Sleep

It’s late November here in Vermont ~ the time of year for hibernation.

Who hibernates? Bats, Bears,skunks, bees, snakes, and groundhogs to name a few.

Since moving from a mild California climate to the stricter seasonal progression of northern New England, I’ve become much more sympathetic to the concept of hibernation!

BBCO40:revision

On the last day of Baby Bear Counts One, Mama and Baby Bear are ready to curl up and sleep the winter away.

Showing the process of sleeping is relatively easy, but showing dreaming was a challenge in Only The Cat Saw.  When I was a child I often dreamed of being near the ocean or swimming when I really needed to get up to urinate!

hollysleeping

Enter a caption

Holly Taylor modeled as the sleeping Amy, way back in 1984

pages16_17

Amy, dreaming in Only The Cat Saw. Acrylic on paper

Of course, we sleep all year long, and humans enjoy it as much as animals. Mostly sleep happens when it is too dark to draw, but sometimes a nap overtakes us, and when it does I seize that moment of daylight stillness to draw.

Since the late 70s I’ve drawn people and creatures I love while they were sleeping.

Here is a selection.

Perisick1978web

watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine, asleep on the couch after wisdom tooth removal..

Periasleepweb

watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine.

rowan2006web

this drawing of Rowan reminds me of Amy’s pose. Colored pencil on brown paper

Nappingweb

Brennan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper

rowansleeping-08:web

Rowan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sabin, asleep. Marker on brown paper.

sunbathweb

Tula napping. Watercolor on brown paper

Cat sleeping page

Nutkin, sleeping. Acrylic on paper.

wildridgekittenweb

Wildridge kitten, sleeping. Gouache on brown paper.

Snow!

As a Vermont Girl, I know my snow.

I’ve been figuring out ways to draw and paint snow, in all its shapes and forms, my entire life.

skaters:web

There are lots of kinds of snow.

The 1st snows of autumn, that slowly cover the still-green grass, frost bitten plants, and leaf strewn ground.

December snows, that slowly fill up the woods~until we trudge through it to find a perfect Christmas tree,

Or February snow, deep and light enough to race a sled through,

Or use as a smooth, white, picnic blanket for the birds.

December:web
A Year of Birds

I’ve painted snow as the natural habitat for Polar Bears,

And gray wolves.

And painted it in totally unexpected places, like a usually sunny day in Jamaica!

I’ve sat in my car and drawn a snowy scene from life.

And I ended my new book, Baby Bear Counts One, with 10, big snowflakes, falling slowly enough for a surprised bear cub to count them.

But turn the page and watch as the snow picks up, swirling in curtains across the mouth of the den,

And finally, the flakes are falling so fast that there are…

page40_web
Baby Bear Counts One

Too many to count!

If you enjoyed this post, please like Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, visit my webpage here, my Etsy shop, or follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Gobble, gobble, gobble

When I was young I used to find a thicket of these in my neighborhood, sit in the shadow of the vines, and eat grapes.

These are tiny and tart, but the intense grape taste makes them delectable.

grapes

We called them “Fox Grapes,” According to Wikipedia:  There is ample evidence that the labrusca was growing wild in North America centuries before the Europeans discovered the continent.

If a wild grape is growing, a turkey is going to find it.

wildturkey
turkeymale

And bears will follow…

BBCO18-19:small
BBCO20-21:small

Surprise!

Baby Bear Counts One-Publishing Day!

BabyBearCountsOne:web

Baby Bear and his patient Mama are back,

and now it is autumn in their forest home.  As baby bear counts from one to ten the weather grows colder. Like all the other animals in the woods, the bears are alert to signs of winter coming.

Walking in the woods this morning with my new MerryMakers plush bear cub, I saw signs that the season is changing everywhere I looked.

The ferns are turning yellow.

ferns:web

The fall flowers are blooming

BBToy_7:web

The acorns are ripe and falling from the tree.

BBToy_3:web

And the leaves are turning color.

Can winter be far behind?BBToy_1:web

Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Part 4

Bears are great climbers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Look at those claws!

Two cubs were orphaned when their mother was killed by a truck. They were  brought to the office of Oregon’s State Wildlife Veterinarian, Dr. Colin Gillin, where I was able to videotape them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bears climb trees to escape danger and to find food.

My cub climbed the tree to confront two squirrels

BBCO8-9 copy

My 1st sketch didn’t have him in the tree  so I revised to show him climbing.

BBCO8-9

But the perspective seemed weird, for both the bear and the squirrels, so I revised again.

BBCO8-9

And then again, to show the cub’s whole body.

BBCO_8-9

Finally I was able to carve the block…

2Squirrelsblock:web

Print it and paint it.

BBCO8-9:small

Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Part 3

There is not a tree I hate.

There are quite a few I am neutral about and many I really admire and look up to.

There are a handful I love.

I love oaks.

I grew up with the deciduous Eastern white and red oaks and came to love Yosemite’s Black Oaks, and California Live Oaks too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut my favorite oak, a very old oak, is growing in a park with other oaks in Corvallis, Oregon. It is my model for the tree in this spread.S&Rwalking:web

OregonoakHer branches reached out horizontally, twisting and swathed in mosses and lichen.BBSB10-11floppedShe first appeared in Baby Bear Sees Blue, when the cub sees green.Now she is back in Baby Bear counts one, full of ripe acorns that are filling the coffers of two rambunctious squirrels.BBCO6-7.1webI started my thinking with a close up view.

BBCO6-7Then pulled the focus out and assumed a lower point of view.

dummy.6-7webThen I decided to pull out completely to show the ground beneath them AND the spreading oak.

dummy6-7.2webIf you look carefully you’ll see sign of a retreating squirrel.

BBCO_6-7
BBCO6-7-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.

Thockthockthockthockthock!

“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

The Next Big Thing Blog Tour

According to Eric A. Kimmel:”The Next Big Thing is an author blog tour. What’s a blog tour? A blog tour gives those on the tour a chance to meet different authors by way of their blogs. The Next Big Thing began in Australia. Each week a different author answers specific questions about his or her upcoming book. The answers are posted on authors’s blogs. Then we get to tag another author. On and on it goes. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Next Big Thing went around the world a couple of times.”

The next Big Thing for me is Baby Bear Counts One.

I hope bears can hop, because this is my 1st “blog hop” posting on what is still a “baby” blog.

I was 1st tagged for this by my Hollins friend, Jan Godown Annino, invited me to write a post that addressed this specific set of questions. She wrote about her book about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, still in progress.

My Author/Illustrator friend, Nina Laden, tagged me the 2nd time. She wrote about her new poem picture book: Once Upon a Memory. She was tagged by Eric A. Kimmel, who wrote about his new fractured fairy tale: Little Red Hot, a chili totin’ Red Riding hood straight from Texas!

I’m going to write about a book that is already finished, but not yet pubbed.

What is the working title?

The working title of my coming book is also the final title: Baby Bear Counts One.

The cover image, minus type looks like this:

BBCOJacketfront:small

Along the way I toyed with changing it to Baby Bear Counts Two, so as to rhyme with Baby Bear Sees Blue, but eventually lost the urge to be too cute. Two being such a versatile word, some suggested calling it Baby Bear Counts, Too.
Where did the idea come from for the book?

I got the idea after publishing Baby Bear Sees Blue. This cub seemed endlessly curious, so I wondered how he’d react when confronted with multiple animals preparing for winter.

I DO know that bears, unlike dogs, can see colors and there is scientific evidence that they can count too!
What genre does your book fall under?

This book, like all my books, is a picture book. These pictures are done using linoleum blocks, printed with black ink on Arches Cover paper, which are then painted with gouache.

The unprinted blocks look like this:

image

Most of these blocks were carved and printed at Hollins University where I teach in a fabulous Summer Certificate Program. If you want to take your illustration skills to the next level in a highly creative and fun learning environment, check out Hollins.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

If there were ever an animated movie of Baby Bear, (and I can’t imagine this, since there is no possibility of a chase scene,) I’d choose Meryl Streep to play Mama Bear and some young actor with a little growl in the voice to play Baby.

image

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

As winter approaches, Mother and Baby Bear search for food, while noticing all the other animals doing the same.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

If I have a good idea, a 1st draft can be fast. What is slow are the hundreds of revisions that follow. That being said, as the author AND illustrator, the pictures are what really take the time!
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Baby Bear Counts One and its predecessor: Baby Bear Sees Blue, both owe a huge debt to my favorite book from childhood: Blueberries for Sal.

image

image

I was way more interested in the bears than I was in Sal and her Mother, though I looked just like Sal as a kid!

image

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Life works in mysterious ways. I was working through multiple problems on a different project, one stage of which involved researching and drawing bear cubs. I kept the page of sketches on my wall and it, along with other visual alchemy, eventually inspired Baby Bear Sees Blue.

A true “silver lining” story.

Now I get to tag an author and I choose my dear friend Christy Hale; an extraordinarily talented author, illustrator and teacher.