Dancing and twirling to the music of a choral octet, and then falling down with glee, the children in my illustrations got into the spirit of UC Berkeley’s Free Fall All – musical venues around the campus free to the public. I was waiting in line to see the free concert by The Alexander Quartet. Cal students suddenly showed up and entertained the waiting crowd by singing a cappella. These kids showed up too, and were wildly enthusiastic, getting into the music with abandon. Their “in the moment” shenanigans inspired the illustrations, which started as chunky charcoal drawings in ocher, and evolved with color and collage.
Recently, I gave a presentation of my picture book, Smelling Sunshine, at the wonderful Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore in Berkeley. It’s hard not to fall under the store’s spell with quotes like this on the walls,
and when the staff make you feel so much at home.
The night before my presentation, I read this reflection on public speaking by Terry Tempest Williams from her book, When Women Were Birds:
“…and in those few minutes before a group of people, my instinct says, Bolt now, there is still time to escape. But then I pause, look around the room, find whose eyes are present, and orient myself like a compass, remembering that words are much stronger than I am. I take a deep breadth and sidestep my fear, and begin speaking from the place where beauty and bravery meet…within the chambers of a quivering heart.”
That insight, some preparation, support from friends, and a wonderful community audience made the talk so much fun.
Smelling Sunshine: book release!
Smelling Sunshine, the picture book that I wrote and illustrated, published by Star Bright Books, has just been released! Smelling Sunshine is a story that creates a path through various cultures by describing one world doing an ordinary chore of hanging laundry that becomes extraordinary in its personal nighttime comfort. Kirkus Review said, “…when it comes to domestic chores, hanging laundry is about as universal as it gets, and the activity is presented here as an intimate, positive experience for parent and child to share.“
So check it out! And think about supporting your independent bookstore; indie bookstores build community in your community http://www.indiebound.org/ You can also order from the publisher http://www.starbrightbooks.org/details.php?id=411or from amazon http://amzn.com/1595726365
Find out more about how Smelling Sunshine was made by clicking on The Next Thing Blog Tour, here on this blog page.
If you live in the Bay Area, join me:
· Saturday, November 9th, 12:00 PM at Depot Bookstore in Mill Valley, 415-383-2665 for a booksigning http://www.depotbookstore.com/
Saturday, February 1st, 11:00 AM at Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore in Berkeley, 510- 740-8222 http://www.mrsdalloways.com/for a presentation and book signing.
Discover the difference between a rough sketch and a finished illustration, and find out more about how a picture book is made. Listen to a reading of Smelling Sunshine and pick up a free bookmark!
Hope to see you soon. Happy reading.
I recently asked subscribers to my newsletter to draw a cat, suggested the line and shape method of drawing for those who mistakenly think they can’t draw, and promised to post the cats on my blog. So here are those fantastic cats. Some people used the line and shape approach shown on my Fun Stuff page, and others made up their own. Herding cats has never been so much fun!
Manar Hassan drew her “Grumpy Cat” on her IPad.
Tristan Volpe’s cool cats.
My cat running amuck.
Thanks to everyone for tangling with your inner cat(s) and showing us your wonderful drawing skill!
You can find information on the following cat owners who are artists/writers: Kieren Dutcher, cat in moonlight kierendutcher.com, Kathy Wills, the thinker kwillspaint.com and Judy Clement Wall, friendly cats www.judyclementwall.com
Drawing is a performance –
It is one time then and there
Of the moment
As an act of creation is.
Charcoal is a medium I’ve used for years, but never with such abandon until recently. I draw with willow and vine as well as compressed charcoals in stick and pencil form. Last year I picked up compressed chunky charcoal measuring 3” by 5/8”. That’s when the fun started.
All of the charcoals have varied tonal ranges, allow for a variety of line, and feel like an extension of my arm. This is especially true of the chunky charcoal which, because of its size, insists on grand sweeping gesture. I find myself drawing with my whole body. It feels like a dance when I draw this way.
Using various sides of the chunky charcoal, I make marks that express the movement or gesture of the subject I am drawing. Gesture drawings are done quickly without attention to detail. Precision is not the nature of gesture drawing. Capturing movement is.
Many finished drawings start as gesture drawings. The two charcoal drawings in my last blog ( Aimless Love, The Wideness and Wonder of The World) each began as a gesture drawing.
Leaving a track of the act of drawing is a story in itself; the stops, starts, and restatements (draw overs) add energy to a drawing. Whether musical or otherwise, performance is one time, then and there, of the moment*. So begin your performance: find a subject, some chunky charcoal, and make your mark.
The epiphany of the everyday: chunky charcoal.All drawings: © Constance Anderson
The title of my blog, Epiphany of the Everyday, refers to some wonder I see and fall in love with daily. The poet Billy Collins talks about this in his poem Aimless Love, which starts:
This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.
In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.
Collins writes about his loves. I draw mine. These charcoal drawings show the tulip I fell for,
the last one left in the vase that over a series of days stretched and moved until its petals fell away,
and for the small pine cone that our resident squirrel had eaten down to its core.
Billy Collins continues:
But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.
After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,
so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.
Today, “my heart propped up in a field on its tripod”, I fell for another pine cone, much larger, half eaten. It’s on the shelf in my studio. I have charcoal in hand waiting to draw it, to say something about “the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it”.*
* Georgia O’Keefe, Viking Press http://www.okeeffemuseum.org/
For the entire poem, Aimless Love, visit http://www.panhala.net/Archive/Aimless_Love.html
For information on poet Billy Collins, visit http://www.billy-collins.com/All drawings: © Constance Anderson
I was asked by artist illustrator Sara Kahn to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Tour, which highlights authors and/or illustrators and their latest books. You can see Sara’s luminous watercolor illustrations and read her interesting blog tour post from May 16, here. My blog will answer questions asked of all the participants in the blog tour and tell you something about my book, Smelling Sunshine, which will be published in September, 2013. So here we go!
What is the title of your soon to be published book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Smelling Sunshine is a picture book for young children. However, I know adults who enjoy reading the book because it recalls a fond experience in their childhood.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Smelling Sunshine would have a cast of international actors since it is a multi-cultural story.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Smelling Sunshine is a story that creates a path through various cultures by describing one world doing an ordinary chore of hanging laundry that becomes extraordinary in its personal nighttime comfort.
Who is publishing your book?
How long did it take you to write your book? And how long did it take to complete the illustrations?
The idea was percolating for several years before I wrote the first draft which took a month. Then it went through many edits, all with the encouragement of my illustrator/ writer’s group. As the author and illustrator of Smelling Sunshine, I found it helpful to illustrate and write simultaneously, and as a result I made hundreds of charcoal drawings. The final paintings took about six months.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Because Smelling Sunshine does not have a protagonist, I would compare its narrative style to The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
We tend to think of ourselves, our lives, as separate from others. I wanted to show a connection among people from diverse backgrounds. Hanging laundry with someone you love is a simple, shared task everywhere. Compassionate understanding can start with something this elemental.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Finding out what the smell of sunshine is and how it is recalled at the end of the day is at the heart of the book. My illustration technique may also be of interest; I use paint and paper in the illustrations that I call collage paintings. I make my own papers and use found materials.
Who is participating next on The Next Big Thing Blog Tour?
A week from today, May 30, the blog tour features Daniel San Souci, illustrator of the beautifully illustrated picture book, Yosemite’s Songster, One Coyote’s Story, and the author, Ginger Wadsworth. Ginger wraps up the factual information about coyotes in a great story. It’s a wonderful book. You can find Daniel at www.danielsansouci.com and Ginger at www.gingerwadsworth.com
Thanks for stopping by The Next Big Thing Blog Tour.