American Sketchbook 2014 Part 3 – Western Massachusetts and World Fantasy Convention

Note: If you’d like to see more detail, just click on an image. You should go through to its Flickr page where you can look at a larger version of it.

The previous parts of the report are at:

On to beautiful Northampton, full of authors and illustrators. It is my backup if the plan to become fabulously wealthy and move to Dartmoor falls through.

I arrived in Northampton in time to be swept off to another reading at Mystery on Main in Brattleboro, then off in the other direction for a Halloween  stayed with Small Beer Press, whose house is full of books and art, and we visited the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

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Here is the mask, and me in it (in a borrowed dress).Mousemask

Mo Willems was signing that day. Below is also some guest art by Ursula, who is also the cover artist for  Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #31 (which I am in!).

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I also caught up with some local illustrators and artists for a sketching session, and watched several versions of Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad, and tried to climb out of my chair backwards. I was also introduced to The Vampire Diaries.

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It was a lovely few days – writing with Kelly and Holly in cafes, being attacked by a sabertooth tiger, visiting the R. Michelson Galleries, which were setting up for an exhibition of Caldecott winners. I saw my first real original Trina Schart Hyman illustrations, and they were from Saint George and the Dragon, too. There were others there, and I saw originals in houses of other people too, but that is my favourite. She is also one of the few illustrators whose originals were roughly the same size of the published work.

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I went there a couple times, to commune.

Then, on by train to Washington DC and Arlington, for the World Fantasy Convention. I had a brilliant time, met lots of old friends and new ones, and everything in the art show sold(!!). Below, on the left, is the art show setup (Angela Slatter helped me). On the right are sketches from the collections of the Library of Congress, of which we had a tour after Charles Vess gave a talk there. That is, they gave Charles a tour and a few of us tagged along.

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Proof I was at the art show, passing myself off as John Picacio.


Sketches from the mass signing event.

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Music in stray corners late in the evening. We shared our hotel with the Rolling Thunder convention, who were convivial neighbours. And I slipped out of the convention after art show checkout, but before the banquet, to visit the Andrew Wyeth exhibition “Looking Out, Looking In” at the National Gallery with Irene, Greg and Shena.

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I was also on a panel on “Fantasy artists who take up the pen” with Ruth Sanderson, Charles Vess and Greg Manchess, but I do not have any sketches of that.

The Zipsers, who ran the art show, organised a tour of the fabulous Kelly Collection of golden age American illustration: Wyeths and Pyles, Teppers and Leyendeckers, Webbers and Rockwells. Utterly magical – I want to go back and take more notes on how they painted, and particularly on how they told stories, and also the stories which are told about them. Artists are such good story material.

This also meant I saw three generations of Wyeths (NC, Andrew and Jamie) in a week.

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Next in the series is Part Four: New York again


This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, part of the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts. thumbnail

All the Wild Wonders: Shaun Tan’s Keynote Address

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I consciously strive not to be a raving fangirl, with the consequence that I only found out about the CBCA conference the afternoon on which Deb and I were to fly to Melbourne. Shaun Tan’s keynote address was one of two which were open to the public (for a fee) and having consulted the list and been informed by Cat and Sean that it would be worth the fee twice over, I went. At 9am on the first morning in Melbourne*. My striving is not always successful.

And it was.

Shaun’s speech was lucid and humble and wise and personal, illustrated throughout by images cast upon the screen – from first grade drawings (complete with roosting pterodactyls) through paintings from life (more mysterious sometimes than his fantastic pieces), illustrations and covers (Aurealis, Sara Douglas) that I knew (and owned) but did not know were his, to his recent, mysterious, luminous work. The development and changes were striking.

He began by reading “Eric” – a short story about an exchange student from his new book Tales of Outer Suburbia, with the images on the screen behind him. I could quite happily sit and listen to picture/illustrated books this way indefinitely.

He said the major themes in his work were:

  • Fantasy Worlds
  • Real Worlds
  • The Gap of Understanding Between the Two
  • Belonging

Main points from my notes:

Continue reading

IFri Picks

Welcome to February and a new header!

I have some posts lined up, including: January Book Reviews; January Movie Reviews; Status Report; Lessons I Learned from My Moleskine; and, Five Parties to Which I Would Like to Go.

For now, however, I point you to Illustration Friday, if you have not yet visited it. Some fascinating artists and illustrators participate and it is always worth checking out the entries. The project has become so popular it is difficult to keep up with all the entries, comment and maintain full-time employment, but I try to see (and comment on) a representative sample.

Here are some sites and pictures that caught my eye this week:

Paul Bommer has some quirky, folksy, funny, catchy posters for The Winter’s Tale – I really like his style, which has the feel of early 20th century European illustration. He uses lovely muted colours and haphazard textures with a lively line and, well, really superior bears.

Thierry Bedouet’s almost monochromatic Beast of Gevaudan falls somewhere between graphic modernism and… Amelia Bedelia. I find the beast quite terrifying, and the milkmaid’s expression delightful.

Mark Deutsch’s painting of a mother who turned her son into a monkey has some brilliantly caught expressions which tell the story as much as any other part of the picture. Also, the monkey in the school uniform makes me laugh.

Corcoise’s The Fireflies Keeper is a beautifully lit illustration painted in bleach on black paper. I would love to see a graphic novel done in this style and medium.

Steve Morrison has depicted a monolithic Kronos which could be both an illustration and a design element – I really like the way the image bends to the demands of the shape. I like his Excess illustration as well, its magnificently antlered deer seems to me less proposterous than solemn. I would also like a set of his playing cards, both because I really like the simple, charming style and because I want a set of cards I can colour in.

Abigail Halpin’s characters have still, beatific faces, and her snark-hunter meshes a Renaissance style with that of modern picture books.

And finally, Jeop Wolfe contributes a bear in an ill-fitting hat.