Author Archives: Julie Paschkis

Muchly

I love things – especially things next to things.

Shoe lasts at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown Pennsylvania

When you say a word over and over you lose the meaning and hear the sound. The same thing happens visually with these shoe lasts.

In the recent Troika show I put together lots of white poked- paper pieces. (To see more of the show please read Margaret’s post here: Still Life: The Show.)

In a previous show at the barn I had assembled paper dolls.

And before that, bread (at the Davidson Gallery in 2001).

The individual objects might be goofy. Together they have a conversation.

Seattle artist Gregory Blackstock is a master of drawing things next to things. He gives us multitudes of objects without irony.

The repetition creates rhythm and delight.

Please click here for a radio story about Blackstock, a man who was a dishwasher for many years before becoming a renowned artist.

Joelle Jolivet creates oversized picture books full of bold and informative illustrations. Click here for a peak at her studio and printmaking process (in French.)

In their book Crabtree Jon and Tucker Nichols give us objects with a dose of humor. Like Julie Larios a few weeks ago here, Crabtree is wrestling with the problem of what to do with all of his stuff. Here he assembles everything that begins with the letter s.

Even the captions are broken in this collection.

I used objects to tell part of the story in this illustration from the new book Fearsome Giant, Fearless Child by Paul Fleischman.

Humble objects like spoons and bowls and brooms can tell stories.

Brooms at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Pablo Neruda had three houses in Chile, all crowded with his collections. In his book Odes to Common Things Neruda wrote about buttons, onions, socks, artichokes, to say nothing of the hat. His ode, word next to word, says it all.

Here is my illustration from Pablo Neruda – Poet of the People by Monica Brown.

I leave you with these cardboard boxes from Crabtree. Where else are you going to put all this stuff?

Ephemeral

Last week Margaret wrote about the work she is making for our upcoming Troika show. You can read her post here.
As she explained, our common theme is Still Life. I began my explorations by painting with ink and gouache.

Still Life paintings celebrate ephemeral pleasures – light, flowers, food. Life.
Transience. Time passes.

I had been exploring similar themes in paintings for a show I will be having with Mare Blocker at the Taste Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum. That show is called Abundance.For the Troika show I began to play with cut paper.

This winter I was making pinprick lanterns – Froebeling. I carried this technique into paintings that are part pinprick and part paint.

I also made many pinpricked freestanding still life objects of various sizes.  The theme is ephemeral, and the medium is ephemeral.Some of my pinprick pieces wandered a bit away from traditional still life imagery.Our Troika logo is three wheels. They represent Margaret, Deborah and me.
Wheels roll! For all three of us the idea of a Still Life transformed as we worked.As an artist, a children’s book illustrator and as a human I try to stay open to new ideas and to let them roll. As the ideas roll by in this fleeting life I try to grab on to some of them.

Please come see the new work at Taste and at the Bitters Co. Barn. Thank you.

Paper

Picture books are ideas made of words and art.

They are also objects made of paper, cardboard, glue and ink.

Last week I visited a papermaking workshop in San Agustin Etla. The workshop is in an old building beside a river, in the hills about ten miles from the city of Oaxaca in Mexico.

It is a peaceful and shady place.

The paper is made from cotton pulp. It is mixed with other natural materials such as the fibers from corn husks, bast, mica.

Sometimes it is tinted with cochineal, annatto seeds, indigo or other   natural dyes.

The cotton is soaked and pounded in a machine, forming a pulp.

The pulp is lifted out from the bucket in a wood frame with a screen set into it.

The water drains out leaving the pulp behind.

The paper is released onto a tin sheet, where the moisture is pressed into felt blankets.

The sheets are hung to dry.

When a page is completetly dry it is peeled off of the tin sheets.

The paper is ready. It is waiting for ideas, words and art.

Winter Haiku

Here are some winter haiku from Japan, paired with illustrations from around the world.

Ingri & Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

Koson Ohara

Ingri & Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

Alois Garigiet

Carlos Marchiori

Ezra Jack Keats

Antonio Frasconi

Yury Vasnetsov

Most of these haiku came from the website Japan Powered. Please click here to read more Winter Haiku.

A traditional haiku has 17 syllables written in 3 lines (5/7/5) often using images from nature. I hope these poems will inspire you to write a winter haiku of your own. If so, please send it in to the comment section! Or send a haiku that someone else wrote that you like.
Here is my attempt.

Black branches scribble
Crooked words on chalky sky –
Twigs snap the cold spell

And here is a winter haiku I saw on a friend’s tee shirt.

Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don’t make sense
Refrigerator

Lanterns and Learning

Making paper lanterns is a good antidote to dark winter days. I’ve been making quite a few.

To make a pinprick lantern, draw lightly on the back of medium weight paper. Poke holes along the lines of your design with a pushpin or nail. Put a piece of an old exercise mat under the paper for easy poking.

You can add a lot of pinholes. The smaller the pin, the more closely you can poke.

sarah jones

Pin drawing by Sarah Jones

Connect the sides with a staple or brass fastener, forming a cylinder. Let there be light! (in this case an electric tea light candle).

lantern by Erica Hanson

I showed these projects to my friend Claudia Cohen who exclaimed “Froebel!” Who is Froebel? Or Frobel?

He was a visionary – a man of “curious passions and focussed eccentricities” – who invented kindergarten.

He believed that all of the natural world contained an inner order. This could be taught to children through activities like pricking paper, weaving, embroidery and playing with building blocks. Claudia had examples in her library of antique sampler books based on Froebel’s teaching.

Froebel believed in nurturing children like plants in a garden – thus the name kindergarten. His ideas spread all over the world. He planted the seeds for many modern artists and architects.

Kindergarten in the USA still has echoes of Froebel. Most preschools and kindergartens have a block corner. Froebel called for blocks to be simple so that children could learn ” to feel and experience, to act and represent, and to think and recognize.”

You can read more about Froebel, the origins of kindergarten, and the connections between kindergarten and the growth of modern art in Inventing Kindergarten by Norman Brosterman.

The seeds that are planted in early education make a difference in children’s lives. According to Froebel, “Harmony, unity and the reconciliation of opposites are the concepts that form the theoretical and practical underpinnings of the kindergarten.”

Here is to light and dark, to young and old, to then and now. Best wishes for a harmonious and enlightening New Year.

Books on Books

A book is an idea. It is also an object. You can feel its weight, smell the ink and paper. The pages rustle as you turn them.

When I think of books that have delighted, scared, comforted or bored me I can see and feel the physical books in my memory. I now read many e-books because it is easy to get and store them. But I wonder if the ideas will linger as long without being anchored to physical objects.

Isabelle Arsenault from Velocity of Being

Right now I am reading The Library Book by Susan Orlean. It tells the story of the LA Library fire. It is the story of millions of pounds of books, of one specific library and of  libraries in general. Her prose is exhilarating  and surprising, enriched with odd morsels of information.

Violeta Lopiz – Velocity of Being

I am about to read The Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader, edited by Maria Popova and Claudia Zoe Bedrick.

Here is their description of the book:

And here is a link to Popova’s announcement of the book in her newsletter Brainpickings.

I am happy to be there in The Velocity of Being along with so many people I admire. Here is my illustration painted in response to a letter by Sarah Lewis.

I look forward to reading, seeing and touching the book.

Vladimir Radunsky- The Velocity of Being

I have a favorite cookbook that is falling apart from use. The binding is shot. The pages are battered, spattered and lumpy. My husband found a brand new copy of the book at Goodwill, so I gave mine to a friend. But I missed it! The wrinkled and oil-spotted pages told a history of my life in the kitchen. I traded back for my old book.

Beatrice Alemagne – The Velocity of Being

Well-loved and oft-read books have memories that stick to them. Despite the konvenience of Kindle I still like holding books in my hands. The content comes through all the senses.

Lara Hawthorne – the Velocity of Being

Which Witch?

 

It’s election time! Here is a slate of witches, hags, crones and harridans. Please pick which witch is your favorite she-devil. Of course there are 13 in the coven. Please place your vote in the comment section between October 26-31.

NOTE: VOTING IS CLOSED! SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM TO SEE THE WINNER OF THE WITCHY ELECTION.

Witch by Vladimir Lebedev

Witch and Xantippe by John Harris

Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin

The Ghost Oiwa by Hokusai

La Bruja by A. Dempster

Witch with Demons by Vladimir Lebedev

The Witch of Hissing Hill by Janet McCaffery

Baba Yaga Lubok

Baba Yaga by Nicolai Demetryevsky

Mother Shipton- English Soothsayer

Okiku the Well Ghost by Hokusai

Witch on the mountain by Arthur Rackham

Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola

Vote Wisely and Vote Now! The victorious witch will be announced here on Halloween.

AND THE WINNING WITCHES WERE:
Baba Yaga by Nicolai Demetryevsky (9 votes) and the Witch of Hissing Hill by Janet McCaffery (9 votes). Close behind them were Strega Nona, Arthur Rackham’s witch and and Okiku the Well Ghost by Hokusai. Almost every witch got at least one vote.

Thank you all for casting your ballots and casting your spells.

As a bonus, here are two more images by the top vote getters. 

The Witch of Hissing Hill by Janet McCaffery

Nikita Kozhemyaka by Dmitryevsky

Lobstervations

In August I visited the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. 

Hanging in a hallway were many delightful paintings of lobster. They were painted by children.

The children had clearly thought (and been well taught) about the parts of a lobster, the colors of a lobster, the symmetry of a lobster.

These paintings made me think about the relationship between observation and creativity. 

Even though everyone was painting the same subject, each painting was unique. 

The artist was visible as well as the subject. 

Some lobsters were tidy.

And some were intense.

Each one had some especially pleasing detail such as these antennae that look like a beaded necklace.

Or this one with the varied legs, the rainbow shoulder, the fringe on the tail fins.

It is hard to draw something real. It takes looking with your eyes, and sometimes overriding what you think you know. Even though I draw constantly, drawing from life is always challenging.

It can take several tries.

Even the most careful drawing of the actual world is an act of creation as well as depiction.

And every act of imagination also benefits from close observation of the real world.

These lobster paintings are as strange and beautiful as lobsters themselves. And each painting is as individual and extraordinary as the child who painted it.

Here is an excerpt from The Lobster- Poem by Howard Nemerov.

To read, or to hear, the whole wonderful and haunting poem, please click here.

To find out more about the arts education at the Farnsworth Museum, please click here.

To experience the beauty and strangeness of the world, try drawing something you think you know.

 

 

 

 

Vivid

Just out: VIVID- Poems and Notes about Color.

The spark for this book came in April of 2015 when I listened to a Radio Lab show about color. I already thought about color all the time. What a pleasure  it is to put one color next to another when I paint! But the podcast opened my eyes to the science of color. I painted this picture then.

Over the next 6-8 months I began writing poems about colors and squirreling away facts.When I had enough for a book I submitted with the manuscript with the sample illustration for RED. Laura Godwin at Henry Holt accepted it – hooray!

In the fall of 2016 I began to paint. But I had a bicycle accident and lost the use of my arm for 6 months. I was able to paint again in early 2017 and I struggled to find my way back in to the book. The joy of color eventually pulled me in again.

Did you know that the color pink was named after a flower (pinks – also called dianthus)? Did you know that it took 250,000 snails to make an ounce of purple dye which is why purple was a royal color? I didn’t.


You can learn about color with your mind, and with your eyes and hands. Even though a computer offers a huge palette of colors it is exciting to mix your own.What happens when you add a drop of orange to a lot of yellow and a little blue?
I hope you will play with color. And I hope that you will pick up a copy of Vivid. You can get it at Secret Garden Books: click here. Thank you.

I offer tidbits about color – but the science and poetry of color ask for deeper study. My goal is to encourage you and all readers to dive in headfirst.

p.s. I will be away this weekend – I will answer any comments next week.

Pattern and Story

For many years I have had one foot in the world of picture books and another in the world of textiles.

Question: Is this a textile design or a children’s book illustration?

Answer: This is part of a new line of textiles called Hey Diddle Diddle, designed for In The Beginning Fabrics.

Question: Is this a textile design or a children’s book illustration?

Answer: this is the dedication page from my upcoming picture book Vivid: Poems and Notes about Color (I’ll write more about Vivid next month).

I studied weaving in college at the School for American Craftsmen. I was a pretty bad craftsperson – my selvages were always crooked.  I wanted to tell stories with my fabric, but the emphasis was more on technique.

Magpie by Yuri Vasnetsov

I also took a drawing class where the teacher dinged me for excessive pattern and flatness in my work. He asked if I really needed to draw every leaf on every tree. Yes, I did.

I felt like a misfit in all arenas. But luckily I had one class where the teacher told me to consider the things that made me different as strengths and not weaknesses. I was ready to hear that advice, and he helped me find my own direction. 

Since then my patterns have been full of stories and my stories have been full of pattern.

I like to play with the balance between the decorative and narrative, and to search for new directions.

Here is a piece that I made in 2016. Question: How was it made?

Answer: The black was stenciled onto 4 pieces of paper. The colors were painted on. The papers were rotated and stitched together.

Recently I designed some cotton scarves for my webshop Julie Paprika: Menagerie, Be Mine and Yum. The original drawings were ink on paper, painted at full size. I rotated the paper while painting.

Question: Can you tell which side is up? Can you make up stories for them?

In addition to balancing pattern and story, I try to balance having a creative life and making a living. Julie Paprika is my attempt to do both things. It would be peachy if you visited the shop.
Thank you.

P.S. I am currently selling a Zero Tolerance poster at Julie Paprika.
Question: Why is our government treating immigrants with such cruelty?
Answer: There is no good answer.
A small action: Buy this poster and 1oo% of the proceeds will go to United We Dream. Click here. Thank you.