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

cass.oxen.parade

photo by Nancy Cassidy

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photo by Mark Dixon

B&Wprint

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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Taking to the Ice

In the summer my front yard is a huge body of water, a playground for boats, swimmers and fishermen.

In the winter that water gets a hard shell of ice and becomes an entirely different playground, a brand new piece of “land” where we can walk, skate, and even drive snowmobiles and pickup trucks. Fishermen set up their shanties, forming cozy little villages.

As children we skated here with our mom and dog Lumpy.

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When I illustrated my 1st book in 1983 I remembered times spent skating with my dog.

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Cardinals in February from A Year of Birds by Ashley Wolff

During this Christmas break we got some lovely light snow and my sister and I set out to make this our new front yard.

We walked across the lake, following coyote tracks, and noticing where a bird landed, leaving wing and tail marks in the snow.

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We made snow angels ,

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built a buxom snow maiden,

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did donuts,

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drank cocktails,

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and lost our balance!

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Happy New Year.

Keep the wine handy.

We’re going to need it!

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Sheep

The noble profile, the slitted eyes, the curls, the baaaaa, the level gaze…

I love drawing sheep.

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This gal caught my eye this summer. When  I went looking for a subject for my cottage postcards I was drawn to her curious face. As in the past, I begin by taping off a grid of small postcards on watercolor paper.

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I make a quick sketch in pencil in each window and then use an assembly line approach to add colors.

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Each layer adds detail and the sheep emerges.

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The final touches are gold and silver ink…

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and glitter!

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Each card is the same but different, a one-of-a-kind love token for the friend who receives a “cottage card.”

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

Fishing through the ice

Once the lake “ices in,”a whole new world emerges.

Acres of new real estate, previously accessible only by boat, become available for exploration on foot.

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Fisherman, cell phone photo

Fishing is the winter sport of choice. Whole towns spring up, populated by fun loving, hard drinking fisher-people.

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Fishing village, gouache on brown paper

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Give up the booty, gouache on brown paper

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Four fishing shanties, gouache on brown paper

Up on top there is the bait, and the fish who take it.

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bait fish, cell phone photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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land locked salmon, gouache on brown paper

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Pike and lake salmon carcasses, fillets removed, cell phone photo

But I became fascinated with what was going on UNDER all that ice.

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What’s down below,  gouache on paper

My personal goal for this winter is to walk across my lake and to drink an Irish Coffee in a pub on the other side If this happens I’ll let you know!

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

Painting Fergie’s Portrait


Fergie is a Goldendoodle.

If there is a cuter new “doodle” breed, I can’t imagine it.

She is the fortunate 1st ‘child’ of my beloved cousin, who dotes on her every wiggle and bark.

Now that she has come of age,  I was commissioned to paint her official portrait.

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Fergie and her family visited while the leaves were still falling in October.

After exploring the woods thoroughly, she chose this scene for her backdrop.

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And I caught her sitting still, however briefly, in the driveway.

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To begin this portrait I painted the background landscape before adding the main figure. I am working in gouache and trying to stay loose. A lot gets covered up by the figure, but it still seems to make the whole more cohesive.

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To add the figure of Fergie I did a careful pencil drawing and used simple graphite transfer to position her in the scene.

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Once Fergie was in place I added lots of shadowing to push the landscape behind her and leaves in the foreground to anchor her on the ground.

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I paid the most attention to her face, trying to capture the sweetness and life-not to mention her glorious curls!

 

 

DIY Thanksgiving “Craft”

Consider the Blue Hubbard Squash.

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Do you see a Thanksgiving tradition?

Perhaps a savory side dish?

How about a centerpiece for the table?

How about the Mayflower?

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I scoured the web looking for another example of Blue Hubbard Squash turned Mayflower ship, but this was as close as I could come.

My dad had different ideas. He took a huge squash, hollowed it out and carved it into a ship. He made dowel masts and paper sails.

My mom filled it with tangerines and nuts and the Blue Hubbard Mayflower sailed out on Thanksgiving tables in the early 1960s.

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Thanksgiving in Ripton, VT 1962

And the next year, same sails, different squash!

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Thanksgiving 1963, Ripton, VT

You can see me, smiling, directly to the left of the Mayflower, on my dad’s lap.

Time passed, I grew up, and when I had children I wanted my own Blue Hubbard Mayflower centerpiece.

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San Francisco, 1997

 

Tutorial not included. This is truly DIY!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

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!

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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!

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Enter a caption

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

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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.

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

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watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine.

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

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Brennan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper

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Rowan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper.

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Sabin, asleep. Marker on brown paper.

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Tula napping. Watercolor on brown paper

Cat sleeping page

Nutkin, sleeping. Acrylic on paper.

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Wildridge kitten, sleeping. Gouache on brown paper.