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Viewing Blog: johannawright.com: Latest News, Most Recent at Top
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What's new with author/illustrator Johanna Wright
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1. Happy 2015

I think your ship is coming in....I really do. 

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2. Crafty Wonderland

Crafty Wonderland this weekend! I'll be in booth 234 from 11-6, Saturday and Sunday at the Oregon Convention Center. I'll have prints, books, and originals for sale. Would love to see you!

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3. Thanksgiving

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4. Halloween Mice

It's official. Halloween is my favorite holiday! I love everything about it..the crafts, the songs, the cozy baking projects. And you know, the candy of course. Yumz. 

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5. Hanna Andersson Giveaway

Hope you're having a lovely September!

A quick note to let you all know that there is a giveaway and an interview with yours truly on the Hanna Andersson blog right now. You can win Tiny Duet (a 24" x 24" original acrylic painting, pictured above) along with a signed copy of my new book, The Orchestra Pit, and some HA pajamas!

Scoot on over to the HA blog for details. The giveaway runs through September 16th.

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6. The Orchestra Pit

It's nearly here! My new book, The Orchestra Pit, will be released into the wild on August 19th! If you're in the Portland, Oregon area, come celebrate with us on the 19th at Green Bean Books at 11am. It's a free event and everyone is welcome! 

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7. Writing Process Blog Tour

The lovely Susan Boase asked me to participate in the author/illustrator Writing Process Blog tour , a series of blog posts where folks answer the same questions about process and projects. It's a fun way to peek into the brains and studios of illustrators and authors.

Susan is an incredibly gifted author and illustrator living here in Portland. Her beautiful and moving picture book Lucky Boy, was a 2004 KIND Picture Book Recipient. The Three Robbers is a well worn favorite around our house. My three year old requests it often!

Alrighty, onward. The questions!

What are you currently working on?

I'm in a fun creative place right now...no major deadlines. My brain is free to roam wherever it would like. On my desk right this minute I have two picture book ideas that I've been tinkering with, and a middle grade novel. I'm also getting ready for the release of The Orchestra Pit (Neal Porter, Roaring Brook) on August 19th, and excited for Book 1, Friendship Over, The Top Secret Diary of Celie Valentine (written by Julie Sternberg, Boyds Mills Press) to come out in the fall. 

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I love to illustrate and write stories that incorporate coziness, family, and nature. They're themes that I seek out in life and in books. I use warm colors, paint on canvas, and add a lot of layers of paint to create different textures. 

Why do you write what you write?

You know the part in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when ordinary people start obsessing over that mountain, and they can't stop making art about it? That's how I feel when I have a new story idea. I tend to fixate on different topics, until I hash out a story about them. It happened with circuses. It happened with orchestras. It happened with bunnies. In fact, the main character in the Bunnies on Ice is obsessed with ice skating. She can't stop thinking about it! I can relate. 

How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?

With The Orchestra Pit, I knew that I wanted to make a book that highlighted every instrument in an orchestra,  but I was wrestling with how to make it work. And then one day I was watching the Portland Cello Project perform, and it kind of came at me with a whoosh. What if a snake accidentally slithered into an Orchestra Pit, rather than a snake pit? 

When a story idea starts to take form like that, I'll go straight to painting, and hash out a few ideas. I love to paint so this is the best method for me to get to the heart of an idea. When I have a few paintings done, and the general feeling in place, I'll work on the text.

With a picture book, I try to keep the text as simple as possible. I will write and re-write until the text is as minimal as I can bear.

When I've hashed out the text and worked on the rhythm and pacing of the story, then I'll move forward to the dreaded thumbnail and dummy making stage. I say dreaded, because I loathe sketching. I just love paint and color so much, that sketching has always felt limiting and constrictive. Until now... 

This year I started doing some dummy and thumbnail sketching in a new way, using an app and a stylus from Paper 53. It's changing everything for me, and most importantly, making drawing fun again! It's ridiculously intuitive, even for someone like me who has never drawn digitally. 

Here's a jacket sketch for a dummy I'm hashing out this week, done with Paper 53. I'm able to play with colors and layers in a really easy way, so that when I get to painting, I know exactly the feeling that I'm going for, and a rough map of how to get there.

Once the dummy is done, I move on to working on canvas. I transfer my sketches using transfer paper and add layers of acrylic paint. You can watch a little video of my painting process, right here

Who am I tagging?

 

I'm tagging the lovely Leda Schubert, a talented author living in Vermont that I hope to meet in person one day. Leda has authored many books, including The Princess of Borscht and Monsieur Marceau, which won the Orbis Pictus Award for outstanding non-fiction. Leda has a new book coming out with Neal Porter about Pete Seeger. Can't wait for that! 

 

 

Aileen Leijten

I first met Aileen years ago, when we were both living in Brooklyn, NY. She's illustrated Bella and Bean and City Hall, The Heart of Los Angeles and written and illustrated The Hugging Hour.  I remember pouring over Bella and Bean when it first came out. Gorgeous stuff. Her illustrations and storytelling appeal to the young and old, warm and full of quiet humor. I also swoon over her three dimensional creations on etsy. Can't wait to hear more about Aileen's upcoming book project. Check in with Aileen and Leda next week!

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8. Free

 

I had a dream last night that I was in jail. It was a fine jail, barely even recognizable as a jail. Kind of like a little apartment or a dorm room.

But after awhile I was feeling angry and lonely in there. I wandered around, touching the walls until I realized the door was open. How long had it been open? Could I just walk out

When I woke up I thought for a long while about what that jail could be. 

The answer wasn’t even subtle...write that book. Write that book!

Since I was about 8 or 9, I’ve been obsessed with reading and writing middle grade books. I’ve had a couple of story ideas bumping around in my head for years and years. My first attempt at writing one was way back in New York, when I took a class through Gotham. That was probably 12 years ago. And you know what? The idea that I was working with back then, it’s still the same idea that I want to finish, today. Sigh.

In the past, my best attempts at getting this story out of me, have happened in wheezy spurts, when I felt inspired or had the time. But over the years of going to SCBWI conferences, chatting with writers and reading books about writing, I’ve heard one thing over and over. Make a routine, put your butt in a chair and write, (preferably at the same time, every day.) That’s how you finish a book.

“Hurumph” says the me that’s just fine with sitting in my tiny apartment jail. “I don’t have time for that.”

Which is entirely true. And not true.  I can find the time.  I want to make time. I want to walk right out of my little cell, even though what’s beyond it is mysterious and daunting and hard. The door is open, after all....

Which leads me to wonder...

Do you have a jail?

Is there a creative inkling that you’ve been brushing off?  Something that seems too BIG, too shiny, too scary to attempt, but just won’t leave you alone? 


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9. Loving Kindness Series

Hello friends,

I'm working on a Loving Kindness series this month, (may you be happy, may you peaceful, may you be free). I hope to have these available as prints  at the end of the month, so feel free to check my webby-site or FB page for updates.

Big love to all this May!

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10. Secret Circus Craft Project

There's an amazing craft tutorial based on The Secret Circus, featured this week on Princeton University's Pop Goes the Page. So sweet! Can't wait to try it out with some wee ones. You can check it out right here.

(photo courtesy of Pop Goes the Page.)

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11. spring happenings

 

I feel like a cavewoman every time I sit down to write a blog post these days. A hurried little moment around baby naps and between 3 year old projects. ME LIKE SPRING, I bang out with the my cavewoman fingers. ME LIKE TO MAKE STUFF, BEEN BUSY. Then my brain bounces off to bounce a baby or glue a bunch of stuff with a three year old and the next full thought I have happens late at night, when the house is quiet, and all thoughts are so jumbled together, they're spilling over each other to get outside and into the cool spring air.

But I really like this life. I'm excited about the new art and kid and book things that are swirling around, jockeying for a place in the day. I like how things are changing and transforming, all of the time. Also, ME LIKE YOU. 

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12. Forest Friends

There's nothing like finding your friends in the middle of the dark dark woods, and singing a song that you've always meant to sing...

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13. Go Free

Running free, going forward. Love all around....

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14. Willows

New green leaves, new days....weeping willows. Spring and blooms and sweet air...

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15. Wild Garden...

Plotting and planning. Fresh starts, new seeds. Wild dreams...

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16. CELIE


Been busy working on interior sketches for THE TOP SECRET DIARY of CELIE VALENTINE by Julie Sternberg, (Boyds Mill Press, Fall 2014). So excited about this book!

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17. Dreaming and Scheming

Do you ever have times where you feel like you're bursting with some kind of elusive creative energy? Where it actually feels like something might just spark from your body, but you don't know what it is? I get that sometimes. A kind of intangible longing. A need to create something that I'm not even certain about.

Maybe I have this arty antsy feeling right now because it's wintertime. Or maybe, after months of pregnancy and sleeplessness, life is getting easier, and I have more energy to spare. Whatever it is, I'm trying to make the space to dream and scheme. To let out, whatever needs to get out, even if it's in a messy tangle...

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18. Thank you!

Thank you, Portland for an amazing craft fair season! We had a blast at Crafty Wonderland this weekend. I think around 15,000 of you came out to buy handmade. Awesome! 

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19. New Ideas...

Happy summer!

Busy around here...nesting, adventures, and working on new story ideas...

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20. mail

These days, I'm lucky enough to get a lot of great fan letters, drawings, and questions from kids all over the world, like this super cool report! I especially love the mousey drawings at the top, so great.

I love getting mail, it really makes my day. Thank you all, for sending. I try to write back as soon as I can. Keep it coming!

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21. Crafty Wonderland

Thanks to all for coming out last weekend to the Laurelhurst Winter Bazaar. So fun! Now onto Crafty Wonderland this weekend, booth 43. Hope to see you there!

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22. Laurelhurst Winter Bazaar

I'll be vending at this event on Sunday, with cards, prints, books, mini paintings, and large (!!!) originals on super sale. Come early if you'd like an original. Hope to see you!

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23. Introducing...

Er...hi. Is this thing on? Man, I kind of disappeared from computer world. Just got caught up in a few things, like growing this beh-beh! 

And now he's here. Six weeks old already! Our little Billy Bird, (aka William Robin.) He's pretty incredible. Our little family has grown, and it's been as hectic and transformative and beautiful and mulchy and weird and wonderful as you might imagine it to be.

Other awesome non-kid-related things have been happening too. Arty things. Bookish things. Too many to list....or should I? I do love lists. Maybe another day. Today is just for waving a shy hello to the kind peeps who still pop in here from time to time. I'm still around! And I'm really happy to be here. More soon...

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24. New Ideas...

Happy summer!

Busy around here...nesting, adventures, and working on new story ideas...

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25. mail

These days, I'm lucky enough to get a lot of great fan letters, drawings, and questions from kids all over the world, like this super cool report! I especially love the mousey drawings at the top, so great.

I love getting mail, it really makes my day. Thank you all, for sending. I try to write back as soon as I can. Keep it coming!

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