A fabulous Mardi Gras came and went in the Crescent City. The weather was in the 70’s and breezy. The weather is kind of a big deal, because whether you are in a parade or watching one, you are outdoors for many, many hours. I am always amazed that I can finish a parade. It turns out to be around 17 miles when you count all of the dancing in place when the parade stops. (Some of the women had Fitbits.)
Here are the Pussyfooters during a pause in Femme Fatale. Eli Mergel took the photo. (click on “Eli Mergel” to see lots of wonderful photography.) There are about 120 Pussyfooters in total. About 50 women did this parade.
This is my sweet darlin’ and me on Mardi Gras day. We parked across the river and took the ferry. Excellent idea.
I revised two pages for the Not-Yet-Revealed author. I like both pages better now.
Pop is dressed more maturely. He is also wearing a wedding ring.
Poppee has grey hair and his goatee is narrower and longer. I like Poppee better, too. I made his eyebrows less prominent while I was adjusting his look. I appreciate a man with good grooming.
I think there is a pause here with the book. I am going to schedule photos of the first 5 pages. The author is going to send these beginning pages to publishers. I hear that publishers want to see 3-5 pages. I hope a publisher is going to love the book and grab it up without too many changes. I will let you know as soon as I do.
Today is the first day of Lent. I am just going to try to be an all around better person. Like making a conscious effort to be more Zen and less reactive.
This is me on the front page of the Times-Picayune! (I must be excited because I already used 3 exclamation marks.) ThePussyfooterswere the first women’s dance troupe. We started in 2001. My favorite parts about being a Pussyfooter, aside from becoming famous, are that I dance for women who can’t and we raise money every year for the Metropolitan Center for women and children. This year we raised $38,000.
Page 5 of the book is Poppee.
He is grandpa to the baby.
In the painting are some New Orleans icons. On the shelf behind Poppee are cups from . Coffee with chicory and beignetsare often the first stop in the French Quarter for visitors to our city. It is open 24 hours.
He is stirring a pot of gumbo and holding a gumbo bowl, with a smaller pot for white rice on the other burner. Next to the stove top are an onion, green bell pepper, and celery. These three vegetables are called the Holy Trinity. The trinity is in most New Orleans dishes… jambalya, étouffée, gumbo…
I wanted to capture the love in Poppee’s expression when baby walks into the room. I like the repeating rectangle pattern in the basket and bricks. I was going to paint Poppee’s shirt in a check print, but thought that would be too distracting. (I still want to.) My favorite parts of the painting are the cups and the trinity.
Poppee is the last of the human characters in the book. You have met them all now.
Here is page 4. Tia is Spanish for aunt. Maybe it is her first name, too? Tia is the baby’s aunt. That’s what I know for sure.
I think baby takes after momma in coloring, but I see Tia in her face.
Tia is listening to music in the kitchen. I did want to make sure Tia wasn’t dancing with the mop or ironing. Even though those stereotypes are etched in my brain, I am trying to break free. She just stopped by the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Probably one of the men took care of that other stuff.
I put in my favorite laminate table from the 1950’s. Baby is too short to see the top of the table, so I put the table top design that I wanted to paint on the cup. You can see the same magnolia bead tree from the garden out the window.
The New Orleans things on this page are only the bead tree and music. The window and the paint color are also typical New Orleans.
I try to keep the family to a moderate income. That’s why the table is her grandma’s and her headphones have a cord.
The painting part is straight forward. When the picture needs some very small details, I use a paint pen or intense pencils. Often I go over this with a brush. I liked the tree better when it was bright green, but I thought there needed to be glass in the window. I mixed a half drop of Golden Titanium White into some matte varnish. I painted the window panes 2 or 3 times with this mixture. I think it looks a little wavy like old glass.
Here we are… President Obama’s last day as president. It does feel momentous.
I am writing here today to share page 3 of the book I am illustrating. If I seem cryptic about the book, it is because it is mostly top secret. So far, we have Baby, Momma, and Pop. I will be starting Tía soon.
I relaxed slightly while painting Pop. I am about as nervous as if I was creating a commissioned painting now.
Pop is watching a New Orleans Pelicans game. I wanted to give him cigarettes or a beer, but this is a children’s book.
Framed on the wall is Gator Girl’s painting of Swamp Girl. Swamp Girl is also the first page in the book Maggie Pokorn and I are co-writing.
Next to Swamp Girl are Silent Chimes, by the local artist Kat Ryalls. I received, by request, Silent Chimes for Christmas. They look amazing on my bedroom wall. I don’t do them justice here.
This house looks so much like my house.
Stay tuned. There are 19 pages. Pretty soon I imagine my non-painting life will slow down enough to paint maybe 3 pages a month.
I wanted a garden like this. It seems like you need a lot of money in the city to buy a house with a big garden area. I fudged on this because this is a family with an average income.
Here is a photo of momma in progress.
I didn’t mess around too much with the composition this time. The neckline of her shirt was an accident. I wanted to tell myself when I came back to paint that I wanted the neckline smaller, so I used a paint pen to mark the new neckline. It reminded me of a burnout shirt, so I left it.
I am going to put a little more of her hair on her right cheek (left cheek to you) because it looks too big. The danger in that is that it is hard for me to put the brush down. I am usually changing another thing an hour later.
The challenge for me is that it takes me so long to paint. I think the author might get tired of waiting. Each page is a full on painting, so it does take a while. I hope I reconcile with this soon.
2016 has been a hard year for a lot of people. I hope you are doing alright.
This is new for me. My next 16 paintings are planned. I am illustrating a children’s book. Even though I get a lot of leeway from the author, it is still different from painting whatever for however long it takes me. There are definitely pros and cons to this gig.
Somethings are just different. The easiest thing for me to paint is a woman’s face or an animal’s face. I have avoided painting babies. Babies and toddlers have really different proportions from adults. Their features are on the bottom half of their face and their pupils are very large. Their bodies are pretty square. Fingers are squat. I watched other people draw babies on youtube. I downloaded baby proportion charts.
I usually don’t paint a lot in the background, so I also watched many videos on perspective. I watched them over and over as I am a slow learner. Slow and determined.
I feel like my style lends itself to children’s books. I think I will be happy if this leads to career.
This is page one. I am going to paint something on each page to represent New Orleans. Sometimes it will be obvious to everyone and sometimes it will probably only be obvious to locals and people who visit often. I will always point it out to you.
Maggie showed me what a toddler would draw. It is the picture taped to the wall in the background.
I want to tell you how long I painted this page. I am pretty sure it was a month. I repainted parts of it every day. I started completely over after about two weeks. After a while when people called me, they didn’t even have to ask what I was doing. Then one day, when asked if I was painting the baby today, I said, “No, I am painting the mama.” 🙂
Next up… the mama.
With gratitude for anyone who wants to take this literary adventure with me,
This is the first painting I made for myself in probably 7 years. It is going to hang in the cabin at our camp in Mississippi.
Remember? I showed you photos of the camp last week.
I put all of my painting ideas on hold.
I think there might be a big project in my future. I am giving it all of my painting time.
Someone (who will remain nameless for now) asked me if I wanted to illustrate a children’s book that she has written. I am painting the first two pages and if she thinks my art works well with her words, it’s a go.
I will keep y’all in the loop.
Maggie and I are writing and illustrating a book, too. We have 3 pages so far. It is about a girl who lives in a swamp and has an alligator friend. We will finish this later. We like a long-term project. I figure the older she gets, the more help she will be.
Maggie’s Swamp Girl
I think the stories about why people buy my art are what keep me going in such a solitary job. A man messaged me on Etsy. He wanted to buy two prints of Accepting New Members because his daughter’s synchronized swim team is called Synchrogators. Cool.
What ever you are doing for Thanksgiving, I hope it is wonderful.