Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Crow and the Pitcher


My husband reminded me of a fable in which a crow, desperate with thirst, finds a pitcher of water. But the water is too shallow and the crow can't reach it. So the clever crow drops pebbles into the pitcher causing the water level to rise, until the bird can drink.

Upon hearing this, an image popped into my head immediately - this image, actually. Some ideas you have to work through, play with the colors, rearrange the composition. Other things you simply execute.

The only internal debate I had with this one was whether to add the top blue to the pitcher or just leave it white. It looked good white - but I found my eyes were drawn to the big white space and everything else competed for attention. With the light blue there, my eye jumps to the crow, and that's where I want it to go.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The (Mostly) UPS and (a few) DOWNS of LOST

(If you don't watch LOST or you haven't watched the LOST finale from last night - you might as well skip this post.)

I'm going to go ahead and give that episode an A. To me, it was a satisfying end to a six-year story. And I don't use the word "satisfying" lightly. So many final chapters leave viewers incomplete. One of the BEST series finales was Six Feet Under. I didn't cry for LOST like I cried in the last five minutes of SFU, this was different. But sweet. And well-done, imo. But let's start with the stuff I wasn't ga-ga over.

1. WHY DO THE WRITER'S OF LOST HATE FAMILIES?

My BIGGEST issue with the episode is what the realization that the castaways are all dead and now resided in a community-created spirit world is - what does that mean re: the existence of David Shepard? If Jack is dead and Juliet is dead, then how do we get a child from that union who's soul was not in the real world? Is David merely some device to help Jack deal with his Daddy issues? Once Jack was enlightened, did David cease to exist, because Jack sure didn't ask about him. After Kate touched Jack's face, he did not say, "Could you hold that thought a mo, I just gotta text my son and make sure he's OK." And as AWESOME as Sawyer and Juliet's reunion was, once again, the Mom who promised David she'd be back to the concert as soon as she could, DID NOT say, "Before we hit the church, James, can I swing by the concert and pick up my kid and my ex-husband's mucho pregnant sister." Nope. David didn't seem to be a concern for her anymore either.

So if David sorta no longer exists here - I'm sorry, but that's kinda a let down for me. It's not that I'm a huge David Shepard fan, but I am a parent and this show seems to have a real problem with parental responsibility:
Sun ditched her daughter to find Jin.
Jin chooses to die with Sun rather than go back and raise his daughter.
Claire strolls away in the jungle leaving infant Aaron on a leaf.
Kate leaves 3 -year old Aaron asleep in a hotel room to pass custody onto his Grandmother.
Dr. Chang ships Miles off to the mainland.
Ben's dad was verbally abusive.
Even Michael - who is standing out as the best parent on LOST, who killed to get his son back safe and sound - kinda blows it in the end by leaving the disturbed kid with a grandmother he's never met.

Summary: If you're a kid on LOST, hope you're resourceful b/c you're parents are totally going to ditch you.

2. WHO WAS THE SKELETON IN THE SHINY PIT?

When Desmond repels down the waterfall to the source of the light, there's a skeleton there. Who's skeleton was that????

Smokey and Mama Smash-A-Lot both have skeletons in the other caves. As far as we know, that light-place barfs up all the people who go down there. Jack ended up exactly where he started (which I LOVED BTW.) So whose bones? Who? Huh?

3. WHY DID SMOKEY BECOME SMOKEY AND JACK STAYED JACK?

Mama Smash-A-Lot told young Smokey that going down there was worse than death, and, true to her word, the pit stole Smokey's humanity and made him into a smoke monster. Why not Jack?

I get why it didn't happen to Desmond. The story had already established that Des was special and the rules didn't necessarily apply to him. But Jack, even though he was the new keeper, was still Jack. Why isn't he a smoke monster?

If I had to answer that question, it would be this: I am now inclined to believe that Mama Smash-A-Lot was also a smoke monster (even though the show never gave us a wiff of smoke or the chicka-chicka's) so when she told Jacob what would happen, she was speaking more of her own experience and not of an actual rule. Maybe because Smokey was so much like her, in basic attitude and sulkiness, maybe it had the same result on him. Maybe it wouldn't have happened to pure-hearted Jacob, just like it didn't to Jack.

That's the best I got there.

4. WHERE'S MICHAEL AND WALT?

Since we get Boone and Shannon back, and since we saw ghost Michael on the island this season, I would have liked to see Michael and Walt in the final reunion. That said - maybe they were there. I need to watch that scene again. (And I know Walt's probably 18 years old and 6'4" but honestly I wouldn't care or I wouldn't care if they recast the part.) I always thought Michael was a truly tragic character and got the raw end of the deal, in that people didn't seem to understand that the choices he made were out of desperation. I never really blamed the deaths of Ana Lucia and Libby on him. The Others had his kid, he did what he had to do. And I also felt that he truly mourned his choices and certainly redeemed himself in the end. It would have been nice for him to get a piece of LOST Heaven and be reunited with his son. That said - I do need to check the tape.

THE GOOD STUFF:

1. CASTAWAY HEAVEN

I don't know about you - but I liked the idea that their afterlife was like a big do-over button that takes the island and island-related influences out of the equation. It was like the Price Is Right's Plinko board. First time around we placed the chip here and drop it and it lands there. Second time around we placed the chip in the exact same place, and maybe it ends up in the similar place and you're still a pregnant girl flying to america to let someone adopt your baby (like Claire), or maybe it winds up on the other side of the board and you become a high-school history teacher who's doesn't kill your father (like Ben.) But I really loved the fact that the castaways didn't come into this world/existence with knowledge of their past -in that way it mirrored the fresh start they got when they landed on the island - and they needed help from one another to become enlightened. Ascend together - wither alone.

2. JAMES and JULIET

It think it's some kind of brilliant series finale' writing to have these past-life highlight reels that take us, the viewers, along for the emotional ride of their reunion. Really, really nice.

But the best of the best was Sawyer and Juliet, because c'mon, the way they were ripped apart at the end of Season 5 was just gut-wrenching. When they remembered each other it was like neither one could believe they found each other again and they were never going to let go. (Gush!) Also, how great is it that Juliet's final words (in death even, beginning of Sesaon 6) "It worked" did not refer to the bomb/time-reset but was a verbal leak from their spiritual reunion. You know how they say just before you die your whole life flashes in front of you? This was like, just before you die you're afterlife flashes in front of you. So Juliet passed over knowing she and James would be together again. (Double gush!!!)

3. ROSE AND BERNARD

Don't you just love them?! And I love that after Smokey threatens them, Rose tells Desmond "you don't have to do anything you don't want to." That lady has balls!

4. JACK'S FINAL MOMENTS

How great was it to see Jack go back to his starting point in the jungle and let his eye close? PERFECTO! Even better, Vincent- the best dog in the world - stays with him so he doesn't die alone. Bravo to you, writers. Bravo.

AND FOR THE REST OF THEM...

So Hurley is the new Jacob and Ben is the new Richard Alpert. Nice. I wonder how long they stayed there? Do you think Hurley had a new branch location of Mr. Cluck's brought over?

I LOVE that a whole group got off the island: Lapidus, Miles, Richard, Kate, Sawyer, and Claire. I didn't see that coming.

Richard got a grey hair. How do you think the rest of his life played out? Maybe he started a line of men's mascara.

I'm sure Kate stayed with Claire and Aaron. Kate probably became Auntie Kate or something. Let's hope between the two of them they could keep an eye on that kid in a grocery store.

I would imagine Lapidus still pilots. He seems to go back to that despite helicopter issues and plane crashes.

And what of Miles? I haven't the foggiest idea - but I do love Miles so. I hope he's able to find that never-seen girlfriend he seems to have in the spirit world and live a long, happy life. (Ooooh - wouldn't a Miles spin-off be AWESOME!!)

There are a million things I haven't covered, probably a half a million things I haven't even thought of yet. But right now I have to go watch the Jimmy Kimmel wrap-up I taped.

Your thoughts?

(Afterthought: I should say that during the scene at the concert where Desmond is speaking to Eloise, my TV got digitally jammed or something. I did not hear that conversation. So if you know what they said, PLEASE let me know.)


Friday, May 21, 2010

Writer's Tea

I'm not the only author in the family.

Yesterday, all the first graders invited Moms, Dads, silbings, etc. to a Writer's Tea to unveil their Alphabet Books. Magoo had been talking about it for a week!


Richard Labadia, author of What Can A Snowman Wear: A Snowman Alphabet, came into the school three times and taught the children how to choose subjects, research, and write an alphabet book. (Magoo's class chose the subject of animals.) The kids have been working on these books for months - and for each animals they write about, they have to make an illustration - of course. To top that off, Mrs. Smith typed out the kids' text, cut out paper borders, and glued the whole thing together. That's a TON of work for everyone involved.

And it was a room full of proud children.

Until it was time to help themselves to cookies. Then it was a room full of sharks!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Fox and The Crow

Believe it or not, it's time for me to start getting ready for Open Studio Weekend in Hartford in November. I have to send in my registration and they are looking for images for the flyers/postcards/webpage etc.

I think I'm going to focus on fables this year and my first piece is The Fox and the Crow. If you'll remember, Ms. Crow has swiped herself some cheese and Mr. Fox wants it. He compliments her singing and asks if she'll sing a song for him. Flattered as she is, she opens her beak to sing, drops the cheese, and Fox strolls off with it. The moral: Beware of Flatterers.
Or maybe Mr. Fox likes dinner theater.

Personally, I like crows. And I LOVE how my crow turned out.

Some of the paper is pure black card stock, other bits I painted in blacks,blues and purples to give the feathers their shiny gleam.

Are there other fables with crows?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Friday in New York

Last Friday I delivered the final art for Wink, The Ninja Who Wanted to Nap to Viking HQ in New York.

Here's the lobby. (One lady thought I was very strange for taking a picture of the lobby.)


My editor came and fetched me and we laid the art out for the art department and some marketing people to view.

Everyone was very complimentary. It is fun to see it all laid out like that, too. I have to admit, I think it looks better than the last one.

But it's a little ... what's the word, stressful ... to stand there while professionals review my work. Once again - everyone was so great - but it's a little like having the spotlight on me for 35 minutes while I answer questions and say "thanks" and hope nothing I glued down comes off.

Then my editor took me out to lunch at a Japanese restaurant called, En.


I really couldn't tell you what I ate. It was goooood though. Something was a little spicey. And something else looked like orange fish eggs. All in all, it was quite yum and the restaurant was just beautiful.

Then I took a quick stroll - because it turned out to be a beautiful day in NY, just lovely - and I was back at the Port Authority bus stop to get on a FOUR HOUR bus ride back home.

Seven hours on a bus is not a good time, to be sure. But the book is where it needs to be and I'm feelin' good.

In other news:
How cool is this shop window? The bus was stopped and I saw the alligator skull in the window. I HAD to get a shot of that!


- I did not accomplish my goal of two completed dummy books. But I did finish one. For the other I did a couple color character sketches and inserted illustration notes in the text. And I'm OK with that. I would have had to bust my hump in an unhealthy way to get the second one done and it probably wouldn't have been crafted to my satisfaction - so I think it's better to have submitted it the way it was.

- Saturday we had a tag sale sale, and yes, I did make Gluten-Free, Casein-Free, Sugar-Free carrot muffins for Magoo and the other boys to sell. They sold out! I did OK too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Work Time

I have three days until New York. Three days to work my butt off getting two stories sketched out to show my editor. Frankly, I don't know if I can get two stories sketched out, but I can definitely get one done.

Are they perfect stories? I doubt it. But I think- at this point - they are at least solid enough that my editor can decide if she likes one (or both) enough to help me craft it. We'll see.

What we have above is my current work desk. Below, on the poster board, I have the story all laid-out. I have the script in the corner (to be typed in later) and my character references at hand. What I do now is tape up a piece of 8.5X11" white paper with a 2-page spread already printed on it and I sketch out the art. Depending on the detail, each sketch could take 30-60 minutes and I have to do about 17 of them. Jeepers. I'd better get moving!!!

In other news:
My mom visited from Ohio. We had a really fun visit to the new Science Museum in Hartford, but my battery quit immediately and I couldn't upload the pics from her camera, so I have nothing to show.

The weather has gone from being in the high 80's to the mid-50's which equals = illness. I have another cold. Bleh.

For all you LOSTies out there - looks like a GREAT episode tonight!!! I'm so excited!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Writing/Rewriting



I've been really busy writing and re-writing two picture book texts that I hope to pitch to my editor next week.

I thought they were in good shape.
My agent assured me otherwise.

Sometimes when I write a story, point A leads to point B. That's good, so then point B leads to point C. And so on until point Z. It all makes perfect sense to the me, so - it stands to reason - it all makes perfect sense to everyone else.

But an alphabet is a line. Point Z never leads back to point A. It's faaaaar from point A.

A good picture book should be closer to a running track. You start, the story moves forward, you finish. But the finish line is in relation to the starting point.

I didn't exactly nail that part.

It may sound easy, but it's harder then you think. I've been ripping lines out, rearranging lines, and trashing whole segments. I've been composing five word sentences that sum up the idea of the whole book. It's a little mind-numbing. But ultimately good, because the hard lessons I'm now learning from scrapping months of work will help to make my next story stronger.

At least I hope.







Monday, May 3, 2010

Unified Sports

Saturday was a bright and sunny day. Perfect for Unified Sports. This is Magoo's second year of Unified Sports. There's always a lot to learn whenever you do something for the first time - so we had some hurdles last year - like handling a very loud gym and Magoo's frustration if he didn't perform well. This year was much, much smoother.

Magoo started out in one of the loud gyms (the noise wasn't an issue for him this time though, phew) with volleyball.

All the activities didn't involve the enormous ball - but I think this was his favorite.

Then we headed outside for track, soccer, and baseball.


Magoo, as it turns out, is an ace pitcher. The kids had to throw soft balls into a hole in a net. Magoo was, maybe, the 10th kid to go. Some of the better skilled children got five balls in. Magoo got all six of his balls in the hole. I couldn't believe it!!!

The final event was basketball and that was in the second gym. This is where all hell basically broke loose. There were a lot of little kids/younger siblings there who had grown tired of just watching. And a lot of parents who were tired of wrangling the young ones so small kids were running all over the place. The helpers were too tired and too few. So poor Magoo is trying to do what he's supposed to do and wait his turn, but the lines aren't formed and every time it's his turn a little kid would run by and snatch the ball from the ground. Magoo was pi$$ed. He was also exhausted. So we took him outside, poured cool water over his head, and brought him back in to receive his medal.



Apart from the last bit - it was a lovely, lovely morning and Magoo had a lot to be proud of.