Irene’s wind

By the time Irene made to us, she was downgraded to a tropical storm. Here are a few photos taken at the Woods Hole Yacht Club before the height of the storm, looking out the fully cleared dingy pier and the practically empty harbor. I’m glad to say our boat held firmly to its mooring.

book store event & poster giveaway

I’ll be talking about book, Pocketful of Posies this Saturday, August 27, 11 am to 1 pm at  Eight Cousins Bookstore, 189 Main St., Falmouth MA. I’ll also bring along some original illustrations to show. I hope that some of you can come, even with hurricane preparations to take care of! Irene’s not expected until Sunday night.

It’s time for another poster giveaway! To increase your chances to win, sign up for an e-mail subscription to this blog or tell me that you are already subscribed through WordPress. Either way, leave another comment, for an extra point in the drawing. To sign up, click Sign Me Up on the home page side bar. Three winners (international, too) will be picked at random on August 31st.

fiddlers on the roof

As we were heading in from our mooring in Great Harbor we couldn’t help but notice  some house boats had rafted together in a clump, with people all over. They were celebrating a friend named Kenny’s 60th birthday, Woods Hole style.

Guests either rowed, sailed or motored to the party, tying up their boats to one of the rafts.

We were hailed aboard by Alison, the birthday boy’s wife.

There were fiddlers on the roof!

We visited with friends for a bit and motored back to shore in our skiff, thinking how we love living in this place!

tarpaulin cove

With summer’s end quickly approaching, we are getting out in our boat as much as possible. That means less time stitching in my studio, but there will be time for that this fall and winter. I tend to be a compulsive worker, so I’m trying to bring more of a balance of work and family/social time into my life.

We motored down to Tarpaulin Cove, which is about a half hour boat ride from Woods Hole. It’s one of the beaches that the public is allowed to use on Naushon Island, which is privately owned. But you can only get to these beaches by sea. The family trust that owns this stretch of islands keeps them undeveloped and natural, with just a few houses for family members to stay. It’s like going back in time a couple hundred years.

I walked with my friends down the beach toward the light house, passing the farm-house. We went through a stile, which keeps cattle from straying too far. Their pasture is inland, over the dunes, with a path to the water. The last time we came to the cove, the cows were standing in the water, cooling off.

We worked our way along the shore.

And climbed up towards the light house.

Where we could see across the sound, with Martha’s Vineyard in the distance. Looking out, I imagined all of the ships that have passed by this point or taken shelter in this cove. There’s a story about how during the Revolutionary War, British ships hid in Tarpaulin Cove, waiting to attack Cape Cod. They were spied and word got back to the main land in time for the militia to defend the shores of Falmouth.

3 illustrators get together

Last week, illustrator Ashley Wolff came to visit. We were classmates at RISD in the 70’s and haven’t seen each other for several years, so it was great to catch up. She was traveling with her most recent border collie, Tula.

Ashley has illustrated a ton of beautiful books, including the popular Miss Bindergarten series, which features a border collie kindergarten teacher.

Miss Bindergarten is available as a stuffed doll, a perfect replica of the book character in her green pinafore. Ashley brings Miss Bindergarten along on her travels and she took a picture of her in my studio with my wedding dolls.

I invited my neighbor, Molly Bang and her husband Jim over for dinner, thinking it would be fun to introduce her to Ashley. It turns out they know each other already, from an illustrators group in San Fransisco, where Ashley lives and Molly lives half the year.

Salley, (Tula), Ashley and Molly

Out on our patio, we had a vegetarian meal made with my garden produce; tomato pie, zucchini pancakes, string beans and cucumber salad.

I’m glad to know such talented and nice people, who happen to be successful in the children’s book world. Here are some of Molly’s wonderful award-winning books.

fairy stools

People keep asking, “What are you working on lately?” I have to say that this summer I’m doing everything but making art. I would love to be stitching away in my air-conditioned studio, but there are too many time-sensitive administrative and promotional tasks to take care of and I’ve been traveling alot. It all has to do with my book and touring art show.  And it’s summer, so there’s the garden to tend, friends to entertain and on nice days we go boating. So, I’m planning on getting back to serious art-making in September.

On a recent morning, I saw two mushrooms growing side by side, along my driveway. The next day, I finally was able to take their picture, and they had grown twice their size.

I found a boy and a girl fairy from my bag of wee folk and positioned them on the stools.

One thing I’ve learned to do is take photographs early in the morning, when the light is low. The golden glow of dusk works, too.

The gentle morning light doesn’t create harsh shadows and it’s aimed from the side, not above, like the during mid-day.

This little girl fairy looks like she spilled a chocolate ice cream cone on her dress. There’s some kind of brown stain, but I didn’t wash it off because I was too much in a hurry to get her picture taken before the sun rose any higher and the mushroom grew any bigger!

SCBWI conference in LA

It was after 2 am yesterday morning when I got home from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators summer conference in  LA. I always refer people to SCBWI when I’m asked about getting into the children’s book market. This past weekend, 1300 writers and illustrators from literally around the world gathered together to hear inspiring speeches and attend practical workshops. Some have published books, while many are honing their craft, working toward a dream of sharing their writing and art on a larger scale. Most participants come away with a more realistic idea of how much work is required to have a book published. A lot of famous authors gave key-note speeches, including Judy Blume (on stage, in brown, pointing her arm).

I was there to accept a Golden Kite Award for my picture book Pocketful of Posies. Here’s the little bronze statuette, which is a child holding a kite (out of the picture). They even spelled my name correctly! In my 8 minute speech, I talked about the support I received from my agency (Studio Goodwin Sturges), who stood by me while I took time to experiment with projects other than children’s books, my editor at Houghton Mifflin (Margaret Raymo), who waited patiently while I worked on the artwork for the book, sometimes not showing her anything for a year at a time and my husband Rob Goldsborough, who has never suggested I get a real job. I also told a story about how I grew from a child who liked to play with dolls, to the grown woman who still likes to play with dolls.

I met Laurie Sharp of Wool Pets. Here she is at the portfolio review with some photos of her wonderful needle felted animal characters. We’ve been communicating through e-mail for a while and have so many interests in common; natural fibers, kit making, storytelling, Waldorf education, writing how-to instructions. Read about her needle felting how-to books here.

In my workshop, “The joys and challenges of 3 dimensional illustration”, I showed Laurie’s work and we talked about ways she could develop her characters and use photos as illustrations.  I could really see them in a series of baby board books.

Laurie Sharp's needle felted characters

Here I am after the Golden Kite award ceremony with SCBWI co-founder Lin Oliver.

At the book signing, I was seated next to Bruce Coville, who was my sons’ favorite author when they were around 11 or 12.

I was reminded of how nice children’s book people are, but also of how ignorant I am about current authors and illustrators. Working as I do, in isolation for long periods of time, I lose touch with what’s going on in the children’s book world. There’s got to be a balance somewhere! So, I took off my blinders for a few days, mingled with my tribe and have returned home energized!


show at the Brattleboro Museum

I’ve been so busy that I’m just now getting around to writing about our wonderful visit to Brattleboro, Vermont for the show opening on July 15th. The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center is housed in the old train station right in the middle of town.  It is a beautiful facility and during this rotation, most of the galleries are showing exhibits of work that “explore the boundaries between fine art and fine craft”.

My show, Sewn Stories, will be on display for 2 rotations, so it will be up until February 5th, 2012. I will be returning on Sat., Oct. 15th to give a talk at 3:00 pm.

My work is in a cozy gallery in the former ticket office area. They’ve kept the dark wooden trim and ticket window in place. Inside, there’s a small TV where my Rabbitat film is shown.

The original Rabbitat is on display, along with a variety of illustrations and other fabric relief pieces that I’ve made over the past 15 years. There are several original illustrations from Pocketful of Posies, too.

Self  Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion  and The Storyteller and George’s Chair are included in the show.

All of the galleries in the museum were packed at the opening and I saw several people whom I’ve met through e-mail.

The curator, Susan Calabria did a fantastic job preparing for and hanging the exhibit, which will be visited by groups of children over the next 6 months. She came up with a simple, sweet, stitched felt leaf project for all ages.

I hope that some of you will find your way to southern Vermont to see the show!