On Tuesday, we headed to Powell's to see Dream Animals on the shelves - a publication day tradition! Even if you know the book is going out into the world, its something altogether different to see it there.
We also spied it at Land, before procuring some of my favorite miniature cupcakes. We were lucky enough to have out-of-town friends visiting, so we celebrated all day, all over town!
This is an excerpt from the letter I wrote to accompany a special mailing of books...
When I wrote the text, it took the form of a new nighttime mythology, something that felt at once novel and timeless (and worthy of entering into the mighty and towering library of Bedtime Books). I created the artwork using both tiny pots of ink and little pieces of paper as well as big tubes of paint on great wooden panels. I loved creating all of the artwork, down the little imaginary constellations, but painting the six dreams was particularly special– a reverie. A very time-intensive reverie, but a dream nonetheless.
in all, this parade of gentle foxes and tigers and bears (and their
little riders) took hold of my heart and didn’t let go for nearly a year
of scheming and sketching and writing and painting.
now, it’s finally time for our dreamers and their companions to make
their way to you.
Hello there! I wanted to let you know the moment all the available originals from the new show were posted online, and now they're up. Some of my very favorites are still available! You can peruse & purchase here.
If you don't see a particular piece you're looking for, that means it has already been purchased from the gallery. Thanks so much for all of the kind words & excitement around this show!
My new show opens a week from today at Land Gallery on Mississippi here in Portland, OR. If you are close by, I hope you'll come join us on Friday, October 11 from 6-9.
There will be mermaids and sea creatures and wine and salt water taffy (watch your fillings!)
I've been getting inquiries about how to purchase work if you can't visit the show in-person. Not to worry:
-We hope to have all of the work up and available to purchase on the website the night the show opens. Online orders will be made via Land's sister store/online counterpart, BuyOlympia (here's where original art is sold.)
- If, for some reason, we don't have all the pieces posted & available for sale online on the evening of the opening, any and all available paintings and drawings will be posted shortly.
- You can contact the gallery with inquiries/orders any time after the show is officially open (we're not doing any pre-sales, as per usual with my art sales.)
Thank you so much for all your kind words & excitement about this new work! I'll keep previewing/adding pieces for the duration of the show...there's quite a bit more to share.
The Unsuccessful Capture of the Great New England Sea Monster 20"x16" Acrylic on wood
One of the main reasons I wanted to do a seafaring show was to have an excuse to paint a whole bunch of sea beasts, cryptozoological & otherwise. This is one of the larger pieces in The Deep Green Sea; since I don't generally work very big, I often max out at around this size. Most of these big (ish) paintings are the ones with gigantic creatures (although there are some giant beasts in some smaller pieces, too.)
I've been getting some queries about how to purchase art from the show (opening October 11), and I'll let you know the details soon!
I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing 11"x14" Acrylic on wood
This is one of my favorite pieces I've made for The Deep Green Sea, named for one of the best endings to one of the best poems.
I remember the first time I read Prufrock - I sat in the desk in my college English class, unsuspecting and unknowing and it so overwhelmed me with its staggering sadness and beauty that I couldn't keep from crying on the spot, in silence, with this devastating poem. It's the way it builds...it snares you and it drags you further and further into anxiousness and beauty and loneliness and siren songs until you're out too deep. Death by longing!
And there are more mermaids, certainly, in this show - more beasts and sailors and everything briny & wonderful.
My upcoming show, The Deep Green Sea, opens in October at one of my favorite Portland places, Land Gallery.
A Sea Monster Carriage 14"x11" Acrylic on wood
Land hosted my last big solo show (Lost on the Midway) and this time I'm trading the sideshow for the sea and returning with all new work featuring mermaids, krakens, sea monsters, tattooed sailors, and all things watery & mysterious.
I'll be previewing it here (but not every single piece - I want there to be some surprises for those who can make it to the opening.) But, of course, eventually everything will be visitable & viewable online.
There is still some framing & finishing to do, but it has all come together in its melancholy, rather wistful watery way & I'm excited to share it.
I know things are sleepy around these parts and all my dispatches are just little bits of process and/or odds and ends. But I am working so hard behind the scenes (much of it semi-secret), bits and odds and ends are all I can muster.
This is a little peek behind the curtain of work for my next picture book. I love looking at things like this, love looking at sketches next to final art, or in this case, pencil sketch next to color sketch.
Usually, I just make a pencil sketch and then transfer that to my
painting surface and start painting. Since working on picture books, though,
I've started using a middle step - color sketches. While they
aren't necessary for every single illustration, they come in handy at all sorts
of times. For instance, if you want to be sure everyone's on the same
page about the feeling (dark? chipper? dreamy?) the color will impart to
the illustration. Or sometimes, it's just difficult to show what you're imagining in grey shades alone.
They also come in really handy to experiment with and plan colors ahead of time on a small, quick little practice run (this is probably the best and most useful reason.)
There will be so much to share soon, a whole series of new work for my show in October at Land, excitement around the release of Dream Animals (also in October!)
My all-time favorite tote bags, the Fox & Hare, are one sale for a mere $10.00 each today. I don't know how long the sale will last, but I used it as an excuse to buy some back-ups! It's no exaggeration to say that one of these is on my arm every single day of the warm-weather months. To me, they're perfect in every way.
Made my one of my favorite girls for her shop, Lawrence. Click over to see the totes & some really lovely vintage clothes!
In my matchbox of a studio, there was recently a pretty serious clean-up and move-around. This was all begun to stuff a (miraculous) seventh piece of furniture into this tiny place - a new/oldie chest of wooden drawers in extremely useful sizes. I love the classic old card-catalogues but I can't use all those tiny drawers to flat-file original art or store big bottles of paint or hide away boring paperwork.
During this rigamarole, I tried to do a bit of a ruthless purge of unwanted books and nicknacks and old supplies, but it ended up (unsurprisingly) more timid than I'd hoped. So easy to gather things, so hard to banish them. Still, I can see all my toys and things nicely in this new arrangement, though my toy piano is sadly hidden behind the tiny couch.
I like these funny little planters (on the left) to hold pencils and small brushes and things. And on the right, you can see all my Alices on the top shelf (the Golden Book stack is there, too) hanging out with an unintended mini-collection of swans of varying sizes (and a white bobble-head rabbit.)
My favorite three wind-ups (Monkey, Seal, and Goose) have a place of honor on those old green file boxes, next to some current particular favorite book covers. And my monkey lamp is just where he belongs, glowing while I paint and draw, never shall we part.
A wispy little sketch on my wood panel, ready to be buried under lots of paint and varnish. I think of the sketches as the bones of the painting, the structure holding everything up from underneath.
So many times in art school, one of us would turn to a painting professor and say, forlornly "What's wrong with this? Why isn't it working?" And they would say "There might've just been something wrong with the drawing to begin with." And this is the most heartbreaking thing, when you realize that something was just structurally un-sound from the beginning.
The way I work, I almost always have a pretty well-realized sketch underpinning each painting surface, and since I have my little working methods down, I can usually tell how things are going to go. But once in a blue, blue moon I don't, and sometimes the result is thrilling and sometimes it's awful (and that is the price of playing it fast and loose.)
Right now I'm working on my Sea show and my next picture book at the same time. Iiieee! So much to do!
PS: Thank you for all the nice words about my dress-sewing!
It's been uncharacteristically toasty around these parts lately, and it
has put me in a very stitchy kind of mood. I always get a bee in my
bonnet to sew in warm weather - I don't know why that is?
Standing over a scalding, steaming iron and cozying up to a big stationary machine doesn't seem like a natural fit for hot weather, but here we are & there I go.
I guess sewing Summer dresses seems much more easy and breezy than sewing heavy woolens for Fall (and it is) so that's probably most of it. This year I really wanted a few extremely simple little 60's-inspired shift dresses with elbow-length sleeves. That's been the bee in my bonnet.
I'm so particular and get such specific ideas in mind, sometimes it's easier to just make things yourself, right? Right. So armed with cold, milky iced coffee, that's been one of the things I've been up to lately.
I promised myself if I would actually sit down and draft a pattern for
this dress and test it and test it (and test it again) I could buy a
few yards of Liberty fabric. I picked Claire Aude in the goldens and pinks and jadeite green, because it's always been one of my favorites of all their prints.
After it was washed and pressed, even though I'd already made a muslin and two other mostly-successful dresses from my pattern, I had the worst time getting the nerve to cut it. It's such truly lovely and excellent fabric that I felt terribly outclassed, but I crossed my fingers and went to work.
Somehow I managed to sew the whole dress (tricky to do with my fingers crossed) and it turned out just liked I hoped. Perfect for the hottest days, when we get them, and easy to wear with some little old sneakers or worn-in flats.
And the best part?
It has pockets!
I have my share of sewing-heartbreaks, so when something turns out like I'd hoped, it's so gratifying. And besides, when you make things with your hands for a living, it feels extra-special to make things for yourself, for fun.
Have you done any Summer projects (sewn or not) (pocketed or not) you're particularly happy about?
I have a weakness for tiny books - anything less than 3" tall (it almost undoubtedly began with the Nutshell Library, but
microscopic bibles, teensy flip books...I'll take it.) So a few weeks ago, when I brought home all those nice moldy oldies from the book fair, this 1940s box of the Tiny Nonsense Stories (from the Tiny Golden Library) was one of my prized finds.
These little books are written by Dorothy Kunhardt and illustrated by one of my very favorites, Garth Williams (Little Fur Family, forever and ever.) I already have the 1980 boxed edition, and though the books are the same, the little production details on these boxed sets are so
incredibly lovely (and the prices seem to creep up steadily every time I
see them) I'm so happy to have this older and more beautiful set.
Everything about these books is perfect...the colors, the type. Everything. Each of the books is about some little misfit animal-child - they are featured on the thumbelina-sized cover, and their parents are illustrated on the back. The whole thing reminds me of Wes Anderson in the nicest way (just look at that squirrel papa above with the caramel-colored suit!)
The design of the box/slipcase is a little apartment building and
neighborhood, with enough tiny details and little implied narratives to
make you crazy - every inch tells a mini-story, from the sunbathers on top of the box (one of my favorite things) to the little bandit cat and bow and arrow-wielding mouse facing off on the left and right corners.
Again, Wes Anderson, do you own this? If you do not, you need one. And I know you can get your mitts on the most pristine copy around.
When you remove the books, this is what you see. Naturally, Garth Williams didn't leave just regular ol' white space here or a simple pattern.
No, it's a corner grocery store with a rabbit family perusing the produce section and a bear cashier!
The endpapers of each book show a playground scene with all the tiny protagonists playing...just another perfect detail among dozens and dozens.
There is another little box from the Tiny Golden Library called Tiny Animal Stories. I had the 40's era set of that one in my collection already - perhaps that one needs a post sometime soon?
I hope you have a nice week! It's (uncharacteristically) hot as blazes here, which isn't good. I need my 60 degree days and grey sky/coffee afternoons to best get my work done.
I forgot to ever post about this! A few weeks back, I traveled to NY for Book Expo America festivities with my publisher to start sharing Dream Animals with everyone. As a bonus, I got spoiled spending several days visiting my (lovely & beloved) editor & book designer, and another day or two to do a little non-work-related gallivanting, too. I'm going to do this in list-form, because I'm coming off one of my marathon headaches and it's all I can muster.
Itinerary & Highlights, Mostly Out-of-order
- Signed things (prints and postcards) on Thursday morning of BEA at the very well-lit and enormous Javitz center (the photo up top was taken there.)
- Dinner followed with several editors, designers, agents, my own Josiah, the gentle Mr. Kellogg, and funny and irreverant Patricia MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall (!). She and Steven created a special & poignant picture book (full of children in beautiful sweaters) called Snowflakes Fall, which is a tribute to Sandy Hook, CT.
- Utterly destroyed my feet by wandering Soho late into the evening with my companions and ended up at the drugstore crying pitifully for bandaids. Worth it to peer at the glow of fancy shop windows and witness a friend very excitedly inspect the discarded shipping boxes heaped outside the Chloé store.
- Taped a little bit of video for a book trailer, which was not as terrifying as I'd feared.
In short, it was a good little trip. We are all really, really excited about Dream Animals, and really excited about our next book (which I'm working on now.) Mainly, though, I just spent a handful of days getting spoiled in the company of NY people I love and work closely with and that time zones keep me from. Any time I have a chance to visit them (and/or the Natural History Museum and/or the bagels) I'm there.