Joining the team at the 2018 Tunbridge World’s Fair

Teamwork is everything in my business of creating picture books. The author/illustrator team, the author/editor team, the illustrator/art director team, all of the above, plus the marketing team, bookstores, librarians, teachers, parents, grandparents–ALL of us are on the same team–to get good books into the hands of children.

So imagine my pleasure when I was asked by Robert Howe, Tunbridge Fair’s postermeister, to join his team and design the official poster for 2018. The theme is Celebrating Working Teams.

Of course the word Team can mean something different at the fair, but I still took it as a good omen.

The 1st time I went to the Tunbridge World’s Fair was with my parents, back in the early 1970s. We camped at a friend’s farm in nearby Chelsea and drove over to the fair, always held the 1st weekend after Labor Day. In those days there were still girlie shows at this and other Vermont Country fairs.

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The Tunbridge World’s Fair was, and still is, a genuine agricultural experience, set in a lovely, narrow river valley.

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There are horses, cattle and sheep, pigs, chickens, goats and rabbits proudly on display.  There is a midway with rides and game booths, and all the greasy, sweet fair food you could want.

Nowadays, I go to draw the animals and the people.

Gabby and the Girls

So it was no surprise that the poster I chose to design featured both.

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I was lucky to be given excellent reference photos by two fair photographers: Nancy Cassidy and Mark Dixon. Drawing from elements of these and my own research material, I created a rough sketch.

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Photo by Nancy Cassidy

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photo by Nancy Cassidy

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photo by Mark Dixon

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Once I had a B&W linoleum print,  I painted it with gouache, layered a little painted carousel onto the girl’s tee, and added text in Photoshop.MGRTYPEgaptooth_1

I began by trying to match this old-timey font, found in the background of a photo, as my poster display type, but it didn’t enhance the finished artwork so I switched to Linolschrift for the finish.

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The last adjustment was to eliminate the “gap tooth” on the little girl. The consensus was that it made her look a little too young.

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I’m pleased with the finished product. I hope 2018 fair goers are too!

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Channeling Sam Cannon

While looking for something else I discovered Sam Cannon’s artwork and fell in love with his imagery and calligraphy. His eloquently realized animals, with beautifully hand-lettered quotations, spoke to a desire in me to do likewise. His tiny Petal Paper originals were particularly appealing.

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When I looked into channeling his style I found I was fresh out of Petal Paper, so I just made my own version by wetting watercolor paper and painting  loose leaves and flowers.

Using these backgrounds as inspiration, I added figures and quotes that particularly resonated with me, keeping faithfully to Sam Cannon’s style.

As the paintings developed I added more leaves, flowers and stems around the figures and calligraphy, making the most of my watercolors.

I love the distinctive Sam Cannon ‘font’ and line arrangement. I experimented with different tools for the calligraphy. flowersetsy

I tried a more traditional opaque gouache approach with the dip pen on brown paper for this garden painting.

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My favorite Thoreau quote is painted with white ink and a brush on the woodpile. These chilly chickadees are drawn from the flocks right outside my window here in Vermont.

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I am using Schminke Aqua Bronze Rich Gold and Silver gouache to paint the metallic accents.

I learn by copying and experimenting and evolving. I hope to keep moving ever further from copying Sam and more into being entirely me.

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As always, you can find my work for sale at my Etsy shop.

 

Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Part 4

Bears are great climbers.

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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.

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Bears climb trees to escape danger and to find food.

My cub climbed the tree to confront two squirrels

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

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

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

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Finally I was able to carve the block…

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Print it and paint it.

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Back at Hollins U!

The best part of summer, tied only with living by Lake Dunmore, is teaching in the Children’s Book Illustration Program at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA.

The drive down Interstate 81 from Front Royal as I gradually entered the embrace of the Appalachian chain, braiding strands of low peaks through Virginia, made my spirit lift.arrival

Arriving on campus, picking up my keys, and taking a quick selfie at the Children’s Literature signpost made me feel instantly immersed. How do you get to An Old House in Paris, Woodcock Pocket, or Roxaboxen? Why, in a children’s picture book, of course!

homeawayfromhomeNext, moving into my apartment, home away from home for 6, intense, summer weeks.

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Now, swimming Tula in Carvin Creek–swollen with recent thunderstorms.

lowsunThen walking the campus, so groomed and lovely, lying quietly on the evening of the last day before classes begin-waiting.

primarycolorsAnd finally, establishing my office in the Art Building-pimped out in a primary palette scrounged from the supply and prop closets, with help from decorator and friend: Professor Dulemba.

Let classes commence!