‘Margo,’ Pearl said, ‘would you like to come over to my house after school
and play tea party in our tutus?’
‘Oh yes,’ said Margo.”
See that yellow tutu on Margo’s head? I don’t know about you all, but I really need that sunny yellow this morning. Yes, it’s quite lovely, you’re saying? Okay, here’s some more. These below are the cheery endpapers. (Click to enlarge and see even more shiny-happy yellow. I love and need these endpapers so much that I just made that JPG splash all over my desktop monitor as my background image.)
These illustrations this morning come from Carin Bramsen, and no, this isn’t a 2011 title. The Yellow Tutu, written by Carin’s sister, Kirsten, was a 2009 Random House title. But when I told Carin I’d love her to stop by, yet she said she’s not quite ready to share art from her latest work-in-progress, I asked her to pretty please show some spreads from The Yellow Tutu, not only because I like the book, but because I think we all need some yellow cheeriness at the beginning of February. Winter winds, I shake my fists at you. (Oh, and I also tried to get images from the book to showcase back in ’09, but I don’t think Carin even had a site back then. Better late than never, I say.)
I mentioned this title here at 7-Imp in the summer of 2009, when I read it at a story time at my local pubalic liberry. As I said then, the book tells the story of a young girl who gets a yellow tutu on her birthday; pretty much knows she’s the very essence of brilliant (in more ways than one) when she decides to wear it on her head, emulating the sun; but then gets mocked by her classmates when she shows up at school that way. It all works out in the end, thanks to her friend, Pearl, with whom Margo is up there at the top of this post bustin’ a serious groove. Another reason I love this book is that, after Margo first puts the tutu on and decides she IS sunshine, she sings, “I am my sunshine, my only sunshine. I make me happeeeeeee when skies are gray. . . .” I love Margo. And, when I learned to play “You Are My Sunshine” on the ukulele for this story time in ’09, my then five-year-old sang, “please don’t take my selfshine away.” And I think “selfshine” is a good thing to have, yes? Especially if, when you get to school, a boy calls you “stupid” for having a tutu on your head. (As the popular mid-’90s bumper sticker said so well, mean people suck.)
(And I love stories like The Yellow Tutu, which are the antithesis of books like this—shudder—and this. Shudder again. Most children already know, thanks very much, how unstoppable and incredible they are.)
But enough of my jibber-jabberin’. (Mr. T would be scolding me right now, if he were here.) Here’s what Carin has to say:
I’m thrilled to have my artwork appear on Seven Impossible Things, which I’ve long considered one of my go-to sites for children’s books. The pictures here include some illustrations, endpapers, and sketches from The Yellow Tutu, my first foray into illustrating books. My sister, Kirsten Bramsen, wrote the wonderful story, based loosely on her having once gone to school with a tutu on her head.
I painted the whole book in Photoshop — with a digital tablet. I had intended to use watercolor, but one day I happened to scribble down the rough sketch of Margo holding up the tutu.
Oops. That little sketch collared me and would not let me go. For me, it conjured the image of Margo, splashing, part-submerged, in tulle. It forced me on a wild-goose chase through art supplies for something that might allow me to show Margo smiling through tulle — something that might convey a birthday tutu in all its visceral abundance.
Agony ensued. But let’s get right to the ecstasy: I was learning at that time that Photoshop lets you make something like a stencil out of almost anything—a line, a texture—no matter how fine. So, I thought, “Aha!” I rubbed some black conte crayon on rough paper and scanned it into Photoshop. Then I turned that into a stencil/masque and painted through it digitally with yellow. And there it was, like a scrap of real-life tulle: one square layer of semi-transparent yellow texture. That became the building block, cloned and tinkered with ad nauseum, for the tutus that appear in the book. There was nothing the least bit elegant about my method — a kludge, if there ever was one. But, once you hit “flatten image,” no one can see the mess. (Still, always save a layered copy!).
I’m happy to be working with Random House again on my new book, Hey, Duck!, which is due out in 2013.
Thanks to Carin for visiting today. Here’s some more art from the book, and she’s sharing some early sketches, too. The last two images are random ones from Carin’s portfolio. (I happen to think the very last image is funny stuff, and I hope we see more from those two characters.)
(Click to enlarge.)
(Click to enlarge.)
as they drank their pretend tea.”
(Click to enlarge.)
THE YELLOW TUTU. Copyright 2009 by Kirsten Bramsen. Illustration © 2009 by Carin Bramsen. Published by Random House, New York, NY.
As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a 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.
Well, first and foremost, y’all: EGYPT. The birth of a new nation. Wow, just wow.
Also—and here I’m clearly zooming back to a way more personal, less world-events kind of a kick—Sam Phillips released her full-length CD this week, Cameras in the Sky, what she had promised those of us who signed up for her year-long, art-and-music-installation-on-the-web project (called the Long Play). We got little EPs, that is, all year, and the whole thing was to culminate in a full LP. We fans have known for a while now that it was to-come soon—as we’re nearing the end of the Long Play, sadly—and I was super happy to see it arrive this week. Yesterday, to be precise. (I wasn’t obsessively checking her site every five minutes or anything for weeks on end, no sirree.) When I saw the music was there, I believe I jumped up, did a fist pump, did a little square dance with myself, and quite possibly high-fived and fist-bumped my own self.
And, needless to say, the music is wonderful. (“Cameras in the sky watching over us / Satellite maps to everywhere but you / … All alone below their eyes that never close / dreaming notes to you the lens can’t show…”)
Other than grand news like that (Egypt and Sam, though I know that Egypt is way bigger, even given the serious Sam fan that I am), this wasn’t my best week. I fought some Icky Something or Other all week. (Flu? Particularly dastardly cold? Pesky ennui? Unfortunate lack of grace on my part? All of the above?) It left me with no get-up-and-go, and I’m no good without my get-up-and-go — particularly as I face what is, for me, a huge writing deadline, which already leaves me all bitey on my fingernails. I’m ready to start anew this week, and I’m really ready for some sunshine. A healthy does of Margo’s selfshine wouldn’t hurt either.
I leave you this morning with two songs. I have no flippin’ clue who this singer is, other than reading she’s a Montreal-based musician named Laurel Sprengelmeyer, who goes by Little Scream. But I stumbled upon this video of her and some lovely song she wrote, called “The Heron and the Fox,” a song of affection and loss and other Big Stuff. She filmed it in the back of a snow-covered station wagon, and I like it, not to mention singing so that you can see her breath on the cold air is fitting for such a stark song as this one.
Also, because Nicole Atkins released her new CD this week, I leave you with her. At this link is her live (in the studios of Rolling Stone, that is) cover of Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” (Sorry about the ad at the beginning.) Conor O’Brien (of Villagers), whose music I love, once wrote about Orbison’s “Crying”: “Voice, chords, melody, arrangement, production, yes. Thank you, sir.” It’s pretty much perfect, and Nicole Atkins is one of the very few folks in this world I’d want to hear covering it. Do you know I once read at The Guardian that Roy Orbison wrote the song after he saw an ex-girlfriend at a burger stand? Random fun fact.
P.S. The February issue of The Bluegrass Special is online, and it’s good stuff. And I don’t just say that ’cause the terrifically nice editor puts a bit of 7-Imp in it monthly.
What are YOUR kicks this week?