Working on...

Here are a few storyboard sketches for Ulysse, a musical take on the adventures of Odysseus by musician and storyteller Suzanne De Serres. She collaborated with the children from La Maison des Enfants to create the text, based on her performance Ulysse with La Nef. It will be released in 2018 by Planete Rebelle.

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The TD Summer Book Club is on!

My favorite part of working for the TDSRC was meeting incredible children and librarians during my library visits in Alberta. The children drew their favorite place and the creatures that live there, real or imaginary. In the Crowsnest Pass we were a tiny group, and in Calgary south 30 children from very diverse backgrounds attended the activity. When I asked how many people in the room speak a language other than English at home, over half the hands in the room went up including mine :)

Lethbridge Public Library

Lethbridge Public Library

Coaldale Public Library

Coaldale Public Library

Guess where?

Guess where?

Lethbridge

Lethbridge

Lethbridge

Lethbridge

Alice in Coaldale drew a bird sanctuary

Alice in Coaldale drew a bird sanctuary

Lethbridge

Lethbridge

Lethbridge

Lethbridge

Lethbridge

Lethbridge

Lethbridge

Lethbridge

3x3 Illustration Annual!

I just received my favorite illustration annual through snail mail and look who's in it this year! My illustrations for Le Nom de l'Arbre won Silver in the 3x3 Picture Book Show category of the competition and feature in the printed version of the annual. Love the cover image by Alice Wellinger.

See the online gallery here.

Thanks to the jury, show chair James Yang and to Charles Hively!

Photo by David & Katie

Photo by David & Katie

Sketches for the TD Summer Reading Club

The theme of the 2017 TD Summer Reading Club is Canada Salut! Organized by the Toronto Public Library in partnership with libraries around the country, this free annual program engages with children through interactive, hands-on literacy activities. I'm crazy happy about having been asked to illustrate the children's materials which include a notebook, stickers, coloring pages and an interactive website.

I'm learning about the beautiful animal, bird and plant emblems representing the various provinces and territories. These tiny sketches for stickers and reading prompts feature Canadian wildlife icons like the gray jay (a.k.a. whiskey jack, camp robber, moose bird) and the puffin.

Bird-symbols include the snowy owl for Quebec, the common loon for Ontario and the raven for the Yukon. BC is represented by the spirit bear & the red cedar, and Nova Scotia is home to the mayflower.

I wanted to show children at play in a nurturing environment, like a giant book of nature they are learning to decipher and love.

Western red cedar
Canada goose
Raven
Trillium

Waterfox

Renard’eau

For Nathaniel. Mixed media. 14" x 14"

Comme la rosée
en ton corps
du matin
ton âme de soi
s’est déposée

Nombre de rondes
en tes temps
tu as fait
sans perdre
un souffle de ton
pelage au feu argenté

Bien des plages
tu as déjouées
de t’échouer
confiant l’enfant
aux abimes étoilées
en la bouche du plus
vaste des cétacés

Ton panache est ta couronne
ton ramage, la myrrhe des mages
qui ont déjoué tant de fois la mort
par l’amour de toutes les vies

Et puisque ton nombril
est sans une ombre
pour toi seulement,
rappelle toi que
jamais la fenêtre
ne sera refermée.
— Lorne Auber

Portraits

my mom was leo rising

my mom was leo rising

self portrait

self portrait

my parents Natacha & Julian

Sans plus d’enjeu, le lion a bon dos,
et voilà l’ange en son échine qui prend demeure,
prête sa plume pour jouer aux je des desseins

Peau de lion, peaux dorées,
invite toi dans nos milles foyers
que nos ailes déployées fassent
rugir le bonheur de vivre

GraOr
— Lorne Auber
 

Portrait d'était

Prends ma plume et tendrement sans détour
je te tendrai la plus belle tranche de la lame
de mon coeur pour faire succomber le masque
du coucou qui depuis son calvaire
a bien faillit nous croire fous

Par l’âme d’une forêt enchantée
a pensé ses mille plaits, pour que le paon
se fasse le destrier d’une tunique nature
prête à s’épouser dans son parfait complet

Trône de plumes, oiseau aux ramages
bien cendré, courbe l’échine pour rehausser
l’auréole aux couleurs des temps passés et
le panache de ses secrets, en nos mains amies,
se verront transcendés

Point tu ne t’envoleras pour rejoindre
les sommets puisque par toi douce amour
je me suis déposé en un ciel infini
de grace et de beauté, où sagesse
et splendeur sont ordre et vérité

Dans sa roue libérée de toute attente
et mal-entente, nous partagerons
l’unique visage d’un halo étoilé,
l’îlot serein des êtres passagers.
— Lorne Auber

Icon sketches

The garden

The garden

Some personal work in progress that's waiting to get painted.

My magical friend Lorne Auber created this garden-themed word-picture as a companion to the drawings

Puisse le coeur faire faune
de la flore qui habite
le silence de l’aura tendre
de sa couronne florissante

Si une main devait se répandre
c’est au ciel illuminé de s’y prêté
bienveillant arroseur d’un feu sacré
pour autant que se vive notre demeure

Papillon étoilé paré de hoquets
soubresauts d’un lion moucheté
a rugit l’oiseau à la rose d’eau :
dors et le jaguar s’en ira te bercer

Par 3 fois l’halo a renversé
son haut de pousses et de paix
et l’or en soi s’est fait forêt,
chrysanthème aux chrysalides
sans un cri, s’est animée l’abbaye
de ce Christ que nous nous sommes
sommés de parfaire tous ensemble.
— L'ABBAYE DE L'ABEILLE, Lorne Auber

 

 

Day of Mourning poster

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I made this poster for the BC Health Sciences Association's annual commemoration of workers injured or killed on the job. The HSA is a union representing over 17,000 health science professionals in BC, working at every level of health care including child development centers. The Day of Mourning is commemorated nationally every April 28.

The initial idea for this image was very colorful, then transitioned into the more muted grays of graphite. The final version emerged as a compromise between the two.

Working on...

Sketches and cover illustration for a picture book inspired by a Dene legend. This collaboration with Planete Rebelle is scheduled for release in 2017.

Having to whip up 20 storyboard sketches within a few weeks is a challenge, but also good practice! One trick I learned the hard way is to develop solid character studies at this stage to avoid re-touching multiple final drafts. Deciding last minute for example that a character's outfit needs a fur collar means having to go back and modify every image that character appears in. At this stage I'm ironing out the details for the sequence of images to form a coherent universe in harmony with the text, while leaving wiggle room for change too... 

inspiring

Little Red Riding Hood in “Folk Tales from Around the World”

Orpheus

Orpheus mourning

Sphynx

illustration for a fairy tale from Korea, A Clever Rabbit,
in Svetovne pravljice (World Fairy Tales) (Nova revija, 2004), B&W tempera on paper

My friend Manica Musil turned me on to the breathtaking work of Slovenian artist Alenka Sottler. The surreal landscapes in her fairytale illustrations have a dark undercurrent that resonates with the somber tone of the older fables where children get lost and body parts chopped off.

My favorite are her illustrations from Poem for Lyra published by Pivec, narrating the story of Orpheus and Eurydice in verse. In her native Slovenia Alenka is a superstar, but sadly her illustrated books are not currently available in English. Thank you Alenka.

 

For a fairy tale from Corsica, Tiny Little Finger Girl, in Svetovne pravljice (World Fairy Tales) (Nova revija, 2004), W&W tempera on paper

For a fairy tale from Corsica, Tiny Little Finger Girl,
in Svetovne pravljice (World Fairy Tales) (Nova revija, 2004), W&W tempera on paper

On Silk

little chaos

little chaos

still is the mountain

still is the mountain

My beautiful sister Lubka wearing two of my watercolors printed on large 35 x 35" squares of mulberry silk by Etoile de Marie. Based in the Luberon region of southern France, Etoile de Marie's owner Marie-France and her team hand crafts women's and children's clothing using linen, silk, cashmere, alpaca, old lace... Included is a sketch that I really like but that never made it to the final stage.

Texture & color

Last year I traveled to the Spiti Valley to attend a conference on prenatal awareness. A high altitude rock desert, this valley near the Tibetan border is home to the 2nd highest village in the world at 4205 m! Winter here is a real killer and buildings are not equipped with running hot water. The few courageous locals who stay over the winter months do a lot of knitting and storytelling :) Tabo Monastery founded in 996 AD is the oldest continuously functioning Buddhist monument in India with 9 chapels containing original wall decorations, the earliest of which were executed by Kashmiri craftsmen. Because of the extreme climatic conditions and the seclusion of this location, Spiti's economic & social structures are similar to the conditions which existed 1000 year ago.

I couldn't leave India without visiting the Taj in Agra, white marble mausoleum inlaid with semiprecious stones so breathtaking I had to cry.

Le Nom de l'Arbre

I spent a good part of 2014 working on illustrations for Le Nom de l'Arbre which is finally out! This African fable retold with humor by Stéphanie Bénéteau takes place once upon a time when the animals spoke our language. When a great famine descends upon the land, the only source of food is a magical Tree who will offer his luscious fruit on the one condition that the animals call it by its long forgotten name. But no one can remember the name of the tree! The animals are doomed to starvation. So the hare, gazelle & lion-king in turn attempt to climb the Mountain to ask the Chief for the name of the Tree. No one succeeds, until the tortoise decides to try her luck. Everyone doubts her abilities, as she appears in every way dwarfed by the insolent hare, the agile gazelle and the King of the animals no less! But as the fable teaches us, appearances can be deceiving...

Elders hold a special place in this tale, which reminds us that each member of the community is precious and useful.

Here are my favorite spreads. The illustrations won SILVER at the 3x3 Picture Book Show No 13.

Published by Planète Rebelle. Get it here

Sketchbook

working on...

Portrait of my paternal grandfather Dragen, the first man in town to own a radio. Modeled after a Russian icon of St George.

Early single domed church of St George in Yuriev-Polski, from around 1230.

My father's work

I recently got in touch with my father's family in Serbia, who sent me photos of his paintings. Julian Kolesar 1927-1992 was born in Djurdjevo, Yugoslavia. He was a painter, sculptor, poet and ethnographer who painted icons and themes drawing from Vojvodinian Rusyn life with folky colors and emphasis on the decorative. There's a permanent exhibit on his life and work in the museum of ethnography at the Greek Catholic parish in Djurdjevo, and his papers are held in the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa. I remember as a child playing with sketching paper larger than myself in his home studio in Montreal that smelled of drying oil and gouache.

Most of these paintings are from private collections in Canada, the US and Serbia. 

Prints!

Some reproductions of my work are available over at Society6. Let me know if there are images you would like me to add. 

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In Taproot Magazine

Photo courtesy of Taproot

Photo courtesy of Taproot

 

 

The theme running through Taproot's Sept. issue is MEND.  Taproot asked me to illustrate Marco Wilkinson's insightful article "The Gift of Failure", on the parallels between the trials of running a small scale organic farm and the practice of Zen Buddhism. The image depicts a circle composed of elements from the story with rice grains spilling out, creating a breach through which the world can enter... letting in the World.