Friday, December 9, 2011

Chugging along with PiBoIdMo

Sketch made in a café for PiBoIdMo Day 26. Who knows where it will go?

This past November was a busy one. I took part in Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo created by Tara Lazar) and as ARA for SCBWI France worked on its Regional Conference set for December 2nd and 3rd. I wrapped up PiBoIdMo and headed off to Paris on the very fast train (TGV) from Brest at 6:42 am in the pitch black— a rather lonely time of day at the train station.

I stared out the window at the dark landscape speeding by and thought back on my 30 ideas and could not remember one single distinct idea. I decided that they must really stink if I’d already forgotten them. It was a little sad but somewhat typical of me so I took out my PiBoIdMo notebook and a printout of the December 1st Post-PiBoIdMo blogpost "Pat Miller Follows Through" to change my mindset. Pat advised this newly graduated class of 2011 PiBoIdMo’ers to turn back to our ideas (oh boy! I was already one step ahead) and look them over each day, adding to each one— plot points, characters, conflicts.

Reading the idea from Day 1 I remembered that very day— out in the sunshine taking a walk with my daughter to get to know this new place where we’d recently moved. We checked out the neighborhoods, found the local library (only to see a poster announcing that it had just closed for renovations), kept walking and came upon a row of semi-detached houses. This reminded me of a trip to Ireland where I met my Great-Uncle Willie Green and he proudly showed me a mural of the town when they lived in rows of thatched roof cottages. Then I got the day’s idea.

The train chugged on. I continued to plow through my ideas still feeling sleepy and still thinking the ideas were a bit stinky (not stench-level stinky but lacking). I kept reading, started to add a bit here and there, to really think. The time passed as the TGV zipped along. I looked up and the sun was rising. And that’s all it took to feel better about my ideas— reading, thinking, adding, a little sunrise and VOILA! I will keep going.

I think that’s what I like best about PiBoIdMo— every time I think I won’t have another idea, I do. Then I think I won’t have another good idea and I keep trying, making better. All the support and solid advice PiBoIdMo provides makes it so much easier.

I hope to carry what I’ve learned with me all year long and bit by bit turn a few of these ideas into something more.

Thanks to everyone (especially Tara)!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pumpkin, moon, rainbow

Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating!

It's business as usual here in France but we managed a little celebration.
I made pumpkin soup and pumpkin flan but I had to kill this beauty for it:

I felt so bad I had to take a few photos.

The turkey that I bought at the market was fresh.
When I bought it the poultry farmer told me it'd keep for at least a week
in the fridge because she just killed it the day before.
So I wasn't the only one killing stuff for this meal. It was delicious.

This was the moon about a week ago.
Hard to see here but it was eerie and beautiful.
From the windows of this apartment (we've only been here since September)
we have lots of uninterrupted views.

Here's another view on a stormy day.
I spliced two photos together so you can see the whole rainbow.

Big beautiful sky. Ever changing.

That's all for now.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Inspirations

Inspired by the SCBWI European Union Scrawl Crawl and my daughter's prolific blogging, I decided to sketch and put it up here. Right away. Not after thinking and procrastinating and whatever! It's a Sunday morning warm up sketch of my latest purchase: old buttons. There's a "brocante" (antique (-ish) shop) nearby and I 've been going there for years, picking up odds and ends. It's owned by a friendly woman with a good eye and a great talent for display. And so, here's the sketch:

You may be wondering what a "Scrawl Crawl" is and rightly so. It's a day out, roaming around, sketching from life. I had a wonderful time with Sue Porter and her dog, Maisie; we went to Carnac and sketched the prehistoric stones.

It felt so good to draw outdoors from life, getting out of the attic, away from my desk, the dummy book I'm trying to complete and the computer screen. I got back into the drawing process-- it's way different sketching from life than pulling reference pics from search engines. Everyone knows that but it's easy to get caught up in work and not look up or out. I'm going to try to keep sketching for fun because it is just that.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring and/or Winter

Seems like some of you woke to snow today. Winter sure is hanging on. But rest assured...

...spring is on its way. The plum blossoms have already "snowed" down on us in my backyard. It's been springing for a little while around here. No real snow at all this year!

These are images I created for Illustration Friday a few weeks ago for "layer". I did the snow-surprised birds first. Then I took the compost out back and realized that my snowy image had nothing to do with my reality. The blossoms were out on the trees; it was cool and sunny. I thought to myself, these beautiful petals will be gone soon--I love when the breezes start blowing them around. And voilà! Inspiration for my second image !


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Spring Sketch

A collage sketch for those of you wishing for an early Spring:

Hang in there!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winter Gardens

Hyacinths are ordinary plants but come January when all is cold and drab, I need a few to buoy my mood and remind me that more clement times are coming soon. I bought some right around the new year. Here’s the progress from bulb to flower:

Too bad I can't share the beautiful scent because it is a big part of the plant's charm. It fills the room but is never cloying or overpowering. Right up here in the attic I have my own little winter garden and the hyacinths are doing all they can to spark creativity. The colors (violet mixed with blue) and the scent wake me up.

Another way to lift the winter spirits is the classic standby: take a walk. Sunday, my daughter and I were at a loss as to where to go so I had a bright idea. After seven years in this town, we’d never been to the cemetery. I realize this is a good thing but I was curious and it gave us a goal. Short term goals are important. (Cemetery + goal = lifted spirits. Hmm. Hope the only "spirits" lifting will be ours.)

We found it by following a path of winter trees. I love winter trees and have been painting them on and off for a few years now. These particular trees rekindled my desire to paint my trees so I knew it was a good omen. (I’ve since started two new paintings.)

We saw all kinds of French grave sites ranging from very old to very new. French cemeteries are different from those I knew in New England. There’s no grass, just gravel. We missed the grass but in the old section we came across some interesting resting places like this one with lots of moss and enamel mementos.

And as we approached the exit, we saw this very old stone slab with a grassy moss growing in the inscriptions.

So we got the grass we were missing after all.

What do you do to keep your winter garden lively?