Author Archives: Julie Paschkis

Vote Sun or Moon

A high stakes election is underway in the USA. It is time to vote. It is also time to vote here at Books Around the Table.

Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

The election here is between The Sun and the Moon. Please look at THE SUN images and THE MOON images below, then cast your vote.

THE SUNS

Abner Graboff

Boris Artzubasheff

Brian Wildsmith

Beatrice Tanaka

Eva Rubin

Mariana Malhao

Yuri Vasnetsov – The Stolen Sun

THE MOONS

Arthur Rackham

Josef Lada

Alice and Martin Provensen

Lev Tokmakov

Melissa Sweet

Tomi Ungerer

Maurice Sendak

Thank you for voting.  And now that you have exercised your voting muscle, go to the polls and cast a real vote!

P.S.Who can really choose between the sun and the moon?  I am selling a 2021  calendar to raise money for the ACLU . It includes both the sun and the moon! This one page poster that sells for $12 and ALL of the money goes to the ACLU. If you buy 5 or more shipping is free. Please click here to find out more or purchase one. Thank you.

 

 

EEK!

EEK! It’s a book.

A few years ago Julie Larios brought a new manuscript to our critique group. It was an alphabet book where each letter was a sound instead of a word. HUZZAH! I loved the idea and asked Julie if I could illustrate it. We both found the idea of random sounds delightful. I imagined an animal to go with each sound. 

My agent at the time felt that the book needed a story. UH-OH.

Julie L. and I decided that I would create a story through the art. So I invented a story with animals to go with and around the sounds. Because I came up with the story we are both credited as authors.

I kept the Mouse I had painted for ACHOO and sent him on a journey. The plot unfolds through the art and the sounds punctuate the story.

The story begins with Mouse picking a flower which he carries through the book. Each page introduces a new character (or characters).  A bird and the bee are the first characters to be introduced and they are on every spread until the flower at last is delivered to the mouse’s love: a Lion. All of the animals (except Lion) are hinted at before they appear and after they leave. The art is a kind of scroll.

If I couldn’t make a sequence work I went to Julie Larios and we reworked either the sound or the action. We changed many of the sounds through the whole alphabet, but always kept the idea of using sounds instead of words.

We sent the book out and it was accepted for publication by Peachtree. The wonderful editor Vicky Holifield guided the book through the next step of its journey. Every sound,  color  and image was considered carefully and discussed with many words. HMMMM. 
For example the sound for p began as PSST, became 
PHEW and ended up as PLOP. My magenta P was turned into a powder pink P.

We struggled at times to get the right words and imagery.

Sometime during the process I realized that my fantasy story was quite autobiographical. Raccoon had a bicycle accident – which I had had in 2016.

A big tree fell – just as a tree fell on my studio in 2019.

 A random marching band came by – which happened when I was visiting Golden Gate Park.

Julie and I hope that children and other readers invent their own narratives to go with the sounds. We want you to head off on your own imaginative journeys. ZWWOOP – Play with language and revel in sounds!

You can get EEK! at Secret Garden Books in Seattle , at Alibris , at Amazon or at your favorite local store. Thank you.

Flag and Country

Usually on the 4th of July I think first of fireworks and then of hotdogs.

This year is different. It is impossible to heedlessly celebrate because of the virus.

And the weeks leading up to July 4th have been filled with protests that lay bare the injustices of America today and throughout history.

Faith Ringgold Flag “Die Nigger” 1969

Faith Ringgold: This Flag is Bleeding 1997

Both the virus and the protests make me think about our responsibility towards each other.

Julie Paschkis 2020

How do we celebrate our country? What truths do we hold to be self-evident? What does it mean to be an American? 

Florine Stettheimer 1939

Bang Bang by Kerry James Marshall 1994

The social fabric is shredded and frayed right now, but that is an opportunity. The torn fabric can be sewn back differently. That would be worth celebrating.

Arcola Pettway

Head, Body Legs

Head, Body, Legs is a drawing game. You can play it with as few as two people or with a whole roomful. You can even play it through the mail – preserving social distance while making playful connections.

by Julie Paschkis and Zoe Paschkis

How does it work?
Fold a piece of paper into thirds.
Draw a head of any kind – human, animal or other – in the top “head” section of the paper.

Draw two tiny lines that extend from the bottom of your drawing into the middle “body” section of the paper. Fold the paper so that the head is hidden.

Pass (or mail) the paper to the person next to you,. They will see only the little lines and not your drawing.

The next person draws a body of any kind in the middle section, adding tiny lines that extend into the bottom “Legs” section of the paper.

They fold and pass (or mail) the drawing to the next person so that only the little lines are visible, not the head or the body.


The next person draws the legs.

Unfold the paper to reveal the creature that you have co-created.

In a group everyone draws at the same time and then passes in the same direction.  You work on the head of one drawing, the body of the next and the legs of a third. The process sounds complicated but it is actually simple: Fold, Draw, Pass, Repeat.

Here are some Head, Body Legs that were drawn at a table. All the generations of my family often play this game.

by Julie Paschkis, Joe Max Emminger and Amy Kaye

By Julie Paschkis, Benji Kaye and Eric Kaye

by Benji Kaye, Julie Paschkis and Joe Max Emminger

by Lucia Santos, Julie Paschkis and Jennifer Kennard

The drawings themselves can be as simple or complicated as you like. The finished pieces look more coherent if all of the participants use the same media – pencil, ink, markers or paint.

Here are some recent HBL passed through the mail instead of around a table.
I started these at home and then sent them to Margaret Chodos-Irvine, who sent them to Deborah Mersky.

by Deborah Mersky, Margaret Chodos-Irvine and Julie Paschkis

My niece Zoe and I did these three piece drawings  through the mail:

by Zoe Paschkis and Julie Paschkis

Then we realized it made more sense as a two person collaboration to create two part drawings. Head Bo/Dy Legs.

I drew these:

And mailed them like this:

Zoe finished them:

 

Exquisite Corpse is another name for Head, Body, Legs.

Whatever you call it, I hope you will give it a try.

Joe Max Emminger, Julie Paschkis and Daisy Emminger

P.S. I am continuing to post free, printable coloring pages on line every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please click HERE for a link to those pages.
Here are some pages that people have colored in.

Benji Kaye

Mary Ann Landmesser

Eric Kaye

After you have spent some time playing Head, Body Legs, or coloring in the printed pages, perhaps you will be inspired to keep drawing, or to invent your own games.

Benji Kaye

Topsy Turvy

The world has felt topsy-turvy lately. Here are some upside down images to reflect that state of affairs.

Because you might not be able to turn your computer over I will include every image twice – as a topsy and a turvy.
The illustrations are from the book The Playful Eye, by Julian Rothenstein and Mel Gooding.

OHO! -a matchbox is from India, 1927. Harrumph.

The burro is from Spain, 1865.  Flip it over to see the rider.

This Japanese woodblock was made in the 1830s. The bullfrog/skull in the center row is perplexing and perplexed.

From Italy in 1870…a gentleman, charming in both directions

Here is a gender bending topsy turvy from Spain, 1865.

This Indian topsy turvy from 1948 takes the face from youth to adulthood.

This is from an Indian pamphlet, painted in the 1980’s. I find it difficult but not impossible to ignore the lips in the forehead.

Try drawing your own topsy turvy head: fold a piece of paper in half and draw eyes in the middle. Draw a nose and a mouth below the eyes. Flip the paper and repeat with another nose and mouth. Fool around until it looks interesting from both directions.

Or you could color in these pages. Click on the link beneath each image for a pdf that you can download and print.

topsy turvy coloring page

topsy tree coloring page

Here is the topsy turvy tree page as interpreted by Susan Hughes-Hayton and family.

 

Also, I have added a section of coloring pages to my website. Every weekday (until schools reopen and home isolation is over) I will post a page that you can download, print and color in.
juliepaschkis.com/coloring-pages/
Please share this link with children, teachers or anyone who would like to draw. Email me at juliepaschkis@comcast.net if you would like to get weekly notifications linking you to the coloring pages. Thanks!

Have fun drawing in these topsy turvy times!

(Peter Newell 1893)

 

Crankie

As I get older I get crankier.
By that, I mean more interested in small theaters with moving panoramas- also known as Crankie Boxes.
Like picture books, they tell stories through images as well as words.

Moving panoramas were popular in the mid 19th century and they ranged in size from small to enormous.

Last October I went with Mare Blocker to a Crankie Fest at the NW Puppet Center. I liked the show so much I went back the next night. Mare and I were both inspired to make crankie boxes of our own.

For information on all things crankie there is an invaluable website – The Crankie Factory. It includes history, videos, instructions on how to make a crankie box and the scrolls. Thank you Sue Truman. thecrankiefactory.com

On the Crankie Factory Website were miniature crankies made by Paul Fleischman. Here is a movie. What a wonderful surprise! I have had the privilege of illustrating three of Paul’s books. It is a small and crankie world.

The shows at the Crankie Fest were a combination of moving panoramas and shadow theaters. My niece Zoe visited in October and we experimented with shadow theaters in cardboard boxes.

Zoe’s Haunted Hat Shop

my witch in the woods

I asked artist and woodworker Michael Zitka if he would build me a real wooden Crankie Box, following the instructions on the Crankie Factory website. A few weeks ago he delivered it. These are the innards.

I cut out a piece of cardboard to show the outside shape and our cat Ruby approved. Mike then cut it out of wood.

The Crankie is now named, painted and ready for the curtain to go up. Here is the front of Teatro Paprika:

and the sides:

I have the cart and am ready to put a horse in front – I need to get crankin’!

painting by Tatiana Mavrena

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………p.s. On Thursday March 12th Margaret Chodos-Irvine and I will be celebrating our new book Where Lily Isn’t at the Secret Garden Bookstore , 2214 NW Market St. in Ballard. Please join us there at 6:30, and bring an anecdote to share about a pet you love or have loved. Thanks.

 

Where Lily Isn’t

For 17 years my husband Joe and I had a little dog named Lily.
When she died her absence pressed against me. I missed her in general, and I missed her specifically and strongly in all the places where she had been.
Our house was full of all the places where Lily wasn’t.
 

Laura Godwin, my editor at Holt, suggested that I write a book about that. So I did, from the point of view of a child.  This is how it began:

Where Lily Isn’t

Lily ran and jumped and

barked and whimpered and growled

and wiggled and wagged and 

licked and snuggled.

But not now.

Now, next to my bed in the morning 

there is a little rug

where Lily isn’t.

I showed the manuscript to Laura Godwin. She was interested in publishing it, but wondered how I would illustrate it.

I had painted Lily before.
She was a model in Here Comes Grandma –

and in The Great Smelly, Slobbery, Small-Tooth Dog.

She even graced a label for pickled green beans.

But I found myself unable to illustrate this book.

Luckily I knew who could. At that time Margaret Chodos-Irvine was living in London. We had been sending each other wordless letters (you can read about those letters in her blogpost here and in mine here). Margaret sent me this wordless letter when Lily died.

She knew Lily – and me. I asked Margaret if she would be interested in illustrating Where Lily Isn’t. We submitted it to Laura Godwin as a team and we were accepted!

In her art Margaret conveys the loss and the love that I wrote about.
Her illustrations are spare but warm. She manages to show what is there, and what isn’t there.

There is a lot of white space which conveys a sense of loss.

The stencil and brushed shapes are expressive.

Margaret hid little references in the book – such as mugs made by my mother on the kitchen shelf, and reference to a drawing by my nephew Benji.


This is the first time that I have written a book without illustrating it. Now my friendship with Margaret is also part of this story of Where Lily Isn’t.  It is a stronger book for being told with both of our voices.

I am not particularly religious. Religion doesn’t help me to understand death. But I truly believe that animals and people live on in our memories and through our stories. Love lasts longer than any physical presence.

This is how the book ends:

The house is quiet with all of the sounds that Lily isn’t making.

The house is full of all the places where Lily isn’t.

But here inside me –

that’s where Lily is,

and where she always will be.

I hope that children and their families will see themselves and find comfort in this story.

p.s. Here is link to a blogpost that Margaret wrote about illustrating this book. And here is a link to buy the book at Secret Garden Books in Seattle, or from Amazon. Thank you.

Japan

Last month I was in Japan. 
I saw great beauty and order in gardens, art, buildings, and food.

It wasn’t just surface beauty. It was/is an approach to life that manifests in outer beauty. That approach involves going slowly, taking care, learning something totally, following rules, mastering a craft, respecting process, being aware.  It means spending your whole life learning to do something well, and then giving that thing your whole attention every time you do it.

One result of such mastery is freedom. Looseness and ease are paradoxically the result of discipline, of doing something with all of your being. (As in this painting by Nagasawa Rosetsu 1754-1799)

At the Miho Museum, in the forests SW of Kyoko, there was a show of Bizen pottery. The potters understood their clay and kilns perfectly. They allowed the spirit of the clay to shine, decorated with the natural residue of the firing process.

Miho had a great gift shop! I bought a small rough creature made of clay.

I also bought a children’s book. When I got home I discovered that they were by the same artist – Kouichi Maekawa. 

In his art I see freedom, playfulness, and a love of this world.
Here are many of the pages from the book, enough to tell the tale.

 

The acorn of an idea that I took home from Japan is that the process is as important as the result in a piece of artwork: my life and work can’t be separated. I don’t know how that acorn will grow in the years to come.

Idyll

I have illustrated many books, but I’ve never created the illustrations for each page of every copy of a book by hand. Until now!
I teamed up with Claudia Cohen, an amazing and talented bookbinder.
Together we created a limited edition artist’s book called Idyll.

We met several times to figure out our subject matter and technique. For subject matter we settled on this fragment of a poem written in the 3rd century BC by Theocritus, creator of bucolic poetry.

IDYLL

Many an aspen, many an elm
bowed and rustled overhead,
and hard by, the hallowed water welled
purling forth of a cave of the Nymphs,
while the brown cricket chirped busily amid the shady leafage,
and the tree-frog murmured aloof in the dense thornbrake.
Lark and goldfinch sang and turtle moaned,
and about the spring the bees hummed and hovered to and fro.
All nature smelt of the opulent summer-time,
smelt of the season of fruit.
Pears lay at our feet, apples on either side, rolling abundantly,
and the young branches lay splayed upon the ground
because of the weight of their damsons.

……………………………………………………

For technique we decided to stencil the images. Together we figured out the size, shape and length of the book. I sketched out all of the illustrations and cut the stencils. Claudia selected and folded handmade rag paper.

Each Tuesday for 15 weeks I went to Claudia’s studio where I would stencil 20 copies of 1 page. She handed me the papers and kept everything in order. That got more complicated as we completed more pages.

I used gouache paint (opaque watercolor in tubes) and Korean stenciling brushes made of badger hair.

The stencils were held in place with small heavy weights.

As I finished each page Claudia would press it between wood.

I would take the pack of wood and pages back to my house and hand letter the words during the week.

Each page is unique; there are variations in the stencil print and in the lettering.

Here are a few of the other pages:



When all of the pages were stenciled and lettered, Claudia stenciled endpapers and hand lettered the colophon (last) page.

She bound the books in goatskin vellum with gold embossing.

She made a case for each book.

It was fun to spend the time with Claudia in her studio which is a treasure trove for bibliophiles.
It was a privilege to work with someone with such expertise.

Idyll is available from Two Ponds Press in Maine, although it might not be up on their website yet.

Claudia and I are starting to plan our next adventure. We won’t be idle for long.

You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You

Following the poem-posts of Julie, Bonny and Margaret, here are a few tasty morsels of poetry from my childhood. I loved the book “You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You.” Recently I found it in paperback.

I especially liked Ciardi’s poem “Little Bits”.

Another favorite book was Ounce Dice Trice.

It might not have been called a book of poetry, but it was and is all about savoring words (and pictures).

My last word goes to Margaret Wise Brown from her book “Where Have You Been?”, illustrated by Barbara Cooney. This poem roosted inside me when I was about 5, and it has lived there ever since. I recite it to the crows in our neighborhood.

In the comment section I welcome any of your favorite poems or words from childhood. Thank you.

p.s. In my newsletter I mentioned the wonderful book Forgotten Words by Robert MacFarlane. It is actually called Lost Words.