Friday, May 26, 2017

Picture Book Journal: Be Our Guest



Sometimes I wish there was a book offered to schools called, "How to Host an Author."

Some schools don't need this.  (Most schools don't need this.)  Some schools are very excited that an author is coming and they treat you like a respected guest.  They prepare the kids and put signs up saying Welcome! and just treat you like you're the best thing since sliced bread.  And that feels great!

Other schools ... well, sometimes you're just a person sitting in a stairwell.

I'm not a fancy gal.  I don't expect the red carpet.  But there should be some basic rules of etiquette that are met.  For example, when an author goes into a school, there should be a host to meet them, give them a schedule, show them where bathrooms are, where to get lunch, and take them to their first location.

Sometimes you get a student escort - that's fun.  Most of the time it's a teacher or media specialist.  On my last visit there was no host.  Zippo.   Nada.   Well, that's not 100% true.  I knew I'd need someone to help with the computer set-up so I made a request for help, then someone led me to the stage.

What we didn't know, because there was no host, was that I was in the wrong location.  I was supposed to be in the library.  Who knew this?  I did not know this.  The school secretary did not know this.   It was unknown.

Someone eventually found me waiting patiently in a room with no students and escorted me to the library and I did my presentation.  It was the exact same presentation that I did there last year.
Sometimes this doesn't matter.  If I only present to one grade, I can present the same material year after year to new students.

However, this was not the case.

I was presenting to the Kindergarten and the first grade, just as I had last year.  And I should have caught on to that earlier on, but there was such a huge gap in communication between booking my date and letting me know what they wanted me to do.  I think eventually the person handling it just said, "Uh yeah.  Same as last time."  I didn't think anything of it until the week before my visit when I realized that half the group would have the same presentation as last year and the same art project.

I relayed the issue and pitched a different art project, but I never heard back.  Okedokee.
So some kids got double ninja learning.  Not the worst thing ever.

I know this post sounds whiny, and truth be told, it was a fine visit.  The kids were great and the teachers were super helpful in the classroom.  What this visit needed - what all visits need - is a stage manager.  Someone who is in charge of it all, someone who knows how it's going to go, where the author should go, and who can host the author properly.

I'm a professional.  I'm there for the kids and I'll get the job done.  This post is just to shed light on the realities of the job.  Sometimes it's not very glamorous.  I guess most times it's not very glamorous, but a good author visit can really make you feel like a rock star.

And sometimes you're just the person sitting in the stairwell.


Friday, May 12, 2017

PBJ: Follow Through


I like new projects.

It's fun to get a new idea and start developing it.  It's like buying a package of seeds from the store.  You plant them in fresh soil.  Maybe even in a pretty new pot.  And it's your baby.  You water it and love it and bring it to life.

That's a first draft.  First drafts are great!  It's 100% creativity and 0% editing.  (I should be specific when I say that I am speaking of picture book first drafts.  I imagine that those who write novels edit a lot while they are working on their first draft.)  But not picture books.   Picture book first drafts are all love and ideas!  They are the thrill of when sprouts first pokes up out of the soil.  But it is only for a fleeting moment.  Because then you have to show people your story, get notes, and rewrite.  And rewrite.  And rewrite.

The revision process is more like keeping a garden up.  The weeding!  Therefore, if I have a story that has taken me some time and I still can't get it just right, I tend to put it away.

Sometimes it's the best thing you can do.  Some stories need to rest in the soil like a perennial.  But then the tricky thing is to come back to that story  - and water it, and prune it and love it - instead of working on an exciting new idea.  That's what I'm doing now.  I'm pruning.





I have several stories that I have been working on for years now.  And they are soooooo close.  So, instead of starting fresh, I have pulled out a story that has been oddly difficult for me to nail down.  It's nearly wordless, so the story has to be very simple and very clear.  It's all art, so I can't explain anything.  It's super visual.

About 5 months ago (after already working on it for years and putting it away), I submitted a new revision to my crit group and got a ton of wonderful notes, but at the time, my heart just wasn't in it.  So two days ago, I was finally ready to pull my "gardening gloves" out and do some weeding.  I printed up the notes.  Pulled out my dummy pages.  Wrote all the notes out on post-its and put them on the corresponding illustrations.  And now I am slowly and diligently working through the story page-by-page.

I must admit it feels good to get back into it.  I love this story so much and, if given a chance, it could be a lovely book.  But first, I have to do my part.  So I am following through.

Thanks so much for stopping in.
Wishing you a lovely weekend and a very Happy Mother's Day to the moms out there.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Crazy Busy Art Weekend, Part 2: Spring Art Market






Hi.  This is the core group of the WeHa Artists Emporium.  (From left to right:) Me, Phyllis, Stefanie, David, and Hannah.  I prefer to stand next to Phyllis and/or Stefanie in photographs so I can appear taller.

Together we come up with fun art things to do in town.  We also curate two galleries in the Noah Webster Library.  And we organize art shows.  This past weekend was the Spring Art Market.  We did a small one last year in Hannah's house with only 6 artists.  This year, since the big holiday show went so well and so many artists wanted to do another show, we were able to acquire the big warehouse again and we did another big show.  This time, we had 18 artists.

I'm not going to go into the nitty-gritty of planning the event.  I'm just going to show you a whole bunch of photos so you can feel like you were able to join us and stroll along the booths, oohing and ahhing over all the wonderful handmade items.  Perhaps you had a crepe from the food truck parked outside.  Perhaps a donut.  Either way, I hope you'll enjoy some scenes from the WeHa Artists Emporium's Spring Art Market.


Here's a shot of Stefanie's booth.  Stefanie was hit by a car about three weeks ago.  Actually, it was exactly three weeks ago today.  Holy crow - it was bad.  But because she was so fit and strong, she's doing an amazing job healing.  You can see - in that top photo - the cast on her arm.  She also had a neck brace and scabs and bruises all over her body.  Anyway - there was no way she was healthy enough to sit at her booth and sell art for the weekend, but we knew she had so much art to sell.  So her wonderful husband Carl set up her booth and there was a series of volunteers who came out and sold stuff for her. 


Marilyn Holt does amazing things with gourds.  I don't even know how she does it.  But she gets a gourd and she makes it into a lamp, or a bowl, or a tiny carved egg - and it is exquisite.


Eina Rieger is Magoo's middle school art teacher and an amazing potter!  The colors are so bold and fun.  I love her stuff!


We had a long white wall that was going unused, so I cut a stencil, spray painted some posters and jazzed it up.  The posters were on sale as a group fundraiser.  We sold a few.


Here's a shot of my jewelry table.  This was my first year making and selling jewelry.  I had to buy a lot of beads and findings - and display items.  I'm happy to say that the jewelry did pretty well.  I'd say I probably broke even.  Also, I branded myself this year.  My little "store" is called Handmade by Julie Phillipps.  So I had to design a logo and tags and a whole lotta stuff.  You can see my Facebook store page here.


Hannah always puts together the most beautiful booth.  It's like an Anthropology store.  Indigo and white are her main colors for this collection and the whole space looked so polished.  She could probably be an interior decorator if she wanted to.


Our other wonderful potter is David Davis Wilson.  His stuff is also amazing, but so different from Eina's.  David's pieces almost tell more of a story.  They have bunnies and bees and ants on them.  He does a lot of carving and painting on his pieces.  Just lovely.


And here's a shot of my space.  It's difficult to see the details, but I went with a black and white theme for the booth so that all the colors of my picture books, softies, and watercolors could stand out.

It was a great weekend but now I am resting, taking everything down and putting it in storage, and trying to get back into regular Julie mode.

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


Monday, May 1, 2017

Crazy Busy Art Weekend. Part One: Things With Wings

The Hiding Crew: Hannah, Miss Z, Magoo, Phyllis, Miss M, me and Miss C

PART ONE: Things With Wings Art Hunt

On Saturday morning, the hiding crew gathered at a secret location to hide the 118 items of wing-themed art that was created and donated by local artists.  At 9am, the location was revealed on the web page and we just sat back and watched the people come. 

If you hide it, they will come ...

Well, some of us sat back.  The younger ladies in the group were allowed to run off and find one item.  Magoo helped hide, but he didn't gather.  (If I was smart I would have sent him off to snag something for Mama.  Oh well.)

A tapestry moth by me

A ceramic bee cup by David Davis Wilson

little clay chicken by me

It's really quite a lot of fun to watch the cars arrive and people start looking around for items.  If you're lucky enough to be close by - (and some people guessed the right park and they were close.  One person confessed to doing a drive by, seeing us, and then parking in the far lot so they could hunt as soon as 9am hit.) - then it's pretty easy to find something.  It's like an Easter egg hunt.  Nothing is buried.  But, after 30 minutes, good luck.  After an hour, nope.  It's over.

Here are some lucky finders.


If you're on Facebook, I encourage you to go over and take a look at the albumPhyllis Meredith - who is an amazing photographer - captured some wonderful images.

It was a beautiful day.  Sunny.  Not too hot.  And we all had a great time at this event.  Thank you to all the artists who were so generous with your time and talents.  And thanks to the people who came out to play with us! 

Tomorrow, Part Two: Spring Art Market.