Friday, September 16, 2016


I keep a small notebook and pencil under my pillow to capture all those brilliant ideas that show up in the middle of the night.
I can pull out the notebook, jot down my inspirations without even opening my eyes or turning on a light, tuck the notebook back under my pillow, and resume sleeping with hardly a moment's interruption. In the morning I open the notebook, remove the inscribed pages (which surely will be filled with gems of insight), and file them in the appropriate places.
The other morning when I opened the notebook to see what my midnight unconsciousness had produced, this was the page that awaited me. word: 
I had no idea what I was thinking...what the word meant...what the brilliant thought could possibly have been. The appropriate spot in which to file this gem was clear: WASTEBASKET. 

Reminder for the day: Some things really are worthless.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


I have just donated this piece of art from my book Holly's Christmas Eve ... a signed copy of the book to go with it... the Plum Creek Children's Literacy Festival's online benefit auction of original art. Go to the site 
and prepare to salivate over all the wonderful original art from children's books that will be available. This is your chance to acquire beautiful art at often very reasonable prices, while helping to promote children's literacy. The auction begins September 1. I'll be bidding---hope you will too!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


This little Oaxacan goat family recently arrived in my mailbox---I ordered them from the National Museum of Mexican Art, in Chicago. My parents had a dairy goat herd when I was a child, and I have a special fondness for those animals, so when I heard of this work of art, I could not resist. But when I unwrapped the figures and set them up...something was missing. I didn't know what.
Adding to the mystery was a separate little parcel containing..."Of course! Tails!" I thought. I'm familiar with these wooden Mexican folk art creatures; many figures have detachable tails. 
Except these goats were sitting down---there was no room for a tail. Nor a place to attach the tails. And besides, this is not what goat tails look like. "The museum made a mistake," I decided, and I wrapped up the tails and mailed them back. A few days later I received a phone call from the Museum. "We did not make a mistake," said the Museum."Those are not tails; they are..."
..."horns!" And suddenly, something was no longer missing. Just so, in creating a piece of art, there is that one small element or addition that---sparked by some stray comment or idea---can make all the difference.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


One of the objects I kept when dismantling my Dad's studio was this brass printer's loupe, made in Germany. I quote here Wikipedia's description, for those who may not be familiar with this device:
"A loupe (pronounced 'loop') is a simple, small magnification device used to see small details more closely. Unlike a magnifying glass, a loupe does not have an attached handle, and its focusing lens(es) are contained in an opaque cylinder or cone, or fold into an enclosing housing that protects the lens when not in use. Loupes are also called hand lenses."

A printer's loupe is usually small---this one, when folded up, is about the size of a large postage stamp.
Opened, it holds the lens at the correct distance for focusing on a detail of a printed page. This built-in positioning eliminates having to fuss with and adjust the position of the lens while also trying to inspect the printed image.
Place the opened loupe on the printed area, and by then looking through the top of it... is possible to see the dot pattern that makes up an offset reproduction (the usual technique by which most images are reproduced today), as well as other details. Being able to look at the printed area so closely helps with color correction, and with improving the overall reproduction.
When finished, fold it up and tuck it away for the next time.This loupe probably originally had a fitted leather case in which to store it--now lost. Loupes are still being made, and some of them are more complex than this one. But the modern loupes are plastic, and aren't always designed to fold up. I love the heavy solid feel of this little brass version, its collapsibility, and the fact that it did its job in Dad's studio for over 70 years.

Monday, July 11, 2016


I was recently contacted by Ali Seidabadi, an Iranian editor and author. Seidabadi is promoting a series of picture books that are being published by Tiny Owl, a British publishing house; he would like to bring them to the attention of an American audience. The books will be translations of picture books from around the world, and Seidabadi is involved with a series of Iranian books.

Today I received one of the books from the Iranian series: "A Rainbow In My Pocket", by Ali Seidabadi, illustrated by Hada Haddadi. Author and illustrator are both highly respected in Iran.

When I read the words other people have written, or look at the pictures they have made, I feel as though my soul is reaching out and clasping hands with their soul. The words and pictures in this book are different from what I usually see and hear in an American picture book. But I also recognize the commonalities, and feel an understanding of Iranian culture that I didn't have before. The pages are playful...resonating with the creative love and humanity that children's book writers and artists all over the world pour into their works.
It's not just professional creators who can speak to us in this way. Everyone has something of themselves to tell or to show, whoever he is, wherever she comes from. Everyone wants to be heard and seen. Today, let's listen to someone's story or look at someone's picture, in whatever medium it comes. It might be from an Iranian on the other side of the globe; or from a stranger a few states away; or from the person sitting next to us. Listen. Look. Reach across the divide. Help bring us closer together.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Marcia Brown, American author and illustrator, was born on July 13, 1918, and died in April of 2015---just last year. Brown's work was awarded three Caldecott Medals, and six Caldecott Honors, during her career---more Caldecotts  (awards and honors together) than any other illustrator. She also received the prestigious Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1992 for her lifetime contribution to children's literature. Yet how well-known is she today? 

Brown should be talked about more than she is. Her work demonstrates a dazzling range of virtuosity, style, and media.

Woodcuts in two or three colors...


...vigorous yet delicate pen-work with pastel color...


...atmospheric color with lots of lines...

...bold flat primary color with hardly any line at all...


...exotic colors and dramatic silhouettes...

The Bun

...or just the simplest strokes of pencil and crayon. Pen-and-ink, gouache, watercolor, pencil, crayon...
Note with illustration
...playful, adventurous, bold, sweet, powerful, delicate, silly, serious...her artwork covers the gamut. One would never guess that all of this diversity came from the hands of one individual. And I haven't even said a word about her writing. Honor this artist by looking up some of her books today.   (This site is especially informative, including several interviews)

Monday, July 4, 2016

JULY 4, 2016

Boiled potatoes, still hot...with skins, or without...

...diced celery...

...lemon juice...

...olive oil...


...all together give you
*Fourth of July Potato Salad*

Monday, June 20, 2016


Donate to "Thumbelina", receive this art as a reward
Victoria Dobrushina, teacher extraordinaire in Norwich Vermont, has consistently created unique end-of-year recitals and productions for her students, who range in age from 5 to over 70. While these productions always have a classical piano focus, they also incorporate many other instruments, as well as singing, dance, and theater. This year, she and all of her collaborators are hoping to take the performance to a whole new level with a full theatrical production of Thumbelina, created by a team of talented artists including composer E. Krylatov, poet Y. Entin, drama director and librettist I. Khutsieva, choreographer D. Frawley, and Victoria as music director. 

I created this piece of art and have given it to Victoria's organization. They will use it as the program cover, and as a fund-raiser. Donate $150 or more to Thumbelina...and receive the orginal piece as your reward. There are 13 days left to respond!

Go to this link to find out more about the Thumbelina project:

Click on the tab for "updates" to see a video of Victoria's recital from last year. "Updates" will also show you see details about the artwork reward.  Or go to this link:

Thursday, June 16, 2016


James Daugherty was born on June 1, 1889. Like many other children's book illustrators, he worked creatively in a variety of styles and genres.
He was one of the first American painters to work with abstract color.
Daugherty sketching in his studio, his son posing for him
Later he began working in more representational styles...

Mural in the Greenwich Public Library
...creating a large body of work in the form of murals and paintings...

...that often explored American history and experience.
It was later in his career when he turned to children's books, a field in which he illustrated for other authors... well as writing and illustrating his own distinguished, award-winning books.

His work is always vigorous, bursting with energy, so alive it seems to leap off the page.
One can feel muscles rippling beneath the surface of even the inanimate objects in his work.
Illustration from "Daniel Boone"

I had not realized until researching for this post that  Daugherty's work was also at times quite controversial (and perhaps still is)---for his uncompromising depictions of violent factual events, his sometimes scantily clad people, his uncomfortably accurate portrayals of this country's history. We are all too familiar with these same issues today, of course.
Daughtery's representational work remains, for me, some of the most beauiful art ever created. His images remind me of Michelangelo's art; they have the same heroic feel and look, the same celebration of the grandeur of creation.
But Daugherty's images have, in addition, their own unique qualities: a barely controlled energy, a life force that animates every creature, object, and item portrayed... as well as an acceptance of humanity in all its contradictory imperfection and nobility.

Monday, June 6, 2016


When I dismantled my Dad's studio earlier this year, I kept a few objects that had special meaning for me. One of them was this little tin of bronze powder. As a special treat for me when I was a small child, Dad would tip out some of this powder onto a china saucer, add banana oil to the proper consistency---and like magic, there was gold paint, ready for me to brush on as the final embellishment to an image I had created.
The tin is still half full...
...and the powder is still as sparkling and magical as it was when I was five years old. Just like the impact Dad still has, even after his death, on my life as an artist.