Spring is Sprung

At last - birds, grass, decent temperatures. Things are looking UP in Maine. Put the fence up over on the big field (in winter the snowmobile path goes across it) and turned out our horses. There was galloping and bucking and BIG farts. (They do that when they are happy). Me, I just do the galloping and bucking bit.

Last weekend I trotted off to Boston with some girl friends. We had a blast, the sun shone and it was 50 or so degrees. Even the daffs were flowering! Stayed at a lovely little hotel (John Jeffries House on Beacon Hill.) It was good to get away from the studio, see some sights and people, eat (too much) at nice restaurants and browse in galleries. One of the fun things is getting on the DownEaster Train in Portland and cruising to Boston North Station. Nice not to drive, kick back and relax, have a drink ;-).

Saturday night we went to the Opera House and saw Mary Poppins, the Broadway cast. Just stunning! Great set, singing and an escape from reality. I particularly enjoyed the sets, which were very illustrative and made to work like a doll's house. Of course Disney always but on a great show, love' em or hate 'em. Well I loved it and took some inspiration from it.

More inspiration on Sunday - Boston Museum of Fine Arts. One afternoon is far too little time to do it properly - and viewing fatigue sets in after a while. It was good to sit and contemplate amongst old masters, the paintings old friends from books and posters, from essays written at college and lectures received. So I mused among the Impressionists and spent a while with John Singer Sargent and his beautiful brushwork. Roamed in the Egyptian room and pootled in the new Art of the Americas wing. Totally missed the musical instruments and costume though. Rats.

And in breathing the atmosphere it reminds you that this is still just paint on canvas, one brush stroke, one observation at a time. Take that home and recall that what you do is not so much different.

Meanwhile back in my real life ... still trying to throw off the kidney stone episode with has left me pretty exhausted. I am deep in to the compositions for 'Hidden New Jersey' for Charlesbridge. There is a lot of detail and research for each spread ... they are packed cock-a-hoop full of history. Hopefully I can share them here soon. There's a lot of work to do before then though!

Good news also this week - 'How to Talk to an Autistic Kid' goes on sale from Free Spirit Publishing. I received my copy and it looks fab! You can buy it now on Amazon If you have a child who is in contact with an Autistic child, perhaps at school, or just to educate them that an Autistic child acts a little differently but is highly intelligent, this is a great book. Also if your feeling generous, purchase a copy for your school or library. If you would like a signed copy, please let me know and I will try to arrange it.

Lastly, really pleased to find out that Corinna Elementary School (about 10 miles from me in Maine) has received a grant enabling me to work with 4th graders in the next several weeks to produce a book. Hopefully we will publish through Lulu and put it on Amazon ... watch out for that! More chances to spend $$!

I hope Spring is with you now where ever you are and you are looking forward to a beautiful year.

Ta Ta For Now

The Wacky Brit

On the bedside table -
Writing Magic - Gail Carson Levine
When I Grow Up - Al Yankovic and Wes Hargis

"Pleasure bent again, Lizzy!"

It has to be my favorite quote from 'Pride and Prejudice'. I say it every time I am going on a fun trip ... I have even got 'im indoors saying it now. So, yes, 'pleasure bent again Lizzy' - in just 5 days to Hollywood ... yippee! If you missed the it (and I can't imagine you haven't been following the thread) I am attending the SCBWI summer conference in Los Angeles. Just seems to have been one fun trip after another this year, and it's not over yet! Lucky me (mixed with a lot of hard work). So I feel the old quote will be dragged out several more times before I am done with 2010.

It will be fun to meet up with Sheralyn Barnes, a gal I met at the NY winter conference (and fellow illustrator/author) . Yee gads, we are even rooming. This could be make or break for our friendship. (Check her work out). But I am predicting a lot o' fun. networking and possibly the odd cocktail. (Or two.)

Meanwhile, back at the drawing board, what's been going on in the attic ..... ?

OH! OH! The Lovely Art Director (from here on in known as LAD), emailed me to say I have been chosen to illustrate the Lovely Publisher's book on Autism. VERY EXCITED. So watch this space for more news. Giddy to tell all, but you know what it's like. So LAD will hopefully be calling me today to discuss NUMBERS. (I am good on 1 to 10 thanks). ETC. Whatever ETC is. I am really going to enjoy this project because I am also going to get to do all the text by hand which I have always wanted to have a go at. So - CELEBRATION in LA for me!

In between 'cleaning ship' (as we used to say in the Royal Navy) in prep. for the visit of in-laws (arrive today) I have been working on my portfolio. I have stuck to the same style this time ... and OMG it is so PASTEL (colour I mean not medium). Totally odd for me, cos I do like my dark colours. Well we will see.

Here are a couple from 'Share the Bear' which are in there.

Portfolio organized ... new biz cards and postcards ... small photo size portfolio to fill and I'll be good to go.

SERIOUS MOMENT: Bought 'Reading Magic' by Mem Fox this week (as recommended by Allyn Johnstone in a seminar). Excellent so far. Gave myself a break from chores/work yesterday and bimbled over to Tim Horton's for some carbs (which I DO NOT NEED - note to self). Sitting munching and reading away quite happily. Mem talking about how early you should begin reading to your child. Now, I was only thinking the other day that I have no real memories of being read to particularly. I remember laying in bed reading 'A Child's Garden of Verses' when I was 5, and then I was on to chapter books and beyond. I have virtually no memory of picture books, although I am sure there were a-plenty.

My childhood was somewhat unsettled in many ways. I think my mother fell out of love with books when the general wear and tear of real life got to her, and, apart from trashy novels, I never saw her read much. But I know she did as a child and teenager and loved Dickens and some of the classics. But it was something I had to come to on my own; books and art were my escape.

And then, as I was reading Mem Fox's words, I suddenly remembered images of my sister reading with me ... a memory that was buried deep down. My sister is 9 years older than me, and although we do not have a close relationship now, she looked after me a great deal when I was young. And right there, in Tim Horton's I found tears pouring down my cheeks! Oh no! I dabbed them away, feigning something in my eye, as you do, even though no one is really looking and sniffed all the way home. So that's the last time I take a book to read in Tim Horton's on a lunchtime! But it does remind me how potent childhood memories can be, and how serious this fun occupation of writing and illustrating for children really is.

Right-o ... I must get back to gluing down the floor tiles in the kitchen and cutting the grass so the place is the best it can be for the relatives inspection. Why do we feel the need? Sigh.

I'll be back to the blog after I return from Los Angeles.

Now, where did I put the Tums? Must remember to pack them.

Tatty Bye from Maine.

aka The Wacky Brit.

PS ... Here are some of my notes from the last conference ... it's a wonder I ever remember anything!