Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Re-posting this drawing from a couple of weeks ago to wish everyone a 
Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Illustration Friday: Journey

This week's Illustration Friday word is "journey", so I give you...a shrub. 

This is Brunfelsia pauciflora, but I prefer its evocative common name,  

Walking through our neighborhood, a friend and I used to pass one of these gorgeous plants, and we'd always comment on how much we liked it.  Once I finally learned its name, I liked it even more.  The name is derived from the fact that the blossoms start out a bright violet, fade to a beautiful lavender about a day later, and end up almost white.  Its poetic name makes it a perfect gift to celebrate a birthday, a new baby, any landmark along life's journey.
  "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow."
—Albert Einstein

Note: For some reason, my jpg images are looking fuzzy once they're placed into this post. (Click on the drawing if you'd like to see how it should look.)  If anyone has advice for me, I'd love to hear from you!

My Yesterday-Today-and-Tomorrow plant

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fabulous books, fabulous people

We all fret about the future of small, independent retail establishments these days, while lamenting the proliferation of the big, impersonal chain stores.  Well, in the past few days, I've had heart-warming experiences at both:

I'm lucky enough to have the world's best children's bookstore just a few blocks from my house. Hicklebee's is, quite simply, a treasure.  Do you remember the charming children's bookstore in the movie, "You've Got Mail"?  Hicklebee's is just that wonderful.  The owners, Valerie Lewis and her sister Monica Holmes, are quite well-known in the world of children's books.  On the walls throughout the shop, one finds amazing items which make up the Hicklebee's "Museum": artifacts and original illustrations given to the shop by the most well-known authors and illustrators.  (I've met people like Tomie dePaola and J.K. Rowling at Hicklebee's events.)  This magical shop was a big part of my kids' childhoods, so when I buy children's books, I head over there.

I've just recently become aware of the amazing books by Diane Hutts Aston and illustrated by the incredible Sylvia Long.When I bought A Seed is Sleepy at Hicklebee's last week, I ordered a copy of  An Egg is Quiet, and stopped by today to pick it up. I got to chatting with the woman who was helping me, telling her I liked to draw things from nature and that I was madly in love with Sylvia Long's illustrations in these books. She smiled and ducked into the back room and brought out this beautiful poster from the publisher featuring the author's next book, A Butterfly is Patient, and said "You can keep this." Isn't it gorgeous? So unbelievably nice.

Now, before last Saturday, I would have confidently crowed, "I know that would never happen at the big chain stores!" But, here's heart-warming experience number two:

You all know how much I love "The Fabulous Beekman Boys".  (If you need a reminder, click here and here.)  On Saturday, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge were speaking about heirloom vegetable gardening and signing Josh's book The Bucolic Plague at Williams-Sonoma in San Francisco, and there was no way that I was going to miss it.  I wasn't disappointed: Josh and Brent were absolutely charming, and unbelievably gracious.  They chatted and answered questions of all sorts, and it felt like an afternoon spent with old friends.  Then, it came time for the book signing.  I had brought prints of my Beekman soap drawings to give to the guys, but, I warned my husband, "Those Williams-Sonoma people will probably herd us in like cattle and whisk us through in an assembly line."  I couldn't have been more wrong.

Aaron, one of the culinary experts at W-S, wove through the line and served us delicious shortbread cookies (a Beekman recipe) that he had baked himself.  As we got to the front, the W-S staff set up each person's book to be personally signed (some authors have stopped personalizing at these things and only sign their names), and  genially introduced each groupie guest to Josh and Brent.  The guys weren't stationed behind a table, but preferred to sign while standing the entire time because it was easier to hug people and pose for pictures that way.  Yes, another W-S sales associate happily took each person's camera (usually a cell phone) and patiently took pictures... of everybody. Josh and Brent chatted with each and every obsessed fan person as if they were old friends, even little ol' me with my soap drawing prints.  They remembered my blog post, which made my day...well, my year. (My daughter says that I look like a proud little kid on show-and-tell day at school...I think she's right.)

As I'd expected, those Fabulous Beekman Boys really are fabulous, but so is, surprisingly, Williams-Sonoma.

My favorite page spread from An Egg Is Quiet

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Illustration Friday: Duet

I normally don't like to draw things in twos; odd numbers are usually much more pleasing to my eye.  So, when I saw this week's topic on Illustration Friday, "duet", I was in a quandry.  Of course, some things do make sense in pairs: shoes, dice, even birds. (There are, in fact, a number of gorgeous pairs of birds in this week's group - well done, everyone!)  Then, I was out in my garden and saw that my calla lily plants had decided to solve my problem: two blooms were showing their faces, just asking to be my models.

Most flowers do look best in odd-numbered groupings; the Japanese practice of ikebana certainly adheres to that tradition.  Perhaps it's because they're oddly asymmetrical, unlike most flowers, but I think two calla lilies look just right.  (After all, if it's good enough for Georgia O'Keefe, who am I to quibble?)

And if you're in the mood for a musical duet, there's none better than the father-daughter YouTube sensations, Jorge and Alexa Narvaez.  If you haven't seen them, take a few minutes to watch...I promise you'll be glad you did!