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It’s interesting to me how some ideas take time to marinate, while others click right away. The Halloween Circus concept came late last year after the Quest For The Ore Crystals. The story concept was entirely different at the time. After a while, the project went to the back burner until recently. Out of nowhere the genie hit me on the head and I scripted the first draft of Halloween Circus.
One of the fun parts for me is the creation of the cover of a new project. Who knows if this cover will stick or not, but it was enjoyable to work on. Check out the time-lapse video below and let me know your thoughts. Ciao.
Here’s the final image from this session:Add a Comment
(written between the 18th and 19th of February, 2015 in one straight sitting (a story written when time crosses midnight, is likely to have a few more strands and maybe bad words, than others)
Title: Sailor’s First Story (that you’ve heard, that is)
There are stories for the telling
and there are those which ain’t
– that’s what I’ve been told,
but I still can’t see no difference.
So I’ll throw a whole
flock of them at you
and you can decide
which is which.
I blows the stories out
as they come
– just as they come,
so sometimes there’s two middles,
or no end,
or even just three beginnings.
And if you want to know more about me
– well that’s definitely the one story
I know’s not worth telling.
All I give is my name
and that’s Sailor.
How dee doo?
Good I hope
and if not so,
spin three times,
blink at the sky
hard and long,
then think on this:
They called her Butterfly,
sometimes Terfly for short.
Not because of some airy, light beauty,
no, more because she’d never stop,
never alight in one damn place longer than a flea bite
(I’m telling of them fleas that bite for nanoseconds,
not thems others that grip on long and not be shaken
even on the brutalest fairground Waltzers).
And this goes for lovers too
– soon as some poor fret
had been dazzled by her shimmery
blizzards of soft words,
she’d be off with their hearts
and on to the next habitation
and over and over again.
Three a month. More.
Some say she’d never been held,
time-stopping slow and gentle,
s’why she’d never stay, get cosy
and ease into her self and surrounds.
Others say her old man’s bark,
– approx. three per minute – startled her so bad,
she couldn’t stop still for longer than
a third of a minute
(you see – now I know that last bit’s
dreadful storytelling for at least three reasons,
but it came out that way,
puffed out crooked.
And now it’s out there,
there it stays.
them’s the rules).
Terfly had more skills and talents than
an army of circuses and every single one in them,
including the animals.
It’s easier to tell
what she couldn’t do.
And that’s cook, sew and clean.
But the others
she’d do so well,
there was always and every
wherever she landed.
So that suited
her flit-flight nature.
Now that’s a long beginning.
And we ain’t yet got no middle
and certainly no inkling of an ending.
I’m never sure what’s its shape
when it’s coming out.
This one feels like a two middler,
so hold your horses
(and don’t forgets to give thems a sugar,
or apple, and tell thems they the best.
And anyone else hanging round
as long as them’s deserving.
Respect’s earnt, you know that, right?
There’s no respecting no one who ain’t worthy of that respect, thems like a barking-three-times-per-minute Pa, or a cold-heart Ma with no soft in her arms for snuggling and comfort).
Here’s the two middles.
1) Terfly falls in love for the first time
with SkyLock, a cloud-tenter
(thems that make the hovering, giant bauble things for circuses – look just like bubbles, but there’s windows and seats so folks can get a good look from all angles – and you have to be trained for hundreds of years, so easy it is to get it wrong and have families flying they won’t have you back, that particular habitation).
2) SkyLock’s heard her reputation
and builds a special cloud-tent
– sets out backwards to make one
that goes against all the training
– one that will take them away, away,
keeps her with him,
no flit-flighting this one no more.
Now here’s the thing.
He’s not liking that there’s no cooking, cleaning, sewing
– he’d made this cloud-tent fixed up to the nines with all the latest a chief chef could desire
but all she does, Terfly, is fret
– fret so loudly, wolves can hear her
twenty one summers away.
SkyLock regrets keeping her
– useless he thinks
and barks for the third time that minute.
Now. He knows well
there’s no ties for her
– no family wanting and wishing and missing her soft heart,
or sweet song, or tip-tap dancing so mesmerising
you can’t do for anything after, just gaze long-lost into nothing.
So he shoves her out
cruel as war,
shoves her out, barking every bad a sailor’s ever heard
and that’s the baddest bad ever of all. And then three times more.
Okay, but here’s the thing
(and I think this might be something of an ending,
or is it another beginning?
Who know, who cares,
I’m puffing hard and fast now,
couldn’t stop if you corked my straw).
Sudden, Terfly discovers
she’s got a skill she never knew:
she can fly! Well, more like a kind of flitty-swooshing
(have you watched a feather fall lately?
If not, do. it gives you the answer to everything.
So she’s flitty-swooshing,
soft and grinning, singing free
She scoffs love.
Maybe that’s why Pa barked
and Ma was ice-cold
– maybe that’s what love does.
But no sooner this sad thought’s out there,
almost like it’s visible or something,
there’s this creature – a humale kinda,
but his legs joined like a merman
and fins as well as arms, but ohhhh, so handsome,
just thinking of him I’m getting half-lid dream-eyes.
He catches her
(she ain’t quite mastered all them sky-diving tricks yet).
And holds her long…
And holds her soft…
And holds her gentle…
her cheek finds his upper arm
– it feels good enough she cries,
fist time ever. And he brushes and strokes
her hairs and head and that little tiny bit
where somes of us can grow bristle-hairs.
And she’s thinking:
no, this is love.
This is DEFINITELY love.
This is something all shades of new,
new as flying,
new as tomorrow’s sunrise,
new as the butterflies
beneath my tum-button
and she stays absolutely mushy-soft-still
in that place
for longer than all the time
she’s been on this god-forsaken land.
That’s the first.
Will you stay for more?
They come plenty.
Long as there’s ears and eyes.
I also like, every now and then,
the odd pat and smile,
or treat, you know
– that little something that says
I’m here and that’s
not too much hell of a thing…
PS: Shhhh. This next bit’s not for sharing:
That’s me, typing up the words.
I love this little feller that came into my life as a surprise gift from the cafe owner where I sit painting pigeons and other all-kinds-of-odd most days. I think he’s seen me drooling over it every time I get a new napkin to wipe brushes. There’s something just so sweet, funny and compelling about him – can’t put my finger on it, but I’m so glad he’s landed in my life.
I’m to bed now. I pat Sailor, pass him a sugar. Tell him he’s lovely.
He grins. I nod and grins back :-).
PSS: I’ve found out Sailor likely came from the HMS Warwick Castle, biggest navy ship in both wars – went down in 1944, with Lucky Lady, a small ship, sailing out to help any survivors.
Here are a few more of my early illustrations, moving between whimsical and more realistic.
I love the seven books my panel selected as the finalists for YA Speculative Fiction. I'm really proud of our shortlist as a representation of the best YA Spec Fic books of 2014. However, there are always the ones that got away, the ones that didn't quite make it. When seven people are deliberating, compromises have to be made, and sometimes, no matter how passionate you are about a book, you can't convince your fellow judges. Here are some of the 2014 Cybils nominees that I loved, but which didn't make the cut as finalists:
Divided We Fall Trilogy: Book 1: Divided We Fall
This is a frighteningly believable book about a near-future conflict between a state and the Federal Government, with the National Guard caught in the middle. Exciting plot, credible and distinctive teen male voice, and well-developed protagonist.
5 Stars Meet Chanda. She is the catalyst for today’s review of Chained, a smart, well-written, and engrossing novel by Lynne Kelly. Chanda is a young girl bitten by fever mosquitoes and now carries a dangerously high temperature. She needs medical help now. With the help of a neighbor, Amma, her mother, takes Chanda to [...]Add a Comment
This was resized in my Studio for the MINIATURE / CIRCUS / CAROUSEL / LOVER.
Handmade in my studio. The Artwork is from an Antique print.
French Circus Carousel Miniature
• The expression image d'Épinal has become proverbial in French and refers to an emphatically traditionalist and naïve depiction of something, showing only its good aspects. Info sourcs- wikapedia
• Épinal prints were prints on popular subjects rendered in bright sharp colours, sold in France in the 19th Century. They owe their name to the fact that the first publisher of such images — Jean-Charles Pellerin — having been born in Épinal, named the printing house he founded in 1796
It took over 2 days for me to print, cut and assemble.
Each tiny Circus figure is carefully cut and assembled to the interior wheel.
• THe small one is 4-1/2"" High x 2" diameter base
• Working mechanical.
• The inner carousel rotates clockwise as the viewer turns the bead on the top.
• Each CIrcus performer is cut out separately and glued into place on the wheel that rotates.
• The center post is wood, the topper is a dimensional AB plastic crystal bead with the very top being a gold colored bead -all the rest of the Carousel is of cardstock paper.
• Reproduction of a paper toy.
• The coloring may vary from the original Antique print and shades shown here.
4 Stars Chasing Watermelons Kevin White Rex White 32 Pages Ages: 3 to 6 ……………… Press Release: When Duck opens a crate of watermelons for a watermelon feast, they begin to roll. Duck chases after them. One by one, Duck invites Goat, Pig, Chicken, and Cow to join the chase by promising, “If you help, [...]Add a Comment
3 Stars Autobiography of a Duck John Arnold 36 Pages Ages: 7 and up …………. Autobiography of a Duck is just that, the life of one Pekin Duck, not a chick, as told by the duck. Duck hatched and then lived with his siblings and his mother on a farm. Then one day, some humans [...]Add a Comment
Ich habe vor ein paar Tagen ein paar ältere Skizzen für ein Klappbilderbuch wiedergefunden, das leider bis heute nie verwirklicht wurde.
to be continued…
.. The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond Oliver Jeffers, illustrator Candlewick Press 4 Stars Inside Jacket: Since all the jobs on the quayside disappeared, Stan’s Uncle Ernie has developed an extraordinary fascination with canning fish. Overnight, life at 69 Fish Quay Lane has turned barmy. But when Uncle Ernie’s madcap obsession takes …Add a Comment
. . . . . . . PEACHTREE BOOK BLOG TOUR Claude at the Circus By Alex T. Smith Peachtree Publishers 5 Stars . Back Cover: Meet Claude. He’s no ordinary dog—he leads an extraordinary life! When his owners leave for the countryside, Claude decides what adventure he will have. What will happen today? Opening: …Add a Comment
In this day and age where there are fewer and fewer independent bookshops, some of the most exciting bricks-and-mortar places for discovering new children’s books are the shops in museums and art galleries.
Whilst they may not carry a huge range of stock, they often have quirky, unusual books which would never make it to the surface on the shelves in a highstreet chain bookshop. Two recent publications by Princeton Architectural Press are prime examples of the sort of books I mean: Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso, both by Patricia Geis, are part of a stylish, new and playful Meet the Artist! series which I really like.
Alexander Calder contains a simple biography of the artist’s life and then focuses on several of Calder’s recurrent or particularly important themes or pieces. We learn about his love of making toys, his circus, wire sculptures, mobiles/stabiles and what my kids instantly recognised as what they call “junk modelling”, but which is here referred to as sculpture out of “found objects”. So far, so fairly normal for a non-fiction book about an artist.
But this book is not like your average artist biography because it is full of surprises. There is pop-up bunting, a length of metal chain to play with, press out card toy reproductions, flaps, string and cut-outs. This book is about really engaging with Calder’s art, not just looking at it, but doing it, and viewing it from all angles.
To describe this as a “novelty” book would be unfair, as that label often carries the connotations of cheap gimmickry. Here the physicality of the book engages the reader in a way that I think gives valuable insight into the artist: this book is playful and unconventional, just as Calder was.
The Pablo Picasso volume is equally design conscious, with short pieces of text and white expanses left around the crisp reproductions of Picasso’s art so that they really stand out. The pop-ups are not quite as successful in this volume; sculpture, inherently 3-D, is simply more exciting when it pops up off the page than a reproduction of a flat painting, even with clever use of stands and frames.
Whilst these books might not be favoured in public libraries, with all their moving and loose parts being unlikely to stand up to masses of (quite rightly) active reading, I love how they are a stepping stone to encouraging self-expression (“If a famous artist can sculpt with clothes pegs, then I can try that too!”) and through that, self confidence. Non-Fiction book aren’t just about learning facts!
Alexander Calder‘s Circus is one of his most famous pieces of art and so my girls decided to create their own version. First up M made some bunting out of paint chips. She folded them in half, and then cut out a triangle that she folded over a length of string and held in place with a glue dot.
For our circus artists we downloaded, printed and coloured this great circus set from Made by Joel and made further unusual attractions out of corks and jewellery wire (in the spirit of Calder’s wire sculptures and found objects sculptures).
Watch out for our terrifying circus lions!
Whilst making our circus and then playing with it we listened to:
Other activities you might be inspired to get up to having read the Alexander Calder Meet the Artist! book include:
A third book in the Meet the Artist! series is planned for the Autumn of 2014: Henri Matisse will be the subject of the new volume and I’m certainly looking forward to it.