Thursday, July 24, 2014

At the Movies: X-Men and Begin Again

For Magoo and me, hot summers with with time to kill and no new TV means MOVIES.  We hit the movies A LOT.  So I thought I'd post a few reviews in case you were wondering what an adult woman and 11-yr-old boy thought of them.



This is a comic book action movie.  If you don't know who Wolverine is - skip this one.  If you do know you Wolverine, Professor X, and Magneto are then this is the movie for you.  The basic plot is that a line of mutant-killing robots has taken over the Earth.  They're so bad-ass they even kill humans who carry the mutant gene.  The X-men send Wolverine back in time, with the goal of stopping the robots before they are ever made.  Problem is, he'll need the help of young Prof. X and young Magneto to help him - but in the past these two are on the outs.  Big time.

This movie is great for those following the X-men movies because it combine the present day cast with the younger cast from X-men First Class.  Double X-men - one price!  Magoo and I both thought the plot worked really well and we really enjoyed the movie and the special effects.  I particularly liked the scene where the group is breaking Magneto out of a high security cell and Quicksilver (who is so fast that time basically stops before him) speeds around a room full of guards disrupting their weapons and plans of attack.

Magoo was not scared in any way.  He followed the plot just fine.  To borrow from Siskel and Ebert (Who else are you gonna borrow from?) We give it TWO THUMBS UP. 


BEGIN AGAIN is the story of two people who are down and out, who meet, and help each other pull themselves up.  Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is a music producer who was just fired from the recording label he helped to create.  He's also divorced and has a 14-yr-old daughter that he disappoints on a regular basis.  Gretta is a song writer who came to New York on the coattails of her musician boyfriend who is quickly rising to the top.  Along the way, he dumps her.  When Dan hears Gretta play a sweet song at an open mic night, he is inspired to create music again and the two set out to record their own album - on the cheap - int he streets of New York.

This movie is rated R - although I'm not sure why.  Most nights, there is racer stuff on The CW.  I took Magoo because he loves music and I thought he might enjoy a movie where music is being made, and where people have failed and have to learn from the failure and rise up again.  It's a nice message for a kid.

This is a very sweet movie.  I liked both characters a lot, and I also liked how they were able to help each other achieve their own individual goals.  Dan is trying to get the spark of his former life back.  He wants to be the man he once was.  Gretta is trying to find out who she wants to be and what's going to define her choices.

I read a review that criticized it for being too simple, not edgy enough.  And it's true, this is a very sincere movie.  No cynicism.  It's about making art in the purest sense - just to make art.

I don't think it would be for every kid.  There are no talking animals, car chases, or flying humans in it, but Magoo really enjoyed the music and we bought a couple tracks on iTunes when we got home.  Coming Up Roses is my personal favorite.

Magoo says that he liked it and he liked that "there were two stories that intersected."

TWO THUMBS UP for Begin Again.

I have more movies to review but I have to head out to Art Camp now.  Thanks so much for stopping in!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Art Camp: African Adventure

Another week of art camp is complete!  Boo-ya!

The class was over-filled with 13 artists, and Magoo started his own camp this week, so I was short a helper.  YOWZA - did I feel it.

Still, I had some fabulous young artists in the group and we had a lot of fun.  Here are some highlights.

The kids always love dipping the rice paper squares into the dyes to create a batik effect.

In years past, I had the kids do Zomo rabbit masks, but this year I switched up the design and added rafia.  They looked great!

I'm always attracted to African textiles and patterns so I only did one animal project.  Note for next year: the kids want more animals.  But they did make some fabulous watercolor guineafowl.

See - here's what I'm talking about with the textiles and patterns.  The kids did a great job, but 50% were getting bored painting stripes, so I'll have to shake this one up for next year.

Now we enter the final week: Native American Wonders.  This is the first time I've done a fourth week and all the Native American projects are new this year!  We'll see how it goes!

Thanks so much for stopping by.  It's a gorgeous day outside, so I think I'll go out and play frisbee with my menfolk.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Art Camp: Asian Exploration

We're in the middle of Africa Week now, but I wanted to show you all the cute projects my campers made last week during Asian Exploration.

Fish Prints,

Wang Yani Monkeys,

Sumi-E Bamboo and Snails,

Origami Kimonos,

and Blossoms in Oriental Vases.

This week it's an even bigger batch of kids and Magoo is in his own camp so I'll have my hands extra full!  Updates soon!

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a fabulous week!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Simples in the New York Times

Good news, everyone!

THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC was featured in the book review in today's New York Times!

They have a nice round up of outdoor summer books and The Simples is one of them.  YAY!

If you're been following my career, I'm sure you've heard me moan about marketing.  It's a completely different skill-set than writing and illustrating, and I don't really like doing it, but for each book I've had to do more and more. 

Well, I didn't do anything to make this happen.  I just lucked out.  (Actually, I'm think that the really great review that NY librarian Betsy Bird did on her blog, Fuse 8, had something to do with it - but I'm only speculating.)

Anyway, I'm pretty sure this will rocket the book onto the best seller's list and it will win some national awards and then they'll make a big balloon of Lulu Simple with Dizzy in her backpack for the next Macy's Day Parade!  Well, at least I'm hoping that will happen.

Right now I'm just happy.

Thanks so much for checking in.  Wishing you a great week!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer Fun!

We're full into summer fun around here.  Most afternoons are spent by the pool with friends (although we had to miss a few days to allow Magoo's frisbee laceration to heal.)  But we've followed the doctor's orders and now he's back into the swim of things.

The underwater camera is always fun.  I took this shot of the boys jumping in (above) and Magoo took the shot of underwater Mo (below.)

Here's our new frisbee.  It's big, light, and padded.  If it hit you in the face, it still might hurt, but I bet you wouldn't need to go to the ER.

Summer fun isn't complete until the ice cream truck comes down the street.    Curly and Mo live on a busier street than we do so I don't know if the ice cream truck goes past their house, but BOY OH BOY did they let me know when it was coming down our road.  "JULIE!!!!  THE ICE CREAM TRUCK IS COMING!  JULIE!  ICE CREAM TRUCK!  PLEASE PLEASE!"

How could I say no to that?

Hope you're all having a great summer so far!

Thanks for stopping in!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Tattoo Series

It was a kick-back kind of weekend at the shore, so I packed my portable paints and my blue pen and got a couple more Tattooed People done.

This guy is Tattooed Boxer.

Tattooed Boxer          2014             j. c. phillipps
It was actually a bit of a challenge to find a guy's pose that wasn't the standard "guy with arms folded pose."  I had initially wanted to do a sailor, but I didn't think I could sell it as a sailor without the sailor shirt.  And if the dude has a shirt on, that defeats the purpose of showing tattooed skin.  So I went with boxer.  If you look closely, you'll see he has a lot of nautical tattoos, though, so I figure he used to be a sailor and now he's trying to make a little extra cash on the local boxing circuit.

Gladys the Tattooed Lady    2014    j. c. phillipps
This tattooed lady makes a living at the carnival.  She's not quite as Tattooed as Lydia the Tattooed Lady, but she's pretty enough to draw people in.  (That, and she has a nice, ample tush.)  I figure she's more of a Gladys the Tattooed Lady.

I've shown these two before, but I thought I'd include them and have a blog post with the whole set.

Black Bearded Tattoo Guy      2014     j.c. phillipps

Tattoo Girl with Coffee     2014    j.c. phillipps
This was a fun little project, and there may be more, but since I have four pieces now, I have enough for a set of cards.  Besides, I like to see how something will sell before I go whole-hog.  These are small pieces so I won't have to charge more that $100 for any of them.  Maybe less.  We'll see.  But I figure the customer for this kind of art is a little younger, maybe has some tattoos, had space for a small piece of art.  So I have to keep it affordable.

Of course, if they don't sell at the art show, I could always take them down to the town tattoo parlor and see if they'd hang them.  You never know!

Hope you're all having a great weekend!
Thanks for stopping in!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

WHAL: First Week of Camp is Over

Because tomorrow is the Fourth of July, today was my last day with my little lovelies of Week 1: Folk Stories and Fairytales.

They were a peppy, sweet group of 10 artists who were high on energy and talent.

This is my favorite exchange of the day:
A little boy was being kinda rowdy and couldn't stop interrupting me.
Me:  Am I going to have to write a note to your mother?
Him:  (Looking at me with big eyes.)  I like to shower with my clothes on.

How can I stay annoyed at that level of randomness? I can't!

Anyway, here are some pics from the week:

The kids did a great job with Sumi - E cats, mice, and snails.

They hand printed birch trees for a Little Red Riding Hood collage.

Many of them really enjoyed making Fairy Tale castles with washi tape flags.

Next week: Asian Exploration!  Woohoo!

I hope you all enjoy Fourth of July weekend.  We plan to go to the beach, but because Magoo had a bit of an injury yesterday, he won't be able to go into the water too much.

Here's what happened.  We were at the pool.  Magoo and some boys were playing with a frisbee that was designed for frisbee golf so it had a bit of an edge to it.  One of the boys threw it a little harder than he should have for the small space that they were in.  Magoo got hit.  She came over to me, cryinging and covering his face.  I was surprised to see that the frisbee had sliced his upper cheek about 3/4" long.  (But I have to say it wasn't bleeding badly at all.)  Since we were at the pool, we went right to the life guard station and they cleaned it up and put the loose gauze on it.  We ended up at the ER thinking he would need a few stitches, but they cleaned him up, glued it, and secured it with a butterfly bandage.

He's doing just fine!  (But he can't get super wet for a week.  So yes to beach fun.  No to swimming.)

Thanks so much for stopping in!  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

West Hartford Art League: Camp Has Begun!

Yesterday was the first day of week 1: Folk Stories & Fairytales, and I have a wonderful bunch of new artists to enjoy this week.  We started off with watercolors and The Lion and the Mouse project.

The kids did a great job and I only had a couple of them insist on smashing their paintbrushes (usually once I tell them that I bought them real professional brushes and not kiddie brushes, they appreciate the tools.)

This artist was so pleased with his work that he just wanted to sit and admire it for a bit.  Love that!