Michelle Forsyth Pin and Paper Project

In conjunction with the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum of Art at Hollins University, I did an art workshop for 7-12 year olds. The museum show is called Papercuts and there is a piece by Michelle Forsyth called February 4, 1999 that really appealed to me. She made it out of paper, watercolor, gouache, screenprint, felt, beads, pins.



To help my students get the idea of pixelating images into abstract patterns, I reduced the size of this chameleon to see if its essential shape and colors could still be discerned. 049_pics

lizardpixelatedI thought it might be fun to try something in her style and medium with children, so we decided to use paper disks and flowers punched from multi colored paint chips, sequins, and pins, pressed into foam core.pinning_1









pinning_2Every single piece was different and they were all charming and as intriguing as the original inspiration.Sadie_web





Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Part 2

When my sons were little my Mom-in-law, Jewell Russell, introduced me to The Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown.

Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, is an alumnus of Hollins University, where I now teach in the summer program.

I read the Noisy Book and the others in the series and they were delightful read alouds for little boys.

Baby Bear Counts One is MY Noisy Book.

The books opens with:

Deep down in the den

Baby Bear perks his furry ears.


“Mama, who woke me? he asks

“That is the woodpecker,” says Mama

“hunting beetles before winter comes.”

I have always loved the sound of a woodpecker, hammering away somewhere deep in the forest. Last fall I saw these freshly pecked holes not far from my Mom’s house. What a racket these must have been in the making!

Not to mention–a great deal of labor for the woodpecker.

Ash&Pileated_2_webMy first sketches are very small and rough. You can see the Woodpecker on this one in the upper right.outlined_1As the book progressed the woodpecker moved…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

BBCO4-5_weband got quite a bit bigger, or rather, closer to the viewer…BBCO_4-5_webThe linoleum block is in progress here. I printed it with black ink and painted it with watercolors.woodpecker_webAnd the finished print looked like this.BBCO4-5

Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Part 1

Making a book is a long road.  

The idea, the writing, the revisions, the further revisions, the submission, the offer, the contract, the negotiation, the signing, the dummies, the finishes, the year of waiting…

And it came to a satisfying, and timely, conclusion for me yesterday. 

I got my finished, bound book in the mail…BBCOFinishedBook-web

…along with a super sweet note from my editor, Andrea Welch, at Beach Lane Books

Every book begins somewhere and mine began visibly with the 1st dummy.

It will change enormously, but page 2-3 started out looking like this on my 1st thumbnail storyboard.


I enlarged that little thumbnail and experimented with adding the text.BBCO2-3-type

But the text seemed squashed so I shifted the bears around,


But now, to make the story fit, I had to leave space on page 2 for the copyright and dedication.


So the final composition sketch looked like this.


And the finished print like this!

But Can the Teacher Learn?

Before I began the MATS course I was fooling around with a wet, watercolor line infused with other colors from a loaded brush. I love this fish but have never tried a whole composition this way.

The white space is the appeal.



You can see how I used this line in these little houses…


And this butterfly and rabbit


So, when the assignment was to design a plate, I went for a folk art look, with a chocolate colored ground to make it seem appetizing! The design is old fashioned, though it involved a great deal of newly learned Photoshop  coloring and layering!

If I didn’t have the great good fortune of having Elizabeth Dulemba as a teaching colleague at Hollins, I’d never have been able to manage this level of digital prowess.


I continued to try and improve how I presented the whole package. Here is my final design.


Teaching…and trying to learn

I have seven, very talented writers in my class at Hollins this summer.

I am trying to teach them everything I know about conceiving, writing, revising, and revising, and tightening, and twisting, and revising yet again.

THEY are getting better every day.

As I have been teaching, I’ve also been taking an online course from Lilla Rogers: Making Art That Sells.

And, Oh, what a humbling and difficult road this has been. I realized immediately that my photoshop skills were dismal and needed a huge boost. My habit of trying out a new style for every new book really made decisions on which way to go on each assignment difficult.

And I realized I am not good at following directions at all!

Can the teacher learn?

I sure hope so.

The 1st assignment was to design bolt fabric using mushrooms and casserole dishes. Naturally, I did not follow directions very well and found the instructions for making a design that could repeat using Illustrator WAY too hard to learn.

So I painted mushrooms-which I have always been fascinated by…




and casseroles, which are less appealing…




and somehow  chickens demanded in.


This part reminded me of the good old days making fabric icons for Joe Boxer. I worked for them back when Nick and Denise still ran the place in San Francisco. My nickname was “The Queen of Cute.”

When I finally succeeded in putting together a jpeg file of the correct size and scale I was wrung out!

But I  had LEARNED! I was getting the idea of layers and I think there is some humor.

Let’s see what next week brings…