of doing fabric collage and often while I'm doing it the idea to take pictures of the process does not occur to me, well this time I am trying.
With a summer of traveling and adventure, followed by a few quiet weeks at home,  the "whales are starting to be full" ( read THIS for an explanation) I am diving back into revamping my portfolio.
So like all illustrations, it starts with some research, these days on the web, instead of a bunch of dusty files...

I'm sucker for the big white bows and needlework on little girl's dresses from the Victorian era, so that was easy enough. As was finding  pictures of country cottages...

 
I had to resign myself to zooming in far enough to get the details of Goldilocks and the Three Bears loosing most of the cottage's detail. But alas what did my instructors in Art school always ask, "What is the focal point, what is the picture about," well it is about Bears and Goldilocks! 

Still needed some bears, so thought "dancing bears" would be a good thing to Google. Not! So many sad pictures of old, tired bears in places like the Far East and Russia that are still being forced to preform in the streets, their masters put a cable around their heads and through their noses, and out a slit on their face!!
But enough about the harsh realities of what is real verses what is make believe. Let see, have I ever illustrated an anthropomorphic illustration, or one that has animals with human traits? I don't think so.
Step one after the sketch is to do a line drawing of the illustration on see through tracing paper...

 
then I take more scraps of tracing paper and make patterns for the various piece and parts, doing the back ground first...

 
And then ironing them down, since the fabric has a fusible web on the backside...


Then the middle ground and foreground is laid down, and the stitching begins...


Part Two is coming, I promise....probably....if I remember!

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24. We went to the coffee shop...

and I watched this father with his two little girls, one climbing up into his lap to look at a picture book and I so wanted to have a place to go give "alms" in thanks to God that my daughters have a father like that, that it was okay, I didn't, because I married a man who is and nothing has healed me more then watching him be that kind of a father to our girls."

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25. Art from a long, long time ago...


Went to a fun talk this Friday at the Crow Canyon Archeological Center in Southwest Colorado, given by Michelle Hegmon, a professor at Arizona State University. Hegmon studies the ancient people that resided in the Southwest over a millennium ago and her specialty is  Mimbres Pottery, earthenware from the Mimbres river valley in southern New Mexico...

 from Archeology Southwest website
 
Unlike pottery from other cultural areas in the SW, like Mesa Verde region in SW Colorado and the Hohokam region in the Phoenix Arizona basin, that have a style distinct to the region...


pottery from the Mimbres Culture shows the work of individual artists...


 
 
The Mimbres Classic Period was @ 900 AD to 1200 AD and unlike the Mesa Verde region and  the Hohokam regions, which ended violent, mass death from starvation or violence, the Mimbres Culture just kind of petered out. 
 
The funniest part of the talk for me, as an artist, was listening to an archeologist and science types trying to put their usual "measurements" to art, doing calculation on how many artist and how long it would take to make the amount of pots discovered or known of, at the different sights. Their big mistake- that artists are consistent in their production......? Have these scientist actually talked to or get to know an artist.  
 
Consistent and artist should never be in the same sentence!
 
The archeologist did matched up the style of several artist, that drew their rabbit's ears the same, or had the same whimsical style to their antelope, which was corrected in the talk from the audience to "pronghorn". They also identified a style that they called "transitional"where a creature has the attributes of two animals....
 
A bird or a fish?
 
  We, artists, would call that "metamorphosis" and it is one more of those amazing things where cultures all over the world thought up the same thing, like....drums.
 
Today, the word "Metamorphosis" calls forward the images of M.C.Escher...

 
who in the Twentieth Century, was still playing with the ideas the Mimbres pottery artist were pondering in the First Century and those pieces are so simple, but so good...
 
 

they could sit in the Metropolitian Museum of Art, that contemporary in their design. It is such a reminder of how all art comes from the soul and transverses not only centuries and but geography.
 
Another example of how great art comes from the common core of all of us are Gee's Bend Quilts...

 
 created in an isolated community located in a bend of a river in Alabama, an African American community, barley holding on in the late Ninetieth Century and into the Twentieth...

where some amazingly talented women created amazing quilts from rags and worn clothes to keep their families warm and now, those quilts are hanging in museums around the world.

 
There is much info on Mimbres Pottery online and there is a Data Base, where they can be viewed.
 
 
photes noted attached to a linked website from Wikipedia Commons 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  

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