Monday, February 29, 2016

Snowflakes and sun

This month, while the snow fell outside, my drawing board transported me back to the July sun and a visit to the site of my on-going picture book project, "Creekfinding" (passionately written by my good pal Jackie Briggs Martin).

It was hotter than heck on that mid-summer day. My husband and I stopped for quick directions to "Prairie Song Farm" in Allamakee County, IA.  The farm is located in the tippy-top northeastern corner of the state, or the "The Driftless Area" as it is referred to, due to some unique geological characteristics. Dusty farm roads and sparkling creeks bordered the property's swaths of green prairie and field. Brook Creek, a small but significant waterway, snakes through the acreage. It is the subject of the book's story.

When at all possible, it is golden to actually visit the places where your non-fiction book projects are set. Not only being able to take some solid reference photos, just standing and listening to the land is invaluable. It helps create a relationship between me and the subject matter. Because an illustrator lives with a book for many many months, forming a bond early is helpful! And turns the snowflakes outside into black-eyed Susans in my illustrations.

flora by the creek
yours truly on the prairie

A bug's eye view, creek-side.

Transferring impressions of the day

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cozy: Illustrations of Comfort

I have a pop-up, one-evening-only exhibit at a local gallery venue this Friday. "First Friday" is sponsored by the University of Iowa Museum of Art. They invited me to present an informal little collection of works around a theme. I chose "Cozy", as many of my winter pieces embrace this feeling.
The Danish embrace a concept called “Hyyge” (pronounced “HU-ga”). It loosely means an experience that gives us a feeling of social coziness.  Sitting in Iowa City’s Java House, with your hands wrapped around a steaming hot latte and chatting with good friends, as it gently snows outside? That’s hyyge.  Lounging back in soft comfy chairs at FilmScene, watching the latest Oscar Shorts? Hyyge. Drinking wine and viewing an art show on a chilly evening? That’s hyyge, too! Hyyge has to do with ordinary comforts elevating our daily lives, in small but pleasurable ways. Often, winters elements enhance hyyge.

Cozy is hyyge’s English word cousin.  Capturing scenes of Cozy is a fine challenge for an illustrator. The colder season brings a unique sense to an illustrator’s palette that highlights cozy elements of our world; soft natural light, fire-side glow, plush fabrics, warm drinks and cuddly animals.

The images presented at the exhibit have achieved a feeling of coziness for many viewers. They were created for various applications in the commercial art and published book world, and also for my own enjoyment. May they give you a window into my sense of hyyge and coziness.

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