Friday, December 31, 2010

Zero Resolutions

Because I can't take the pressure. And I refuse to resolve to eat healthier, exercise more, spend less time daydreaming, be more disciplined, etc.

But I could make myself some goals for 2011.
1. Sing in the grocery store more often. And louder.
2. Talk to strangers. Even if they don't appear interested.
3. Buy more glitter glue. It's glue, and it glitters!
4. Paint pictures that nobody will want to buy or hang on their walls.
5. Go to a movie by myself. Talk to myself during the movie. And shush myself.
6. Laugh more. Nap with the cat more.
7. Wear my favorite sweater daily. Even if it doesn't smell very nice.

8. Have a cup of hot chocolate at least once a week. Don't spare the whipped cream.
9. Wear all my necklaces at once. Put on too much perfume and dance.
10. Play with my daughter, rolling in the grass and/or snow. Don't think about laundry.
11. Bonus goal: find an agent who appreciates me, whom I will appreciate. Work together to get one of my amazing stories published. Let 2011 be a fabulous year.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why How The Grinch Stole Christmas! Should Never Have Been Published

Kids like to read about kids. Cindy-Lou Who, the only child mentioned, is never truly developed as a character. Has she learned anything by the end of the story? Where is her arc?

Chimbley? I mean, really!
Besides, does anyone use the word nimbly? Certainly not any members of the target audience!

Children need to trust that the fat man breaking into their house on Christmas Eve is completely harmless.

Hearts cannot grow three sizes in one day. Did he do any research for this book?

Clearly, How The Grinch Stole Christmas! never should have been published.

But aren't we glad it was?

Thank you, Dr. Seuss. And Merry Christmas, everyone. Enjoy your roast beast!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Very Belated NaNoWriMo Report

Yes, I did NaNoWriMo this year.
No, I didn't NaNoWriMo.
Why am I being so self-contradictory?
Let me explain.
I did sign up for NaNoWriMo.
I did not write every single day (who wrote on Thanksgiving? Show of hands?)
I did write as often as I could.
I did upload a photo and record my word count.
I did not chat or forum.
I did attend one 'write-in.'
I did not write 50,000 words.
I did not write 40,000 words.
I did write 20,000 words.
So why do I feel so wimpy?
20,000 words is pretty good.
It is not the NaNoIdeal.
It is not enough to get the NaNo Medal of Honor, or whatever it is.
And I don't want to compare myself to friends with full-time jobs whose houses are cleaner than mine who DID write 50,000 words.
Before the deadline.
I really don't.
I do have a first (very short) manuscript I'm excited about.
I am thinking of it (as, I believe, John Green suggested) as a long outline of my novel.
I have barely worked on it since November.
I am consumed with holiday madness (but only in my dreams.)
I will finish this novel (I hope)
I did enjoy the challenge, even if I failed :(
I will miss saying NaNoWriMo.
I did just complete this self-portrait, showing how I feel
about not finishing NaNoWriMo (ambivalent?)
How are you feeling?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Extremely Belated Schmooze Report

On Sunday, November 14th, at the very groovy Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar (and Champagne!) in very groovy downtown Asheville, we schmoozed like we've never schmoozed before. Okay, I didn't have champagne, but I did have a lovely glass of Shiraz.

We chatted, enjoyed the ambiance, snacks and a gorgeous autumn day outside the big plate glass windows. It was simply fabulous to be among all these great writers and illustrators. All these people who are so dedicated to children's lit. I truly had a great time and I think everyone else did, too! Hooray!!
So much talent in that place, I could've plotzed. We listened to the wonderful Beth Revis (there she is, just over my fabulous new hairdo as seen from the back) talk about her journey to publication and her upcoming Sci-Fi YA novel ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, (Razorbill/Penguin, January 11, 2011- we can't wait!) What struck me the most about her presentation was when she told us how many books she'd written before finding an agent with this one (I think it was 11!) Wow! Beth definitely gets the prize for Stick-to-it-iveness (as well as many other prestigious prizes!) How do you keep writing and submitting after those first 11 novels don't sell?
Because you have to!
Gotta write! Gotta Schmooze!

NaNoWriMo's making me crazy, by the way! just saying...

My favorite part of the whole wonderful Schmooze was going around the room with brief introductions and hearing all the beautiful-est people there (meaning, my pals) introducing themselves as Secret Gardeners. Like we're this very fascinating underground cult and now we're coming out to the world. I'm a Secret Gardener!

Plus I got a groovy pin with a photo from the cover of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. And I love to chat.

Thanks to (superstar) author Beth Revis for some of these pix and for being so great and telling us all about your work and your process and encouraging us to keep going!

And thanks to (superstar) author Alan Gratz ( for the other pix and for being part of the funnest day I've had in awhile.

Hope to see you at the next Schmooze!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Spy A NaNoWriMo-er

She's pulling her hair.
She's wondering why.
She's banging her head against the cafe table.
She's been sitting in front of her computer for two hours, and all she ordered was a small coffee.
"Are you sure you don't want anything else?" asks the waitress, with a barely concealed snarl.
"Yes, I do want something else," says the NaNoWriMoer. "I want it to be over."
She leans over her keys.
She types some words.
She counts the words.
She realizes they are not enough.
They will never be enough. Not by November 30. Impossible.
She orders a mocha, hoping that will placate the waitress.
And help her come up with more words.
She wonders if she can find a way to write on Thanksgiving.
Or the day after Thanksgiving.
She wonders why they didn't pick a month with 31 days.

Friday, October 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo, Here I Come!

Ready or Not.

Mostly Not.

Here's what I'm feeling about NaNoWriMo
(National Novel Writing Month)

1. 50,000 words in one month? What?
2. That's like a million picture books. Or something.
3. If I make it to 50,000 words (the linguistic equivalent of one million picture books) it'll be a mess.
4. A big unedited mess.
5. Then what?

I've been thinking about taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge for awhile. And this character from a novel that's been in my head awhile is hinting very heavily that he's ready to come out. Breathing in my ear, actually.

But his story breaks my heart.

Picture books are nice. They don't break my heart.

Too late. I already signed up.

Did you?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Culture Schmulture

On Sunday, my husband and I brought our daughter to hear this UNCA concert. What a lovely idea!

But then the squirming started. I'd brought papers and markers along to draw the musicians (like mommy!) Her and her little friend drew doggies and superheros instead and made each other giggle. Shhhh!

The friend had a very squeaky seat, especially if you rocked it back and forth just so, which no amount of shushing could stop.

Then my daughter started whining.

"I'm hungry, mom!"

Shhh! (frantic pointing at the numerous serious musicians)

"But I'm really hungry, mom!"

Shhh! (point, point)

"Why did we have to come here? It's so boring!"

(shocking, I know)

What's wrong with today's seven-year-olds, I have to wonder. Don't they know culture when they see it? :)

It was hard not to feel disappointed that my daughter wasn't a perfect angel during the concert. Unlike the time I took her to the ballet when she was six months old (she cooed adorably for awhile, then fell asleep)

All she wanted to do when we got home was play 'Avatar: the last airbender' with her friend. They were both the Avatar. And neither one was hungry after I threw together a quick dinner. What's wrong with these kids, anyway?

Hey, anyone want to play Avatar with me?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Hole Is To Dig

With all the buzz about that darn NYTimes article on the demise of the picture book and the great rebuttals-- ( )

I decided I too shall rebut.

Because I love picture books. I adore picture books. I lurve them.

So I thought I'd post this fabulous Maurice Sendak illustration from Ruth Krauss' A Hole Is To Dig. One of the all-time great picture books, in my estimation. And it doesn't even have a narrative arc!

Subtitled "A First Book of First Definitions," the author thanks some kindergarten children, who I assume provided the amazing text. Words like 'A face is something to have on the front of your head' and 'The sun is to tell you when it's every day' and 'Cats are so you can have kittens'

Had to be written by kids. I just don't know any adults who are that perceptive. So let your kid be a kid and let your kid use her wonderful visual thinking to understand the concept of story and let your kid read picture books! As long as they want to, even when they're all growed up.

Because, like the final page of A Hole is To Dig says, "A book is to look at."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Self-Portrait at 30

Going through a forgotten portfolio, I came upon this painting. What I remembered was working on it for many months, and then showing it to my (not very pleasant) housemate at the time. She looked at it and didn't say a thing.

So I figured it wasn't any good. And I didn't even like her!

Now I find it and say, 'wow!' I guess I need to learn not to listen to unpleasant people. Why has it taken me so long to figure this out?

Think of all the people in your life (including your inner critic) who in so many ways tell you it's no good and might as well give up. Now take a big eraser and erase them all!

Then find a critique group (or other supportive people) who want to consider what's good about what you're doing (and help you figure out what needs to be changed.) Surround yourself with people who believe in you and want you to succeed. And when you find them... or if you found them already.. give them a big hug.

Because we do need to believe in ourselves. But it's also great to have other people who do, too. (thank you, Secret Gardeners!)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Hands Won't Keep Still

I was lucky enough to attend the SCBWI Carolinas conference this weekend-- with some of my fellow Secret Gardeners! (you know who you are)

Of course I drew some of the presenters--
pictured here (roughly sketched):
Alan Gratz, wonderful (local!) author
Liz Waniewski, Senior Editor, Dial Books
-- also awesome and sweet!
Alvina Ling, Senior Editor,
Little, Brown Books
-- so funny and smart (and prettier than my sketch!)

I would have drawn the talented and fun Elizabeth Dulemba or the charming and handsome Laurent Linn, Art Director at Simon & Schuster, BUT they kept showing us these fascinating images, so I had to keep my gaze upward...

BUT during the other presentations, sketching seemed unavoidable. Like crossing and uncrossing my legs. My hands seem to want to keep moving. It's almost annoying. And I worried about being distracting (or annoying) to other attendees.
(at least I stopped rattling my candy wrapper when you told me to, Donna!)

I don't want to be a compulsive person (she says, rolling and unrolling a scrap of paper) but maybe crazy-hands is part of being an artist. (horrors!)

hey, at least I'm not robbing banks.

How do you direct your crazy energy (when you're not at your computer/in your studio) Were you the one with the candy wrapper sitting right behind me? Don't worry; I understand.

apologies for not doing that linking thing w/ everyone's name-- can someone tell me how to? You definitely should check out Alan Gratz's great books!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Roald Dahl's Birthday!

was this past Monday. (I believe he would've been 94.)

And a peculiar thing happened, which led to another peculiar thing, which led to the most peculiar thing of all.

The first peculiar thing was our most wonderful indie bookstore, Malaprops, hosted a Roald Dahl event: local authors were invited to read from James and The Giant Peach.

My daughter was in afterschool, and for a second I thought, 'Well, I guess I'm not going, then,' but the next second I realized how much I wanted to hear James and The Giant Peach. So I went.

The next peculiar thing was that while I was greatly enjoying all the local authors' renditions of James and The Giant Peach (and drawing them and sorry I didn't get their names, but that wasn't the point, really) our most wonderful Asheville bookseller, Caroline Green, approached me and whispered something in my ear.

One of the authors hadn't shown up. Would I like to read James and The Giant Peach?

Would I?! And practically become one of those legendary local Asheville authors right then and there?

The next peculiar thing was I overcame my aversion to standing at a podium before even a small and book-loving group of people and got up and read. The final peculiar thing was looking at the audience and registering the dearth of children. And realizing we love Roald Dahl because we love him, not because we know he makes our children happy.

Because we love great books. And that's who we are. That's why we were there, at Malaprops Bookstore, listening to each other read about cabbage-faced aunts, giant snarky centipedes and Cloud Men.

Thanks, Caroline. And thank you, Roald Dahl. And Happy Birthday!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer Reading

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were a big part of my summer. Suzanne Collins is so brilliant, and I aspire to be some fraction of the storyteller she is. I don't have a copy of Mockingjay yet :( Go ahead and pity me. But I am #9 on the waiting list of my local library. :(

Also loved Clay Carmichael's Wild Things. She does a great job of making a stray cat a very real (and complex) character. Plus I like her drawings.

And I actually read two grown-up books this summer. The first was The Memory Keepers Daughter, because I'm always behind the times in my reading list. Awesome and amazing.

And I caved and read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, because my mother-in-law left it at our house and his books are taking up a huge section of Malaprops, my favorite local bookstore.

Before I started reading, I asked my MIL if it was very violent and she said 'not really' so I went for it. In fact, it's extremely violent, especially by my wimpy standards. I think I'll stick to YA and MG from now on. Or maybe I'll just read picture books (my daughter and I are currently re-reading the Traction Man books by Mini Grey, which I think are my favorite contemporary pbs.)

BUT, you might say, Hunger Games is also violent. I can't deny you are right about that. So why do I love them? Of course, they are disturbing books. But also strangely uplifting--- because I believe Katniss and all the good people will prevail in the end? Maybe also because, as futuristic novels, I can read them as metaphor and therefore the violence is a little more distant.

Do you know what I mean? Do you stick with YA? And what did you read this summer?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Starting Second Grade

Today. I hung around awhile, then asked my daughter, "Do you want me to stay?"

"Whatever you want," she said.

She was at the table with all her little friends happily decorating her math folder. The girls were drawing flowers, spirals and rainbows.

You want your kid to be independent. And then she's independent and suddenly you have a hollow feeling in your stomach.

Another parenting dilemma. Is this worse than the terrible threes? (probably not)

But what am I going to do when she wants to go to college? Just say no?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Best Reason to Marry A Musician Is...

free concerts!

At Bar Bes on 9th Street in Brooklyn, for example. At your local cafe. Even at Joe's Pub, once, which is a very elegant venue and part of the Joseph Papp Public Theatre.

Sometimes it's just me listening to him practicing in the bedroom. Near my computer. Sometimes it's irritating!

But sometimes it's a bunch of musician friends hanging out on the porch late at night drinking beer and jamming. That's the best. I love hearing great musicians on my very own porch. Sharing the love.

And now I'm sharing these drawings with you. Musicians are great to draw! So expressive and gestural. Plus they often make weird faces while playing.

So go ahead and bring your sketchpad next time you go to The Wedge Brewery, here in Asheville (where my husband plays) Or draw a street musician.

Or draw yourself singing in the shower! Maybe you'll put even put it on your blog.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


The good news is: I'm in this month's SCBWI Bulletin!
I love the Bulletin! I love SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators)
I love owls!
Looks like he's surprised to be the subject of a story.
I hope it's not a case of libel.

How's your summer going?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In Defense of the Big Bad Wolf

I've got one thing to say about this issue: don't believe everything a kid in a red hood tells ya.

Additionally, I miss blogging! Summer fun is sucking up all my time and energy. The sun is frying my brain.

Also, when will school be back in session?

Plus, I guess I need a little structure.

Hope everyone else is enjoying this free-for-all we call summer. :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Artist On Vacation

We were in Florida for a week. It was way too hot, of course, but thankfully I brought some drawing materials.

And I asked this fourteen-year-old girl, our friends' daughter, if she would pose for me. We sat in the SandBar at Club Med for over an hour. She seemed to like the completed drawing. And I got to draw someone other than myself.

A vacation from self-portraits!

I asked her if she read blogs. Yes, she said, mostly political ones.

Isn't that great?

So, go ahead, artists. Ask someone if you can draw them. They'll probably enjoy it. And you might just learn something new and unexpected about a person.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dear Agent...

I've been submitting to agents and trying to figure out why it feels so different from submitting to publishers.

I think it's because it feels like you're trying to get someone to be your friend.

Dear Agent,

I'm a great person and fairly brilliant. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about. My mom thinks so, too! Should you become my agent, I'll send you the best chocolates daily. I've been specializing in chocolate for the past forty years, so I know which ones are the most delicious. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about.

Your new best friend,

Maybe that's the letter I should be sending out (along with this endearing painting)

The process has me thinking of a silly poem I wrote awhile ago, of which I believe I shall print an excerpt here now (cue the schmaltzy background music)

Please consider my book,
(in your slush pile, unread.)
I’d like to get it published
some time before I’m dead.

Ever feel like that, too?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Now That's Just Silly

Who wants to read a blog about the weather? Not me. Not you. And certainly not me.

But, gee, it's awful hot lately. You forget what it's like in the dead of winter and you're dying for summer to hurry up and get here. (and now I can hardly remember winter. It's not that cold, is it? I mean, you can always bundle up)

It's so hot my brain is bubbling in my overheated brain fluid inside my whatchamacallit. Hard to think, is what I'm saying.

So I figured it's time for something that's just plain silly.

And a cat in boots reading Puss in Boots while waiting for the D train is pretty darn silly.

Got something silly to share?

Go ahead. Make my day!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Italian Journey

This is from 1999 and I think I was looking at Lucian Freud alot. I was also living in Brooklyn and visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, MOMA, all those amazing places that now seem mega-miles away.

I was probably ten years old or younger the first time I visited the Met. How lucky I was to see all those paintings by Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, El Greco, Matisse, and on and on and on. I remember seeing a Monet from across the room, how it glowed! Of course I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to make something that beautiful.

The good news is I'll be in NY in August for a visit. I will visit as many museums as I can and try to absorb it all. I just googled The Met and here's one of the exhibitions that will be up while I'm in NY:

An Italian Journey: Drawings from the Tobey Collection, Correggio to Tiepolo

Yeh, baby!

I'll be taking my Italian journey. I guess it's been my Italian journey all along.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Yes I Can!

Someone recently hired me to do this illustration. She saw my other work, she visited my website, she liked what she saw, we met and clicked right away. She wanted a mermaid and sea creatures. I love mermaids and the ocean. Perfect subjects for watercolor, which I love. All good.

So where did that voice come from that kept telling me I couldn't do it? My parents always encouraged me. I've always been told by teachers, mentors and peers that I'm a good artist. My art has been exhibited in a bunch of art shows (in NYC!), I've sold a bunch of paintings, I've worked as a professional illustrator before. So where did that voice come from?

I know you all know what I'm talking about. Because I've read about it before. From writers and artists much more successful than myself.

But it makes me mad. Does it make you mad?

Because I do believe in myself and my work. And I do love this finished illustration. But I also hear some little part of myself telling myself, 'you got lucky this time, but it probably won't happen again."

It's not luck! It's years of hard work. And talent. And passion. Yes I Can!

Could it be that we need to hear that voice to spur us forward? Nah, I don't believe that. I think I could have worked as well (or better!) if the voice was saying, "You're a great artist! Trust yourself! Keep going!" Actually, I did hear that, too. The voices were going back and forth in my head. It was pretty annoying. Listening to a Harry Potter audiobook helped a little.

Will I stop hearing the voice of negativity once I've illustrated a picture book for a major publishing house. Or five? Ten?

Those of you who are out there already, writers and illustrators, with several published books to your name, tell me, does it go away?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Self-Portrait As An Illustrator

I received my BFA in Illustration in 1985. Then moved to NYC and took classes at the Art Students League of NY with Marshall Glasier, a very brilliant and talented artist who did not see illustration as art.

Not to scandalize all my illustrator friends, whom I admire and respect, but I understood his point. Art is where you can make anything you want in any way you want. Illustrators work within parameters: of the text or the concept or whatever your client is looking for. Of course lots of amazing art happens within those parameters (Beatrix Potter! William Steig!) But there is a difference.

I gave up on being an illustrator so I could be a 'real' artist. I painted in the lonesomeness of my studio, which was usually just a corner of my bedroom. I took lots more classes. Did alot of figure drawing and self-portraits. Morphed into an abstract painter. And had a kid.

And rediscovered picture books. Drew my kid. Decided I'd like to get paid for what I do well (instead of working as a secretary, teacher's aide, jeweler's assistant, and on and on) So I bought a new set of rapidographs (and they did look beautiful to my eyes) and put together a portfolio. Starting to get some work. Featured on the wonderful Pen & Palette. Have several illustrations in the SCBWI Bulletin.

So what am I now? A painter who is delving into illustration? An illustrator who used to be an abstract painter? A little bit of both, I guess. I have to admit, I do miss dripping and throwing paint onto canvas (I suppose I could do that in my illustrations, but it's not the same-- art serves its own purpose, unlike illustration)

You might disagree with me. That happens sometimes. You may believe there is no difference between fine art and illustration. I think there is a difference-- for example, most illustrators I know who've been working for a good number of years and have talent, get paid for what they do, at least sometimes. Unlike most of the painters I know.

So go ahead and tell me why I'm wrong, if you want. Or you can just enjoy the picture.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why I Love My Cat

There were many adorable kittens, tabby and orange and black, at the shelter that day. Myrtle was three years old. Not what you'd call a beautiful cat, with a coat we didn't know what to call (somebody suggested 'brindle' which does not sound very nice)

She did not say a word. Just looked at me with these big eyes that said, "I do not want to be here. Take me home and I promise I'll be a very good cat."

Myrtle has been true to her word. She's cuddly and sweet, sleeps with us and curls in your lap when you call. I think she even knows her name (unlike some cats I know!) She lets Madeline pick her up and carry her around the house. And she never says, "Hey, Constance, have you heard from any agents or editors yet?"

I know I'm not the first to say this, but I could learn alot from Myrtle. How to laze around. How to do some lovely stretches (even down dog!) How to look at people with big irresistible eyes so they'll take you home and feed you.

What have you learned from your cat (or dog, if you're that kind of person?)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why I Love Mermaids

I love the ocean. I grew up on Long Island and going to the beach has always been my favorite thing to do. Jones Beach, Brighton Beach, Coney Island and all the lovely (cold) beaches in San Francisco. I miss the ocean, now that we live in the mountains in Asheville.

Maybe I was a mermaid in a former life. Communing with the dolphins. Wearing a shell and seaweed bra. Shooting through the waves like a non-human cannonball.

When I was little, I had a book of The Little Mermaid with one of those covers where the mermaid changed as you tilted the book one way, then the other, then the other way, then back again. Which I spent alot of time in a mermaid-induced hypnotic trance doing. Plus it had ridges to run your fingers over.

So now I've written a tween novel about a girl who becomes a mermaid against her will. My character is her own person. What? Of course, she's not me. I was never a mermaid. Not in this life, anyway.

A friend asked me which Disney princess I wanted to be when I was little. Why do I hardly remember any of those movies (and why don't any of those princesses have noses?) Maybe because we hardly ever went to the movies (too expensive) We went to the beach (free) Hooray for my childhood!

And, of course, The Little Disney Mermaid came out when I was all grown up. And even now, I don't want to be her. I want to be Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid, beautiful and tragic and turned to sea foam in the end.

So what kind of princess are you?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some Things Are Too Hard to Blog About

Mother's Day is a difficult day for so many people. My mother died in 2001. Losing your mother is the world falling away from under your feet. I was 38 when she died, but I was also a child. Because it doesn't matter how old you are, we all need our moms.

This is a print I did several years ago of my sister-in-law, Jehan, and her baby Serena. It is so solemn, which was not my intention. But it suits this post. Because the mother-daughter connection isn't all sweetness and light. But boy is it intense.

The best thing that happened to me this past Mother's Day is a book from my daughter with art and poems. They've been studying acrostic poems in school and this is the one she did for me on LOVE:


That's right.

Thanks, Madeline. For giving me happiness on mother's day.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Self-Portrait As A New Mom

How dishevelled I look! How worn out! Almost fading away, like the wicked witch at the end of the W of Oz. This drawing is dated April 2004. Madeline was one year and two months old.

When I was pregnant, so many parents said, "You'll never sleep again." Of course I thought they were exaggerating. Well, my daughter is now seven and she still often wakes me up at 6:25 with a loud, "There were aliens in my dream, mom!"
At least she's no longer nursing. And she's almost sleeping through the night.

I miss sleeping until 9 or even later sometimes. Such a foggy happy memory from the distant past.

So should I look forward to the teenage years when she'll sleep more? Or will I be lying in bed awake with other worries?

Parenting is quite an adventure, isn't it? What are you struggling with? How do you express your creativity around those issues?

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Little Butterfly

Here's a drawing I just did of Madeline in our hammock. But now I think it looks more like she's in a cocoon. And she is becoming a butterfly, so that's right.
She used to be just a baby. See? She couldn't walk, run, or play soccer at all. That was only seven years ago. Just a little sigh of time.
Now she sits in the hammock reading on her own! And plays soccer with her dad. Rides her bike around the neighborhood. Tells me what's what.

There's a beautiful song by Sweet Honey In the Rock

Your children are not your children
they are the sons and the daughters of life's longing for itself
they come through you but they are not from you
and though they are with you
they belong not to you...

She belongs to herself. And she's stretching her wings and will be stretching them for years to come. Preparing to fly. I hope I can be there for her in any way that helps. But in so many ways she's got to learn to fly on her own.

How do you see your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews? How can we be there for them without getting in the way on their road to becoming butterflies?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Rabbit Is Back

You may already know that I didn't do this wonderful painting. No, this one is by Albrecht Durer. Why do I love this painting? Is it because of the amazing attention to detail? This rabbit (or Young Hare) is as dignified as a king, as serious as the Pope.

And now it's illustrating my blog! to say The Rabbit Is Back. The one who scurries and scampers and munches grass in the yard outside my dining room window. We breakfasted (?) together this morning. Yesterday I watched him (or her) being chased by a cat. The rabbit was faster, of course.

Not that I never saw these kind of backyard animal shows in Brooklyn. I once saw my cat fighting a praying mantis, which definitely goes on my list of Strangest Sights Ere I Have Witnessed.

I stepped outside early this morning and so many birds were busy doing their bird-things. Mockingbirds, robins, sparrows, mourning doves.
Another post about spring. I can't help it, I'm so happy that terrible winter is over.
I bet you are too!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April is the Coolest Month!

That's what all the birds are saying. Hear them? They're right out my window, loving April.
Everything's budding. Our little lilac bush, that refused to flower for two years, decided her time has come. Hooray for lilacs! Forsythia, tulips, daffodils, the dogwood tree...
And soon the day lilies. And lots of other beauties.
So why did Mr. Eliot say it's the cruelest month? Because love is in the air? Because April makes you feel like everything is possible, everything is new, and then later on we still have to face December? Maybe your heart gets broken and your dreams don't soar quite as high as you hoped?
You know what I say?
It's spring and anything can happen. Life is new. My lilac bush is blossoming.
How does spring make you feel?
Do you find it very cruel?

Maybe you should go outside and smell the flowers.
Happy spring, everyone!

Friday, April 9, 2010

More Molly
I'm not kidding. You have got to check out this owl with her four owlets. Momma Owl is so exhausted, she's falling asleep on one foot. I remember those days!
And her babies look extremely un-owlish, to me. More like baby vultures. Then again Madeline looked like a gummy bear when she was a newborn. But cute!
And look how well she draws now. I think her owl looks so wise, don't you?
I'm learning alot from my daughter!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Constance, Is that You?

Who is that tough broad?
I did this painting in 1992, maybe. Back when I smoked cigarettes (unfortunately.) I hardly recognize myself in this painting. Then again, yes, I do.
I'm not going to apologize again for the smoking. We can get past that, can't we?
Because I like the way she looks so film noir. And like I'm not gonna take nuthin' from nobody. Or is it more of a melancholy lost in regretful thoughts moment? I paid my dues, now I want to sing the blues?
Or all of the above.
So reason #57 for doing self-portraits: to remember all the different parts of you that continue being you, even so many years after you've rolled your last cigarette.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Molly the Owl is Taking Over My Life

You must check this out. Molly the owl with her four newborn owlets on a live cam from CA. I just watched her ripping off bits of mouse flesh to feed her babies. It's amazing. She ruffles her feathers, fusses over the kids, sleeps alot, waits for her man (McGee) to bring more food. Owls are weirder than I even thought. She really does turn her head completely around sometimes. Because she can. She carefully nudges the tiny owlets with these razor sharp talons. She's got a huge head. Sometimes she does the tree pose.

So Madeline and I of course had to do some owl drawings. Here's what we came up with.
I know. My drawing is okay, but Madeline just totally caught the essential owlness of the owlet. If only I could draw like that! And I know I once did draw like that. I lost it. And I'm desperately trying to get it back.
Like that famous Picasso quote: It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
I just googled it, and I'm glad I did because I'd only heard the second part before. But this is much better. And it really is true.
You want proof? I got your proof at the top of this post.

So next time you hear someone say "My kid could've done that." say "Then this artist must be really something."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On the Cover of the Pen and Palette!

Okay, it's not the cover of the Rollin' Stone, which I'm beginning to think I may never be on! But it is the SCBWI Carolinas wonderful newsletter, and I'm proud to be featured on the cover. Check it out if you are so inclined:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How To Keep It Going

Think of my title as a question--- How to keep it going? Despite an ever-thickening folder of rejection letters, lack of funds, no contract in sight, and continual reports on how nobody's buying picture books.
This print is based on some xeroxes I did of my face back when I worked as a secretary. Yes, more office art, and it suits my current mood. I xeroxed my face alot, I must admit, and could that explain my forgetfulness or tangentialness?
Do you hear birds chirping where you are, too? Have you been watching the live owl nest cam?
I didn't want to blog because I'm feeling down. Because how do I keep it going when I've written so many stories I believe in and worked on my art for so many years without getting much in the way of financial compensation, which is how we define success in this culture, like it or not. Plus a girl's gotta eat!
Well, one way is to remember Jay Asher's talk at last year's SCBWI NY conference, "How to Get Published in Twelve Years or Less." And now he's a NYTimes Bestselling Author.
Or my friend Beth Revis who, after writing and subbing for years, finally landed a three-book deal with Penguin (go, Beth!)
I like the way that sounds: a three-book deal with Penguin
Or seek out an inspirational quote, like:
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom" Anais Nin (thank you, Andrea)
Or remember my favorite scene from one of my favorite movies Kirikou and The Sorceress. Kirikou has been digging and digging trying to find his way out of a tunnel. He falls asleep saying "in the morning I'll turn back." And the image is Kirikou asleep against a thin wall of dirt. He wakes up, digs a little more, and he's made it to the other side.
Last night before I went to sleep, I thought, 'what would I have been if I hadn't chosen to be a painter, illustrator, and writer?" And I realized there really never was a choice. This is who I am, and this is what I must do.
So maybe I'll get a few more rejection letters this week. Or maybe I'm just about to break through that wall.
Now how do you keep it going?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Locating Myself In Art History

Okay, these artists are all much better than me, but it's still fun to blogxhibit myself among the greats!