Jules: Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, our weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.
And it happens to be the first Sunday of the month, in which I like to shine the spotlight on someone new to illustration.
But, first: Happy Independence Day and happy holidays to our American readers. We hope you enjoyed some good fireworks and red, white, and blue pie. (Oh yes, I did. I took in a slice of Cool Whip, strawberry, and blueberry pie. Mmm.) And we hope some folks will be around to kick with us today, even though it’s a long, leisurely holiday weekend for a lot of us.
Things are very all-in-the-family this morning here at 7-Imp. Anyone else remember when Philip Stead stopped by in mid-June to let me shine the spotlight on him? Well, he happened to mention that his wife is about to be a debut illustrator as well; in fact, they’re working on a book together. After I saw a sneak-peek of a bit of Erin’s art from that book, thanks to Philip, I invited her to stop by and talk a bit about the upcoming title and share some of her art. Don’t you love that opening illustration? (You can click on all of the images in today’s post to enlarge them.) I like it. A whole lot.
Here’s Erin, and I thank her for visiting 7-Imp today, especially since she gives us a wonderful peek into her printmaking process:
Erin: “I came to illustration a little reluctantly. I should clarify by saying that children’s books are a true passion of mine. All I was interested in doing was sponging up all of the history and brilliant books that could soak into my brain. And so, when the thought of me illustrating a book was proposed, it was with much respect and reverence that I came to a conclusion— I was terrified. My husband, Philip Stead (whom you’ve met in a previous post, because he is also an illustrator), wrote a little story, entitled A Sick Day for Amos McGee, which became the first book I have ever illustrated. The book doesn’t come out for about a year. The publication date is June, 2010.
The first tactic I use in order to make a picture is to avoid my drawing table area entirely. I’ll walk the dog, sit on the porch, or bake. There is too much pressure at the drawing table, and I like to get to know my characters before I draw them. Once I feel confident navigating a blank piece of paper, I do a sketch or two. Some are better than others, but most are not very pretty.
After I sketch out something that feels right, I draw it again a little tighter at the proper size and spacing.
From here, I start to work on the final piece of art. I start carving my woodblock, so I can add color to the picture. The woodblock looks like this. It’s a thin piece of wood with really nice wood grain.
The tools I use to carve the woodblock look like this.
If two colors are next to each other in the picture, a different block has to be carved for each color. Below are the yellow stripes carved for the background.
There is a blue blanket, a red balloon, and the penguin is wearing tiny red socks.
Amos McGee is the star of this book. He is the old man you see in the sketch. He wears green striped pajamas. The penguin is navy blue and the elephant is a grey pink.
My printmaking method and technique is not proper, by any means, so if there are real printmakers reading this blog, I apologize for what you are about to read. But here we go. I use oil ink, because it is has a rubber stampy texture and picks up the wood grain nicely. At one point in my life, I thought I was going to be an oil painter, so I think I like the way oil ink smells. When I am all finished with the block carving, I mix the ink and apply it to the black with a brayer.
The disk in the picture with the bamboo sheath is a barren. I place the paper on top of the inked wood block and press the barren on top of everything to make a print. At the end, the print looks like this.
I wait for the print to dry (it takes about a day or so) and then I draw on top of the print with pencil. Ta Da!
Even though making the book was pretty terrifying, I had a wonderful time sitting in my little office with my husband illustrating away. Here are a few other examples from the book.
I love it I love it I love it. Thanks again to Erin for stopping by. I can’t wait to see the book.
1* OMG. Look at that sweet wrinkly elephant. And that penguin with a balloon. And those stripey green pajamas. I can’t believe how much effort Erin puts into her illustrations, but I’m so glad, ’cause that book looks perfect.
2* THREE. DAY. WEEKEND.
3* I got the new Wilco album, which is appropriately titled Wilco (the album). To put it in SAT terms, Eisha : Wilco :: Jules : Sam Phillips. So a new Wilco album is a big deal to me. This one is very, very good – on the first few listens, I like it better than the last two albums, but Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is still my all-time fave.
4* Since I pre-ordered it from their website, it also came with a customizable t-shirt that says “Wilco (the shirt)” on the front, and came with iron-on letters to spell out my own name where it says “______ (the fan)” on the back. People, with a moniker like Eisha, do you know how deprived I was as a child of stuff with my name on it? No bicycle license plates, no stickers, no shoelaces, none of that stuff all you Jennifers and Kellys and Kimberlys took for granted. Not that I’m bitter. But I am inordinately excited about this.
5* SILKSINGER! I’ve read it twice in a row now, and it rocks so very hard. Thank you, Laini Taylor, for creating such an original fantasy series. I can’t wait for the next one. No pressure, though – I know you’ve got other stuff on your mind right now.
6* In a variation on our usual Jane Austen Tea Parties, the Poets Upstairs made amazing deep dish pizza and we watched Northanger Abbey. OMG, you guys, I’ve never read the book, but the movie is hilarious! Maybe my favorite one yet.
7* Okay, look. I get that Michael Jackson was a talented guy, but for the most part his brand of pop just wasn’t my thing. So I’ve been deeply annoyed by the relentless coverage of his death, mainly because I keep getting his songs stuck in my head. So I finally decided to focus on the one song of his I truly love every time one of his more annoying hits threatens to invade my consciousness. In case you’re also suffering through endless brainloops of “Pretty Young Thing” or “Bad” or “The Girl Is Mine” or even – sweet sugar monkeys NO – “We Are the World,” try a dose of this. It’s done wonders for me.
Get up, girl! Show me what you can do!
2). My girls had a sleep-over at Grandma’s the other night, were spoiled (as it should be), and had a great time. While we were gone, my husband wallowed in his loneliness and some gin. Nah. Really, he played online computer games with friends and had some gin.
3). Since I stayed at the sleep-over, too, my mother and I watched “Calendar Girls.” “Every stage of their growth has its own beauty, but the last phase is always the most glorious.” See? Now that’s why I don’t mind getting old.
P.S. Helen Mirren is a total babe.
4). I’m learning to play the ukelele for a story-time I’m going to do this month at my local pubalic liberry. My late brother was this virtuoso classical guitarist—full scholarship at Vandy’s school of music and all—and it’s taking me for-flippin’-ever to master three simple chords. But it’s fun.
That’s it for me this week. What are YOUR kicks?