Out of Adversity comes Creativity

Last week I was telling you about our old boy Oreo, who'd had a reprieve at the vet. Unfortunately it didn't last long. By the weekend he couldn't walk, and trying to pick him up at the weekend he nipped my face. He was devastated and sat with his head on my lap all night.

I had a lovely shiner, and was able to blame 'im indoors and give the neighborhood something to gossip about.

Oreo eventually went to doggie heaven on Wednesday last week ... the lovely Chris Demarest drew me this beautiful sketch from a picture I posted on Face Book ... RIP Oreo we miss you ...

if you don't know Chris' children's illustration check him out here ...

So that was Wednesday morning  ... on Wednesday afternoon I had the artist's reception for my Fire and Ice Photographs at Eastern Maine Community College. So I took out my English Stiff Upper Lip and gave a rather rambling talk on the photos ... but it was actually a lot of fun, and nice to talk to people about my work. Afterwards a fun meal with friends which helped take the edge of a difficult day.

Thursday - dog number two - Sprout, our little blind Cockapoo had to have surgery for breast cancer. We left her at the vet and hoped that we would be bringing her home later. I don't think we had enough Kleenex in the house to cope otherwise. Glad to report Sprout pulled through, had a large tumor removed and a couple of little ones, and 2 teeth! She had her drains removed this morning and is doing nicely.

Here she is recovering in her baby onesy ...

So all in all, a helluva week.

In the midst of all this I still had to have the finals done for the book for Freespirit Publishing. I did it! Finished them this afternoon. Amazing how much you can cope with when you try. Not that I am complaining ... I have a home, someone to love me, work, all my limbs and am not living in an earthquake aftermath. It's not so bad.

But still. When your sad, your sad. And in amongst the sadness I had an idea for a new book. ('Here she goes again', I hear you cry, 'what about all the other ideas she keeps springing on us!! When will we be able to buy those in my local B&N??' - be fair reader, I have finished the math dummies, and I can't do anything else about those until I hear back from THE AGENT. Sigh.)

The new idea is about a girl and her horse. I don't want to give away too much (when do I?) but it is not like anything else I have come up with (SO FAR). It is much more about emotions and dealing with sadness. I suppose I channeled my grief from this week. Here are a few sketches from the rough layout. I am going to do one of them in pastel .. (yes NOT in photoshop!) I would love to have feedback on what you think of the roughs and of the finished pastel ... hopefully I will get to post it in the next couple of weeks. I bought a beautiful piece of sanded gray pastel paper ... actually it is probably too good to draw on. I just want to pin it on the wall and think 'Did I really pay THAT MUCH for a piece of paper?'

Leaving you with some photographs taken just as the sun was setting one evening this week. Last night we had a storm and I think the rest of the leaves are gone, so I am glad I took these in time.

Work. This week .... sketches for the poetry book Wee Three by Marta Moran Bishop and for 'Crazy Days' by Margy Robertson Reid way up in the far flung realms of Northern Canada.

a rather weary Wacky Brit signing off

on the bedside table this week:

Tim Burton - The Interviews
Questionable Creatures (A Bestiary) - Pauline Baynes
Save the Cat Goes to the Movies - Blake Snyder
Zen Ghosts - Jon J Muth
Words and Pictures - Quentin Blake
Fancy Nancy & the Fabulous Fashion Boutique - Jane O' Connor, Robin Preiss Glasser
Olivia Goes To Venice - Ian Falconer
Art & Max - David Weisner

(I went a bit mad at the library!)

Boats and Shows


riday already? Oh man. And I haven't finished the rough of the last in the problem series 'Share the Bear'. OK, I didn't even start it. It was that kind of week.

Tuesday was a fun day, nipped down to Rockland on the coast of Maine to try and get some publicity shots of moi with the

Isaac H Evans Schooner

, for the drawing cruise (got to do a press release). The ship was up out of the water in her cradle getting her bottom painted. 'im Indoors came along and did the photography bit.

1. I HATE having photos taken (yeah right you say, because 2 weeks running pics of me on the blog).

2. 'im indoors has not got the best eyesight so it is always a bit of a crap shoot. I make him stand on the spot and then I set up the shot and hope for the best. Given that he is a good 8" taller than me it doesn't always work out. This is what I got ..

Well not too bad I suppose. The ship looks good! Can't wait to be on the water again. Here's one of the crew with Capt Brenda.

Ooooohh (how DO you spell that?), the really fun news of the week is that I will be putting on a solo show of my Ice and Fire photographs at the John Rohman Gallery at EMCC in Bangor in Nov/Dec this year! I am excited as this is my first solo photography show. Yikes! Now I have to frame things.

But mostly it has been work work work. I am not complaining. I just wish I could get to finishing one of my projects now and again, but ya gotta eat right?

Here's another of the Owl illustrations just to prove I haven't been out rollicking around on ships all week ...

BTW, these are drawn by hand and then coloured in Photoshop.

While down on the coast we popped in to see a friend at a

fine art auction house

in Thomaston. In the May auction they have a previously unseen Andrew Wyeth up for sale. Our friend said he expected it to make 2 to 3, maybe even as high as 5. '$5,000?' asked 'im indoors. And then turned bright red when he realised it was $500,000. Bless him. As he says it is just paint and canvas. Right?

I did carelessly lose a day this week.I was meant to go down to the meeting of the Maine Illustrator's Collective in Portland with

Russ Cox

, (an illustrator from the next town over from me). I was working happily away when 'ting ting' and there's Russ on the phone wondering where the hell I am. I was convinced it was the following day .... so needless to say we didn't make the meeting. Lumme! And my online calendar even sent me a reminder that I happily deleted! Now - I am a mega organized person and in the quiet of the night I lay looking at the ceiling and wondering if this was the beginning of the decline into the pit?

On the bed side cabinet at the moment ..

LMNO - PEAS by Keith Baker (Fun!)

Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi

Speeches, Essays and Conversations - Virginia Hamilton

Dear Dumb Diary 2&3 - Jim Benton

Time is running out on me in the build up to the New England SCBWI conference on 14-16th May in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. I have homework to do for Illustrators Intensive (luckily I can utilize Minusaur I think). I want to work on a piece for an illustration exhibition in Boston ... the theme of the exhibition is 'North' and I want to do the whole thing in oil for a change. And I have to have it done by 13th .... ARGHH!

Then there's ... well, never mind, you get the picture.

So next week it's nose to the drawing board/screen/whatever and no slacking!!

Oh - hang on - I am off to Boston to see Mark Knopfler on Tuesday ....



The Wacky Brit. (or Brat as some people might say.)