Monday, July 23, 2012

Tallgrass Kansas to share and explore

Painting some rock outcroppings 
Red-winged blackbirds can be seen in the flint hills tallgrass

A collared lizard will become part of the program

Tools of the trade...

Preparing for a visit to the Flint Hills Discovery Center (Manhattan, Kansas) this weekend. I'll be giving a children's program there on Saturday, July 28th, at 1:30pm.  I've added to a large mural I travel with, to better represent the tallgrass prairie of the flint hills area. The grasslands I know of Iowa don't have the abundant limestone outcroppings that the tallgrass in Kansas did (and does). The rockiness made it tougher,  less desireable for the european settlers to plow, a blessing for 21st century citizens as much of this tallgrass remains undisturbed because of this. I plan to learn as much as I share!

The kids and I will color and create a multi-foot long prairie of our own. Come and take a peek!

Here's a link to the Flint Hills Discovery Center of Manhattan, Kansas.

 Flint Hills Discovery Center

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back in April, I met one of my favorite illustrators, Melissa Sweet, at an SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference. I have most of Melissa's picture books (most recently award-winning "Balloons Over Broadway"), but because I had travelled out of state for this conference, lugging books in my suitcase was not possible. Instead, I had her sign something small I carry with me in any event, a colored pencil set tin illustrated with her work. The brand named "eeBoo" makes great children's things, including lovely art supplies like this pencil set. The quality of the colored pencils, lush and waxy, is top notch. And these tins are adorable! Melissa signed the inside lid, and now I've retired the tin; I don't want to scratch off her signiature. Officially, it belongs to daughter Lucy, but I'll just keep it in my studio for inspiration.

Melissa said eeBoo let her name her own colors in the pencil set of 24. How cool was that! I've always loved evocative color names (like paint samples or jcrew sweater colors!) and Melissa's are well chosen; Lava black, Georgia peach, Bayberry green. I decided for a little writing exercise that I'd come up with my own set of colors to reflect my Midwest surroundings. So eeBoo, if you are ever interested....!

River bottom brown
Gothic black
Farmhouse white
Katydid green
Wikiup brown
Catbird gray
Cardinal red
Goldfinch yellow
Combine green
Twilight blue
New corn green
Firefly yellow
State fair blue
Oak leaf green
Harvest moon cream
Bobcat buff
Hickory nut brown
Gravel road gray
Coneflower purple
Butterfly weed orange
Demin blue
Fox red
Wild rose
Piglet pink

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Birds to help heal

This spring, a local hospital purchased a few of my bird prints. The pediatric ward had been recently re-modeled and the hospital's art consultant wanted to give the space a cheerful, playful decor with a connection to nature. She was familiar with my work and thought a bird focus might work well here.

Each room with assigned a songbird identity. Thus, there is a Blue Jay room, a Chickadee room, A Cedar Waxwing room and a Goldfinch room! Every room has a set of prints of the boy and girl birder from my "Where Do Bird Live?" picture book. There is also a poster sized print of an Iowa wetlands landscape with heron (from the Iowa Nature Calendar), the "Wilson's Orchard" indigo buntings piece and several other miscellaneous bird portraits.

Today, I had a chance to see the work, now framed and hanging in the pediatric wing. It is unique to see so many of my pieces together as a collection. I loved the room identification birds! It's great to see the larger sized wetland piece; the heron is a welcoming, friendly face in one corridor.

It is also satisfying to see my art interacting with the functional aspects of hospital care-giving. My red-winged blackbird is poised right over a fire alarm. This is perfect. He is a good alarmist! All in all, I am honored to be part of this healing place and hope my birds bring some brightness to a child's time there.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sun flowers

So, so hot right not. The studio is keeping cool, but creative energies are lagging. The goldfinches are enjoying the early sunflowers though. Happy July!

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