A color sketch from work on my next picture book. As a friend pointed out, the panda does look like he's been poisoned & knows he's done for. Although these are mostly a preparation step, I love them for their unfinished wobbliness (and some I love as much as their finished counterparts.)
I'm always losing my mind a little bit over a lot of things. Right this minute, it goes something like: thoughts of my next picture book, balloons, Manet's portraits, Babar, muffins, girls in blouses, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, sewing dresses, the Bears film etc. etc.
These old friends are one of my favorite sights in one of my favorite places.
They were the first thing I saw when I visited the Museum of Natural History for the first time, ducking out of the hot, crowded New York Summer and finding inside the magic, dark and cool, of that magnificent place. It found me when I most needed it, nearly ten years ago, when I was just out of college and lonely and restless and out-of-place in the city. I walked in on a rare quiet day (it's never been so quiet, ever, on any of my further visits) and laid eyes on this diorama and tears crept into my eyes. We don't have a word for the particular way you love a place, but we need one.
I don't expect it to make sense what the museum means to me, the spell it has, no matter how many times I visit. I keep it in a safe place beneath my ribs, where we keep the books that found us at just the right time, the films and albums, the feeling of being understood, of being loved when you least expected it.
If you ever want to find them, the bears wait for you, huge and grand, in the Hall of North American Mammals.
I found this 1930 edition of my favorite Colette book today (the first of the Claudine series, Claudine at School.) It was just sitting there, waiting for me at Powell's & I think it cost some king's ransom like six dollars.
I check the shelves of my favorite authors on most trips to used book stores, because even though I start off with modern editions of most favorite books, I always try to trade up to nice oldie (but readable) copies as I find them.
Plus, old books come with heart-melting little idiosyncrasies like abandoned library card pockets and bookplates (in this case) and sincere inscriptions from aunts and mentors (in other cases). I'd pay extra for those little things.