Close-ups (beds)

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The first image in this series of bed pictures is an illustration for a poem called Tumbling, which is included in my 1997 poetry anthology, You and Me:Poems of Friendship. Then there’s a page from my 2001 picture book In the Heart, which was written by Ann Turner. Copies of In the Heart are available in my Etsy Shop

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“Are the children in their beds?” from my Wee Willie Winkie board book.

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And here’s “my son John, went to sleep with his trousers on” from Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. I offer autographed copies with a poster in my Etsy Shop.

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“Go to bed first, a golden purse” from Pocketful of Posies. See the touring exhibit of the original embroidered illustrations from the book. Next location: Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA, Sept. 4 ~ October 31, 2013.

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And here’s Elsie Marley, who won’t get up to feed the swine, which is also from Pocketful of Posies.

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POSIES comes home

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After 3 years of traveling around the country, I am pleased to announce that the original illustrations from my book, Pocketful of Posies, are coming home! They have returned to my home town of Falmouth, MA for an exhibit at the beautiful Highfield Hall, where the tour began in 2010. Don’t the banners look great hanging out front? The artwork has traveled thousands of miles, having been driven hither and yon and shipped across the country a couple of times. To see a list of all of the past and future venues, visit the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit Page.

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The show at Highfield Hall (Sept. 4 ~ Oct. 31, 2013) will be the last time that the complete set of illustrations from the book will be shown together. Well, almost all of them will be there. The Old woman who lived in a shoe had the opportunity to live in Azerbaijan, so she’s spending more than a year in the American ambassador’s residence. Read the post about it here. The old woman will rejoin the group when she returns from abroad!

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After the show in Falmouth, the collection will be divided in half and shown at two venues this fall and winter; the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA and the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, MA. Visit the Traveling Exhibit Page to see the show dates.

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After holding off for most of the 3 year tour, I am glad to once again be offering several originals for sale. Some pieces were sold way back in 2010 and the buyers have been patiently waiting all this time. The framed fabric reliefs range in price from $2,500 to $6,000. The exhibiting collection needs to stay all together for a little while longer, until the beginning of 2014. Then the buyers will be able to take possession of their pieces. Please contact Jen (jnemec@highfieldhall.org) for a price list of available work and information about purchasing a piece. Highfield Hall will handle sales during the exhibit.

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Out of the 51 total illustrations, I’m reserving about 20, making some Pocketful of Posies originals available to show. In the past, I’ve sold just about everything and it’s only in recent years that I’ve decided to hold onto some pieces, with the intention of exhibiting them. I hear all the time that seeing the real thing is a different experience from looking at the pages of my books. With this in mind, it is important to me that my work be shown in public places and be accessible to as many people as possible.

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Close-ups (emotion)

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One of the fun and challenging parts about illustrating for children is showing emotion and action, especially in fiber art, which tends to be static. To counter-act the stiff blandness, I like to bring forth emotion by exaggerating the poses and facial expressions of my characters. But there’s a fine line between evoking believable feeling and creating a grotesque appearance, much like the difference between acting well and over acting. I’ve seen some doll faces that are downright scary and bizarre. My goal is to portray emotion with a subtle firmness, without being too disturbing.

Nursery Rhymes are full of emotional and physical activity, so I had lots of opportunities to experiment with poses and facial expressions in my book, Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. Here are a selection of close-ups from the book.

Do you want to see the original embroidered illustrations from the book? There are still several locations scheduled for the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit, which has been touring the country since 2010.

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artwork @ Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital

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I recently heard from the curator at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, who acquired some of my artwork for their collection in the 90’s. It’s been more than 15 years and I haven’t been very good about keeping records of where my work has gone, especially from the pre-computer days. I remembered that that my work was at the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, so I was glad to clarify which pieces have been hanging there all these years.

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There are 2 original illustrations from the 1st edition of Mary Had a Little Lamb. The book has been out of print for years and a few weeks ago, I found a carton of them in my attic! So, I’m selling them in my Etsy Shop (while supplies last). This is a rare opportunity, because it’s practically impossible to find a new, hard cover copy, let alone an autographed one!

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The public can see these pieces on the first floor of the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. In addition to the 2 original illustrations, they’ve mounted the printed pages from the book along a wall, so people can see and read the whole story.

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Another piece, Falling Leaves, is hanging in the 2nd floor elevator lobby. It makes me feel good to know that families spending time in the hospital may have been comforted by my artwork, even if for a moment.

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Posies in Plymouth

pages 48/49 from "Pocketful of Posies"

pages 48/49 from “Pocketful of Posies”

I’m pleased to announce that the next venue to host the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit is the  Plymouth Antiquarian Society’s Hedge House Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Twenty framed embroidered original illustrations from my book, Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes will be on display from now until August 31st, 2013. Hedgehouse4

When I dropped off the artwork, I was struck by how intimate and charming the gallery space is within the historic 1809 house. The upstairs octagonal room has been recently restored with period wall-paper, which compliments the color palette and decorative nature of my work. Donna Curtin, the museum’s hard-working director was there to greet me. She suggested hanging the felt-covered wire book title banner under the mantel piece. Do you remember the banner from my decorated tree in last year’s Family Trees event at the Concord Museum? At the last minute I packed it in the car with the bubble wrapped frames, thinking there may be a way to hang it up. It’s always satisfying to find another use for something you make for a specific purpose.

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“Pocketful of Posies” tree at the Concord Museum, 2012

They did a great job of hanging the artwork, which fits nicely in grouped clusters around the room. We didn’t bring a camera to the opening last Saturday so I don’t have any photos. Sometimes it’s nice to be free of a camera around your neck, but quite often one wishes there was a picture to show. I haven’t gotten in to using the camera on my phone, but that’s the next step.

My show opening was held in conjunction with the well attended celebration of the Rose Briggs Memorial Gardens in back of the Hedge House, so most people who came to see the exhibit were unfamiliar with my artwork. I heard many remarks about how this was not what they expected, but they seemed happily surprised by what they saw. Some thought it would be a display of old (or modern) fabric and others were curious about what fiber art is. Labels and technique descriptions don’t match what I do. It took some time for people to understand that the framed pieces on the wall are original illustrations from a children’s picture book (a gallery copy is available). I’m used to seeing the confused look on people’s faces as I try to explain that I illustrate with fabric and embroidery. In this case, I can point to the originals and the book and explain the connection, but when I’m out in the world and have no visual aids, it can be frustrating. Most times, I just say that I’m an artist and leave it at that. If I drop the children’s book illustrator bomb, I run the inevitable risk of being plied with advice on how to get a book published. Anyway, I’m glad to share my work with people who live in or come to visit the historic town of Plymouth!

June 25th, 7:00 pm I will speak about the development of my work at the Plymouth Antiquarian Society’s Hedge House Museum, Plymouth, MA.  Fee: $15; $12 members. Limited seating; reservations required. To download a printable reservation form click here; email pasm@verizon.net or call 508-746-0012 to reserve a place.

 

Destination Cedarhurst

PFOPpg44_45In the past few days, I have heard from three different people who’ve traveled some distance to see the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit at the  Cedarhurst Center for the Arts. I can picture carloads of quilters, embroiderers and children’s book from the Midwest heading down the highway, all converging in Mt. Vernon, IL. Let’s hope that there was a lot of chatting and laughter during the hours on the road  And some have driven quite far, from hundreds of miles away in Wisconsin and Indiana.

Cindy Gehrke told me about how she and two needle-worker friends took a 4 day road trip which included a visit to my show. MarySusan Farmer, who came with a group that drove the 2 1/2 hours from Springfiled, IL writes, “What a TREAT!!! Your artistry is so totally engaging it was beyond belief!!” And Louann Mattes Brown checked in after she and some other members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators had a field trip to the exhibit.

Added 4/15/13: Bonnie from St. Louis, MO just wrote to say that nine members of the Doll-a-holics ( a hands on soft doll making group) carpooled 2 hours to Cedarhurst to see the exhibit. She says, ” We were all overwhelmed by your intensity of stitches, the small size, and the dimensional quality that you created in each. What a wonderful day we had.”

I’ve also heard from quilters who are planning on taking in the Cedarhurst exhibit, which is only 1 1/2 hours from Paducah, KY and the The American Quilter’s Society Annual Show and Contest (April 24th-27). And while they are in Paducah, they can also see my piece,  Birds of Beebe Woods in the Fantastic Fibers show at the Yeiser Art Center!

I’m impressed that people are making an effort to see my work while it is within reach, even though they have to travel for hours! The exhibit will be up until May 5, 2013 at  Cedarhurst Center for the Arts. I’ve also heard from people who’ve driven long distances to see the other half of the book illustrations in Fresno, CA.  That exhibit runs through May 24 at the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature, Henry Madden Library at Fresno State.

Because of continued interest, I’ve decided to keep touring a select group of original Pocketful of Posies illustrations beyond 2013. At this point, I don’t have the time to send out proposals and search out exhibit opportunities, so I can’t target specific cities or parts of the country. I would love to have the show go far and wide and it all depends on which venues contact me. I am in discussion with a few prospective hosts who have asked about future shows. Inquiries from libraries, art centers and museums with a shipping budget are welcome.

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Illustration exhibit in Boston

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March 16 – April 28, 2013. Contemporary Illustration: At Your Service
The Adams Gallery, Suffock University, 120 Tremont St., Boston, MA

An original embroidered illustration from my book, In the Heart, will be included in an exciting invitational exhibit in Boston. Designed to show the variety of work being done in the field, Contemporary Illustration: At Your Service will show original artwork along with  examples of their commercial application. There will be editorial illustrations from newspapers and magazines, along with work from advertising, product and toy design. My piece is the only children’s book illustration included, but my friend Ashley Wolff’s Miss Bindergarten doll will be on display, along with a picture book from her popular Miss Bindergarten series.

Pages 14/15, In the Heart

Pages 14/15, In the Heart

Fresno, here we come!

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detail from “Wee Willie Winkie” board book

Yes, the Pocketful of Posies traveling exhibit is coming to Fresno, California and so am I! 25 original embroidered illustrations from my picture book Pocketful of Posies, 10 pieces from my series of baby board books and George’s Chair will all be on display March 18 – May 24, 2013 at the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature, Henry Madden Library at Fresno State.

All are invited to the opening reception on Friday, March 22 at 6:00 pm. Rob and I will be traveling to California for the event and I will be giving a talk at 7:00 pm. In addition, I’ll be at Petunia’s Place, also in Fresno, for a book signing on Saturday, March 23rd from 11:00 – 1:00. We’re really looking forward to coming to California and hope to meet some of you on Friday or Saturday.

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detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

My artwork is included in the dual exhibition, “Golden Threads: Journey through the Picture Book,” in Fresno State’s Madden Library. Featured will be “Golden Legacy: 65 Years of Golden Books,” sixty pieces of original artwork from Little Golden Books, and “Pocketful of Posies: The Worlds of Salley Mavor” (co-hosted by the Fresno FiberArts Guild). I’m happy that the show will be up for more than 2 months, giving people plenty of time to come and see it.

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Russian video of my artwork

This YouTube video was pointed out to me a couple of days ago. Russian, Aleksandr Smolyaninov has taken images of my artwork from this blog (I presume) and blended them together to the sounds of a bouncy polka played by Larry Cheskey and his Orchestra. This explains why my blog and Facebook stats have been showing a lot of visitors from Russia and other countries from the former Soviet Union. I think Aleksandr has done a good job, although the video’s bursting title letters aren’t to my taste. Rollicking music and moving photos make it active and enjoyable to watch. Should I be concerned that a video was made without my permission? I don’t think so — it’s a good way for lots of people to see my artwork. Anyways, I have sent a message that I would like him to ask permission to use my images.

Posies is traveling to Illinois!

from "Pocketful of Posies"

from “Pocketful of Posies”

“Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? I’ve been to Mount Vernon to see the Queen.” The Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit will be on display from Feb. 23 – May 5, 2013 at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mount Vernon, Illinois. The collection of 50 original embroidered illustrations from the book are divided into two groups of 25. One group is currently being shown until Feb. 22, 2013 at the Foothills Arts Council, Elkin, North Carolina.

from "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

We took the six boxes to the UPS Store in the truck and they are right now traveling west, half way across the country to Illinois. I hope that some of you have a chance to see the show in either North Carolina or Illinois. Next stop: Fresno, California!

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