National Reading Month Give-Away

 

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Oh, how I love to read. Whether I read four chapters or four paragraphs, I read every night. Books take me to another world, an alternate reality. Reading is an opportunity for me to decouple from the day’s activities and it allows me to Calm Down. Reading relaxes me in a way that few other activities do.

Reading has the same effect on my two young sons. Story time offers a moment of peace in our day. I know from experience that our “Wild Things”* quickly become lazy lions* when I pull out a book. A quiet concentration brings them down from the bouncing, bouncing, bouncing* of their days. Once their movements have slowed and their attention is focused, they snuggle into my arms and learn about the brand new skies* and moss-grown mountains* that exist inside of books.

It is because of my own daily reading routine and the great pleasure of reading with my sons that I welcome National Reading Month. I adore the idea of a month to promote children’s literacy. And what parent couldn’t use a little inspiration from time to time? Let’s face it, we love our children, but they can really wear us out!*:) So, in the name of reading and children and the folks that do one for the other, I am happy to share the news of a joint give-away by Roommates and Cottage Door Press: These two fantastic companies have rallied together to support and promote National Reading Month.

For ideas and inspiration on ways to get our children excited about books, please visit this page where Cottage Door Press has published a free downloadable kids activity calendar with simple and entertaining things you can do with your kids each day in March. Also, every Monday at noon throughout March, Roommates will be posting a link on their Facebook page where you can enter to win one of my wall decals and one of my children’s books!

If you noticed, I made a few references to children’s books throughout this post. Below are a list of those books (marked with an *asterisk) plus some other favorites, both old and new. This list is by no means comprehensive. It is simply a list of ten of the books that have been brought to my bedside over the last few months by my own readers-in-training, ages 6 and 2.

*Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

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*The House at Pooh Corner, by A.A. Milne, illustrations by E.H. Shepard

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*Olivia, by Ian Falconer

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The Big Red Barn, by Margaret Wise Brown, pictures by Felicia Bond

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Bits & Pieces, by Judy Schachner

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*Animalia, by Graeme Base

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*d’Aulaires Trolls, by Ingri and Edgar d’AulaireTrolls.jpg

The Dark, by Lemony Snicket, pictures by Jon Klassen

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Another Brother, by Matthew Cordell

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*All in a Day, by Cynthia Rylant, Illustrated by Nikki McClure

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Season of Love

Blend Fabrics has finally announced my next fabric collection. Welcome to the Season of Love!

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My inspiration for this collection is varied. In its simplest form, I was intrigued by Indian art, Eastern philosophy and Ganesha, the Hindu Deity. 

 

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An image of Ganesha, the Hindu Deity.

 

 

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Here is an image of an painted and costumed Elephant, from a vintage Indian stamp.

 

But when I sat down to write about this collection, I realized I had another influence: Western art and cultural trends of the late 1960s (which slightly pre-date me). You see, I have two much older sisters. They were big music fans, as were my parents, and as a small child I spent a lot of time admiring their clothes and tapestries and listening to their music. One of my favorite albums was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

During the creation of Season of Love, songs from Sgt. Pepper’s kept rattling through my mind. It wasn’t until I sat down to name these patterns, however, that I realized the album was recorded in 1967. That is the same year as the Summer of Love. Just months later, in 1968, that the Beatles went to India to study Eastern philosophy.

My brain is weird. I mix up numbers and years and facts, but I have a strong inner narrative; it’s a sort of story-telling approach to memory. And there are always images that go with the narratives, a montage of icons. It is a strangely effective way to think of things, if one is a visual artist. On one hand, I cannot concretely tell you how I know something nor can I often recall the hard data to support what I “know.” But, if I follow my intuition, I can often unravel my story and icon memory, and come up with something that is accurate (or at least clarifies to me how I got from point A to Point B).

This morning I googled “Sgt. Peppers” and “1960s Paisleys.” to see if I might find a way to incorporate these thoughts as I wrote about Season of Love. These are a couple of the first images that came up in my searches. When I saw them, I felt immediate recognition. To me, there is a very strong visual connection between these two images and the color and spirit of my new patterns in Season of Love. Do you see it, too? Or am I just having a Lucy-in-the-Sky-with-Diamonds style hallucination??

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A shot of the Beatles in their Sgt. Pepper’s Costumes.
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Liberty of London Paisley Print from the 1960’s.

I was recently asked by a colleague where I get my inspiration. And honestly, it’s not always immediately apparent. But, there is always a story behind my art… even if it takes some unraveling, and even if the connections are through a haze of memory, music, and childhood memories.

 

 

Oopsy Daisy Wall Art, Revisited

Oopsy Daisy, the incredible, large and every-present wall art company, has included a handful of my work since way-back when I first began. Since it has been so long, I wanted to plug the pieces they picked up, and still have for sale, on their site.

Vintage Montage room
This canvas wall art is from a collection I call Victorian Montage. The adorable room setting is from the OhJoy! website.

 

Oopsy Daisy Wall Art
This group of wall art is also from my Victorian Montage collection. The room setting was found on the blog Kidspot. I LOVE this nursery, and the colors are perfect with this wall art.

 

Oopsy Daisy Whale room
This triptych of wall art is from a series I made ages ago called Deep Blue Sea. It got such a strong response that I made another whale collection. That eventually became my True Blue fabric collection, which is in reprints and available again now! I found this room setting on the blog A Whole Lot of Tiny.

Coloring Fun For Grown-ups

The trend reigns on: coloring books for grown-ups continue to be a smash hit. And, yes, I have succumbed myself. So much so that I actually just went ahead and illustrated one. It is called By the Sea.

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Now, go quickly to Groupon and get a really good deal on By the Sea. There are two other titles in the Groupon deal, one by Stacy Peterson and the other by Lily Ashbury. This deal is good for two days, until the end of the day on January 25th.PIL Coloring Books.pngThe first I heard about this trend was on NPR. They had a story about, and interviewed, Johanna Basford. I guess she was the eye-of-the-adult-coloring-book-storm. And her illustrations are incredibly intricate. They are simply amazing.

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After hearing about Secret Garden, I began to see adult coloring books everywhere. Several books by Lisa Cogdon caught my eye. Her series is called Just Add Color. They are whimsical and fun, just as I imagine the artist herself must be.

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So, as you can see, I am not the first to throw my hat into the coloring-book-ring, but none-the-less, it was a blast to create artwork for By the Sea. Initially, I was intimidated by the scope of the project, but after I began illustrating the pieces, I immediately understood why so many people are entranced by the projects. The process takes you out of you head–it is true escapism, in the most wholesome way. Do you remember how you were able to spend hours absorbed in childhood play? Whether it was building legos, or knitting*, or coloring. These books really do transport you out of the here and now. Coloring the pictures is nearly instant gratification. And you do not need any specific skills to get a truly beautiful result. If you haven’t already, I hope that you allow yourself the time to delve into one of these books. If not for you, than for your childhood self, who I bet is aching to break out and give this a try.

*I realize that not all children had the occasion to knit. As a Waldorf student, I spent many an hour with my needles clicking. But that’s a story for another time.

New Gift Wrap Collections for 2016

The Gift Wrap Company’s 2016 catalogs go live on their website next week. Here is a sneak peek at my collections with them, which feature Suzani Soul and True Blue:

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I LOVE the Gift Wrap Company design crew–they are talented, organized, and their presentation is always beautiful. I want to give a shout out to them all. You guys are amazing!:)