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.
These were created for the library's children's website and for printed material promoting the various activities offered through the library, including stay & play, the Steam program, gaming, group homework, board games, story time, crafts...
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 :)
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.
For Nathaniel. Mixed media. 14" x 14"
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.
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...
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.
a little honeymoon painting in celebration of summer
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.