After a long Vermont winter we all get a little blue.
We all need to get outside! We need to leave our coats and hats and boots behind. We need to wear sneakers, ride bikes, see some green, roll in the grass, play ball, ride a pony and dig in the garden. Spring fever is a real thing!
I recently visited the kindergartners at Orwell Village School and talked about writing and art, filling your page and adding detail. They must have soaked it all in–like spring sunshine. Today I received this video, made with the help of their wonderful teacher Josh Martin:
I’ve been admiring the work of printmakers since I was a small girl and this summer’s project emulates three people whose work has influenced me. I’ve been collecting samples of the work of Andrea Lauren lately. She does small, two color prints using two separate blocks.
Andrea uses two separate blocks and prints one over the other.
You could cut a block into more pieces as well and ink each piece separately. That’s what Woody Jackson did early in his career when he started cutting up zinc etching plates, inking each piece, and putting them back together like puzzles before printing.
I’ve loved Mary Azarian’s work since I was a teenager. Her hand-colored woodcuts of Vermont scenes and her illustrated books influenced my illustration work enormously.
I am teaching at Hollins University again this summer-this time I designed a course called Printmaking for Illustration. To make a sample for my students I used all three of my printmaking idols as inspiration.
My new puppy Rufus has a foxy look similar to Andrea’s print, so I chose one of the dozens of reference photos I have and started designing my own two color linocut.
I decided to use one block and cut it apart into two pieces-Woody Jackson style-right around Rufus. That made getting perfect registration a breeze.
I start by coating the “inside” cut-out of Rufus in black ink with a rubber brayer.
Then I mixed a yellow and a dark green and used them both to ink the grasses on the “outside” block. Sometimes the two colors mixed on the brayer, but I didn’t care-I wanted each print to be one of a kind.
I placed both parts of the inked up block into a custom cut cardboard jig, or frame, to hold them steady, then laid my paper on top.
To make a print I’m merely rubbing the back of the paper firmly with an ordinary wooden spoon. I keep it fairly parallel to the paper so that it presses evenly and doesn’t rip this delicate sheet.
I made a small edition of 20 prints using 2 colors of oil based ink.
When these are dry I’ll hand color each one with watercolors, making them truly one of a kind, just like Mary Azarian does.
Three printmakers-four counting me-all different but with so much in common!
along with this amazing company: Kwame Alexander, Kevan Atteberry, Phil Bildner, Elizabeth Bluemle, Alyssa Satin Capucilli, Laura Gehl, Matthew Cordell, Pat Cummings, Doug Cushman, Erzsi Deak, Josh Funk, Marita Gentry, Paul Hankins, Verla Kay, Lester Laminack, Minh Le, Adam Lehrhaupt, Sylvia Liu, Ralph Masiello, Laura Lowman Murray, Carmen Oliver, Todd Parr, John Parra, Jan Peck, Alexandra Penfold, Jeanie Ransome, Isabel Roxas, Jodell Sadler, and Andrea Pinkney.
In company with these friends and fellow creators, I’ve been invited to speak my mind about the importance of Picture Books.
On my day the theme is School! My PiBoMo essay isn’t about school-it’s about risk taking.
But I have plenty of thoughts about school too, since I’m probably best known for illustrating books by Joseph Slate about a talented kindergarten teacher named Miss Bindergarten, based on my 1st border collie Pumpkin.
It’s always been easy to be enthusiastic about the kindergarten year of school.
I believe it is where a child learns to love school-a good year can set the stage for a great school career– a bad one can make a child wary.
While illustrating these books I studied the traditions and common elements of modern kindergarten very closely, which led me to wonder how long kindergarten, as we know it, has been an institution.
It was created by the German born Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) Kindergarten in Froebel’s vision meant both ‘a garden for children’, where children meet with environment and also ‘a garden of children’, where they play together and express themselves in a smaller garden world by means of play with their age group.
He believed that “children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers.”
My dad, born in Germany in 1916, carried a leather “rucksack” on his 1st day of school.
His class of 19 appears to have all the same kids you remember: the Class Clown, little Miss Goody-Two-Shoes, Mister Hyperactive, the Inseparable Buddies and the Teacher’s Pet.
Kindergarten was a great idea and spread around the world, including to the US in the 1850s.
I went to Mary Hogan Elementary School about 100+ years later. My teacher’s name was Miss Vondle. Kindergarten is so important in a child’s life that I bet most people can remember the name of their teacher.
My sons went in the 1990s.
My, how many things have changed, and how many stay the same!