Visual Storytelling

This summer, while organizing and hanging my retrospective exhibit at the Falmouth Art Center (Aug. 1- 31), I’ve thought about children’s picture books and reflected on the wonderful opportunity they present to visual artists. The story book structure provides a unique opening to the imagination, with both writers and artists doing their part to interpret and articulate the human experience into something tangible and accessible.

It’s a great responsibility to connect with children through picture books and create their first introduction to art. I want to show the reader something they can care about and attach to. Adults call attention to my labor-intensive and inventive approach to illustrating; children respond directly to the emotional gestalt of a story with pictures. I try to keep that in mind while I stitch and stitch, translating the images in my head into something real.

On Tuesday, August 15th at 7:00 pm, I will participate in the presentation ~ Meet Our Local Picture Book Creators at the Cataumet Schoolhouse , Cataumet, MA. The writer/illustrator team of Jim & Deb Bowen will also talk about their work.

For those of you from far away, I’ve taken some short video tours of my exhibit, Salley Mavor: 25 Years of Picture Books. More videos are at the end of this post. Reflections on the glass make it a challenge to photograph the framed artwork, but I think the videos help give a sense of the show.


VISUAL STORYTELLING

Lately, I’ve been describing myself as a visual storyteller because the term “illustrator” just doesn’t seem to fit anymore and adequately encompass what I do. All of my work is narrative, but not necessarily illustration. And as for terms to describe how I make things — I don’t even try to define it anymore. I make picture books, how-to books and stand alone fabric relief pieces like Displaced. There are also fairy houses, wee folk dolls and sculpture. This past year, political satire and stop-motion animation from the Wee Folk Players – They’re a Stitch were added to the mix. By the way, if you’re missing the Players, they are busy filming on location in the basement. My husband Rob and I are making progress with the animation and have made about 2 minutes into a 10 minute movie.

NEW BOOK
After taking 3 years to complete Pocketful of Posies (2010), I needed a break from the all consuming process of making a book, so I could be free to develop other ideas that have been tugging at me for a long time. I’m glad I spent the last few years experimenting with new subjects, but I’m happy to say that the picture book bug has returned. It’s too early to say much about the new project, but I can tell you that it’s about beds, has an international theme and will be published by HoughtonMifflin in 2020. I’m not sure how much if anything I can show, because this is the first time I’ve worked on a book while also keeping up a blog about my artwork. I figure it’s OK to show details of the process, but not the whole pieces. So, if you want a more frequent inside glimpse, please follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

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Here are a group of detail shots I took of some fabric relief originals in the show, while cleaning the frames and glass.

 

 

 

a backwards glance

Last year, it occurred to me that it’s been 25 years since my first children’s book, The Way Home was published. Reaching the quarter century mark seemed like a good excuse to gather a representational selection of original illustrations from my 10 books and display them together. So, I’ve been cleaning glass and spiffing up a number of framed pieces to show. Some of the illustrations are on loan from private collectors, some are ones I’ve kept and others will be for sale.

The exhibit, Salley Mavor: 25 Years of Picture Books, will be on display August 1 – 31, 2017 at the Falmouth Art Center, in their upstairs gallery. The opening reception is Friday, August 4th from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the first copies of The Way Home arrived in the mail. I remember bringing the book in to read to my son Ian’s kindergarten class. He claimed a spot on my lap, not sure if he liked the idea of sharing me with the other children. No sooner had I held up the book and started reading the opening lines, than he reached up and covered my mouth with his tiny hand. Usually quiet and undemanding, he sure knew how to get his point across! Fast forward to now — Ian is a talented artist in his own right, who will be working toward a Master’s degree in painting this fall. Here we are in 1991, setting up for the book party at the Woods Hole Library.

setting up for the book party, 1991

The retrospective exhibit at the Falmouth Art Center will include original fabric relief illustrations from the following list of titles. For reference, a copy of each book will be available to look at in the gallery. If you make a trip to Falmouth (on Cape Cod) to see the show, make sure to visit our wonderful book store, Eight Cousins, which has autographed copies of Pocketful of Posies and In the Heart. And while you’re in town, don’t miss the Storybook Fairy Houses Exhibit at Highfield Hall and the Fairy Family Raffle.

POCKETFUL OF POSIES: A TREASURY OF NURSERY RHYMES published by HoughtonMifflin, 2010, ISBN 978-0-618-73740-6, Order autographed copy from my Etsy shop. A complimentary copy of In the Heart is included with purchase.

WEE WILLIE WINKIE Board book published by Houghton Mifflin in 2006, ISBN 0-618-49640-8, Out of print.

HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE! Board book published by Houghton Mifflin 2005, ISBN 0-618-49638-6, Out of print.

MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB, Board book published by Houghton Mifflin 2005, ISBN 0-618-49637-8. Out of print.

JACK AND JILL, Out of print, Board book published by Houghton Mifflin in 2006, ISBN 0-618-49639-4. Out of print.

IN THE HEART written by Ann Turner, artwork by Salley Mavor, published by HarperCollins in 2001, ISBN 0-06-023730-9, Hardcover edition, out of print, Order autographed copies from Etsy Shop 

THE HOLLYHOCK WALL, Out of Print, written by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Salley Mavor, Hardcover edition published by Candlewick Press in 1999, ISBN 1-56402-902-6, Paperback edition published by Walker Books in 2000, ISBN 0-7445-7732-2.

YOU AND ME: POEMS OF FRIENDSHIP, Out of print, published by Orchard Books in 1997, ISBN 0-531-30045-5 Hardcover edition

MARY HAD  A LITTLE LAMB, Out of print, published by Orchard Books in 1995, ISBN 0-531-06875-7 Hardcover edition, ISBN 0-531-07165-0 Paperback edition.

COME TO MY PARTY, Out of Print, Published by MacMillan in 1993, ISBN 0-02-776147-9 Hardcover edition

THE WAY HOME, Out of print, published by MacMillan in 1991, ISBN 0-370-31 645-2 Hardcover edition, ISBN 0-689-71790-3 Aladdin Paperback edition, Read the 5-part story about making The Way Home here.

Needle Nonsense revisit

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While cleaning up my studio last summer, I came across a plastic bag full of small characters and other props I’d made years ago. The items were used in place of words in a rebus I wrote and illustrated sometime around 2000 for Threads Magazine’s Closures page.

Since then, I’ve shared cell phone photos on Instagram and Facebook of little things I’ve found around my studio. The easiest way to do this was to hold them in my left hand while clicking the camera with my right hand. I realized that showing the scale of these tiny objects with a human hand as a reference point makes you see them differently. The uptick in viewer responses to these images led me to look for more small scale items to photograph in my fingers.

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I looked at the printed rebus again and noticed how the images floating on the white page give no sense of scale. Other than the found objects like the buttons, needle and spools of thread, there’s no way of knowing the real size of the handmade objects.

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With these new photos, you can see just how small everything is.

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A new twist (and Giveaway) on the Gingerbread Boy

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I am happy to share with you a new book written and illustrated by Elisa Kleven. This post is part of a blog tour and book Giveaway (information at the bottom of the post). The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy is a clever retelling of the traditional folk tale of the runaway cookie, set in the author’s home town of San Francisco. I have long admired Elisa’s books and in this new one, she keeps up her reputation as the queen of multi-cultural patterned motifs. Her watercolor illustrations are so packed with color and detail that both young and old can spend many an hour pouring over them.klevenbookEach page is a carnival of activity, with street scenes and landscapes showing San Francisco’s many neighborhoods, buildings and the harbor. Families living in or visiting San Francisco will enjoy identifying the city’s many landmarks.

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The pure color palette and use of patterns is reminiscent of Persian Miniatures. And Kleven conveys a riotous energy that children will love. Copies of The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy are available in bookstores and on Amazon.

To enter the GIVEAWAY, please leave a comment on this post (open to US residents only). The winner will be picked at random. Participating blogs on the tour (with more reviews and Giveaways are listed bellow:

12/6/16 :: Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)/Tara Lazar

12/7/16 :: We Bloom Here/Margaret Bloom

12/9/16 :: KidLit411/Sylvia Liu

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Posies goes south

Book - Pocketful of Posies 2010

Book – Pocketful of Posies 2010

I am pleased to announce that the Pocketful of Posies Exhibit is traveling to the southern United States! About half of the original embroidered illustrations from my book (28 pieces) will be displayed in Maryland and South Carolina for the next 6 months.

The show has traveled to over 20 locations since the book was published 5 years ago. I am happy that so many people around the country have had the chance to see the detail and sculptural quality of the originals. No matter how excellent the photos are, there’s nothing like seeing the real thing! I’m sorry that many of you who live far from past and future venues will miss this opportunity.

At this point, I’ve moved on to new projects and will no longer be personally searching for new exhibit locations. There will inevitably be suggestions to “please bring the show to my city”, but I am not in a position to make that happen with the wave of a wand. Unfortunately, I have found sending out proposals to seemingly appropriate venues ineffective for the most part. All that said, inquiries from museums, art centers and libraries who would like to host an exhibit are always welcome! That’s how many of the shows have come about, including the next 2. So, the exhibit may or may not continue to tour beyond this winter, depending on the interest from suitable venues. Also, the collection is slowly dwindling as pieces sell, so the touring exhibit will eventually come to an end.

For now, I’m excited to have my work shown in the mid-Atlantic area and as far south as western South Carolina. Perhaps we will meet when I give a talk in Greenville, SC on Nov.19th! See the schedule with links below:

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August 22 – Sept. 25, 2015 at the Harford County Public Library, Bel Air Branch, 100 E. Pennsylvania Ave, Bel Air, Maryland.

Oct. 17, 2015 – Feb. 28, 2016 at the Upcountry Museum – Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina. Artist talk with Salley Mavor ~ Thursday, Nov. 19th at 7:00 pm.

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Jerry hall 2010

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Posies show goes to Newton

The Pocketful of Posies exhibit continues…

Yesterday, Rob and I installed 33 original fabric relief illustrations from my picture book of nursery rhymes, Pocketful of Posies in the Newton Free Library in Newton, Massachusetts. The library has several spaces devoted to displaying art and my work is the first thing you see when you enter the building. The steady stream of patrons who walked through while we were hanging were welcoming and appreciative. So many people stopped to ask questions and engage in conversation, that I hard time concentrating on the task at hand! Thank goodness Rob was there to help, because it would have taken all day.

I’m so happy that the exhibit will be on view this month, especially during the Newton Open Studios weekend (April 11-12). I’ll be there for the NOS preview reception on April 8th at 7:00 pm and will welcome questions and conversation then! I’m also giving a talk and booksigning at the library on April 21 at 7:00 pm.

The work will be on display at the Newton Free Library  April 2 – 29, 2015.

The artwork is going to Maryland and South Carolina next. You can see the schedule here. Will there be any more shows after this? Perhaps.The artwork has been touring for over 4 years, and at this stage, I’m involved with other projects and am too busy to search out and contact more locations. But, I’m always willing to discuss the idea with museums and libraries that are interested in hosting an exhibit.

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Posies goes to Lexington, MA

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I am pleased to announce that, after a few month’s pause, the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit has resumed and will be shown in several venues this year. Just yesterday, Rob and I drove to Lexington, MA, to deliver and hang 33 original embroidered illustrations from the book. Luckily, it wasn’t snowing that day, but there were tall walls of snow lining every street and sidewalk around town!

My artwork is on display at the Lexington Public (Cary Memorial) Library, Lexington, Massachusetts from now until March 30th. The exhibit is in the meeting room gallery, so I recommend contacting the library ahead to find out when the room is not being used for an event. It would be disconcerting to make the trip and find out that there’s a meeting going on in the room. I’ll be giving an Artist Talk and book signing on Wed., March 4th @ 7:00 pm. A collection of wee folk dolls from my new book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures will make a special appearance!

This exhibit came about because someone came into the library last year looking for my work. When she found out that the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit  was actually in Lexington, Kentucky, she suggested that the library get in touch with me to see if it could come here, too. Well, I’m happy that they did and we arranged to have a show this month.

The next stop on the tour is April 2 – 29 at the Newton Free Library, Newton, Massachusetts, with an Artist Talk on April 21 @ 7:00 pm.

Then the artwork will go south to these locations:

August 17 – Sept. 25, 2015 at the Harford County Public Library, Bel Air Branch, 100 E. Pennsylvania Ave, Bel Air, Maryland.

Oct. 17, 2015 – Feb. 28, 2016 at the Upcountry Museum – Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina. Artist talk to be announced.

Will there be any more shows after this? Perhaps.The artwork has been touring for 5 years, and at this stage, I’m involved with other projects and am too busy to search out for more locations and send out proposals. But, I’m always willing to discuss the idea with interested venues who contact me.