Sunday, May 17, 2015

Magoo's Meet

Magoo had a swim meet today and he CRUSHED it!  His swim group isn't well attended in the Spring season, which means he got to participate in a lot of the events today.  

He came in first in the 50 meter butterfly and 50 meter breast stroke.  He finished strong in a bunch of other ones that I can't remember because I was too busy trying to get a good photo instead of writing these things down.

I have to say that he's come a long way. He's always been a good swimmer, but now he's a very strong swimmer - very graceful.  His strokes are so much more efficient than they used to be.
It's lovely to watch.

So BIG CONGRATS to Magoo for good races and good sportsmanship!
I'm so proud of you and I know that you are proud of yourself!

Thanks for stopping in!
Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Game of Thrones Art

Jon Snow                2015              j. c. phillipps

Sometimes I like to make art that has more of a pop culture feel to it than my watercolors and collages.  Just-for-fun art.  I did zombies a few years ago and tattoo people last year.  Visitors at the art show always enjoy these pieces, but I rarely sell the originals.  It makes sense.  People don't want to spend $100 on something their friend Ginny might like because she's into The Walking Dead.  That said, people will spend $20 or less on a print or a pack of cards.

Because I am all about Game of Thrones and that show isn't going anywhere, I thought I'd do some Game of Thrones art.

I had to think about what style I wanted to do them in, and I decided I'd do "loose Book of Kells."

from The Book of Kells

I'd done some Book of Kells style art about a decade ago after honeymooning in Ireland and seeing the real book.  It's beautiful and amazing.  And - I assemble the art digitally - which means there's no expensive original that won't sell anyway.  Perfecto.

Pieces of Jon Snow

I start off with a black line drawing, then scan it into the computer.  I added Jon Snow and the crow first.  I thought the image was a little lacking, so then I added his direwolf, Ghost.  After I scan, I assemble the image in Photoshop and add color.  I use the animal (in this case the crow*)  in two places, in the corner of the border & I recolor and enlarge the image for some added detail in the background.  (I take the opacity of the background image down to about 50%.)  I make the white background transparent so I can add the image of scanned parchment paper to the bottom layer.

(* Yes, I know that Jon Snow is technically from House Stark, but I already had Arya from House Stark so I thought I'd go with a crow for the Night's Watch for variety.)

I cheat a bit by uploading celtic ropes from clip art on the internet.  Drawing that stuff is complicated and time consuming.  Since I won't be charging a lot of money for them, it's not cost effective to design and draw all those knots.

Arya Stark            2015               j. c. phillipps
 I add the red dots digitally.  Not all the art in the Book of Kells has the red dots, but some of them do.  To me, they are a perfect detail for a show that's so bloody.

Daenerys Targaryen         2015        j. c. phillipps
 I've started with four of my favorite characters so I can make them into a pack of cards - but I've had so much fun on this project, I might make more before the November show.  (Hodor.)

Tyrion Lannister           2015           j. c. phillipps

I hope you all are enjoying Spring!  (I had to wash my blue car yesterday because it was yellow with pollen.)
Thanks so much for stopping in!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Magoo's Clarinet Concert

Last week, Magoo had his final concert.  It is his final, because he is done with the clarinet.  He did three years of it, and I am proud of him for that.  He learned an instrument, he practiced, he took both group lessons and private lessons, he had a few concerts (and there is one parade remaining) and now he's done.

I remember taking flute in 5th and 6th grade.  I liked it well enough, but there was no real love between me and my flute.  Before that, I took piano.  I used to ride my bike down the street to my instructor's house.  She was a little old lady who's name I forget, but the piano room is very clear in my mind.  It was paneled with wood and decorated in a Native American theme. She had dolls, weavings, drums, the whole shi-bang.  I liked playing the piano better than the flute, and the piano lessons still come in handy when looking at music.  But still, I don't ache for a piano.

Now I play the ukelele.  Not well.  I can do a decent rendition of Riptide, but it's just for fun.  Just for me.  Just because I want to.

That's how I want music to be for Magoo.

If he should want to learn another instrument, he knows he can.  We have a guitar in the house, a clarinet, a ukelele, and a nice keyboard.  Maybe he'll want to be in a garage band someday.  Maybe he'll never want to play an instrument again. 

But he had the experience and learned some things along the way.  It's good enough for him and it's good enough for me too.

Thanks so much for stopping in!
It's crazy hot here today - too hot - but the temps should drop back down to normal soon.
Happy belated Mother's Day to the wonderful mothers out there!


Thursday, April 30, 2015

CT + 6 at the West Hartford Art Leauge

A Pair of Koi 2015               j. c. phillipps
This last weekend was the opening of the CT + 6 Show at the West Hartford Art League.  I don't usually enter too many art shows - I'm too busy with book projects.  But this year I had some time and I thought it is good to have small goals (like one piece in a show) rather than trying to make a bunch of stuff at once for the November Open Studio.  So I painted some koi.

I did a nice big one that I am very happy with.  (Above.)  Although I must confess that I've painted so many koi fish that I'm running out of decent names for them.  Often I have to include the year.  :)

The show, which features art from artists all over New England and New York, was fabulous.  Beautiful works that I barely got to see because it was so dang crowded. 

"Too crowded" is a good problem for an art opening.  But it did mean I couldn't linger on any one piece for too long. But that was a bonus for the men that I dragged along with me.  I, smartly, packed a frisbee so they could ditch if I found myself chatting with someone.  However, it was too crowded even for that.

Some beautiful art was seen, a cupcake was eaten, a frisbee was thrown, and then we left.

The piece above,  The Game by Elisabeth McBrien, won Best in Show.  I agree.  It's a stunning piece that my photograph doesn't really capture.

If you're in the West Hartford, CT area, come check out the show!

Thanks so much for stopping in!
Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The New York Day

Last week, I had a meeting in New York with an editor.  Normally, when I go into the city, I have finished a project and am taking the art in.  No so this time.  I had an editor interested in two projects, but this was a pre-contract meeting.  In my mind it was a "Let's see if Julie is a freak" meeting.  But, I don't really know.

Mike dropped me off at the Hartford bus station at 9:40 and I got on a swanky Peter Pan bus.  I was psyched to see it had outlets between the seats because I planned to spend the trip watching Outlander on my Macbook and I was worried about the battery running out on the way home.

I would have plugged in, but my seatmate was sitting in a way that had her foot covering the outlet.  Since I was at 100% charged, I figured I'd charge up on the ride home.

We got into Port Authority Bus Terminal in NY around 12:45.  It's sad to me that I know my way around Port Authority pretty well.  But I am pleased to report that they keep the bathrooms very clean down there.

I hopped a train and made my way to Washington Square.  It was a GORGEOUS DAY!  If I hadn't been meeting my wonderful agent, Scott Treimel, for lunch, I could have picked up something from a market and just sat in the square.  But we walked and lunched and chatted about all things picture book and publishing and got me ready for my meeting.

My awesome agent, Scott Treimel

After lunch, Scott walked me over to Scholastic.

I wasn't nervous.  I'm good in one-on-one meetings, if the other person is friendly - and the editor certainly was.  (I'm horrible in cocktail party/networking situations.  Please don't make me go to those.)  Project One was pretty polished and the editor only had a few line note suggestions - which were fine by me.  Project Two needed more work.  (That's actually what I'm working on today.)

Sitting with Harry Potter in the Scholastic offices.
Then it was back on the train, back to the train station, and back on the 4:30 bus to Hartford - which DID NOT have outlets.  Bummer.

It was a looooong ride home.  The bus creeped through Manhattan.  But I did get another 2 episodes of Outlander into my brain.  (Now, of course, I'm enjoying talking to myself in a poor Scottish brogue.) By 8pm, I was home.  And by 8:10 I was on the couch watching Survivor with Magoo.

6.25 hours on a bus in one day is not my idea of a good time, but it was work and it was worth it.

It will be awhile before I hear about Project One.  Even when editors love a project, they still have to take them through their publisher's acquisition process, and I hear that Scholastic's can be a bear.  But IF Project One gets picked up by Scholastic and IF someday that book winds up in a Scholastic book order form, then I'm going to frame that book order form, because that, my friends, will be very exciting to me.

I'll keep you posted!

Thanks so much for stopping in!  Have a great day!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bunnies & Blooms

Saturday was our artists group event, Bunnies & Blooms, and it couldn't have gone better.  If you don't know, Bunnies & Blooms has been something we at the WeHa Artists Emporium have been planning for a couple months.  Six local artists, including myself, have been making bunny and bloom themed art to hide in town on Saturday.  People knew it was happening, but the location was secret until the day of the event.

At 7am, the hiders: Stefanie, Megan, Hannah, Magoo and I gathered in the town center and hid the goodies all around.  Since I had 100 little clay bunnies, it took me and my helper a little over an hour to hide them all.

Here are some shots of art in the wild:
Bloom by Stefanie Marco, Soft Bunny by me, Bloom Bowl by Hannan Dunnack Jackson, Clay Bunny by me
At 9am, I posted the location of the event and got back in my car to go back into town and check it out.  Stefanie was a great papparazzi, running up to anyone with a bunny or bloom and getting a shot.
By 9:45 I think it was all over.   Blooms and Bunnies had been claimed!

Lucky bunny and bloom finders.  Photos by Stefanie Marco.

It was a GORGEOUS day - one of the first nice Saturdays of 2015.  People were so happy to be out with the family finding goodies.  And it was nice to run into some friends as well!

My friend, Adrian, and her daughter both found some treasures.
Bunnies & Blooms was such a fun event.  If you want to see more pics, check out Stefanie's Bunnies & Blooms album on Facebook.

Thanks so much for stopping in!  Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Portrait of My Son & Other Goings-On

2015  j. c. phillipps

Hi all!  Sorry I have been lax on the blogging front.  Lots has been going on.

First off, I just finished a portrait of my son who's now 12.  I went back into my watercolor archives to see all the portraits I've done of him.  Many are OK, but there are three that I really like.  This last one qualifies as Top Three.  Right now I have it in the living room so I can stare at it.  So far it's passing the multiple stare test of time.

It's funny how one's perception of a painting can change over time.  There are paintings that I don't like and I tuck them away.  I may discover them a year later and think, "Oh hey - that's actually pretty good."  And there are others that I really like when I'm done and over time I notice things that are uneven or not as vibrant as I wish they were.  But the good ones ... I always like the good ones no matter when I look at them.

So there's that.

In other news:  Bunnies & Blooms has been announced in town and we're starting to spread the word.  What is Bunnies & Blooms? you ask.  Well, it's a "treasure" hunt that the WeHa Artists Emporium is doing on April 11th.  Local artists have contributed bunny and bloom themed art and are hiding the pieces in a secret location, to be revealed on April 11th, and then anyone who wants to go find some bunnies & blooms can!  All free! 

We're trying to have a nice array of finds from kid friendly softies to more adult friendly mixed media pieces.  Here are a few examples:

Some of the 100 clay bunnies by Julie Phillipps

Bloom Bowl by Hannah Dunnack Jackson

Mixed Media Blooms by Stefanie Marco

Bunnie Softies by Julie Phillipps
 If you're in the West Hartford, CT area and you want to take place in the fun, know that it will start at 9am on Saturday April 11th (April 18th is the raindate.)  The trick is: we won't announce the exact location until 9am because we don't want early birds.  We will post the exact location in town on our Facebook Group Page (WeHa Artists Emporium) and on the event page (Bunnies & Blooms.)

The other unrelated thing that has been keeping me pretty busy is Skype Author Visits.  A couple months ago I signed up with Skype in the Classroom for a literacy campaign that was to last from mid-February to April.  They were hoping I'd do 4 - 6 author visits.  I think I did 25.  Actually, the whole campaign went really well, so they're just keeping that happy train rolling.

 On one hand Skype visits are great because I don't have to worry about driving or directions or any of the hassle.  On the other hand if I don't schedule the visits well, I will waste a day having to be at the computer for visits every 45 minutes.  Plus, 30 minute Skype visits are free, so I don't get paid. That's a bummer.  BUT - my books and my name gets out to that many more kids and teachers and schools - YAY - so it all evens out in the end, I think. 

I have learned that it's better to have 3 Skypes in one day than one Skype each on three days.  If I cluster them, I may lose one work day, but then I'll have two others with no interruptions. Plus, I'll have two days where I don't have to worry about how my hair looks.  :)

Well, that's what I've been up to.

Thanks so much for stopping in and paying me a cyber visit!
I hope that Spring has sprung wherever you are!  (We're working on it here.)