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coloring page tuesdays, news and events, blog book tours, reviews, illustration and promotion, and general weirdness from a children's book author/illustrator.
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1. Picnic at Porty

Like I said, we've had some gorgeous weather of late here in Edinburgh. Stan got it into his head to have a picnic at the beach. He wanted to experiment on me before he chanced experimenting on friends, so the two of us hopped on the #26 bus for the 20-minute ride out to Portobello (Porty) beach the other day.

We nabbed a good spot on the sand and set up shop. This was our view...

Stan had prepped everything beforehand. These were the provisions.
A bottle of wine went into a plastic Pellegrino bottle since glass isn't allowed on the beach.
And Stan fired up the wee portable grill which he bought at the Tesco for £2.
Twenty or thirty relaxing moments later, and shooing off a seagull or two, we had lunch. It was a total success!
Next time we'll invite friends for sure - this worked! And OMG was it delicious. Home-made potato salad and garlic-marinated cheese-burgers on gluten free buns from Sugar Daddy's Gluten Free Bakery. YUM!
     After lunch, we cleaned up and headed down the boardwalk. We came across this bizarre sight.
Yes, that is a piano on the beach. Crazy! And it ended up being a prelude to the second half of our afternoon. Coming soon...

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2. Coloring Page Tuesday - Baby's Pet Monster

     Wow. You guys went crazy over last week's image of the tiger, so I decided to give you another one of my crosshatch pieces. This is baby with his favorite monster. What color will you make him?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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3. The Edinburgh International Book Festival

One of the best things about living in Edinburgh is the annual Edinburgh International Book Festival. It goes on for two weeks during FRINGE and it is an oasis of literary wonderfulness in Charlotte Square.


     For the first week of the Festival, I've been supporting friends and taking advantage of some free events. First was Sarah Broadley's reading in the Spiegletent. That's a new word to me, but it basically means a pop-up venue that looks like this.

     Sarah is the incoming regional advisor for the Southeast Scotland chapter of the SCBWI. She read an entertaining piece about her first pair of rollerskates, and the injury that ensued. I had a similar escapade involving a skateboard in my childhood, so I could relate.
     SCBWI also hosted a postcard wall inspired by the Illustrators' Walls at the Bologna Children's Book Fair (which I wrote about HERE).
     It wasn't nearly as big as Bologna obviously (!), but it was a really nice showing of the amazingly talented illustrators here in Edinburgh.

This was the panel that showed off my wares.



     SCBWI also hosted an editor panel with Barry Cunningham (Chicken House and JK Rowling fame), Lauren Fortune (Scholastic), and Sally Poulson (Floris Books).
     Louise Kelly and Sheila Averbuch (current RAs) asked some great questions, including illustrator-specific questions. My biggest take-away was that illustrators in the UK are mostly hired through agencies. HMMMMM!
     Mostly, it was lovely connecting with fellow children's book creators. I'm slowly getting to know folks here and am not as much the new kid as I was. That's nice.
     I purchased tickets for several more speakers next week. More on those soon...

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4. Our sunny day continues in Newhaven

From Leith, our walk wound around to Newhaven. This is the old fishing warf overlooking the Firth of Forth. You know you're there when you come to the charming marina.

     A lovely sidewalk takes you along the old dock buildings.
From there you can look back to the wee town of Newhaven. It's lovely and there's a great breakfast place we often choose as a destination, Porto & Fi. But, we'd already eaten in Leith and our tummies were full. So we walked out past the marina. The jut out offers an amazing view of the firth - we sat and soaked up the sun for a while.
And enjoyed the view.
That's the Kingdom of Fife on the far side.
     Finally, it was time to get back. I got this one last shot of Stan on our way.
     We stopped for tea at The Starbank Inn, another fave, to fortify us for the 2-mile walk home. Yes, I was a wee bit sore by the end of it all, but gads, what a fabulous day!

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5. VIDEO: Overwatch Dragons

This is a gorgeous animation - Overwatch Dragons by Roberto Ortiz. Click to watch at CG Society:

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6. A sunny day in Leith

We've had a wonderful streak of amazing weather here in Edinburgh lately. About 65°F (18°C) with no humidity. It makes for absolute perfection. Stan and I had to get out in it! So the other day we did our big loop. We take the converted railway trails (to walking trails) out to Leith then circle around through Newhaven and back home again. Without tangents, which of course, there are tangents, it's seven miles. First, Leith...
     I've shared photos of Leith with you before HERE and HERE. We love this little port town.
     For this trip, we had a slight mission. A friend of ours created a fundraiser for the Scottish Book Trust, 100 Bookpeeps. Readers take photos of themselves with their favorite books and make a small donation for the privilege. We had to share my novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET! But where better than on Water Street? There happens to be one in Leith. So that was our first destination.

     Our second destination was to get a better photo of the Dazzle Ship.
     Have you heard of these? It's apparently a real thing. Ships were painted during WWII to throw off locators trying to figure out which direction ships were going or how far away they were. This one was recently painted by artist Ciara Phillips for the Edinburgh Arts Festival. Last time we were in Leith with friends, it was windy and rainy and I didn't get a good shot. Remedied!
     That done, we went to lunch at Tapa. It was an OMG sort of meal and we'll be taking our friend Melissa Libby (Atlanta restaurant promoter) there when she comes to visit soon. Stan said the Spanish guy at the next table claimed it was the best tapas restaurant in the UK. I agree!
     Afterwards, we wandered about. Y'know how in the states old hotels will claim 'George Washington slept here'? They do that here too, but the dates are slightly more remarkable.
Yeah, that says "Mary Queen of Scots, 1561"! Here is the garden she walked through. Can't you see her there?
     We also discovered several new restaurants we want to try and Tom Kitchin's Michelin Starred restaurant "the Kitchin." That one might have to wait for a book to sell.
     From there, we walked to Newhaven...

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7. Friday Linky List - 19 August 2016

From The New Yorker: (Children's) Books Just for Grown-Ups (retitled classics)

From PW: Holiday House Changes Hands

From There's a Book for That: Big Questions: Picture Books That Inspire Philosophical Discussion #pb10fro10 2016

From CNN Style: This lab is capturing pollution and turning it into paint - very cool!

From SLJ: How Canada Publishes So Many Diverse Children's Books

From The Scottish Book Trust: How Picture Books Can Help Us Make Sense of the World

From The Society of Illustrators: The Original Art 2016 36th Annual Exhibition

From Noblemania (via Fuse #8): Guess the kidlit desks contest - fascinating peek at people's creative work places!

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8. Mike Curato's LITTLE ELLIOT BIG FUN

Do you remember LITTLE ELLIOT BIG CITY by Mike Curato? Well, Little Elliot has a new adventure in LITTLE ELLIOT BIG FUN! Mike stopped by to answer some questions about it...

e: What is your creative process, can you walk us through it, and what is your medium?
Mike:
Usually, when I begin a book, I start with sketches of Elliot in various situations. Then, I start writing about each drawing that stands out to me. I go back and forth until a story starts forming. I don’t really set out with a theme in mind, I arrive there through the process. As in life, we don’t know what some experiences are about until we have some distance from it. Then, we can see the full picture and say, “Oh! That’s why I went through all of that! Life was teaching me X lesson.” Once I feel confident that my story has a beginning, middle and end, I start sharing it with my editor, Laura Godwin. We go back and forth with ideas for how to tighten up the book. To make my illustrations, I draw with pencil on paper, scan, and color digitally. Also, I spend a huge amount of time doing research. The Little Elliot books all take place in late 1930s New York, so I try to be as authentic as possible.

e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Mike:
I think Heart Art is that element of an illustration that cannot be said with words (the whole reason why we need illustrations to accompany a text). A good illustration speaks directly to the soul. It’s a vulnerable truth that tells the viewer that someone else understands what they’ve been through and how they feel, much like music. This isn’t something one learns. It’s the result of the artist searching for the right visual elements that stir something in their being. It’s the part of the illustration that isn’t technical, but is more unto a sixth sense.

e: What was your path to publication?
Mike:
I went to Syracuse University’s illustration program from 1999-2003, where I realized that I wanted to focus on picture book making. After graduation, I tried to break into publishing on and off for ten years, working as a graphic designer in the meantime. In 2012, I attended the SCBWI winter conference in NYC, where I was fortunate enough to win the portfolio showcase. In most of the illustrations in my portfolio, I featured a character I had been drawing for years, a small polka-dotted elephant. Brenda Bowen (who is now my agent) slipped her card into the portfolio. The next day, I received emails and phone calls from several publishers inquiring about who this elephant was and what was his story. By summer, Little Elliot went to auction and found a home with Henry Holt Books for Young Readers at Macmillan.

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Mike:
I think my favorite part of being a creator is that magical moment when I am able to make something that makes me happy. I don’t mean that in a prideful way, it is more about witnessing the Art Heart that you were just asking about. I have a poet friend who once told me that when she’s performing, it’s her time to talk to God, and everyone else gets to watch. It’s a feeling that’s worth its weight in gold.
     Click the image to see Mike's studio larger in a new window.
e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Mike:
For me, the book is about confronting fears, and how to be a good friend to someone who is afraid. Life is full of scary rides, but when friends stick together, they can get through them.

Click the image below to see a GIF of Mike's process:

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9. MA Illustration Show

I'm doing an MFA in Illustration at the University of Edinburgh. That means four semesters split by a summer off in-between. It worked perfectly with my summer teaching at Hollins University. Also available would have been an MA in Illustration, which is three straight semesters. Several of my fellow students went this route and recently had their graduation show in the main court of the Edinburgh College of Art.

   
I'm so glad I returned to Scotland in time for opening night - which was crazy busy and I didn't get a single photo of! But I went back a few days later to share these photos with you.


They even set up a table to sell items from their presentation items - posters, postcards, cards, prints, etc. Katy Wiedemann was manning the table when I stopped by.
Katy is an anatomical illustrator. If you know anything about that, you know she has to be crazy good. Which she is. Here was her final presentation. And here's her website.
Another presentation I'm sharing is Karin Eremia's.
Most of these students will now be leaving us, heading out into the world on their own new adventures. But Karin may stick around for a PhD as well, so she and I may be able to hang out a while longer. Yay!
     The show included both the Graphic Design and Illustration MA students. Since we share a studio, the gang has become pretty tight.

Photo credit to Dan Lester.
Here are the illustration students specifically, Lily (China), Karin (Romania), Eve (France), Ailsa (England), Kelsey (US), and Katy (US).

Photo credit to Dan Lester.
Congratulations to all, it's been awesome to get to know you. I wish you all much success and happiness! And I'll be close behind you - next May...

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10. Coloring Page Tuesday - Tiger and Mouse

     I've been having a lot of fun with crosshatching of late. This one is begging for some orange though - want to help? Also, what do you suppose they're talking about?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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11. The Burryman Found!

Continuing my story... Friday, Stan and I took a mini-adventure to South Queenferry and Port Edgar to take part in an annual ritual - The Burryman Festival. Each year a locally-born man is covered in burrs - these things:

and paraded through the streets. (He's also wearing one of Scotland's flags as a sash - the Rampant Lion.) The entire journey, he is given money and plied with whisky to ease his suffering. Here he is heading into The Hawes Inn.
And inside where he had to sip whisky through a straw. You gotta feel for this guy. I'm not sure why somebody would put themselves through this ordeal.
Because ordeal it is - once covered in burrs, his arms are held away from his body with flower-covered poles. Even his face is covered, so he has minders, as he awkwardly walks seven miles through the port town (which takes about nine hours) all for good luck.
A small group of people follow along cheering, "Hip-hip-hooray, it's the Burryman Day!" A bagpipe even joined in at one point. But like I mentioned, this is not a well-known tradition and its shocking how small the crowds are. All the better for those of us enjoying the day.
The Burryman is said to be the Scottish version of a Green Man ritual - which potentially goes back to the 1000s. Although in fact, nobody remembers how the tradition began, or why. (History from this region is often pagan or druid-based and they didn't have a written history.) According to Wikipedia, it's thought to have originated in the 1600s and there are similar-ish rituals all over the UK, such as "Buckie on the Moray Firth and Fraserburgh, to 'raise the herring' when there had been a poor fishing season; the Whittlesea Straw Bear and the Castleton Garland King (and perhaps even the Jack in the green) in England." It's thought that the tradition is meant to ward off evil spirits. Or that it is a symbol of rebirth and fertility, like the Green Man. Whatever the reason, it's a good excuse to play and act silly....
And boy does this guy earn the respect of his neighbors - they actually had to cut the burrs off of him at the end of the day. Surely, some good luck was earned! I like to think a little bit of it rubbed off too, as I returned home with a burr stuck on my cap.
     If you ever make it to Edinburgh in the second week of August, this is a quirky tradition to be a part of. I'm glad we went!

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12. A mini-adventure to South Queensferry continued...

As I mentioned yesterday, we headed out in search of the Burryman, an annual festival in the small town of Queensferry. After lunch at Port Edgar, we headed east along the coast into Queensferry proper. This is an adorable and picturesque town and was worth the trip on its own.


Hey Stan, Blythe - smile!
How's this for your local bookstore?
I'm dying to go back to try out some of the restaurants there. Can you imagine the view while eating your spaghetti?
Truly, Queensferry is so picturesque, I got a little snap-happy.
When we got thirsty, we dropped into The Ferry Tap - another spot to try for lunch next visit. It looked good!
Despite celebrating the Burryman every year, the event is not well-known and is mainly celebrated by residents of Queensferry. They do it right, though. They assign a "Ferry Queen," choose a May Queen and Green Man, and they even bring in a carnival, which sits just down the coast towards the Forth Rail Bridge.
It was a wild thing to experience in the middle of our search.

We hooked up with another friend, David as we sought out the burr-covered man.
Happily, our search finally paid off. We found the Burryman! Next...

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13. VIDEO: Judy Ruth Cummins' A HUNGRY LION

Judy Ruth spoke at one of our SCBWI conferences a few years ago and we just loved her. SO excited to hear this talented art director has her own book out now! Click the image to watch her create an illustration for the book on YouTube under "A Hungry Lion or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins":

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14. A mini-adventure to South Queensferry

Friday, Stan and I met up with our friend Blythe to head to South Queensferry in search of The Burryman. More on him soon... first, we had to get there.
     Queensferry is still technically part of Edinburgh, although it took a quick train ride from Waverly Station to get to this sweet little ferry town.

We caught up with Blythe in Haymarket and together, we arrived in Queensferry to a quick walk into town. We could have taken the main road, but we decided to cut through my park, which led through some lovely woods.
Out the other end, we made it to Queensferry proper. Here are Stan and Blythe on the walk into town.
Queensferry is exactly that - the crossing point over the Firth of Fourth for hundreds of years. So this is where all the bridges are.
In fact, the town's views are dominated by three bridges. The Scotland | ALBA website says that they are, "The Forth Bridge (the red one), a railway bridge which was completed over 125 years ago, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a spectacular feat in engineering. The neighbouring Forth Road Bridge opened in 1964 (you can see this one to the left), and Queensferry Crossing, to the west of South Queensferry, is a new road bridge set to open at the end of May 2017." In fact, one of the places we stopped into was called "The Three Bridges."
We arrived in time for lunch. And since Blythe is a well-known food critic in Edinburgh, creator of Lunchquest, we headed for a recommended lunch spot at the marina. From town, that meant we cut left rather than right towards Port Edgar.
Here's Blythe doing his thing, documenting the experience.
Lunch was, believe it or not, a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich at Down the Hatch. Properly fortified, we then headed east along the coast into downtown Queensferry...

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15. Friday Linky List, 12 August 2016

From Slate: Welcome to Slate's Children's Book Blog, Nightlight!

From Steve McEllistrem: Why Don't We Read Anymore?

Mojomaca (a.k.a. Maurie Manning) shares a quick digital watercolor demo using the amazing Rebell software by Escape Motions on YouTube

From Thought Catalog: 21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors

Rethinking The Future: Amazing Cardboard House Exhibition

From NN/g: Design Thinking 101

From Muddy Colors: Artist of the Month: Phillip Glass

From the Directory of ILlustration: World ILlustration Awards 2016 Winners Announced

From The Huff Post: First Half Recap of 2016 Picture Books

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16. Will Hillenbrand on BEAR AND BUNNY

I have a treat for you today - a new way of sharing an interview. Will Hillenbrand, illustrator of BEAR IN LOVE and the new BEAR AND BUNNY, put together a video response to my questions! In it, he talks about the development of Bear and Bunny.

His media (digital - Adobe Photoshop Sketch).

I especially liked his answer to my Heart Art question:
"I think it comes down to our audience. Children are magical. They have a sense of discovery, a magical sense of curiosity, a sense of joy of being alive in the world. As adults we are often spoilers if we think wee are showing the magical world to them without receiving it from them first, the magic turns to dust. The children are the inspiration for the magic. That's why I work and choose to work for them."

Click the image below to enjoy the full interview or CLICK HERE to view it on YouTube:
And visit WILL'S WEBSITE to learn more.

BEAR AND BUNNY. Text copyright © 2015 by Daniel Pinkwater. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Will Hillenbrand. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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17. Vintage Mobile Cinema at FRINGE

Stan and I wandered up George Street recently to see what the pop-up venues are all about for FRINGE, when we came across Audrey. Audrey is the name of a Vintage Mobile Cinema bus:

Stan is in to all things with wheels, so of course we had to check it out.
     The bus was created in the 1960s to go around the country and educate engineers on various industry-specific needs. But the scheme only lasted a few years and all the buses (6 or 7 of them) were retired. Audrey is the only one that remains and after being found in a farmer's field, she has been lovingly restored to her former glory. Inside, her original plastic seats have been replaced with real vintage theatre seats. Stan was in love.
We entered for free to enjoy a brief history of the vehicle and a montage of British pathé newsreels and shorts of the history of the Edinburgh International Festival. So interesting!
     I believe the bus will be on George Street for the entire festival, so if you're in town, I recommend you check it out and see...

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18. Coloring Page Tuesday - Artist Owl

     One of my students this past summer at Hollins University illustrated The Owl and the Pussycat. She did great with the drawings, but struggled with the color. So for her 'Congratulations - you made it!' card (I do these for my students every year), I drew her a painting owl to help inspire her. Happy!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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19. Coloring Page Tuesday - Tom Boy Reader

     I was one. Were you? Trees, grass, ditches, woods, I read everywhere! Shorts, bandages and a good book. Ahhhhh, now that's a proper tom boy summer.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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20. I'm HOME!

Welcome home! Home these days is Edinburgh, Scotland. Stan met me at the airport and had this sweet sign lit up in the doorway of our flat waiting for me. He's also been plying me with chicken soup, sandwiches and noodle casseroles to recover from the massive jet-lag.
     I would blame my exhaustion on the insane flight... My flight to New York was delayed and finally cancelled due to bad weather. I quickly figured out I was going to miss my connector flight to Edinburgh so got rerouted through London. It only added a few hours onto the journey, although my luggage is still in the US somewhere. I did see a cool thing in London - undergraduate artwork being represented on signage around the airport called "Talentspotting" - it included work from an illustration student from the University of Edinburgh.
     But really, I'm recovering from six weeks of running on adrenalin.
     Our Hollins University program is wonderful and intense. The students are so dedicated to growing and learning, they don't sleep much. When we don't have classes, the schedule is packed with lectures, get-togethers, personal work, and critique groups. As a teacher, that means I'm ON 24/7. (I sleep, but I get insomnia from thinking about it all.)
     If you've met me, you know I'm a very social person. But I love what a friend (hi, Aliya!) recently claimed. She said, "I'm a very friendly introvert." Me too! I have to have my down time to refill my coffers and I didn't get much of that this summer. So, I am seriously exhausted.
     That said, I have so much to DO! School starts back on 19 September and in that time, we have visitors coming, FRINGE is in full swing. I need to finish my dissertation reading for my MFA, slick up my PhD proposal, and do artwork for four book dummies I'm working on - one which has some publishing interest. So, I will give myself two days to be a brain-dead potato before I return to some kind of normalcy. I hope to be back to full swing soon. Wish me luck!

UPDATE! My luggage has been located and should be delivered sometime today - woohoo!

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21. Bethan Woollvin's LITTLE RED

I've been quite excited Bethan Woollvin's LITTLE RED from Peachtree Publishers - Bethan Woollvin's LITTLE RED. It's become a great companion piece for teaching alongside Molly Bang's PICTURE THIS. So I am thrilled to have Bethan here today...


e: What is your creative process, can you walk us through it?
Bethan:
My creative process can vary depending on what project I’m working on. With picture books I usually start by generating ideas. I try to do an exercise where I think of as many ideas as I can in three minutes which brings out all sorts of wild ideas.
      When I have an idea, I then begin to work on loose sketches which is my favourite part of the process. At this stage, I’m probably still working in a sketchbook creating my characters and their world. I would then move out of my sketchbook and onto larger paper where I would start to experiment with different materials and book dimensions. Its not long before the idea then begins to take shape, and starts to feel like a book.
     Once my characters are just right, I then begin thinking about colour which is such an important part of my work. I usually work with around three colours, for example - with Little Red I used red, black and grey. When I have drawn out rough sketches of all my spreads which often takes a great deal of planning, I can jump into my final artwork. This is then one of the quickest parts of my creative process. I actually generate the final artwork quite quickly as the looseness and bold line are key in my artwork. Then the final stage of my artwork is scanning it, and cleaning it up on photoshop.
e: What was your path to publication?
Bethan:
My path to publication started on my illustration (BA) course at the Cambridge School of Art. My class were given a 6 week book project in the second year of our degree. The brief was quite loose, so we were encouraged to find a text, or a competition to give it some structure. I chose to make a book for the Macmillan Childrens Book Competition. I only had six weeks, so I didn’t have enough time to create my own story from scratch, so I used a pre-existing text, Little Red Riding Hood. I had never illustrated a story, nor illustrated for children, but I really enjoyed it! I submitted my picture book to the prize, and a little while later I was told that I had won the prize! I worked on Little Red with Macmillan on its journey to being published, which it finally was on the 24th March.
e: What is your favourite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Bethan:
I think the most challenging part of being a creator is having an ‘off’ day. As an illustrator you rely on your mind and hands to work together to create artwork, but sometimes that doesn't happen. It can be really frustrating to set aside time to illustrate and you just aren’t feeling very inspired! If I am ever suffering from a creative block like this, I have found the best thing is to go get inspired. Inspiration can come in all forms, but I like to go to museums or new exhibitions, as it really helps to go and learn about something new. Having enough ‘me’ time is important too, a lot of creatives juggle freelancing with other part time work. Although it’s really tempting to spend all of your spare time making things, you’ll run out of creative juice if you don’t have a movie day every once in a while!
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Bethan:
I think my definition of ‘Heart Art’ is about the relationship between the text and illustrations. The text gives us the story, but the images can be used to tell us more of the story and in a really exciting way. An example of this would be from Little Red:
      The text reads ‘And he made a plan’, but the illustration tells you more.
      I think this makes it more exciting for the reader, encouraging them to engage with the story and pick up the visual clues that complete the story. Sometimes these cues aren’t noticed at first, so the reader finds something new when they come back to read it again.

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22. Friday Linky List - 5 August 2016

At Muddy Colors: Jack Davis (1924-2016) with an interview with Stan Lee

From 99U: The Future of Design (and how to prepare for it)

From 99U: You're Never Too Young (or Old) to Mentor

From Studio With a View: Storytime in the Dome

From emu's debuts: Pat Zietlow Miller (Sophie's Squash) on It takes a village ... to write a book

From The Telegraph: The strange life of Beatrix Potter - how rabbits (and mushrooms) set her free

From 99U: The Braggart's Dilemma: How to Promote Yourself Without Being a Jerk

From Muddy Colors: Kinetic Sculpture - Gads, these are beautiful!

From Bottom Shelf Books: Willems Shakespeare presents: Hamlet (starring the Pigeon) (Mo Willem's Pigeon plays Hamlet)

From Minh Le Books: Hamilton: Now starring Elephant and Piggie

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23. Pre-Fringe in Edinburgh

It's August and that means FRINGE in Edinburgh. Don't know what FRINGE is? The official website says

" The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place every August for three weeks in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city.
      Every year thousands of performers take to hundreds of stages all over Edinburgh to present shows for every taste. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers, the festival caters for everyone and includes theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children's shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events.
      In 2015 there were 50,459 performances of 3,314 shows in 313 venues, making it the largest ever arts festival in the world.
     It also includes the Edinburgh International Book Festival and a whole host of street performers.
     You may recall, Stan and I went flat hunting in the middle of FRINGE last August, so this marks our one-year anniversary here. (And how we found our wonderful flat when nearly everything in the city is rented-out is beyond me!) While the festivals may be the bain to long-term residents of Edinburgh (who often use this time to rent out their homes and go on holiday), we are still enthralled by this magical event that brings over 2 million people to our humble home for one month.
     That said, the crowds will be daunting and overwhelming, so it was lovely to enjoy the new venue at St. Andrews Square before it gets crazy.
One of our fave local musicians, DaveBeMac was playing at the pop-up gin joint surrounding the monument. Click the image to hear him play slap guitar on YouTube.
Truly, we're looking forward to a month full of energy and entertainment when one of the best things to do in Edinburgh is just walk around and enjoy the sights, the sounds, the food, etc., etc., etc.!

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24. VIDEO: Freddie Koehler's HOW TO CHEER UP DAD

This is a fantastic book trailer for Freddie Koehler's HOW TO CHEER UP DAD - it looks to be a fantastic book as well! Click the image to watch on YouTube.

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25. Visitors and FRINGE - kick off!

An old college professor of Stan's, Charlotte Headrick, is visiting from Oregon State, where she just retired as head of the drama department there. Charlotte is passionate about all things theatre, which is why she had to come to FRINGE. So is her friend Hanns Hohmann of San Jose State University, who met her here. I have to admit, if it weren't for these two entertaining people, we would have missed out on some very cool performances.
      Saturday we began the day with Vivaldi for Breakfast. This was a short little musical about the very sad life of this amazing composer. Did you know that after creating over 500 pieces of music, and creating an all-girl orchestra, his reputation was ruined by an inquisitor for the Spanish church under suspicious causes? Vivaldi died penniless and broken and his music disappeared for 100 years until somebody noticed that Bach attributed one of his pieces to Vivaldi and he was rediscovered. Can you imagine our world without "The Four Seasons"? Gads.
     We had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Under the Stairs, where the play write, Matthew Spangler, and the star of the next performance we were to see, Benjamin Evett, joined us...
     The second performance, also written by Matthew, was Albatross. It's a commissioned reframing of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." It's a one man show and it is gripping. Be looking for it to travel off Broadway soon! I have a feeling this one is going UP.

     After the amazing show, the cast and crew gathered at Hotel du Vin Bistro for the official fall-apart party. What a fun event to be a part of! I met the most interesting people, from established actors, directors, writers, stage designers, lighting managers, you name it. There's a lot of people and work that go into any performance and I learned so much. What a hoot!

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