Monday, August 19, 2019

Mabel and Elky Ride the Orphan Train

Mabel & Elky is now with the printers. This new picture book published by the National Orphan Train Complex is due out in late October, early November. 

This story is based on the true story of a little girl and her toy elephant who rode a train from New York City to Missouri to find a new family as part of the Orphan Train Movement.

I've learned so much through this project: about the orphan train movement, the stories of the riders, about book production and increased my skills as an illustrator through hours and hours and hours of painting. : )

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Assignment - 25 Painted Paper Cards

    I've given myself an assignment to create 25 painted paper collage cards.

    I really like painted paper collages. I've been wanting to create some for awhile and finally started making them on my travels this past year. I use gouache and watercolor paints on whatever paper is handy: junk mail, receipts, papers from the past that can be recycled...anything. Sometimes, I put down a base of lines or designs first using ink, crayon, watercolor pastel, or pencil...basically anything that will make marks. I create stacks of painted paper. That process alone is so relaxing and satisfying.

   So far, I've finished 9 in my goal of 25. You should try fun.
   Here are a few of my finished pieces.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Behind the Book Workshops

   Late July and early August, I enjoyed working with Behind the Book as a teaching artist. I've worked with this wonderful nonprofit literacy organization since 2007 as a visiting author/illustrator. This summer, I added teaching artist to my resume with them. : )

I had the pleasure of working with students on art projects around the books they were reading and studying. The books and art projects included: I Am Yoga by Susan Verde inspired watercolor paintings; Something's Fishy by Kevin McCloskey inspired undersea mobiles; Sea Creatures from the Sky by Ricardo Cortes inspired deep sea water color, wax resist, sea salt paintings; My Mummy is an Engineer by Kerrine Bryan inspired assemblage sculptures; and The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi inspired mixed media collages.

   What a wonderful time! : )

Monday, July 1, 2019

June Workshops in Kansas

I had the pleasure of spending June at the Lawrence Arts Center in Lawrence, Kansas, where I lead multiple workshops that included: 3 weeks of Make a Play workshops with 1st - 4th grade creators who wrote plays, made costumes and props, designed and drew posters, and performed their own plays and songs. Each group and each performer was wonderful. They all worked so hard and shared their ideas and talents bravely. I also lead an Acting for Dancers Workshop with 14-19 year old dancers. I loved watching these people who move so beautifully understand that the energy, intention and emotion behind a dance are what makes it more engaging for the audience and the performer. They did great. And lastly, I had the honor of leading my Creative Courage workshop for staff of the Lawrence Arts Center. I think they appreciated and needed a workshop that allowed them to give themselves some attention...they work amazingly hard and are so lovely...I was happy to give them some tips on giving to themselves. : )

Thursday, July 26, 2018

NOTC President's Award

After traveling around this spring, I arrived home to a pile of mail that included a box which I believed to be a book ordered that I'd forgotten about.

What a nice surprise to open up the box and find a plaque from the National Orphan Train Complex. I had been honored to win this year's President's Award.

I believe in the work of the National Orphan Train Complex, Museum and Research Center. They are working to preserve the stories and artifacts of children who were sent on trains from big cities to rural areas in hopes they would find better lives.

I received the award for my work on writing and illustrating a picture book that is based on a little girl who made that orphan train journey.

The Orphan Train Complex commissioned me two years ago to work on this project and once I started reading the stories of orphan train riders, I fell in love with the project. I'm honored to be working to keep the stories of these children alive and to also have people thinking about how we honor those children by taking care of the children who need our help and care today.

To read the KNCK article about the National Orphan Train Complex President's Award Banquet, Dane G. Hansen Grant Award, and hear part of an interview they did with me, click here.

National Orphan Train Museum Celebration - June

I was honored this year to be part of the National Orphan Train Complex, Museum and Research Center's yearly celebration.

Two years ago, I began working with NOTC on a children's book based on a real little girl, Mabel, and her tin elephant, Elky. In the early 1900's, they rode the orphan train from New York to a new home in Missouri. Elky is now on display in the National Orphan Train Museum.

My presentation was on the book's process, the initial ideas, research, writing, drawing, rewriting, redrawing, over and over, sharing with peers for feedback, and continuing to edit and rewrite and redraw, etc.  I was delighted to able share the most recent draft of the book.

To read about this year's National Orphan Train Complex celebration and presentations, click here to read an article from the Concordia Blade Empire.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Watercolor Sketching

Recently, two of my friends, Sisavanh Phouthavong and Lizzy Rockwell, posted a series of watercolor sketches on their instagram accounts. I was so inspired that I went to Central Park with my friend, Mary Kay, and we did watercolor sketches.

There are no hard and fast rules to watercolor sketching. We found it helpful to set a timer for our first sketches, just so we would go for it and work to complete the paintings quickly. The more comfortable we got, the less we needed to be pressed with time.

You don't need fancy materials, just any watercolor paints you feel comfortable with and a small pad of watercolor paper. Let the adventure begin, set the timer or don't, just have fun and be free.

Here is a helpful website, I came across after writing about watercolor sketching: Andy Walker's Sketching Tips - Watercolor Sketching.