7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #306: Featuring Jayme McGowan

h1 November 18th, 2012 by jules

The Buskers

The best thing that came out of writing about Elin Kelsey’s You Are Stardust, illustrated by Soyeon Kim, which I did here at 7-Imp in September, was that I met Jayme McGowan. (Well, I cyber-met her, though I wish I could say we had actual coffee together.) She contacted me after reading that post to tell me she also works in cut paper/3D art, and then I visited her site and knew I’d want to feature her at 7-Imp some day very soon.

Today’s the day!

I’m going to give it over to Jayme now, since she tells us all about herself and her work below, as well as her most exciting news — that her debut picture book is to-come soon. I thank her for visiting 7-Imp today …

Jayme: Thank you for having me, Jules! I’m new to the community of children’s author/illustrators, and your blog has been a guiding light for me. It’s an honor to share my work here on 7-Imp.

I create my images through a unique process of three-dimensional illustration. I say “unique,” but that’s really just a polite way of saying my process is bizarre and overly complicated.

Outlaws in the Attic

I start with a pencil sketch to get the composition down and then use colored pencils to find the right palette. I put a lot of effort into these first two steps (even though they’ll usually only be seen by me and an art director) in order to avoid wasting too much time—and paper—later. I then start cutting, pulling materials from an ever-growing collection of new and re-purposed paper. Each piece is cut individually with steady hands and tiny scissors. I then carefully glue it into place, often with the aid of tweezers.

Mouse Party

Layer upon layer, I build characters and sets for a miniature scene. I stage the pieces in what I call my “paper theater” — imagine an oversized shadowbox that is open on three sides and the top, which has framing for supporting hanging elements. I use thread or wire, as necessary, to hold the paper elements in place. I then photograph the dimensional paper artwork, playing with camera settings, lenses and light. In the final stage of my illustration process, I bring the digital image into Photoshop for adjustments. I try to keep the digital manipulation to a minimum though, and all of the shadows in the images are real cast shadows from the paper.

Holiday Fox

It’s definitely not the most practical method of illustration — taking a 2D piece of paper, making it into something 3D, and then photographing it to turn it back into something 2D. But it’s the process I’ve arrived at after several years of experimentation, and it’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to making the images I see in my mind’s eye.

Jayme: “I wouldn’t normally meddle with a book that has already been illustrated (and masterfully so, by one of my favorite illustrators, no less), but I was asked for my take on these Roald Dahl favorites for a children’s magazine — and I couldn’t resist.”
Pictured here is
Matilda. Below are images from Fantastic Mr Fox.

I arrived at this way of illustrating by accident, really. I started working with cut paper during college, but separately from my studies. I went to a state school with a general studio art program, where I spent most of my time in the painting department. The focus was on “fine art,” and sadly there was no room in the curriculum for traditional crafts, like papercutting, and no illustration courses, so I’m self-taught in those areas.

My earliest efforts with cut paper were very tiny pieces built into paper frames. I have a thing for miniature art. I think there’s something magical about having to get up close to examine the details. My very first instinct was to work dimensionally, likely stemming from a love of the work of Joseph Cornell and dioramas/shadowboxes of all kinds. I became obsessed with discovering different ways to work with cut paper. It spoke to me on a level that painting just never did. I love the tactile experience: wrinkling, twisting, folding, tearing. The construction method of cutting and gluing, cutting and gluing, over and over, is like meditation to me.

Shortly after graduation, I was introduced to the work of Chris Sickels (better known as Red Nose Studio). It was the first time I had ever seen handmade 3D illustration. Up until then, I didn’t even realize that dimensional work could be used for print in that way. His work had a huge effect on me, and I was inspired to turn my experiments into a workable illustration technique.

Over the last few years, my focus has been on editorial illustration. In September, I had my first piece in The New York Times, which was a total thrill.

I’ve also been lucky enough to contribute illustrations to a wide variety of other projects: advertising campaigns, retail products and packaging, and even animation.

And now I’m fulfilling a long-time dream of mine: I’m writing and illustrating my first picture book!

The children’s section of the library has been my second home these past few months, re-reading all my childhood favorites (Maurice Sendak, William Steig, James Marshall…) and greedily filling endless tote bags full of contemporary gems: Sergio Ruzzier, Carson Ellis, Jon Klassen, Matthew Cordell, Philip and Erin Stead.

My book is about a Hobo Bear, a traveling musician, who is on a journey to find a missing something. I can’t give too much away at this point, but here’s a little peek at Bear warming up:

All images here are reproduced with permission of Jayme McGowan.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 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. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I’m happy to have Jayme visiting. I find hand-crafted, painstakingly-detailed, 3D artwork like this to be somehow comforting — perhaps ’cause so much of our worlds are online. (“Let’s make the world by hand and give it away …” Sam Phillips sings.)

2) I’ve said this before, I think, at 7-Imp, but there’s this recording of Shawn Colvin’s song “Something to Believe In” on a live CD of hers where, at the end of the song, she starts singing portions of “I Got the Sun in the Mornin’” from Annie Get Your Gun: “I got no diamonds, I got no pearls,” she sings, “but still I think I’m a lucky girl. I’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night. I got no checkbook. I got no bank, but still I’d like to express my thanks … I got no silver. I got no gold. But what I got can’t be bought or sold … With the sun in the morning and in the moon in the evening, I’m alright.” I love this.

And each time we hear that portion of the song, I pause the CD and turn to my daughters and say really zippy-quick, “best advice you’ll ever hear,” and then I turn the song on again.

So, my kick here is that the other day, my 8-year-old showed me a poem from Dallas Clayton’s new book, Make Magic! Do Good! that has this in it:

…What matters most
is there’s birds in the trees
and bees on the flowers
and there’s fish in the sea
and there’s sun shining down
from a sky
that’s so blue
and there’s me
standing here
saying I love you.

She walked up to me, handed me the book, and told me she thought I’d like that little excerpt, and in my head, I was all, these children of mine actually listen to me! Well, huh.

3) Samantha Crain:

4) Did you see author/illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka talk about how his art and his imagination saved his life?

5) This video is about an hour and not at all what I expected him to say, but I like it: It’s M.T. Anderson talking at Cornell about darkness in children’s lit. I like his idea of a balanced “return to joy.” (I think that’s how he puts it.)

6) Daniel Day-Lewis.

7) Last, but certainly not least, I got to meet children’s book author and poet Rebecca Kai Dotlich this week and hear her speak. Lovely. Just lovely.

NOTE: I promised to spread the word about this Jerry Pinkney exhibit in Yonkers, NY, at the Hudson River Museum. On Saturdays and Sundays, 11/10-11/25, is “Be an Artist Apprentice” from 1-4 p.m. with Fashion Institute of Technology students, who study with Eric Velasquez. In December on Saturdays and Sundays, 12/8-1/13, “Be an Artist Apprentice” from 1-4 p.m. with, again, Fashion Institute of Technology students, who study with Mr. Velasquez. Spread the word to interested folks!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

21 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #306: Featuring Jayme McGowan”

  1. Oh my. This is just so wonderful Jules. What a gem. I love cut paper but find my hands and fingers so tired after working in it. I’m always so impressed with not only the craft itself (and Jayme does it sooo beautifully) but the artist’s ability to endure the painstakingness of it all. And, I really like the sense of depth Jayme is able to capture, (Matilda scene.)

    I loved the Jarrett Krosoczka video. I saw your FB post earlier this week and watched it and showed the girls. I’m hoping it’s their “nice cat” moment…just by watching it and hearing his words.

    my kicks:
    1) Jarrett’s video
    2) Timothy Basil Ering (I’m not sure, but I may have found this through you too Jules…) http://www.readingstartshere.com/post/35841995330/author-and-illustrator-timothy-basil-ering?ref=nf
    3) We now have sidewalks!
    4) An entire week off school
    5) coffee
    6) Participated in Matthew Cordell’s “buy my book = get free art” http://matthewcordell.blogspot.com/2012/11/hello-hello-buy-my-bookget-free-art.html
    7) Seeing Jayme’s illustration and process.

    Have a great week everyone.

  2. Good Morning Imps!
    Jayne’s work is lovely! The bear and rabbit look like they have a good story to tell. I look forward to seeing the book.
    Jules- I love those parenting moments when you can feel like you are doing things right.
    Jarrett’s heartfelt video had me tearing up. It was also great to hear him talk about Worcester and places that also meant a lot to me.
    Lori- I dream of sidewalks around here. we have some here and there and a good bike path, but I want MORE!

    1. Getting out from under the black cloud over my head, last week.
    2. Finally started watching Downton Abby
    3. Getting a Christmas Card commision
    4. Good teacher conferences
    5. hugs
    6. libraries
    7. Writing a blog post about something personal that I was too shy to share until this week. http://moiraswiatkowski.com/2012/11/14/weeping-birch/

    I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Despite the history, a holiday in honor of gratitude is a good thing, plus there is pie.

  3. Jayme’s work is incredible. The patience she must have. I am fascinated with artists who do paper cutting.
    Jules, your daughter is amazing, bringing you a poem and what a poem.
    Lori, hooray for a week off school.
    My kicks:
    1. Public libraries.
    2. Heard Ursula Le Guin read poetry at a library on Wed.
    3. Took a poetry workshop with Paulann Peterson at another library.
    4. Our school birthday party was a success on Tuesday night. Forty years old.
    5. School board member from 1972 came to the party.
    6. The massive flock of geese flying over our house this morning.
    7. My oldest grangirl’s birthday today.
    Happy Thanksgiving. Have a great week.

  4. Moira, enjoy Downton Abbey!

  5. Lori, and weren’t those sidewalks your doing? Or your daughters’? Didn’t I read that somewhere? WOOT! … Good idea to show JJK’s video to your daughters. I should do that, too. … You all get an entire week off? That is wonderful. Enjoy it.

    Moira, I just read your post. Wow. Just wow. That’s pretty remarkable that the feeling lasted for days — but also pretty wonderful. … Glad to read kick #1. You all have a great Thanksgiving, too. (Do you know I haven’t seen Downton Abbey either?)

    Jone: So jealous about Ursula Le Guin! Saw that on Facebook. Happy birthday to your school! They’re so lucky to have you. Oh, and happy birthday to your granddaughter!

  6. Man, I love Jayme’s work. Recently discovered her art on Facebook and it is amazing to see this post about how these things come together. So fresh, unique, charming, sophisticated. Fills a nice niche in today’s pic book, so I can’t wait to see the debut!

    Some o’ my kicks…

    1. Wife and I saw Damien Echols discussing his new book and experiences from LIFE AFTER DEATH
    2. We also saw the Monkees perform in Chicago! Sans the late, great Davy Jones, but with Mike Nesmith who hasn’t been with them in, like, forever
    3. Finished illustrations for a new pic book by Susan Hood, my first that I tried coloring in Photoshop
    4. Prepared art and packages to send out to my “buy my book = get free art” campaign (Thanks, Lori!)
    5. I am only just now getting into the awesome cartoon show, Adventure Time
    6. My first school visit for HELLO! HELLO!, a k-2 school in Glencoe, IL
    7. My first Skype visit for HELLO! HELLO!, with 2nd graders at Dobys Mill elem. in Elgin, SC

    Been a busy week! Thanks for this lovely Jayme post, Jules!

  7. Good morning, Imps!

    Howdy, Jayme! Thanks for sharing your creations with us. I particularly like the buskers and the cat sleeping during the mouse party. ;0

    Jules: Yay! I posted an interview with Dallas Clayton a few days ago, and quoted him for Poetry Friday 2 and 9 days ago. 🙂

    Lori: Three cheers for sidewalks and safety. Enjoy your week off.

    Moira: So glad that this week was better than that which preceeded it. Sending you and yours good thoughts.

    Jone: Happy birthday to the school, and to your granddaughter!

    Matthew: Congrats on the Skype visits. Good luck with your maiilngs and artwork.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Staged reading
    2) Filming
    3) Attending
    4) Conversing
    5) Preparing
    6) Auditioning
    7) Singing (reading of a musical last night, and now preparing to go record songs for the soundtrack/demo of another musical!)

  8. Matt: THE MONKEES! Lucky you. Hope those school visits were great, lucky kids.

    LW: I’ll go check out your interview. And, ooh! Recording! Have fun. One day, I just wanna BE you.

  9. Jayme’s artwork nearly took my breath away. I know what she means about cutting and gluing being like mediation. When I make my own greeting cards I could work for days without stopping. I am anxious to see her first book.

    Jules: I got a wonderful loving visual of your daughter handing you the poem. Precious. I have watched the JJK video twice now. Straight from the heart it is.

    Lori: I have a package coming from Matthew Cordell too! Can’t wait. Love hello! hello! but Another Brother is a favorite too.

    Moira: Your Weeping Birch reflection is beautiful.

    Jone: We have had lots of geese too. I never tire of watching their “Vs” move across the sky.

    Matthew: Oh, boy…the Susan Hood book is now on my radar. And the Monkees…wow!

    Little Willow: So glad you are singing. I’ll bet you are really good.

    My kicks:
    1, After several hours got all the leaves raked; waist deep at times. Used a snow shovel at the end.
    2. More days with sun than not
    3. Three mile walks with friends
    4. Slower and shorter walks with Xena
    5. New picture books
    6. Trips to the library
    7. Visits to Seven Imp but especially Sundays

  10. Hello, Kickers!

    LOVED ‘The Buskers’! I mean seriously: musical notes suspended in air, draped over the staff? and the little coins and CURLED currency in the banjo case?

    (It seems a little odd, maybe, but I’m thinking that 3D cut-paper art like this — even though it’s quote-unquote ‘static,’ and immobile, and (for those of us not actually within reach) untouchable — it’s, well, interactive. I think our eyes pick up on things like the shadows, and the multiple layers of things-on-top-of-things, and sort of touch the image differently. Just like fingertips would touch it all differently, moving a little closer or farther depending on the ‘distance’…) Very much looking forward to seeing Jayme McGowan’s career unfolding in three dimensions, too!

    Love everyone’s kicks, as always. But Jules, that moment of having the poem handed to you by… Piper, right? (having a hard time remembering which one is how old)… That’s one for the memory scrapbook.

    Samantha Crain: that voice! (Although that Americana-Metropolis washboard-bellied figure behind her was very distracting.)

    (And Matt: I’d never heard of Damien Echols but I know my wife — who works for the Innocence Project of Florida — will definitely want a copy of his book for their library. Thanks for mentioning it!)

    Kicks from here:

    1 through 5. In NJ last weekend for a niece’s wedding. Post-Sandy, post-snowstorm, I was grateful my family was all safe. But after seeing it up close, I am flat-out flabbergasted at how lucky they (and vicariously I) were. I lived in that state for 40 years and thought I’d seen everything that could happen there, certainly weather-wise. Nope, nope, nope. So kicks 1-5 are for the five specific locales I most cared about, and safety of the people therein.

    6. Pepperidge Farm ‘gingerbread man’ cookies. Mmmmm.

    7. Reading and getting a big kick out of ‘The Girl Who Navigated Fairlyland [etc].,’ which I first heard of here on 7-Imp. (Thanks, whoever it was!) [P.S. Jules, of course it was you — duuhhhh!]

  11. Terrific interview! I absolutely love Jayme’s work and it’s a real treat to learn more about her process.

  12. What wonderful pieces of art! I have to go to work so will come back later to read everyone’s kicks (and to look at the art again). The reason I am disorganised is that we had a weekend of tropical storms and the last big one knocked out power to our suburb. Fortunately, no one was injured, the black out only lasted for a few hours which was long enough to have fun lighting our candles (luckily we use candles a bit so they were set up already) and cook over the camp stove, but back on in time that the freezer didn’t defrost. Also our car was not squashed by hail. So it was a grand adventure!

  13. Fly by: tilting my wings to acknowledge Jayme’s lovely cut-outs (I’m taken by Fox’s red scooter), Jule’s rich shares (will come back on a slower-paced day to watch vids and follow links) and everyone’s fun kicks (DD Lewis, sideswalks, Christmas card commissions, flocks of geese, finished illustrations, staged readings, waist deep leaves, luckiness in NJ and short candlelit blackouts.

    Kicks 1 – 7. I’m touring colleges with my HS son. Auditoriums and grassy collegiate lawns filled with young people; hope, longing, determination and dreams incarnate. Sweet/sad/exciting to watch my son (and others) lining up on the runway of life. Have to hurry off now to the ‘School of Cinematic Arts presentation’.

    Til next week, have a good one kickers.

  14. Margie, you are the most walking’est walker I know, a good thing. Your last kick is sweet; I still want to make it over to your site to see your review of Amy Hest’s book.

    John, yes, it was Piper. And, as always, your commentary on the art is stellar. …So glad you got to see your family for your niece’s wedding — and that they’re all okay after Sandy. I’m sure that was wild for you to see. … Also, do you know there’s a sequel to the Fairyland book? It’s sitting in my to-be-read pile.

    Hi, Abigail!

    Emmaco: Thank goodness you are okay — and your car, though at first I thought that said “our cat was not squashed by hail.”

    Denise: How exciting. Have fun, and good luck to your son! You typed “runway of life.” There is an Innocence Mission song where Karen Peris sings “and you’re standing in tomorrow on the runway.” I love this song so much, especially the lyrics, which she wrote for her own child. … Here we go: http://grooveshark.com/s/Tomorrow+On+The+Runway/3ejPUj?src=5. Maybe that link will work.

    Or this:

    Tomorrow on the Runway by The Innocence Mission on Grooveshark

  15. Jules,
    Thanks for that. lovely and exactly the sentiment: Happy to see them take off… and so sad to see them go.

  16. 1.) trimming and mailing a bunch of posters
    2.) getting near the end of my TO DO list
    3.) this Raymond Scott recording I’m listening to
    4.) dinner with CSA autumn veggies
    5.) nearing success with a big, big project
    6.) editing some *delightful* interviews (by the way, Jules, you’re getting another shout-out. we should probably just rewrite that question as “must-read blog *in addition* to 7-imp?”)
    7.) oh my gosh, Jayme’s work! Thank you!

  17. Fly by late kicks – just stopping by to say how awesome Jayme’s work is! Love the depth of it, and the expressiveness. Also incredibly in awe that someone can be so patient to put so much work into all those details – but the end results are lovely!

    Have a great week everyone! (Will catch up on everyone’s kicks later this week.)

  18. PS – that last sentence should read AND the end results are lovely – not that damn BUT. sheesh. That’s what I get for typing faster than I can think.

  19. Liz: #6 made me laugh outloud. Love that wonderful blog of yours (“yours” being plural, of course) … So glad you like Jayme’s work. Isn’t it great? “Big, big project” sounds velly velly exciting.

    Hi, Rachel! Hope you have a great week.

  20. Oh, how incredible! A new favorite artist! Thank you so much for introducing us. 🙂

  21. […] I’ve got art (and, in some cases, preliminary images) from each book today. Those books are Jayme McGowan’s One Bear Extraordinaire (Abrams, September 2015), Victoria Turnbull’s The Sea Tiger […]

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