Friday 26 December 2014

Minor News - saw a flying squirrel!

Photos taken from the Internet

Christmas night. My cat, Emily and I saw a flying squirrel last night. We were outside at 11pm, behind my brother's house near Central. Emily was staring up at a tree, watching what I thought was a chipmunk running up and down a branch that was as high, and next to, the 3 story house. I couldn't recall ever seeing a chipmunk or squirrel running around at night. So I kept my eyes on it, wondering what it was doing. The squirrel jumped from the branch. All of a sudden this thing with giant wings, but in a square shape rather than normal bat wing shape, came flying towards me. But I still immediately thought it must be a giant bat. I ducked slightly thinking it might hit me, but it swooped in a big curve and landed five feet away on the tree to my left. The wings had vanished and a small squirrel ran up into the tree. Then high up on a tree to my right another squirrel was running around, so there might have been two of them. I've never seen one before!

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Two Art Shows in Thunder Bay (Both extended till end of November: Lara Wood at the DEFSUP Gallery, Faces and Figures at the Habana Gallery

TWO SHOWS! Back to back and then the Studio Walkabout! Busy months. I've been painting like mad. Click on the images below for more details.

Lara Wood is a darker children's picture book for older kids who will appreciate Lara's strengths and ability to conquer adversity. The book won't be out till next year some time. Meanwhile I can build up some promotion for it and let people see the amount of work that goes into such a project.

The Faces and Figures show was inspired by Bram Dijkstra's book, Naked: The Nude in America. It's been incredibly influential on me. Although I enjoyed painting nudes, I always felt awkward – a sense of guilt. No longer! The way the nude has been depicted is fraught with difficulties, but this book gave me a clear head about many issues. I second guessed myself for years. Here's a great line from the book: "Artists who refuse to assault the body with stylishly perverse psychological or physical deformations are usually dismissed as hopelessly out of tune with today's art world. In fact the rampant imagery of paranoia and obsession rife in the contemporary art world can be traced back to the Puritanism that continues to rankle the American mind. It is not the product of artists who celebrate life by celebrating the body."

So, here are two shows that combined celebrate both the mind and body of women (mostly. There will be a few naked men in the figure show). In the children's book, Lara is a strong young woman who risks her life to save a young man, not for reward or because she is told to, but because it is the right thing to do. And she stands up to a wolf, a dangerous wizard, and is able to poke fun at the idiot king, King Nimrod who builds the Tower of Babel. In the Faces and Figures show I celebrate the human face and body in many different facets. I finally got around to painting a few women I had crushes on, and painted women from figure drawing classes whose beauty had nothing to do with sexual attraction and everything to do with human beauty, not diminished by age or popular concepts of beauty. Character can be everything, along with confidence in oneself. I plan to continue painting portraits and figures, and will incorporate them into a series I call Stage 500, for which I will have a big show one day in the future.
Special thanks to the Ontario Arts Council.

Sunday 27 April 2014

The 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair this year was a great experience. I met with publishers from around the world and spent the last week sending pdfs of my books to interested parties. I met with friends, spending one week in Bologna, another in Switzerland (first time! Thanks Meejong!) and another week in Holland (Thanks Barbara and Gerard!). No volcanos erupted this time so I returned in good order to Thunder Bay to be met with three successive huge snowfalls. We've had SIX MONTHS OF WINTER!! So it was refreshing to mix with Europeans outdoors, see flowers bloom and swans in ponds. Although the benefit of winter weather is that it keeps me inside and productive I do get inspired by better climates too. European architecture, art, food, bicycle lanes, and the people are always inspiring. I'm back at work this summer to complete two very involved picture books, Lara Wood and The Chameleon Snake. Then I'll focus on Tiger Dream and other works. Too many ideas and not enough time!

Saturday 15 March 2014

Kids Get Books! Lots of Books! - Reading at Guildford Public Library in Surrey, B.C.

89 children from two schools, Holly and Hjorth Elementary, near the Guildford Public Library got a surprise when they trekked over for an hour's worth of stories on March 11. First, I read a few of my stories, published and unpublished, where the illustrations were projected to the wall. The last story I read was The Love Ant. Then each child got a free copy of the book! One child, rather sadly, said he didn't like the story. He returned the book, so I gave him a copy of The Ugg and the Drip. He flipped a few pages and nodded approvingly.

The two schools are part of an effort the city is taking to support early literacy in an area where 36% of the early year's population is identified as being vulnerable, as determined by UBC's Human Early Learning Project. This made me feel a lot better about giving away so many books.

The reaction made the trip and the giveaway all worthwhile. The kids were great – attentive and funny, occasionally blurting out hilarious statements in response to the stories. The teachers got the end joke of The Love Ant before the students did, but the kids quickly figured it out and burst out laughing or shared their surprise and/or distaste for the story's ending.
This event is a bit of a delayed book launch for the Love Ant. The illustrations for the book are part of the mural in the children's department. The story was told orally for 13 years, the librarians telling it to children and children to each other.

Special thanks to Sara Grant, Melanie Boyle, Amy Ashmore, the National Public Readings Program (Canada Council and Canada Writer's Union) for funding half the flight and the reading. Also thanks to Susan, Namrit, and the teachers!

Saturday 1 February 2014

Reading at St. Martins and Progress continues on Lara Wood starring Lara Wilson

For Family Literacy Day at St. Martin's School with about 200 kids brought into the new gymnasium for two one hour bouts of readings there was no time for demonstrations or much discussion. The kids were great - attentive and inquisitive. And LOUD! They read their queues for The Ugg and the Drip with gusto! Thanks to Laura Racco and St. Martin's. It was great fun for me and always a learning experience.
Lara Wood is reaching its conclusion after intermittently being worked on for the last year, adding another 14 illustration to the five illustrations I completed 15 years ago. I came across this old photograph of Lara Wilson, who posed as Lara Wood. Yes, her name inspired the name of the heroin, not Lara Croft! I gave Lara this knife to pose with and she began to goof around with it. Her mother calls me once in a blue moon to find out if I've completed the story yet. Soon! Soon!