Painting with soft pastels…

10 11 2013

 

I was lucky enough to attend a talk by Caldecott winner, Erin Stead at the National Book Festival, and I was intrigued when she mentioned painting with pastels dissolved in water. At the time she was working on her second book, Bear Has a Story to Tell, written by her husband, Philip Stead. See some of the illustrations from the book here.

I thought I’d share these illustrated instructions for this technique. Enjoy!

me + art = 🙂

I got this idea from Erin Stead (Caldecott Award winning illustrator for A Sick Day for Amos McGee), and I believe she used this technique to create the illustrations for the book Bear Has a Story to Tell.

1.  Start with a small glass or plastic container (glass works best because plastic tends to stain).  I get ALL mine from secondhand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army, and rummage sales or flea markets-I seriously find them every time!  Drop whatever color, or colors, of pastel you like into the container.  I love making my own colors, and its very easy to do that with soft pastel.

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2.  Add small amounts of warm water (you can always add more but its hard to take away)…

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3.  …until it starts to dissolve and look like this.

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4.  When you can see no sediment left on the bottom of the container, then its ready to…

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Great Review from Washington Post

26 04 2013

Students Making Sense of the World book coverJust found out that the Washington Post named this book an intriguing e-book. And called it “Surprising, uplifting, assertive.”

I’m thrilled to have art and a 6-word bio in it and to be included with art students of all ages who have a 6-word message for the world. I’d call many of their contributions insightful, intriguing, and inspirational. A book to remind you of your hopes and dreams.

More about the book from the Post article:

“Everybody has a story. What’s yours?”

From Smith’s grandfather, he learned that everyone has a tale — often funny, thoughtful, or moving. One he loves: “I still make coffee for two.” Another: “Mom’s Alzheimer’s: She forgets, I remember.” So, what IS your story?





Linoleum Printing and Coretta Scott King Award

20 02 2013

Ellen's Broom coverBecause this is Black History Month, I thought I’d highlight one of my favorites from the 2013 Coretta Scott King Awards. Ellen’s Broom, with art by Daniel Minter. I did mention it earlier in the month, but this time I wanted to explore the art a bit more closely.

Minter’s linoleum prints are painted with watercolor. After experimenting with lino prints this summer (see Jungle of the Night, 5th picture down), I now appreciate how difficult this medium is to work with. Artists who choose it know that they have a long process ahead of them.

First is warming and carving out the linoleum block. I found this the most difficult step, as you have to cut away whatever you don’t want to be printed. It’s the opposite of painting, because you’re taking away rather than adding. Getting delicate detail on the block without cutting away too much or leaving too much behind is a real art.

Once that’s complete, the block must be inked and prints pulled. Once the prints dry, the painting begins. If you make a mistake at that point, it means starting over. (And how do I know this? Don’t ask.)

Minter’s details are amazing, and deserving of the award.* But I also want to mention the great story by Kelly Starling Lyons. I’ve highlighted Kelly’s writing on my blog before, so if you’re interested in finding out more about her, you can read about her One Million Men and Me, which tells about her books and her childhood.

*Interesting fact: Did you know that only one book illustrated with linoleum prints ever won the Caldecott?





Inspiration for Art, Writing, and Life

11 01 2013





The Art of the Imperfect

11 07 2012

As I head into the second half of my summer grad courses, I’m thinking a lot about wabi-sabi. And although traditionally those words don’t necessarily belong together and the actual meaning doesn’t translate well into English, we’ve taken bits and pieces of the meaning to create our own concept. Part of wabi-sabi is finding beauty in imperfection. The old, worn, cracked have a special beauty all their own. Peeling paint, stained upholstery, threadbare carpet all tell a story. Life is lived; things have happened in these places.That alone makes them beautiful, but they also have a deeper beauty for those who take the time to study them.

If you can find beauty in a rusting wrought iron chair, a fallen tree, a cracked sidewalk then you have the eye of an artist and the soul of a poet.

Take a closer look at things that have lost their patina. What do you see? What events have occurred here? What joys and sadness do these pieces hold? What stories can they tell now that the shiny newness has worn off?

Many cultures also revere people as they age.  Although their outer coverings become saggy, wrinkled, and age-spotted, they look on the world with knowing eyes. They have learned skills, have gained knowledge and understanding, and have grown in wisdom.  Their inner beings have been tried by fire, that often leaves behind gold nuggets. What can they tell us about life? What life lessons have we learned ourselves from our years of living that we can share?

To my mind, wabi-sabi doesn’t only mean appreciating time-worn objects, it also means allowing for your own mistakes. It means seeing that which you are ashamed of, embarrassed by, discouraged by as openings. Openings that allow you to embrace imperfection, accept it, and love it. Give yourself the grace of appreciation. What can you find to appreciate about the mistakes in your life?

Expand enough to to allow for mistakes and you’ll grow exponentially. Fear of making mistakes often keeps us stuck in old patterns, habits, ruts. It keeps us from experimenting with new things or spreading our wings. If we leave the judgment behind and embrace our imperfections, we can soar to new heights.

Birds flying





Inspiration

20 07 2011

Somehow my vacations always seem to end up as working vacations. My husband could never understand why I didn’t consider camping a vacation. For some reason, cooking for all seven of us over an open fire or on a small cookstove while keeping an eye on smallfry who each ran in different directions, washing dishes under a pump, and spending the night on a slowly deflating air mattresses while being kicked in the ribs, head, and stomach by various sleeping offspring, never topped my list of summer fun. I usually went home more tired than rested, not to mention bug-bitten, sunburned, and sore.

So this summer I planned a different type of working vacation. I agreed to help teach writing sessions at an out-of-state university. I was expecting to come home exhausted and drained. Instead, I came back excited, energized, and eager to dive into my own creative work.

It probably helped that my destination was the Mazza Summer Institute in Findlay, Ohio. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Findlay University holds a fabulous weeklong conference featuring picture book authors and illustrators. The University is home to the famous Mazza Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of original picture book art.  From the early works of Randolph Caldecott to many of the latest award-winning picture book artists, Mazza has it all. Watercolors, oils, prints, collage, pen and ink, pastels, and every medium in between. Each piece of art hangs above a shelf with the picture book it’s printed in. For anyone who loves picture books the way I do, it’s an inspiration. So much so, that someday I hope to see my own work hanging on their walls.

So I spent a week co-teaching breakout sessions in between listening to famous illustrators give visual presentations on their artistic processes and tell about their lives. Even more fun was being around an audience of teachers, librarians, writers, and art lovers who enjoy reading picture books even when there isn’t a toddler within hearing distance. I felt right at home.





More Monkey Business?

13 04 2011

As a follow-up to the previous post, thank you to all the kind people who thought I was the cute little girl on the bottom step.  Unfortunately, that’s my younger sister. So I guess that makes a monkey out of me. At least that’s what my sister always told people.

So I’m planning my revenge…

I’ve been working on art for the African Animals book, and have a partially completed painting of a monkey. I think I’ll do one similar to this, but paint me into the picture with the baby monkey. Then we can each have a picture called “My Sister and Me.”

 

© Laurie J. Edwards 2011