Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

May today be filled with ghosts and goblins and witches.  May the air smell like dying leaves and candy.  May the sky remain a beautiful sapphire blue tonight.

Adrienne Adams, "A Woggle of Witches"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where I work

We just moved into a larger, more affordable apartment in Queens.  It's a bit of an adjustment but I adore having a bit of space to work.  For the first time since college, I have a space that's just dedicated to drawing.   Right now it's just a card table but when money is less tight I'll invest in a nice table or desk. I decorated the space around the desk with things that make me happy and inspire me.  On the table you will see a porcelain lamp. What you can't see is that is is carved with trees to remind me of the woods.  There is also a little troll I bought as a present for myself after I received my master's degree and a piping pig reproduction of a medieval sculpture.  I have all of my supplies: pencils, pens, colored pencils, envelopes, giclée prints, cello bags, paper cutter, etc.  Some are kept in a castle tin I've had since I was a child.  Above the desk you'll see a signed print of a winter castle by Gennady Spirin, a lovely illustrator whose work looks like the Limbourg Brothers with a Russian twist.  Above that is a print of "Snow White and Rose Red" by Trina Schart Hyman, a woman whose detailed and gorgeous watercolors made me want to be an illustrator.  To the left is my own drawing of "Hans-My-Hedgehog," to keep me working with a sense of wonder, while to the right is an engraved reproduction from Rabelais' Dream of Pantagruel: it's a monster playing his nose as a flute. My brother bought that for me because I own two nose flutes.  Above that are two more medieval reproductions: a running knight and a jousting knight.  Below, we'll see a metal name plate of Zur Böttcherstraße, that street in Bremen with all of the toy shops that I loved as a child.  Below that is my self portrait as Snow White, and to the far left, a tiny print of Domenico Ghirlandaio's Giovanna Tornabuoni.  The photo oddly looks a bit fisheyed, but really, everything is straight.  So now, once grading is done, comes a drawing binge...and I can't wait.

My tiny, sweet "studio."

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Favorite Halloween Books

Halloween is my favorite day of the year.  My parents were very keen on the holiday, as was my aunt, who would send Halloween packages to our house that were the cause of eager excitement when they arrived.  My mom had Halloween records to play that were riffs on classic songs..."I've Been Working on my Costume"..., "When the Witches go Flying Along...", to which I still remember the lyrics.

But we'd always have a stack of Halloween books to read as well.  My favorites are here. You've heard me speak of #1 before. It's the most classic and won't really scare you but will get you in the spooky mood of the holiday.  The Haunted House and the Goblin are the two best ones for giving you slight chills up your spine.  Jack Prelutsky and Marilyn Hafner are geniuses for shaping my love of this day so much.

Another perennial favorite was Lonzo Anderson and Adrienne Adams' "The Halloween Party", the story of a boy named Faraday Folsom who, on the way to a Halloween party, wanders off into the night forest after a small troll. He's introduced into a world of trolls and witches and tiny elves.  It hits the perfect cold October-air sensation that you only get late in the month, where witches really do lurk in forests and ride their brooms high into the grey clouds that are lit by moonlight in a sapphire sky.

For its sweetness, I loved two other books: "How Spider Saved Halloween" by Robert Kraus, which tells the story of a spider who dresses up as a pumpkin after neighborhood tricksters smash the pumpkin at his friend's house, and "The Biggest Pumpkin Ever" by Steven Kroll, about two mice who unwittingly tend to the same pumpkin in the patch, making it...the biggest pumpkin ever.  

Two books bordered on creepy and TOO CREEPY for me, "In a Dark Dark Room and Other Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" by Alvin Schwartz and "Very Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark." 

The first is more for kids, and has become the favorite book my nephew, Gavin:
It's illustrations are cartoonlike but creepy:

The second book, also by Schwartz, is the stuff of nightmares. It's illustrated with nightmarish imagination by Steven Gammel. Great job for scaring the CRAP out of me, Mr. Gammel. 
See what I mean?
The last book I've recently found. The watercolor paintings are exquisite and the story is intriguing.  Look for repeating details, like the moths, throughout the book.  It's called "Zen Ghosts" and it is by Jon J. Muth.

It's the most wonderful time  of the year!