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Scribble Artist Interview with Guy Laramée!

Pétra (2007). Eroded encyclopedias, pigment, 12 x 11.25 x 8.5 in.

Pétra (2007). Eroded encyclopedias, pigment, 12 x 11.25 x 8.5 in.

Scribble Town (ST): We are constantly traveling on a journey.  It’s amazing how each part seems like a whole world of it’s own with all it’s intricacies and surprises. From books, to words, to feelings, all these experiences connect us, either to each other or to our surroundings.  That’s how I felt when I saw Guy Laramée’s work.  I found myself walking through his artworks, which are fantastical microcosms in the grand scheme of things.

Due to it’s uniqueness, I would rather not attempt to classify your art, but how would you describe it?

Guy Laramée (GL): People define me socially as an artist. I make art.

ST: What are you up to at the moment?

GL: Right now I’m doing exactly this : beginning what looks as an “Atlas of No-Mind”.

ST: Wow, I can’t even begin to imagine just how overflowing with indescribable findings this atlas will be!

Your artwork is very full, complex and interdisciplinary in a playful and magical way!  How do you combine music and art?  And what about words and art?  For example, your poem titled Rain has many oil paintings related to the text.  What came first?

Pour Calame (2010) Oil on canvas 102 X 147 cm

Pour Calame (2010). Oil on canvas 102 X 147 cm


GL:
I don’t combine music and visual art. They were different moments of my life. Maybe I’m more multi-disciplinary than interdisciplinary.

I have a love-hate relationship with words, that’s why I both love and destroy books. I find that words are beautiful, they open up entire worlds, but at the same time they fix things in a way that binds us.

Rain (pluie in French) came as a body of work first. But while I was doing the research and starting the actual paintings, I collected poems and texts to understand my feelings about rain, how rain is profoundly nostalgic, calming and beautiful. To translate these feelings on a more existential level, I wrote the poem.


RAIN

May it rain
May it rain on this troubled world
May this rain erase borders
May it mix colors, forms, and times.
May it rain upon me
May the sound of this rain
Wash myself from myself
May this rain dissolve me
Until I recognize myself in trees, mountains, and people.
May I keep hearing this rain
Through the clamour of ambitions.
May it rain
May it rain upon our confused minds
And (that) through this rain
May we return home.

-Guy Laramée, March 2010


ST:
 It’s a beautiful poem!  It lends itself to giving the reader images in their minds and context for your paintings. How have your studies in anthropology inspired your artwork?  What has been you artistic path?  I can see your interests run deep and wide with the range of mediums and concepts you use.

GL: Anthropology came as a way for me to understand that there exist different worldviews and that in their own world, they are all equally valid. They clash one with another, but all worldviews have some fascinating coherence. Thus my problem was/is : if truth – by definition – is unique, if truth can be equated to Oneness, then how come it manifests itself under so many guises, in so many forms? How can Truth encompass contradictions?

The variety of mediums I used only reflect the incapacity of each medium, of each piece, of each work to say it all. The incompletude (uncompletedness ?) of each art work keeps me on the move.

Tuyos, Microtonal and Gestural Music for Invented instruments, 1986-92.

Tuyos, Microtonal and Gestural Music for Invented instruments, 1986-92.


ST:
 The way you manipulate and use books as sculpture is amazing!  How did you start carving books?  Please let us know more about Les Livres-Lumier.  I would love to visit those mountain tops one day!

GL: I cannot really say how I’m doing it because I feel more and more that it is not me who is doing this. When I enter the process (often reluctantly…!) I am possessed by a force that is quite powerful and that “decides” so to speak how things are going to go this time, what tools will be used, etc. Tools and processes change all the time, sometime new tools have to be created. The only thing I know for sure is : since I invent tools, I’m not a monkey, thus I must be human (lol). Even that I don’t really know for sure. I’d rather see the artistic process as a process of Unknowing rather than a learning process.

DRAGON OVER THE CLOUDS. 2014.  Webster dictionary, inks,  pigments, Plexiglass, wood, LEDs.  18 x 21 x 16 (h) inches.  (47.7 x 53.3 x 40.6 cm)

Dragon Over the Clouds (2014). Webster dictionary, inks, pigments, Plexiglass, wood, LEDs.
18 x 21 x 16 (h) inches. (47.7 x 53.3 x 40.6 cm)


ST:
 Your work ranges from 2D to 3D.  Do you feel that some of your 3D works could also work at 2 dimensional pieces?  How do you decide what mediums and platforms to best portray your ideas?

GL: Once I showed an art magazine to a friend who happens to be a photographer. There was a piece in there that was quite ambiguous, like a painting stretched on a sculpture. I asked him ” “What do you think, is this a painting or a sculpture ?” I went for the sculpture. I shouted at him, laughing : “It’s neither ! It’s a photograph !!”

Think about it : 99 % of the art works you saw in your life, you know then only through photographs. Interesting, right ? So in a way you could say that the ‘essence’ of the work can make it into a translation, either photographical or textual; or you could say that for you, the real work is the photograph. If you were to be true to yourself, the work for you is a photo.

So of course my 3D work works very well in 2D, people buy it after seeing it on the internet…!

Guan Yin. Wood, linen, rags, integrated lighting. 16 x 16 x 13 feet ( 5 x 5 x 4 meter). 2011.

Guan Yin (2011). Wood, linen, rags, integrated lighting. 16 x 16 x 13 feet ( 5 x 5 x 4 meter).


ST:
 You’re absolutely right!  The transformations between mediums and documentations of those changes creates a whole new piece of it’s own every time.

When you come up with an idea what is usually your process for working it through?

GL: If I had found a recipe to make my work, I would SELL IT ! There’s no recipe. Like in love. The moment you fix it, it’s gone. That’s the beauty of it, that’s why also I’m always in a state of profound anxiety (half kidding : it is not easy to make insecurity your home…).

ST: Did anybody encourage your creativity when you were a child?

GL: Nobody encouraged me really. My parents gave me the usual painting boxes and tools, but when they saw that it was becoming serious, they did their very best to discourage me. I wish they had succeeded, really, because see in what mess I’m in now : don’t know where the next $$ are going to come from, don’t know what I’m going to do this morning, don’t know how I will ever come out of that terrible state of solitude that I ended up closing myself in, etc etc. Creativity is not a choice and thus it cannot even be fostered. Creativity is an imperative. It is the imperative of life itself. We chose nothing. We follow the current of life or resist it. Even to think that we decide to follow or resist is fallacious. The current of life is all there is.

ST: Guy, what would be some artful advice for our Scribble readers?

GL: Don’t fear solitude. That’s the only advice I can give. When you are alone, don’t try to escape it. Drop your cell phone in a pond. Put your TV to the trash bin. Stop losing your time on computer screens. These things suck your creativity.

Be alone as much as you can. Then the voices of the muses will take care of the rest. They will guide you.

ST: I understand what you mean. We are, in the end, our own best friend even though sometimes it can seem like we are our own enemy!  Thank you so much for sharing with us!  You have given us all whole lot to chew on- from concepts to techniques.  Scribblers, for more inspiration please have a look at Guy’s website at http://www.guylaramee.com.

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Scribble Artist Interview with Steven van Hasten!

securedownload-1Scribble Town (ST): Let’s go to the jungle! Let’s go help our Hippo friend brush his teeth!  Steven van Hasten has a painterly touch for his illustrations that sweep you away to imaginary places.

Steven, what are you up to at the moment?

Steven van Hasten (SVH): I am a Belgian artist who grew up in Courtrai, a small commercial town in West Flanders. I am huge comic book fan and have a large collection. I never go to sleep before reading a comic book.  I am doing some different projects now, commissioned and personal projects… One of the commissioned ones is an illustration for an adoption card, very pleasant to do. I am also doing a children’s book based on a script of my wife …

ST: I’m sure you and your wife are inspirations for each other! Your illustrations are wonderful! Where do you come up with your ideas for your illustrations?

SVH: When I start a new illustration, I always first go for a walk. While just thinking about anything, ideas start to come. Almost everything I encounter on a walk can lead to an idea, a picture on a wall, something lying on the street, something that happens on my way, a strange house … But the greatest source of inspiration are the people I meet and see in the streets… Everyone can be the next person in my illustration :).

ST: In that sense, everybody is magical. I believe that! And can see that in your illustrations.

I noticed on your website that you have many different styles that you work with. What is one of your favorite technique and why?

SVH: I make digital and painted illustrations, but I prefer the classic way of drawing and painting a lot more, because I like the smell of acrylics and holding a pencil feels much more comfortable then moving a mouse. Sitting at the table with a paper in front of me gives a much more relaxed feeling then sitting before a computer.

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ST: I think the tactile process shows in your artwork too. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  What has been your path to becoming an illustrator?

SVH: As soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil, I knew I would do something with drawing. As a child I drew on every surface in the house: walls, tables, etc.. My parents were very happy when I was old enough to go to the local academy and start to draw on regular paper instead. One of first things I can remember is a comic book about a knight I made when I was the age of 10. When I was older I completed a Masters from St. Lucas, School of Arts in Ghent, Belgium where I studied Graphic Design and Illustration. That was the start of my career as an illustrator.

ST: Have you ever been interested in creating a TV show series of your own?  What is your favorite cartoon on TV?

securedownload-3SVH: I never considered it. I think my style is to complex for a tv-show, it would cost to much time to make a show or I should have people helping me and I rather work alone like I am doing now.

I don’t watch much television, I am more of a reader, so I don’t know much about the cartoons that are on television right now. As a kid I liked ‘Tom and Jerry’ and I still like ‘The Simpsons’ … And animation like ‘Despicable me’, ‘Spirited away’, ‘Persepolis’, ‘Rango’.

ST: I see you have a variety of themes in your illustrations.  What is a theme you are currently working on?  What is the Tekeningen series about?

SVH: The theme comes back, most of the time, in my illustrations to people. I love to draw people with all the strange habits they have, how they dress, behave, how they act funny. You could say that the human behaviour is my most popular theme. I do love drawing animals too, but even the animals always have a human touch, the act like humans, not like animals would do…

The ‘tekeningen’ series are live-drawings. Every week I hire a model for making quick sketches. This is important to evolve and try different things. These drawings are exercises in technique, motion, colour, line. I make hundreds of them, most of them arrive in the wastepaper basket. In a 2 hour drawing session I make 20-30 sketches. A sketch doesn’t take more than 5 minutes, so I can’t get lost in drawing details, it has to be basic and direct. If I have one drawing at the end of the evening I find good, then my evening was successful.

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ST: Those sessions are also great to just get movement within your drawing and lose yourself in the motion. When you are not drawing or creating, what do you like to do?

SVH: Being in nature is the thing I do most when I am not illustrating. It gives me the peace I need to keep me going with fresh ideas. I like hiking, especially in the Scottish Highlands, where I go at least 1 or 2 times a year. Or walking in nature closer to home.

 I also love to read books (mostly fantasy) or comic books, which I do almost every evening after drawing. Otherwise I would be thinking all night on my illustrations. It’s like making my head empty. 

And riding my motorbike is a favourite too…

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ST: You have some exhibitions coming up.  Please let us know about them.  What artworks will you be exhibiting?

SVH: Next week I have an exhibition in London on the Parallax Art Fair. I will show some artworks I recently made for a memory-game and for a puzzle-game.

In April there is an upcoming exhibition with some other illustrator. The brief was to make an illustration about the pencil in the art world. There will be shown only one illustration.
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ST: You surely are busy! Which artists inspire you to create?

SVH: Heronimus Bosch, a Dutch painter from the 15th century, has always been a great inspiration. He must have been a little insane, I guess, because he drew very strange things :). And illustrators like Shaun Tan and Rebecca Dautremer, because they are very passionate. And also Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died too young..

ST: You are an inspiration for us! Any tips for our Scribblers?

SVH: If you have a dream follow it, no matter what it costs. Working hard and practicing everyday is much more important then talent. Of course you need a little talent but in the end it is who works hard that will be the winner. Keep your eyes open, ideas and creativity are everywhere, you just have to see it. The most important thing I learned at art school, is not how to draw, but how to look to the world, with an open mind.

ST: And with an open mind we continue our day! Thank you, Steven for sharing with us :). Scribblers, please have a look at Steven’s website to see more of his artwork and learn more about him.

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Published by Andi Thea, on February 26th, 2015 at 9:56 am. Filled under: Books,Illustration,Scribble Artist Interviews Tags: , , , , , No Comments

Artful thoughts from Jacqueline Chwast

Jacqueline Chwast is a childrens book illustrator amongst many things creative.  She has worked on books such as I Like You, How Rabbit Lost His Tail, and Tinker Tales: A Humpty Dumpty Book. Scribble Town asked Jackie questions about her path and passions. From her responses below I get the sense that this person is full of life and thanks.  Thank you, Jackie for sharing with us!

As a child I fell in love with beautiful watercolor illustrations in the book “Water babies.”

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My first job out of art school was as an assistant to the editor in a small publishing firm. Though they most often reprinted art, to my surprise I was offered to do a new picture book about time. The illustrations had to be done in the evenings after work, and on weekends.

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After months, keeping awake on buckets of coffee, I brought the finished art in on a Friday.  When I returned to work that Monday morning my boss (forever careless) had accidentally burned the office down.

IMG_0842I’ve illustrated more than fifty books since, without another fire.

I am retired now, living in New York, doing pottery and cutting paper silhouettes, happy not to have deadlines, and very grateful to have had the company of art for my lifetime.  I did illustration for books, magazines and newspapers.  A manuscript was given to me by an editor. Writers and illustrators never spoke (to avoid disagreements). It was the illustrators’ job to interpret the mood and meaning of the written word.

I had a very brief blue period, but was rarely asked, as a commercial illustrator to go down very dark or deep.

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Though I am moved and impressed by work so different than my own, I feel most at peace expressing attitudes in life with humor.

— So, draw, sculpt, view, write, listen, read, enjoy and accept your own voice.

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Published by Andi Thea, on December 17th, 2014 at 9:13 am. Filled under: adults,Books,Featured,Illustration,kids Tags: , , , , , No Comments

Scribble Artist Interview with Bill Lawrence!

Scribble Town (ST): Bill Lawrence is a poet set out to write his first children’s book. His writing is earnest and the illustrations portray that sensitivity and playfulness.  Let’s learn more about Bill!

DSC_0207.mediumBill Lawrence (BL): First, thank you for your interest in my writing.  It is humbling to be asked to share what I’m doing and I’m honored to be a part of Scribble Blog.  I’m an inspirational writer, meaning I can’t just sit down and write whenever I have the time to do so.  Something has to trigger my creativity and that isn’t always convenient.  But when the thoughts come in it is fun.   I’m a dedicated husband and father to great kids who turn out to be the inspiration for much of my poetry.  Watching them go through the triumphs and foibles of life give me the third person perspective that rings throughout a lot of what I write.  Writing is also a way to bond with my kids as I’ve written some pretty cool stuff this way.  It shows them that writing isn’t as daunting as they may have believed and it really opens a window into what they think and feel.  It sometimes replaces the question, “what’s going on with you and your life, what are you thinking about most?”  It all tends to come out when you allow them to express themselves in art…and they’re proud of it, too.  Currently I am mid way through a series of children’s books but I’m also writing a science fiction novel and have other poems that will hopefully end up illustrated, as well.  I’m also a guitar player and have penned a few songs that I hope to record in the next year or so.  Writing and music are themes that run strong through my life.

ST: Bill, where are you located and what are you up to these days?

BL: I live in Denver with my wonderful wife and family.  I’ve enjoyed great support from them as I’ve set out to publish my first book.

ST: Congratulations on reaching your Kickstarter goal!  I’m sure you are so excited and WE are doubly happy to be able to soon read your story.  Scribblers, have a look here to read more about ‘Odie and Snowflake’. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1187805553/a-childrens-book-illustrated-to-poetry-by-bill-law?ref=nav_search
Snowflakes08-2ST: What is ‘Odie and Snowflake’ about or is this a surprise?  I like the idea that it’s a series because then we’ll get more involved with the characters and story.

BL: ‘Odie and Snowflake’ is my first book and it is set in a winter scape.  The books will be set to my poetry with illustrations that follow along.  Each poem/book will revolve around a season (summer, spring, winter and fall) thematically and I’m having a lot of fun with them.  Hidden in the art is a purpose, however.  Exposing young listeners and readers to a higher level of grammar, diction and meter provides a stark contrast to the more simple kid’s books we know and love.   These simpler books definitely have their place but so do those that raise the bar on thought and expression through art.  I believe that kids gain from stretching and exposing their vocabulary to interesting grammatical tools like consonance, assonance, alliteration, etc…  The timing and rhythm of a person’s speech is affected at an early age by what literature is exposed to them and hopefully people see in my books an interesting alternative to what they may see out there.

ST: What inspired the story?  When did you write it?

BL: Watching my son play with his cousin in the snow last winter inspired this poem/book.  Their interactions and expressions of joy brought up my memories and thoughts of winters as a kid growing up in the mid-Atlantic area.  It was a purely analog time in my life reliant on imagination and the friendships developed along the way.  Those memories matched with my adult perspective have provided a vehicle to relay my creativity through poetry.

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ST: How did you come up with the characters and illustrations?

BL: I’m not the most skilled illustrator so I asked an artist to help me create the scenes for the book and they came out terrific.  I can’t wait to crack open that first printing and see it on the page!

ST: What is your personal connection to poetry?

BL: My path to writing purposefully took a turn in earnest about 16 years ago.  I wrote poems that helped me deal with the joys and lows in life and found it cathartic.  It’s great therapy for me as it provides an outlet for my thoughts.

Portait of Shel Silverstein

Photograph of Shel Silverstein

ST: What was your favorite book as a child?

BL: I had several memorable book exposures as a kid.  Goodnight Moon, many Shel Silverstein stories, and the Tolkien series Lord of the Rings, with many in between, of course.  These stories stretched my imagination but more importantly provided the glue for my bond with the most important people in my life… Mom and Dad.  My parents read to me as a child and that was an important factor in my reading and writing success later in life.  It is so important to read to your kids, even the books they insist on hearing after you’ve read them over 100 times.

ST: Any last tips on creativity? Can you give any advice on how one can express themselves or develop their ideas?

BL: Don’t be surprised if it takes you until your 30’s/40’s or later to “hear” your voice.  But feel fortunate when you do and then take advantage by putting your words and thoughts to the page.  Don’t worry about being perfect or trying to reach all audiences.  It may be that your only listener is you, but that’s highly unlikely.  In staying true to your word, you will have the greatest lasting satisfaction with yourself and others will respect your genuine expressions.  Here is the poem upon which my book is based…

Ode to a Snow Flake

Nature’s perfection
This I know
A freshly fallen
Flake of snow

Nothing in nature
Can compare
To this uniquely constructed
Defier of air

As cold settles in
For seeming an age
This symmetry of nature
Takes centerstage

While under assemblage
And hid from the sun
It falls for a mile
To land on your tongue

Stellar in appearance
Defying winter’s shroud
Can this beauty really come
From so sullen a cloud?

Light as a feather
A contradiction of sorts
Put two together
A maker of forts!

Viewed through a window
It lasts but a minute
So knee-deep is the way
To find yourself in it!

Singular in aspect
Yet countless they seem
Both magic and mystic
The glint and the gleam

Take a moment to study
And you’ll notice in time
Simple plates and prisms
Graupel and Rime

Double plates and dendrites
Capped columns and bars
They’re proudest of the 12 branch
And fancy themselves stars

Winter can last
For an age, it seems
A perfect time
for snowbound dreams

Goodnight Moon is an American children's picture book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd.

Goodnight Moon is an American children’s picture book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd.

ST: Thank you, Bill for your words of inspiration!  I feel that there is always so much to look forward to. We look forward to reading your book before turning the lights out for a good night’s sleep.

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings

Published by Andi Thea, on November 16th, 2014 at 3:10 am. Filled under: adults,Books,Illustration,kids,Scribble Artist Interviews Tags: , , , , , , 1 Comment

Storms and Silences: Jaanika Peerna’s Art Book

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photo by Reelika Ramot

Finally, a book about Jaanika Peerna’s is in production!  Storms and Silences: Jaanika Peerna’s Art Book will be a beautiful art book revealing the first decade of Jaanika Peerna’s work as an artist, from drawings to performance to swoops of mylar.  After ten years of work as an artist, it’s time to release the first book of Jaanika Peerna’s drawings, installations, and performances.

Jaanika Peerna is an Estonian-born artist living and working in New York, Tallinn, and Berlin. Her work encompasses drawing, video, installation and performance, often dealing with the theme of transitions in light, air, water and other natural phenomena. She has exhibited her work extensively in New York, Berlin, Paris, Tallinn, Helsinki, Lisbon, Rimini, Dubai, Honolulu, Novosibirsk and Rome. Her work is in numerous private collections in the US and Europe and was recently acquired by Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris. Her work is represented in the United States by Masters Projects in New York and ARC Fine Art in Connecticut.

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photo by Arvo Wichmann

“My elements are line and light,” says Peerna. “My materials are pencils, vellum and video camera. I am a vessel gathering subtle and rapturous processes in nature, using the experiences and impulses to make my work. I record mist turning into water. I use slowly changing lights to cast shadows of mylar strips onto a wall—The slowness of shadows makes one wonder if there is any change at all. I let wind move my body so that it leaves traces on paper. I swim through thousands of layers of gray air and mark each one down. Most of my work is born in the solitude of my studio. Sometimes public performances with musicians and dancers draw me out from the safe silence of my space and expand my drawing practice with sound and movement. I am interested in the never-ending process of becoming with no story, no beginning, no end—just the current moment in flux.”

Starting with photography and digital work, Peerna has moved more and more into drawing with a real sense of physical movement combining dance, movement, and performance. After a decade of this work she has decided to put it all together in a book which will showcase all these aspects of her work, from large square black and white maelstrom drawings:

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It’s going to be a beautiful art book, printed and designed in Estonia by Martin Pedanik, with essays by Heie Treier and Fiona Robinson, and photos of my performances in Europe, taken by many good photographers, including Ave Talu, Reelika Ramot, Arvo Wichmann, Yavor Gantchev, and others.

She says: “There is something special about beautifully printed pages in this world of fleeting digital images. Perhaps some of you will agree, and can do your part to make this project possible.”

To see how you can contribute to the making of this wonderful book, please go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jaanikapeerna/storms-and-silences-jaanika-peernas-art-book

To read Jaanika’s Scribble Artist Interview you can click here.

Published by Andi Thea, on November 13th, 2014 at 11:53 am. Filled under: adults,Books,Drawing,Featured,Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

Scribble Artist Interview with Amanda Seyderhelm!

Scribble Town (ST): We are so happy that Amanda Seyderhelm is here with us today!  Amanda Seyderhelm is the author of two books, and the creator of Helping Children Smile Again, http://www.helpingchildrensmileagain.com.

Alltherage. copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

Alltherage. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

Amanda Seyderhelm (AS): Hi! I use play and the creative art therapies to help children aged 5-10 yrs find their voice, rebuild their attachment, and increase their emotional resilience following trauma (loss and bereavement, parents divorcing, parents who are ill, and bullying.)

ST: Wow! You do so much for the community through the arts and play therapy! Where are you all located and what are you up to these days?

AS: I live and work in the UK, in the smallest historic county called Rutland. At the centre of Rutland is the large artificial reservoir, Rutland Water, which is an important nature reserve for Ospreys. I moved here 3 years ago from London to be in the country.  I am studying part-time for my Masters in Practice-Based Play Therapy, while building my private practice. I specialise in loss and bereavement, and work with children aged 5-10 yrs of age on a one-to-one basis, and in small groups, in Schools and Hospitals. I write children’s books, and lecture and train practitioners, family care workers, social workers, teachers, teaching assistants and parents, on the role of therapeutic storytelling in building a child’s emotional resilience. Within this teaching, is the lesson for adults to recover their own lost inner-child, so my teaching style is integrated and holistic. Contented parents create contented children!

ST: How did you come up with the idea for your book, “Isaac and the Red Jumper”?

Isaac and the Red Jumper by Amanda Seyderhelm

Isaac and the Red Jumper by Amanda Seyderhelm

AS: The idea originally came to me in 2001, the year before I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Looking back, I see that the idea was a premonition of some of the issues I would face myself regarding my own mortality and healing, and of my 2nd career as a Play Therapist and therapeutic storyteller. I woke up one morning with the story in my head, and wrote it down. I edited it over the years when I realised that children process loss and bereavement differently from adults. Using a therapeutic story gives bereaved children a non-confrontational way to access their feelings and grief by identifying with the character in the story.  Parents learn to develop empathy with their child when they read the book with their child, and use the questions at the back of the book. The questions provide openings and prompts for those conversations that are so important, but often difficult to begin. Before my Mother died in 2012, I published and dedicated the book to her. I donate 10% of the book’s proceeds to TreeTops Hospice who cared for my Mother at home. http://www.treetopshospice.org.uk

ST: What exactly does it mean to be an Art Therapist and Play Therapist for children and families.  I’m so curious about your methods.

Art Therapy in action. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Art Therapy in action. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

AS: During my cancer journey, I was introduced to art therapy, and was taught by three gifted art therapists. Regular practice introduced me to the idea that when words cannot be found, images will tell the story. Painting bypasses the critical left brain, and taps directly into our creative, intuitive right brain, so we can enjoy a direct connection with our true voice, and develop our soul’s narrative. I have continued to paint, experiment and develop my art practice, and teach expressive art workshops, sometimes adapting these for children with special learning needs. It’s interesting that the children in my practice are all drawn to painting, and over the course of the 12 weeks that I work with them, they reveal their emotional faces through their paintings. Sometimes they start by making abstract marks on the paper, and gradually move towards a clearer and more defined image, which reflects their renewed clarity and emotional definition.

Play Therapy is a form of counseling or psychotherapy that uses play to communicate with and help children, to prevent or resolve psychosocial challenges. This is thought to help them towards better social integration, growth and development. In my one-to-one work I practice non-directed Play Therapy, which is a child-centred approach, founded by Virginia Axline. The child is free to choose any toy in my Play Therapy toolkit, which includes sand tray, therapeutic storytelling, music, drama and movement, painting and drawing, puppets, masks and clay, and through these express their feelings, and find new ways of coping, and building internal resources, and emotional resilience.

During my group play therapy work, I choose a theme for each group, and create a directed set of exercises for the group to complete, that involves them using some elements of the Play Therapy Kit. At the heart of all group work is the notion of the journey each child will take to reach the goal. Group work is particularly useful for helping children gain confidence and social skills.

Collaboration 2. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

This collaboration shows how Amanda’s art process has been adapted for working with special needs children. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

At the centre of all my non-directed and directed work is the intention of building a strong attachment with the child. When this is established, the child will show me their inner world, and together we play, and they begin to recover their creativity, vitality and integrity, so they can learn to:

accept themselves

respect boundaries

understand their feelings

express their emotions safely

be responsible for their actions

be creative in confronting problems

establish self-control and self-direction.

ST: How did you get involved with play therapy?  I wonder what your path has been like.  Your artistic nature probably lends to this practice really well.

Cradling. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Cradling. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

AS: When I was 16, I read Virginia Axline’s classic book, DIBS: in search of self, about an emotionally damaged little boy, whose parents and school teachers believed was mentally damaged because he refused to interact, and conform socially. Over the course of 18 months, DIBS had weekly Play Therapy sessions with Axline, and was transformed into a talkative, engaging, and socially adept child. The book made a huge impact on me, so much so that I stayed up all night reading it! So, I always knew that at some point I wanted to practice as a Play Therapist, and my first career in Publishing set me up well because through that I have developed my interest in storytelling. The other book I read which influenced me was The Drama of Being a Child by Alice Miller. Miller challenges conventional child rearing and education, and shows how many children have adapted to the needs and ambitions of their parents, and essentially lost the capacity to express their true feelings. This struck a chord with me, and since then I have been on a mission to help children and adults recover that lost connection with themselves.

ST: You have found your calling! Was there somebody that encouraged you to become a therapist?  Your creativity shows through in your books and I’m sure at school and in sessions!

AS: My personal therapeutic work revealed my path, and various teachers and colleagues have highlighted this as well. Some would say it is an obvious choice for me, as I am deeply curious about how people connect to themselves and others, and sustain themselves creatively. My early life in South Africa has influenced me deeply because of the level of trauma I witnessed children and families experiencing during the apartheid regime. Like most therapists, I have a need to encourage healing and transform suffering, and I believe through play and the creative arts I am able to make a contribution to that.

Conception. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Conception. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

ST: What was your favorite toy or game as a child?  Why?

AS: Storytelling and drama! I am an only child, and was always creating and directing plays at school! I also had invisible friends, something which is common with only children, and this gave me access to a vivid and creative imagination.

ST: Your brain is probably a library of art techniques!  Is there one that you particularly like to use?

AS: I am fond of using the no brush technique to create images that look abstract, but which contain patterns and clues that expand one’s consciousness. The process allows images to emerge, and like meditation, enables the artist to shift from trying to be creative, to simply being creative. Painting in this state, creates paintings which are often surprising, and yet also a reflection of the possibility within our own emotional and spiritual nature. Using this technique I will paint up to 30 small paintings at one sitting. I then choose one or two paintings, and stand these on my bookshelves where I can see them. Over time, the paintings will reveal ideas and clues that unlock a problem or question I have, and I find this therapeutic and inspiring.

ST: Any last tips on creativity?  Any advice on how one can express themselves or develop their ideas is appreciated.

Cromford3:6. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Cromford3:6. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

AS: Here are my recommendations for nurturing your creative process:

I believe that if we nurture our intuition and body wisdom, we are rewarded with insights that automatically guide us, which enables us to reduce our dependence on external approval. One of my most insightful moments came after a period of deep meditation. My daily sitting practice enabled me not only listen to, but also hear what my body was telling me. In this case, the message was to have surgery. That surgery saved my life.

Noise pollution, stress, and general life busyness keep us from being able to listen to our inner voice, but what if your life depended on you listening more? What if everything you needed to know was available, if you could only learn to listen?

So what can we do to turn the volume down, so we can hear our intuitive voice?

Meditation works for some people, but it doesn’t work for everyone. I have friends who can’t meditate, and who have found other ways of ‘tuning in’, like gardening, or pottering as one friend calls it! It really is about finding the way that works for you. Don’t beat yourself up if meditation isn’t your thing.

Walking is a great way of getting into your physical body, and switching your analytical mind off. The act of moving forwards tells your brain to settle down, and allows you to pay attention to your surroundings. Pretty soon, you are hearing the birdsong, the traffic, dogs barking, your feet crunching on leaves. It won’t be long before your mind track changes away from, ‘must get back and do that email’ to, ‘I wonder what would happen if …’ I’ve solved some of my biggest challenges by walking, and been rewarded with some inspirational ideas simply because I’ve given myself permission to listen differently. Try 30 minutes every day.

Heartsore. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

Heartsore. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

Write your questions down. I have a jam jar on my desk that contains strips of coloured card. Next to it is another jar full of my favourite coloured pens. Before I close my office each day, I write my question on a card strip and paste it onto my cork board, or stick it into my Creative Notebook. This act triggers my sub-conscious to start processing the answer. I then let go of needing to know because I trust that the answer will pop into my head, I don’t need to chase it around my mind.

Eat mindfully. Slowly. One bite at a time.

Inspire yourself.Take yourself out on what Julia Cameron calls an Artist Date. This can be anything from seeing a movie during the day, visiting an art gallery, and going rollerskating! The only rule is you must go alone on your date. Dates top up your creative tank, so you aren’t living on empty.

Then wait for the insights. They will come, just be ready to catch them….

ST: As Amanda already mentioned 10% of her book proceeds go to TreeTops Hospice. She also donates 10% of her memoir book, Coming to My Senses: Finding My Voice Through Ovarian Cancer, proceeds to Ovarian Cancer Action Charity. Thank you Amanda for sharing all your wisdom and kindness!

Ode to my Mother. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

Ode to my Mother. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

Published by Andi Thea, on September 8th, 2014 at 1:43 pm. Filled under: adults,Books,Featured,kids,Scribble Artist Interviews,Uncategorized Tags: , , , No Comments

Scribble Artist Interview with Yumi Sakugawa!

Promotional material for independent feature film SALAD DAYS (www.saladdaysfilm.com)  2011

Illustration for independent feature film SALAD DAYS (www.saladdaysfilm.com) 2011

Scribble Town (ST): Sincerity, smiles, and superstar sister superheroes come to mind when I think of Yumi Sakugawa’s comics and illustrations.  Based in Southern California, she is the author of I THINK I AM IN FRIEND-LOVE WITH YOU and her second book YOUR ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO BECOMING ONE WITH THE UNIVERSE comes out in December 2014.  As Yumi puts it, “When I am not busy making comics, I am drinking a lot of coffee and eating a lot of tacos. I love tacos so much.”

Getting to know Yumi and her artwork has touched parts of my soul that were getting sleepy. Rise and shine!

Yumi, where are you now and what are you up to these days?  It looks like May has been a busy month for you!

Illustrations for online course “Peace Is The Way: An Online Course For Intent.com By Deepak Chopra” Intent.com 2012

Illustration for online course “Peace Is The Way: An Online Course For Intent.com By Deepak Chopra” Intent.com 2012

Yumi Sakugawa (YS): Currently I am working on freelance illustration work and my next long comic story. And yes, May has been a busy month for me! I was exhibiting at the Toronto Comics and Arts Festival and the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo. They were both very fun events and in Chicago I finally had a chance to eat their famous deep-dish pizza.

ST: Comic book writing fits you so well!  What came first- the writing or the illustrating?  How and when did you begin putting the puzzle pieces together?

YS: I think the drawing came first before the writing, though both are so intertwined in my head it is difficult to decipher where one discipline ends and the other begins. I always suspected that I would end up becoming a cartoonist since I was 8 or 9, but it probably wasn’t until after college that the two disciplines really came together and I began pursuing comics full force.

Yumi's 2012 web comic I THINK I AM IN FRIEND-LOVE WITH YOU is now a hardcover book published by Adams Media

Yumi’s 2012 web comic I THINK I AM IN FRIEND-LOVE WITH YOU is published by Adams Media

ST: Was there somebody that encouraged you or inspired you to make such beautiful stories and images?

YS: My parents were always encouraging about my creative pursuits and I had a couple of amazing English teachers throughout middle school and high school.

ST: I always have to say, “Thank You, Teachers” whenever I hear that.

Congratulations on your recent book release of I THINK I AM IN FRIEND-LOVE WITH YOU!  I know exactly what you mean when you say, “in friend-love with you”.  It speaks to all of us, I think.  How did the idea for the book come about?  Who is the main character in the book?

YS: The idea for the book came from my own friend-love experiences during my formative years– middle school, high school, college. So yeah, it is pretty autobiographical. The main character in the book is me, you, anyone who understands what these words mean.

"Anxiety Is A Heavy Rock"   2011

“Anxiety Is A Heavy Rock” 2011

ST: Your illustrated meditation guides are absolutely beautiful!  For me, reading them was almost a  meditative practice in itself.  I slowed down and listened to how the words resonated in my heart and laughed at how the pictures tickled my eyes.  I’m curious how you discovered meditation and if you have any more tutorials coming up.  How does this philosophy and practice get integrated into your work?

YS: I discovered meditation when I was working abroad in Japan because one of my friends who is a yoga instructor lent me her copy of A NEW EARTH by Eckhart Tolle and my boyfriend gave me an audiobook copy of David Lynch’s book CATCHING THE BIG FISH, which is an autobiographical book about the film director deepening his creative practice through regular meditation.

Meditation is an important aspect of my creative practice. It clears my head, deepens my soul and challenges me to live more fully.

I started regularly making weekly meditation comics for Intent.com. You can check them out here! http://intentblog.com/

ST: Where do you find yourself feeling really inspired to create?  Is there a different creative process for when you are writing as opposed to illustrating?

YS: Right now I am working on a 2-page comic essay for a publication I really love. I am having a really difficult time getting the writing part done. Usually with my comics, the writing and the narrative has to feel very secure before I begin drawing.

Illustrations for Hamlet by William Shakespeare with Modern Translation: The Ultimate Hamlet eBook. Created for eNotes 2012

Illustration for Hamlet by William Shakespeare with Modern Translation: The Ultimate Hamlet eBook. Created for eNotes 2012

ST: If you could be a smell, what would you be?

YS: Eucalyptus leaves

ST: Mmm, the smell of healing and freshness.

Any last tips on art making for our Scribblers?

YS: Be honest. Tell the truth. Be sincere. Work hard. Surround yourself with good company, with the kind of artists you want to be yourself. Keep going even if you hate everything you are making. I feel like I am still figuring things out.

ST: Thank you for that.  Yumi, it’s been so nice to have you with us in Scribble Town!  Scribblers, for more thoughtful thoughts, please go to www.yumisakugawa.com.

"Today I Got Attacked By A Robot" 2011

“Today I Got Attacked By A Robot” 2011

Happy 110th Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Geisel aka Dr. Seuss in 1957, holding The Cat in the Hat, which inaugurated his Beginner Books

Geisel aka Dr. Seuss in 1957, holding The Cat in the Hat, which inaugurated his Beginner Books

The idea of stepping into the doctor’s office, for some, was a nightmare that has come to life. There was only one “doctor” that children and even adults were happy to welcome into our lives. That’s Dr. Seuss!  March 2nd commemorates the 110th birthday of Dr. Seuss. While he passed away in 1991 at the age of 87, his stories and illustrations still live on in our hearts and lives.

Dr. Seuss (born Theodor Seuss Geisel) was born March 2, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. During his lifetime, Seuss wrote 46 childrens books; including some of his most famous bestsellers, Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and my childhood favorite, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Seuss was also the illustrator for all of the books in his collection. In the beginning of his career he used pencil and watercolor, but as time went on he migrated towards pen and ink (usually black and white), and few colors. He began adding more colors to his books by the end of his career. Many of his children’s books have even been adapted into animated and even live action screenplays.

During his lifetime, Seuss won numerous awards; including two Academy awards, two Emmy awards, a Peabody award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and the Pulitzer Prize. He also has his own star on Hollywood Boulevard on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Seuss’ birthday is commemorated every year by “Read Across America Day”, which falls on the closest school day to Seuss’ Birthday, March 2. This year “Read Across America Day” is on March 3.  Let’s go to the library and check out all of Dr. Seuss’ books. You can also visit Seussville.  Enjoy!

Dr Seuss quote Thing 1 and Thing 2

Dr. Seuss quote Thing 1 and Thing 2 from the book, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut.

Published by Andi Thea, on March 1st, 2014 at 6:54 am. Filled under: adults,Books,Scribble Picks,Uncategorized Tags: , , , , No Comments

Scribble Artist Interview with Cheong-ah Hwang!

Scribble Town (ST): The first time I saw these delicate hummingbirds by Cheong-ah Hwang I swooned at how beautiful life can be. And then I realized they were made out of paper and was floored by how precise and full of emotion they embodied. She can mimic life in paper form with the simple help of scissors and glue. Amazing! Cheong-ah came to the US from Seoul, Korea 20 years ago and speaks of herself as a paper artist, wife and mom. Under those three great hats is a person that knows how to capture life in a special way.

Hummer in My Hand by Cheong-ah Hwang

Hummer in My Hand by Cheong-ah Hwang

Cheong-ah, you move and travel quite a bit. What brought you from place to place?  Where are you now and what are you up to these days?

Cheong-ah Hwang (CH): My brother moved to the US, so I followed him. I came to Columbus, Ohio to study art, and continued living and working on paper sculptures ever since.

Flower by Cheong-ah Hwang

Flower by Cheong-ah Hwang

ST: Your pieces seem so fragile, tender and intricately realistic!  Do you ever need a magnify glass to complete your artworks?  Or tweezers?  How do you do it?! What tools do you need to create your paper sculptures?

CH: No, I don’t use magnifying glasses. I have pretty good eyesight. I use tweezers though when I work on tiny areas. I use X-acto knife, modeling tools, stylus, rulers, etc.

ST: How do you come up with your themes for your series? Did you start out by making birds?  What other things do you create?  They all vary so much and are so lifelike!

CH: I started out making animals, plants, architecture, etc. to study textures. Then, I got interested in paper itself and expressions, so I created rather abstract human forms, experimenting different kinds of paper, scales and techniques.

ST: Your Red Riding Hood series is beautiful!  You successfully reached your goal on Kickstarter.  Woo hoo!  How has this developed?

Little Red Riding Hood by Cheong-ah Hwang
CH: I received exposure I had hoped for. More people started blogging about my works. Eventually, Penguin Books commissioned me to make a similar image for the cover of the ‘Grimm Tales for Young and Old’ by Philip Pullman.  Penguin Books also used my sculptures for a short animation to promote the new book.

 

ST: Oh Pullman’s voice fits your images and story so perfectly! Seeing your animations encourages so much imagination and creativity! Please let us know your artistic process for the CMA animation.

CH: That was a collaboration with a local media company. Lots of communications. My part was to create 3d paper models of Columbus Museum of Art. I studied the building, simplified the design, and came up with moving mechanisms for some parts. I scaled the buildings down, and drew plans. I had to cut so many cardboard pieces. I ended up performing for the animation too.

ST: I think that’s a great animation for Scribblers to watch since we all like to go to museums and galleries.  “You break you buy it” doesn’t always work 😉  Especially after watching your animations where the characters flow so smoothly and everything just seems to fit in place, you make it seem so easy!  But I know it takes loads of skill and patience.  What tools do you need to do what you do?

CH: The most frequently used tools and materials are an X-acto knife to cut, modeling tools and stylus to emboss, an awl to score or curl, cutting mat and glue.

Hummer n Hibiscus by Cheong-ah Hwang

Hummer n Hibiscus by Cheong-ah Hwang

ST: Any special paper or techniques we should know about?

CH: My favorite paper to use is color drawing paper which has high cotton content and comes in many colors. I love working with translucent paper and Japanese paper too. They are so much fun. There are some paper sculpture techniques such as embossing, scoring and bending, curling, tearing and crumpling.  Do you draw to figure out the layers? Yes, I make a sketch first. Then, I use the sketch to separate and assemble layers.

ST: Where do you find yourself feeling really inspired to create?  I bet there is something you do to get yourself into the mood to create. Or what about music?

CH: Everyday life is an inspiration to me. I get an inspiration cooking ramen, reading my son a bedtime story, going to the zoo, driving down the street, etc. I have been living in cities in my entire life. One day, when I was siting on my porch, a hummingbird flew in right in front my eyes. I had never seen a hummingbird in person before. I can never forget how magical moment that was. I’ve been making paper hummingbird since.

Princess Iron Fan by Cheong-ah Hwang

Princess Iron Fan by Cheong-ah Hwang

ST: Amongst all the inspiration, what are 5 most important things in your life right now?

CH: Family, family, family, family, and my art.

Creative Paper Cutting: 15 Paper Sculptures to Inspire and Delight by Cheong-ah Hwang

Creative Paper Cutting: 15 Paper Sculptures to Inspire and Delight by Cheong-ah Hwang

ST: Cheong-ah, thank you for sharing so much with us! You a dedicated mother, wife and artist and I see that passion in your artwork. Do you have any last minute tips for us?

CH: You don’t need expensive materials or extra ordinary experiences to make art. Pay attention to every moment of your life. Don’t miss out anything. Use all of your senses. Try to make art with what you already have. 

ST: Thank you for your advice! Scribblers, if you can need more visual advice you can check out Cheong-ah’s book, ‘Creative Paper Cutting: 15 Paper Sculptures to Inspire and Delight‘, available on Amazon. Get started with your own paper sculptures!

Squid and Friends by Cheong-ah Hwang

Squid and Friends by Cheong-ah Hwang

Scribble Artist Interview with David Devries!

Scribble Town (ST): David Devries describes himself as a, “Dad, husband, illustrator, teacher—not much of a fine artist. Though I do gallery shows I am at heart an illustrator.” After you read this Scribble interview with David, you’ll know he’s a a great artist and a lot more than that! Plus he’s got great stories to match!

David Devries, The Monster Engine master!

David Devries, The Monster Engine master!

David Devries (DD): I once did a show and my work didn’t fit the space so I offered to redo it smaller.  The shocked gallery owners said they would never ask me to alter my art— but that is what illustrators do. What’s the job? What are the parameters? When do you need it by? In terms of personal philosophy I bend the rules when I can, break them when necessary—it is why I love kids—they are all outlaws at heart.

For my commercial work, I specialize in high impact, high drama images. I also publish a book called The Monster Engine that answers the question, “What would a child’s drawing look like if painted by a professional illustrator?” The results are startling transformations of flat childlike imagery into fully painted illustrations. This technique came from my illustration work, primarily in the entertainment field– specifically the comic book, advertising and video game markets. Some of my clients include Dreamworks SKG, Lucasfilm, Universal Studios, Sega, The 3DO company, Seed Studio, ASCAP, Tor Books and Marvel and DC Comics among others. Currently, I teach at FIT and Syracuse University as well as lecturing nationwide on The Monster Engine and my illustrations.

In addition to being well versed in traditional paintings skills I’m also an accomplished Photoshop artist and was featured in Best Practice: The Pros on Adobe Photoshop by Toni Toland from Del Mar Learning (Copyright 2007).

ST: David, the list goes on!  I think it’s wonderful that you are truly collaborating with children in the creative process of these Monster Engine artworks. In what capacity can individuals and schools get involved?

Blue Boy by David Devries

Blue Boy by David Devries

DD: There are two ways.  One—I can come to your school and either do a presentation or a workshop.  Presentations are defined here and workshops are either a 3-day or 10 week class of guided storytelling and drawing lessons designed to pique the imagination and bolster burgeoning artistic skills.

The other way doesn’t involve my presence at your school.  An an elementary school art teacher can team up with a junior or senior high school art teacher to produce collaborative art between schools.  Below are two examples.

4th Graders Use Funny Movie Maker Pro to Bring Objects to Life: An Approach Explored by Many Artists (Part 2) from Suzanne Tiedemann on Vimeo.

I only ask that the teachers, if inspired by my project, please give me credit for the inspiration in their descriptions and press releases.  Also a link to my site would be very much appreciated.  I have worked a long time to build this brand and any credit helps support all that sacrifice and hard work.

B.A. Kindergarten and XRoads So. Middle School Monster Engine Project from Suzanne Tiedemann on Vimeo.

ST: How did The Monster Engine begin?  I’m sure it’s been quite the adventure!

DD: It has been an adventure.  The idea came to me about 15 years ago and has gone on to big places—recently it was covered on CBS news this morning.

From my website…”It began at the Jersey Shore in 1998, where my niece Jessica often filled my sketchbook with doodles. While I stared at them, I wondered if color, texture and shading could be applied for a 3D effect. As a painter, I made cartoons look three dimensional every day for the likes of Marvel and DC comics, so why couldn’t I apply those same techniques to a kid’s drawing? That was it… no research, no years of toil, just the curiosity of seeing Jessica’s drawings come to life.”

Minot Beaver by David Devries

Minot Beaver by David Devries

ST: I wonder how it has developed to what it is now.

DD: After my niece had inspired me with her drawing in my sketchpad I thought that it would be cool to explore this idea but I just kind of forgot about it. A few months later, I was teaching at a comic book art school. The problem I faced there was that the students didn’t appreciate abstract expressionism. I explained that abstract art is needed especially in comic book work to visualize unseen worlds–places and creatures that can’t be referenced with a photograph. They didn’t care and said they still hated abstract expressionism. That’s when it hit me. If I could render a kids drawing–really detail it–then maybe they would see that abstract painting is useful.  After all, when I do a Monster Engine painting, I am rendering it with abstract thinking and planning. It worked—some of them got the lesson. After that, I wanted to see how a series would work so I did a few Monster Engine paintings of superheroes as Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews. The series looked great and then the book idea hatched.

Purple Monkey by David Devries

Purple Monkey by David Devries

I chose monsters because I love them and so do kids. That was in 1998 and it took 6 more years to paint all the art,  do the interviews, photograph the kids and design the book. I self published a beautiful 48 page hardcover with a dust jacket in 2005 and it became an Internet hit. During the first month of his web site’s launch, the site got 17 million hits and was linked to over 12,000 blogs. A month later I was flown to Japan and appeared on Nippon TV, where I showed his work to an astonished audience.

The Monster Engine by David Devries

The Monster Engine by David Devries

The website is internationally known with book buyers from all over the world since it opened in 2005. The Monster Engine has also been featured in many magazines and newspapers including Rue Morgue magazine alongside Lemony Snicket and Clive Barker.  In 2006 The Monster Engine was given an honorable mention for “Outstanding Book of the Year” at the Independent Publishers Book Awards in the category of “Most Original Concept.” I’ve been approached numerous times for TV show possibilities and but nothing has gone the distance yet.

ST: Wow! You’ve really accomplished so much! Aside from illustrating, what other kind of artwork do you do?  I have a feeling your talent goes beyond the pencil.

DD: I do concept art for games, advertising work, comic book covers and, teaching. Go to www.davedevries.com to see some stuff.

Some history:

In 2011 I finished up an expansive project called BlueShift, which is an eco-thriller, high-octane adventure – lots of action, lots of global warming. We did two issues of the graphic novel – it’s on MTV Geek I’m proud of that project.

I’m super proud though of winning a National Endowment for the Arts award last spring.  I was flown to Texas on the grant to work with underprivileged kids in Lubbock.  Watch it below or click here.

Out & About Bozeman, Dave DeVries from Lubbock ISD on Vimeo.

In addition, The Monster Engine was featured in its first commercial job.  Microsoft and Windows Phone sponsored a contest to get kids drawings in response to the following questions:

Jessica, age 4: “My Windows Phone can make kitty monsters happy with music! The kitty monster gets real real happy and dances around flowers.”

Jessica, age 4: “My Windows Phone can make kitty monsters happy with music! The kitty monster gets real real happy and dances around flowers.”

“What do you wish your Windows Phone could do? How do you imagine yourself, your family, and others using your phone?” We received tons of amazing artwork from children all around the world, each one a whimsical creation that showed how Windows Phone could help unlock a child’s imagination. It was a blast and was featured on their website—you can see them here.

Lastly, just visiting a lot of schools and doing my Monster presentations—and having a blast doing so. Here’s a video of one of them.

I use both digital and traditional paints.  For painting I use mixed media painting techniques… acrylic, airbrush and colored pencil to make the images you see.

ST: How did your creativity start to grow?  As a kid were you making art too?  If you have any stories or people that were there to encourage you, please share.

DD: I never thought of myself as an artist then. I drew pictures but no more than any other child my age. When I turned six, though, my older brother, Jack, asked me to come into his room. At the time he was the family artist—I thought I could never be as good as him. He told me to lock the door to his room. I did so. He then told me that the only way I could leave his room was if I drew from a photograph.  The idea of trying to draw from a photo was impossible to me—after all he did that–but after much crying and pleading I sat down and drew. After I was finished, the picture was so good that I drew 3 more. So, when Jack finally opened the door to his room I was a changed person—I was an artist.

As for painting—I had to wait till I was 21 years old. I lived in terror of painting till I was almost out of college—can you believe that?

ST: Baby steps…at least you took a chance and got over your fear of painting 😉  Please tell us about My Spooky Heart. I wonder what your son thinks of it now.

My Spooky Heart by David Devries

My Spooky Heart by David Devries

DD: You know I never showed it to him.  It was done for a charity and was sold shortly after his birth.  He never saw the original and I have never shown a picture of it to him. I’m waiting till he’s a bit older to appreciate it. He’s six and I would eventually  love to have a conversation with him about it and that time in our lives.

ST: What are you up to now?  We’d love to know and join you, if possible!

DD: Just school presentations and Monster Engine commissions for now.  Thinking of doing a graphic novel story based upon The Monster Engine—still a ways off but worth the journey.

ST: Go for it!  The time is now!  Any advice for our Scribblers, you’d like to share?

DD: Just always remember that your kid is always right when it comes to their work.  You cannot impose logic upon their creations. This will go a long way to making them confident in their own beliefs and decision-making skills.  No matter what they become as adults, they learn that their ideas have substance in those early years.  Just think about it—in no other school subject do kids have the right to tell a teacher that they are wrong.  Math, Science, English, or History are all quantifiable subjects. If a kid says 2+2 = 3 they are wrong no matter how they justify it.  Art isn’t quantifiable— it teaches them to rely upon their instincts.

Here is a quick time lapse video–fun to watch–wish I worked this fast.

ST: Thanks David for that!  Please check our www.themonsterengine.com & www.davedevries.com to see more of David Devries one-of-a-kind artwork!

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