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!
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!
Enter a caption
Holly Taylor modeled as the sleeping Amy, way back in 1984
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.
watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine, asleep on the couch after wisdom tooth removal..
watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine.
this drawing of Rowan reminds me of Amy’s pose. Colored pencil on brown paper
Brennan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper
Rowan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper.
Sabin, asleep. Marker on brown paper.
Tula napping. Watercolor on brown paper
Nutkin, sleeping. Acrylic on paper.
Wildridge kitten, sleeping. Gouache on brown paper.
In my recent move I unearthed the original sketches so I thought I’d update with a process post.
The full size sketch of the front, done in colored pencil.
My first Advent Calendars were completely handmade: cover image printed and hand-colored, window openings cut with a knife, window images printed and colored–all somehow fastened together to make a functioning calendar.
the original 1983 calendar, given to Charlene Smith, and kept framed and displayed all year round. This one is less colorful a bit more austere.
I made fewer than 10 to give to friends, and I sent one to my editor at E P Dutton Children’s Books. She loved it, and suggested producing it to sell.
She asked me to show her sketches for the window images that had a more holiday feel than the original. Some of her suggestions were “Knitting Christmas Stocking?” and “kitten playing with ornament or pine spring?”
Following her suggestions, I revised the sketches.
Finally I carved each tiny scene, colored it and glued it into place
Once the 2 layers are aligned, the scenes show up in the doors and windows.
The finished calendar.
Although this is out of print and no longer sold in stores. I have a stash to sell.
Using only a carpenter’s graphite pencil line and a finger to smudge it, one evening I discovered a little fox face peering out of a mudded, sanded seam in the sheetrock. He said “Hi.”
After him ran a cocky hound with a stubby ear,
Followed by a bear who ate all the brownies.
Two birds admired each other,
and a stork drank lemonade, while a mouse preferred harder stuff.
For a brief period my new home progress included vast areas of gray sheetrock and joint compound. Every evening, after the workmen left, I discovered new characters on the walls. Some were rather grumpy.
This fellow’s hat made him feel important,
and this fellow didn’t like his neighbor.
This gent was more genial–
He tried to soothe the worrywart.
But someone was always suspicious or
feeling put out,
Until Molly appeared and told everyone to
“put your lips together and B L O W !”
Finally I discovered myself, holding my new home in my two, cupped hands.
I can’t wait to go home and enjoy it.
I know all those ghosts are still there, under a fresh coat of Marscapone cream paint.
Another school year is skipping, ambling, screeching, and wildly cheering to a close. Everyone is restless and eager for release. Erasers are worn to nubs, and so is patience, but, as much as I look forward to summer, I love being in school…
“School” for me might be in Vermont, or California, in Alabama, Texas, Michigan or New Mexico. I’ve been to schools in Utah, Maine, New York and as far away as Tokyo, Japan and New Delhi, India.
I have been to rural schools and urban schools, big and small schools.
I am always excited to arrive
Because now I get to share how I struggled to read, to understand math and to achieve what my 5 year old self really wanted to be–an artist!
When I explain how the words Passion, Practice, Patience, Perseverance and Possession became my 5 Ps, I’m hoping every child can think of their own passion; that activity or special skill that makes work into fun.
More than talking about books, I talk about where stories come from.
My books grow directly out of who I am: a daughter, a sister, a mother, an animal lover, an amateur naturalist, a reader, and, most important– a child at heart.
When we’ve talked about where my stories come from, we make up our own. As I draw animal characters based on their names and ideas, I explain how an illustrator works.
We discuss ideas such as forward momentum, attention to detail, setting, mood, time of day and point of view. They learn to merge text and illustration and how to use the whole page to tell their story.
I arrive early and I leave after all the students have gone. I sign books and pass out bookmarks. I marvel at how the work in school happens every day, even if I just get a one day glimpse. How do teachers muster the energy to come back every day? I need a huge coffee to recover before the ride home, but I always have a good day in your school.