Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Festival of Children's literature

Coming up in a few short weeks is going to be a great event at Open Book in downtown Minneapolis. Not only will the"Reflections" show that I spoke of earlier be on display, but there will be a great festival full of wonderful opportunities and workshops galore. The"Festival of Children's Literature" will be held the weekend of April 18 and 19 at Open Book in Minneapolis. It is sure to be a great time with speakers ranging from Novelists, publishers, and literary agents. Beings this is my first time going, I am anxious to see all that goes on since I have heard great things from it in the past. For those of you interested in going, the information is as follows.

Festival of Children's Literature and Young Adult Literature & Illustration
Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19, 2009
Open Book in Minneapolis
1011 Washington Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55415


$ 265 for Loft Members
$ 280 for non members
$ 265 for members of MNSCBWI

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chalk Street Art and supplies

As the spring weather gets better and better, I am anxiously awaiting a fun event that will be happening at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in a little more than a month. Art in Bloom is a great fundraising event that the Friends of the Institute put together and help raise money for the Friends Children's Fund. This year I will be doing 2 sidewalk chalk paintings and am going to have a blast, weather permitting of course. So with that, I have been busy getting the supplies of chalk that I will be needing and wanted to share with you some of the ones that I have had success with! The biggest problem I had up until I bought the chalk backpack below was how to get all of the messy chalk out to events that were across town. I have really come to love this tackle box that I picked up at Cabelas. It allows me to store my chalk and still be able to look into it without having to open up each of the plastic bins.

So onto the most important aspect of any chalk artist and that is the CHALK/PASTEL. Over the years I have come to find varieties that work well for me on surfaces including concrete, asphalt, and bricks. The one that is always my go to is the brand of Koss. I have really loved this semi hard chalk and its brillant colors that it brings. The only problem is that it is not the most readily available, but worth the shipping costs to get it. Most of the time with Koss, I will order the 48 stick packs and they are usually around $20 each set.

Another variety that I really love to use is the Reeves pastels. I know that these tend to be on the lower end of the quality scale but when you are painting on concrete, you can go through tons of chalk in a hurry. It just isn't feasible to use high quality like Unison, you would go broke if you did. Anyways, Reeves provides a great foundation to get your images started and can be a very useful and inexpensive product. With these, the sets of 12 can usually be bought for around $4 and the sets of 36 can be attained for around $9

A third great option that I like to use is chalk from "Eternity Arts". It is larger in size, but works great for a quick layer of color. It also is used by some of the well known sidewalk artists such as "Tracy Lee Stum". These sticks of chalk are available in sets of 72 or 35 or by individual sticks for around 90 cents a piece.

Finally, there are other options when it come to pastels, I would just suggest that you find the manufacturers that you like. Others that I use here and there include Unison, Sennelier, and Rembrant. So as you can see, there isn't any one chalk that is out there, but by mixing and utilizing the different brands, you can attain the best images for the sidewalk! The one below was one I did from a mixture of Koss and Reeves.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

And the winners are........

What a fun evening last night was! I attended the opening reception of "Reflections" at the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts and had a wonderful time mingling with fellow illustrators and poets and perusing the beautiful work that was juried into the show. "Reflections" was a two year long competition between the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts and the "Minnesota Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)". It started with a poetry competition last year that produced 5 wonderful poems that turned into this years illustration competition to illustrate them. I was fortunate enough to have been juried into the show and as you will see below, a little more excitement came at the opening. Here are some shots from the show

This is the piece of mine that was juried into the show for the poem "Two-Wheeler" by Jane Thomas Noland


So onto some really exciting news, the awards. The awards for the show included three honorable mentions, three first place for each category and an overall Best of Show. With that I was so proud to see my fellow friends and illustrators Nina Crittenden and Barb Bjornson receive honorable mentions for their pieces. In Nina's case, it really shows how much of a great track she is on to becoming an up and coming illustrator in the children's market. Way to go both of you. Your pieces were wonderful. And then just when I thought the evening was done, there was one more award that blew me away. Having looked at all of the wonderful illustrations in the show, I would have never expected to have walked away with the Best of Show! What an honor it was to receive this award from a panel of very esteemed judges! I recommend that if you are near the downtown Minneapolis area before May 3 to check out this amazing show. The details for the MCBA are below.

March 20, 2009 thru May 3, 2009

1011 Washington Ave South
MInneapolis, MN 55415

Monday, March 16, 2009

Finding history

This weekend's trip back home was one that brought about some interesting surprises. It first started with heading towards Wahpeton, North Dakota and the notion that we were going to be cleaning out my grandma's house in order to get it to the necessities she needs in her new apartment. At first it seemed like any other move that I have helped with; packing things up and deciding what should stay and what should go. But this was definitely different. Having never truly dug through my grandma's stuff, we were astounded at all of the memories that came alive as objects both present and past came to light. Decades worth of memories were being found in every closet, cabinet, nook and cranny. But what really hit home for me was a discarded notebook that at first we thought was trash. Having already gone through many many old papers, note pads and chicken scratch, something caught my eye as it was being looked at. This notebook was one that was full of sketches. Sketches that were placed in a Ford Model T Mechanics student handbook. It was one that was used to train students how to fix these new machines, these horseless vehicles. Since the Model T was first introduced in 1908, it was only two years into the production that this 1910 student training manual was being used by my Great grandfather Parley McCann.

Now what I happened to notice as I started gingerly looking through this student notebook was that wherever there was a spot for "student notes", there were sketches instead! Now this is my kind of learning. I was astounded at the scenes of steam engines, bailers, farms and such that filled the pages. Having found this new information that I had never known about my great grandfather. He too loved to doodle! How great of a find it was and how much I am going to cherish this notebook. To share with you some of the sketches that I was able to scan without damaging the pages, here you too can see where my artistic roots may have started!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Reflections" at MCBA

In a little over a week, a great show is going to be opening up at the"Minnesota Center for Book Arts". "Reflections" is a juried exhibit sponsored by the Minnesota chapter of"SCBWI" and is a show that features illustrations inspired by 5 award winning poems. It is sure to be a great event and am really looking forward to the opening reception next Friday. The info is as follows

Opening reception Friday March 20, 2009

1011 Washington Ave South
MInneapolis, MN 55415

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Another award for "The Sick Bug"

Happy Saturday to you all. Some exciting news came through the wire the other day about my children's book "The Sick Bug". It won Honorary Mention in the Readers View Annual Literary Awards. That makes it the second award that the"The Sick Bug" has won and hopefully not the last! I just want to thank everyone who has helped support and spread the word about the book. Without you guys, none of this would be possilbe!

Illustration Friday: "Intricate"

This is one of many intricate sketches i did of an amazing organ in a local Minneapolis church.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dog days of painting...

My very good friend and mentor "Terry Stanley" has decided to put a great challenge out to herself this year by creating a new dog painting each day for a year. Doing 5 of these a week is definitely going to be a challenge, but I know her love of animals is going to inspire her to create the best. I would definitely suggest you checking out her "Dog Days of Painting" and maybe even submit your own doggy photo into the mix!

In studio news, I have been busy getting the groundwork done for a children's book I have been working on recently. I am excited to get to work on the final illustrations and can't wait to show you guys more as I am able to. To give you an idea of how many illustrations there are, this is just half of them on the boards in the photo. Looks like fun doesn't it!