Holly Art!

The first cards for Liberate Your Art 2018 go out this week, and I am beside myself with excitement as I wait for the cards to find me. Thankfully, my artist friends have kept me satisfied while I wait. One such person is Holly who sent two envelopes of goodness to me over the last few weeks.

Holly joined the “Let’s Celebrate Pooh” swap I hosted in the Cup and Chaucer group on  swap-bot. We won’t tell anyone, but after seeing the beautiful art on her blog, I was slightly disappointed that the swap “randomizer” did not assign her as my “receive from” partner.  But the swap gods were with me anyway. Not only did my assigned partner send me a super cute Pooh bookmark but Holly sent a precious Pooh envelope–even though I wasn’t her partner! Is that cool or what?

Here’s the handmade bookmark from my assigned partner,  which now “marks” the page in one of my journals.

Pooh Bookmark, Made by Moominbrooke

Wanna see what Holly sent?

Pooh, a Tree, and the Bees, Bookmark, Handmade by Holly M.

As you can see–an adorable Pooh bookmark, complete with bees and her impeccable lettering. The envelope was equally adorable, embellished with Pooh stamps and “bees” washi tape.

Recycled, Pooh-Inspired Security Envelope, Holly M.

The swap gods were kind to me again when Holly and I were the only two in a “Celebrate Dr. Seuss” swap in the Cup and Chaucer group.

She sent a letter typed on a vintage typewriter, a “faithfully copied” Cat in the Hat themed note card, envelope, and a bunch of adorable Dr. Seuss themed mailing labels. Perfect for mailing letters to kiddos and other Seuss fans.

Here’s the card:

“The Cat in the Hat,” Faithfully Copied by Holly M.

And the envelope with one of the labels affixed [ignore the smudges from my scanner]:

Envelope by Holly M.

Holly made the card for me to share, but hmm….I’m not sure I’m willing to part with it [yet]. It needs to spend some time on my inspiration wall. Maybe, I’ll fill the envelope with Seuss stickers and send it into the world. I think that’s fair. Don’t  you?

If you get a moment, take a stroll over to Holly’s ThreeSixFiveArt blog where Holly posts (almost) daily about her “random little pieces of art.” Her discipline is inspiring.

One of my artist-professor friends told me that with time and practice anyone can become an artist, that art is a skill that anyone can master. I’m taking him at his word, so when my life feels less chaotic and more like my own, I’m going to enroll in art classes.

Would You Like Pie with Your Pi-ku?

“Pie Rows,” 1961. Wayne Theibaud, American. [Postcard originally posted on Pics and Post 10/02/2012].

Three point one four one
five nine two six five three five
eight nine and so on  –“Pi-ku” from NCTM Illuminations

When I picked up my son from school today, he excitedly reported  the “Pi Day” activities in his class and told me about the tiny lemon pie tucked inside his lunch bag. So in honor of my kiddo’s excitement over π , I’m dropping in today to share a “pi-ku” with a side of pie–or a side of “pi-ku” with a healthy serving of pie.

Happy Pi Day!

Lessons in Art and Piano

Pure exhaustion made me miss my “Focus on Black” post last Friday, so I’m posting this morning to avoid the same mistake this week.

Today, I’m using children’s art to “introduce” African American artist Romare Bearden.  Even though Bearden is far from an “unknown” artist, few people know who I’m talking about when I reference his work:

Considered one of the most important American artists of the 20th century, Romare Bearden’s artwork depicted the African-American culture and experience in creative and thought provoking ways. Born in North Carolina in 1912, Bearden spent much of his career in New York City. Virtually self-taught, his early works were realistic images, often with religious themes. He later transitioned to abstract and Cubist style paintings in oil and watercolor. He is best known for his photomontage compositions made from torn images of popular magazines and assembled into visually powerful statements on African-American life.  -from Biography.com

Last year, my favorite (now retired) second grade teacher, Mrs. Crarey, introduced her students to Bearden’s work. They studied his art, noted his interest in jazz music–which influenced some of his art–learned about his collage technique and then created their own Bearden-esque masterpieces. [Click an image for a closer look]

The children used rulers, pencils, Sharpies, crayons, and markers to imitate Bearden’s collage style. As you can see, they used piano keys patterns for their borders.

I pretty much love everything Bearden created.  The Piano Lesson: Homage to Mary Lou is my favorite, probably because it was the masterpiece that inspired African American playwright August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, one of my favorite plays.

The piece was inspired by jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams who collaborated with Bearden’s wife, Nannette, on a musical and dance composition.  If you are familiar with Henri Matisse’s The Piano Lesson and The Music Lesson, you will see his influence on the work as well.

There are two versions of the work–the original:

Romare Bearden’s  “The Piano Lesson: Homage to Mary Lou” (popularly known as “The Piano Lesson”). Watercolor, acrylic, graphite and printed paper collage on paper.

And a signed lithograph:

Romare Bearden, “The Piano Lesson,” Lithograph

For more about Bearden’s life and influences, click the links below:

The Bearden Foundation’s page features more resources such as a timeline and an impressive collection of Romare Bearden’s artwork.

Until next time…

Children’s Book Illustration Postcards: From NZ to the USA

Since today begins Black History Month in the United States and since I’d planned to blog about children’s book illustration postcards today, I was curious about whether I have any children’s books postcards featuring the work of African American illustrators. I went through every postcard in my collection and, as suspected, I do not have any illustrations by African American artists. Then, I “googled” and found nothing.

Considering the high number of popular African American children’s authors and illustrators, I find this odd.  [Insert appropriate emoji here].

I’ll keep looking…

For now, let’s enjoy the eight children’s book illustration postcards I received for Children’s Book Illustration Postcards swaps 17-20.

From Pikkis in Finland, I received an illustration from the Finnish fairy tale Goldfish, written by Raul Roine and illustrated by Rudulph Koivu.

Swap 17: From “Goldfish” by Raul Roine. Illustrated by Rudolf Koivu

I’m not familiar with this tale; that might be because, as Pikkis points out, the fairy tale hasn’t been translated in English.

The postcard below came all the way from New Zealand.

BLC Swap 17: The Honour of the House by E.M. Channon

CindyST sent an “old fashion” book cover because she loves retro covers and illustrated books.

Lihior, of Israel, sent another postcard from the fairy tale collection that gave me The Frog King postcard featured in the previous Children’s Book Illustrations blog post

Swap 18: Hansel and Gretel. Illustrated by Aurélie Blanz

I was pleased that I could see the name of the illustrator, Aurélie Blanz, on this card.  It was nice to “discover” and explore Blanz’s brilliant work. I found another artist to love.

BLC Swap 18: Illustrator Fiep Westendorp

The postcard above, from Sammoning in the Netherlands, features an illustration by Fiep Westendorp, known for Jip en Janneke, Pluk van de Pettenflat and others.  Every year, “kids go door-to-door to sell card sets and [matching] stamps” for Kinderpostzegels–to support educational and children’s charities.

It’s always nice when a bear shows up in my mailbox.

Swap 19: Little Polar Bear by Hans de Beer

Lars, the “little polar bear” came from Sissi, also in the Netherlands.

BLC Swap 19: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

The postcard above, from HelenGB in Canada, features the cover of the first Frederick Warne edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1902.

Alice in Wonderland postcards are a special treat because I love all the different artistic interpretations of the story [I won’t mention that I have a whole box of Alice postcards that I have trouble sharing].

Inger sent this one from Sarpsborg, which is in the south-east part of Norway.

Swap 20: “The cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked goodnatured, she thought: still it had very long claws and a great many teeth.” Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Illustrated by Sir John Tenneil

Her postcard also featured children’s book illustration postage:

And finally, Marinda in the United States sent an illustration from one of the sweetest tales I read to my little one when he was a baby, Guess How Much I Love You.

BLC Swap 20: Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, Illustrator Anita Jeram

As always, an eclectic selection, but a feast for the eyes and warm fuzzies for the heart!

An “African” Christmas Party

“Gateway to Africa Tree”

Every year the university at which I teach hosts an elaborate “themed” Christmas party. Faculty, staff, and administrators dress according to theme, compete for prizes in some cases (like the ugliest sweater contest one year and the talent competition another year). Photo booths, craft stations, excellent music, door prizes, food, and “the envelope” that reveals our Christmas bonus are “staples” of the event. This year there was even a massage station and a cash bonus in addition to our regular bonus!

The team that coordinates the event always does an extraordinary job transforming the university’s skating rink into an amazing reflection of the theme, but this year’s theme, “Gateway to Africa” ousted my former favorite, “New York, New York.” I was thoroughly thrilled when I entered the party yesterday because I love African art and textiles.

Take a look at what I managed to capture [click an image for a closer look]:

The tree was decorated with African flags, fabric, masks, and ornaments in the shape of the continent:

The displays featured African clothing, art, baskets, and other items.

Everything was beautiful!

For faculty, the party marks the beginning of the holiday break. We submit grades on Monday, party Tuesday, and then recuperate from Fall Semester and rest up for January.

And so winter vacation begins…

Slaying Dragons and Painting Dreams

I captured the image (above) a week or so ago when my hubby, son, and I were exploring downtown. The chair is colorful and worthy of photographing, but I was drawn to the quote.

I dream my painting and then paint my dream.  –Van Gogh

It is perfectly aligned with where my head is at the moment–planning and working toward a few goals.

A few days before encountering the chair, one of my besties and I decided to work toward completing our top three goals and report our progress to each other every week. By the beginning of week one, I was ready to slay in a serious way. By the end, I was whining inwardly that I’d made zero progress on any of my goals.

Thanks to Thanksgiving Break, I’ve had a moment or two of clarity and I’ve concluded that “goal slay” is as much about slaying the dragons that stand in our way as it is about actually achieving our goals: Dragons of time. Dragons of demands. Dragons of habit. Dragons of neglect. Dragons of doubt and fear.

The reality–life is busy and full, so we often have little time to squeeze in a new thing, goal, activity, even person. We’ve developed some patterns and routines that must change. Even our perceived good habits have to change if we are to accomplish our goals. What’s more daunting? We must sharpen our swords on our own imagined dragons before we can slay the really scary ones.

So although I’ve not checked any of the boxes directly leading to any of my goals, I’ve made significant progress on the process. I have well-defined goals and a solid plan to slay some dragons. That’s something…isn’t it?