Author Archives: Julie Paschkis

Color Full

Recently I found a tube of Cobalt Blue gouache and I swooned.
Paschkis parrotsI painted several blue paintings.
Paschkis Everything-is-connected

Painting is always a matter of choosing one color to go next to another, and lately I’ve been carried away by the sheer pleasure of doing that.

Paschkis small possibilities and parrots

 

 

Sometimes when I look at other people’s paintings I can feel the artist swooning from the pleasure of the colors. (Angel by Paul Klee).

klee angel899

This image by Borghese di Pietro Borghese was painted in 1448, and the pink still astounds.                                                                                                     .

Borghese

 

In Melissa Sweet’s illustration from Firefly July each shade of pink adds to the ones around it . The greens are gifts to the pinks and vice versa.                          .

melissa sweet moonlight

 

Georgia O’Keeffe experienced synesthesia. She heard colors. This is a collage illustration from Through Georgia’s Eyes by Rachel Rodriguez. Rachel said that O’Keeffe walked through the hills, humming the colors she saw.                                     .

Through Georgia's Eyes paschkis

Do you hear the reds in Margaret Chodos’s illustration for Buzz by Janet Wong?
chodos irvine buzz
The little red triangle says AHA to the orange and yellow/green in this paintingby Douglas Florian.                                                                                               .

florian
Radio Lab has a podcast all about COLOR, rich in information. One fact: butterflies (and pigeons and lampreys) have pentachromacy and can see many more colors than people .                                                                                                  .

paschkis butterflies see
In addition to the physical capacity to see a color (rods and cones etc.) your brain and your eye also need practice and coordination. When you learn a new language it takes time for your brain to learn the sounds that it hears. The same is true with visual perceptions. If you have never seen the color blue you will not be able to see it even if you have the physical ability to do so. Here is a landscape without blue, by Paul Klee- just lush oranges, reds and greens.

klee with the eagle
In Seattle right now there are blossoming trees, bushes and flowers everywhere- a profusion of color, light and shadow. Are humans hardwired for these colors and contrasts to give us joy? These cherry blossoms are from Maira Kalman.

mairakalman

This painting by Klee (below) is called Blossoming.                                                   .

klee blossoming

The podcast used a choir to illustrate the harmony and depth of colors. The bass note of  dark colors brings out the soprano yellow and white. Bright boats and buildings sparkle in the alto fog in this illustration by Melissa Sweet.                     .melissa sweet fog

Pink and green add harmony to the red and blue duet in this bouquet by Joe Max Emminger.

joe max emminger bouquet

And finally here is a swooping, swooning, humming landscape from Matisse.

matisse acanthes

I hope you have a color full week.

p.s. I am having a show at the Bitters Co. Barn in Mt. Vernon, WA , opening on May 9th. Please come by if you are in the area.

Which Came First?

I’ve hatched a new book! It’s about a chicken named P. Zonka.Paschkis Zonka cover

But an egg came before this chicken – many eggs.eggs

Every year my sister Jan and her husband Greg have a huge party where we (family and friends) decorate eggs – also called pysanky. And Jan and Greg keep chickens. I started to wonder what it would be like if one of those chickens laid a pysanka. Hence P. Zonka was born. This is a painting I made of P. Zonka before the text was written.Paschkis zonka study

Where do ideas come from? I think partly from indirection, from wandering. That is where P. Zonka’s eggs come from. Everything she sees goes into her eggs.When I worked on the book I went back and forth between the text and the pictures. Sometimes the text was the chicken and the art was the egg and sometimes vice versa. Paschkis Zonka painting

If you have ever tried to make a pysanka you know that mistakes are inevitable – at some point when you least want it a blob of wax dribbles onto your egg and it cannot be removed. The trick is to think of that blob as a blobbortunity.Here is an example of a blob transformed into beauty by my friend Aliza Corrado. When her egg was completed it was impossible to tell which part was a blob and which was intentional.aliza's egg

Likewise, wanderings and errors enrich our work. Whenever I finish a book I see all the ways it could be better or different. P. Zonka’s creativity is spurred by digression and synthesis. So is mine, but there is also a strain of dissatisfaction – the sense with each project that I could have gone further or been freer. These wishes for something different are somewhat painful, but they are also great big blobbortunities. They push me  to make another painting or book, another chicken or egg. And so the process goes on.Paschkis Zonkapaschkis pysanky
p.s. If this post makes you want to decorate eggs, here is a guide to having an egg party. Peachtree also made an activity guide with a whole range of egg-tivities, available here. And if you are in Seattle, please come to Secret Garden Books in Ballard this Saturday, March 21 at 2 PM for a book party. I’ll be reading and signing books. I will give away one of these pysanky and also a print from the Julie Paprika website. And there will be cookies!paschkiseggsIMG_0075

Soup

I have a cold that has lingered for far too long.

dame dearlove ditty 1805

from Dame Dearlove’s Ditties, 1805

I need soup!
Julie Paschkis - Get Well Soup In 1991 I took a children’s book illustration class from Keith Baker. He told us to take other people’s vegetables, but make our own soup.

Yury Vasnetsov Turnip

Yury Vasnetsov Turnip

Good advice! The Russian illustrator Yuri Vasnetsov makes a heady broth, rich in vegetables. I’ll have a sip of that.

Yuri Vasnetsov Magpie

Yuri Vasnetsov Magpie

The colors are nourishing in Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert.

Lois Ehlert: Growing Vegetable Soup

Lois Ehlert: Growing Vegetable Soup

Marcia Brown suggests getting the community to help cook. This lesson has stayed with me since preschool, although the story of Stone Soup seems different when I read it now. I had remembered the soup but not the soldiers.
stone soup cover
Alice and Martin Provensen are serving a meal to the King of Cats at William Blake’s Inn. Who knows what kind of soup is in the tureen? The drawing contains vitamin E (elegance) and vitamin C (charm).
provensen king of cats
Mulready’s (1809) offerings in Grimalkin’s Feast might appeal more to cats than to humans.mulready grimalkin 1809
Eat up!

Old Mother Hubbard -1889

Old Mother Hubbard -1889

When it comes to soup, as when it comes to anything, Sendak says it all.sendak soup

chicken soup with rice
I hope my cold is soon gone and that you all are enjoying a good, soupy winter. Bone appetit!

Paschkis soup song

Paschkis papercut

E-Z does it

Happy New Year!
I am ! and ? about the upcoming year.
As we leap into 2015 here are some thoughts about punctuation, communication, letters, typoglycemia, texting and disemvoweling. K?
Paschkis on the go

Texting is convenient when you are on the go, and emoticons are convenient when texting. But I don’t particularly like them.
I do like emoticons that are made with punctuation, such as this double-chinned wink from Laura Kvasnosky,this mouse from Margaret Chodos-Irvine, or a shruggie from the internet.

punctuation emoticons

I just love punctuation. Period.

Paschkis punctuation Ampersands can be especially lovely.ampersands

Marc Johns wants them to be portable-

Marc Johns
If you have created something interesting with punctuation please put it in the comment section! Thanks.Punctuation

But why stop at punctuation? Much can be said with just letters. These are from the book C D C? by Wm. Steig.steig aliensteig  a y-l ssteig cdc

Letter play is often seen on vanity plates.license plates

Vanity plates (and businesses, musicians and content managers) sometimes disemvowel words, but you still knw wht they are saying. It is amazing how much you can understand even when letters are scrambled. Gary Sweeney illustrated this idea, called typoglycemia (which is the opposite of C-D-C.)

Gary Sweeney

There is something delightful about reading letters, words or punctuation and only being able to understand them with a little mental leap. That leap is XLR8N.

Here is a poem for today which lives in those leaps:

Arithmepoetic-Investigations-of-the-Seasons-for-E.-E.-Cummings-No.-1

 

And to close here is another image by Gary Sweeney. In this piece he doesn’t scramble the letters, but he deep pens the meaning through typography.Gary Sweeney Bacon

May you have a wndrfl & xi-10 year to come.
;^)

 

Big and Little

Last week Bonny ended her post with photos of gigantic head sculptures. They made me think about things tall and small.Paschkis tall and small

In real life there is something delightful about objects that are wildly out of scale – think of Oldenburg or Slinkachu.

Oldenburg

Oldenburg

Slinkachu

Slinkachu

Recently I sewed a giant quilt. It was a ridiculous and entertaining project which I write about here.J. Paschkis on big quilt

It is easier to create a giant in a painting, through context or distortion. Here is a small gallery of illustrations that play with scale; I hope that you will find them curious and curiouser.

Alice, illustrated by Tenniel

Alice, illustrated by Tenniel

telescoping alice

Swamp Angel is the story of a heroically large girl, beautifully illustrated by Paul Zelinsky.from Swamp Angel, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky

Swamp Angel, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky

Swamp Angel, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky

I especially love the ankle bones and saggy pants of Zwerger’s giant. Everything in this illustration feels lonely, from the pale colors to the empty dollhouse.

The Very Selfish Giant, illustrated by Lizbeth Zwerger

The Very Selfish Giant, illustrated by Lizbeth Zwerger

Note the evil expression of the Snorrasper! Sendak said that his monsters were inspired by his relatives.

Maurice Sendak's Snorrasper

Maurice Sendak’s Snorrasper

This illustration of Gulliver is from 1890.1890 gulliver These pictures of tiny Thumbelina and Hans Thumbling in a golden world are also from the late 1800’s.thumbelinahans thumblingFranz Wacik’s giant is carrying the Brave Little Tailor, whose adventures included scale based humor – beginning when he killed seven in one blow.franz wacik

In Fat Cat by Margaret Read MacDonald the gluttonous cat eventually grew too large to fit on the page.Paschkis fat catIn Summer Birds by Margarita Engle I drew the luna moth out of scale to show the strength of the interest that Maria Merian had in insects.Paschkis Summer Birds p30-31And I painted this Tall Boy just because I like creatures with long legs. He had to bend to fit into the picture.Paschkis Tall Boy

I get bogged down in Ezra Pound’s Canto 81, but I love this line from it:
The ant’s a centaur in his dragon world.

The lesson of scale is that everything is relative.

Mouse Club Rules by Louis Wain b. 1860

Mouse Club Rules by Louis Wain b. 1860

And the last word comes from Lewis Carroll:
“That’s the reason they’re called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked: “because they lessen from day to day.”

Line

Paschkis ABC

In mid October I went (along with Paul Owen Lewis and Laura Kvasnosky) to visit elementary schools in eastern Washington.

I had to leave my studio for a week, speak to hundreds of children in assemblies and do lots of things that were scary or hard (and good) for me. I had to think about what I valued and about what I wanted to say to kids. I boiled my message down to a single line: Everyone can make art.Paschkis inkoI elaborated on that line. You have to spend time on art to be able to express yourself. It takes practice and hard work and a kind of perfectionism. But it also takes imperfectionism and playfulness, especially when an idea is first developing. And you have to look inside and outside of yourself.Paschkis point no pointHalf of my time there was spent giving art classes. These schools do not have art teachers or art rooms so we worked in the libraries or lunch rooms. The lack of art education in the world feeds the idea that people are either good or bad at art. I wanted to have a project that allowed for success and showed that everyone can make art. But I didn’t want a formula – I wanted each child’s work to be unique.

steinberg

Steinberg drawing

I decided to focus on line – that most basic building block of drawing.We looked at lines in the world:tree-branches-silhouette-14238037knotted-aspen-bark-703029-sw

and we looked at lines in art:RandyTwaddleowl-and-pussycatwarhol drawingcalder wire

We looked at these drawings done by children (from the book Creative Drawing by Rottger and Klante) and considered how powerful it can be to repeat a line.Creative Drawingcreative drawing

Each art class had 40-50 fourth or fifth graders and lasted for an hour. After looking at lines and talking about them the kids drew. They made a series of random lines collaboratively. Then they all worked on their own drawings to turn those collaborations into creatures of their own invention. We had markers and colored pencils. Here are some of the drawings that they came up with in that hour – some in progress and some completed. (Thanks to Melani Tackett for taking many of these photographs. )

IMG_1791IMG_1822IMG_1288IMG_1804IMG_1786IMG_1812IMG_1277IMG_1813IMG_1821

Yes, the school visits took a ton of energy and made me leave my cocoon. But it was a privilege to spend time with children and watch them draw. I hope that they keep drawing. I hope the lines run off the page.

The visits were made possible the Literacy Connection, by the Kennewick school district and by the hard work of the librarians at each of the schools. I was bowled over by the generosity and energy and kindness of the teachers and librarians that I met. What is my line now? Thank you.

 

Points of Entry

From October 11 until February 22,2015 I am going to be part of a show of children’s book illustrators at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. The show is called Points of Entry.paschkis penguinA few weeks ago Greg Robinson – the executive director and curator of the museum – came over to my studio to pick out work. He explained to me that the museum did not just want to have framed finished paintings up on the wall. He wanted kids (and adults) to have a way into those paintings.

He plans to accomplish this by showing sketches and false steps, digressions and diversions as well as finished book illustrations. This approach just feels right to me. In my life I do a lot of things – I make food and share it with friends, I paint for the pleasure of painting, I paint to illustrate stories,  I paint designs for fabric. All of these activities are connected and they spill into each other and feed each other.  There are mistakes and false steps along the way. It is an unusual opportunity to show the whole interconnected process. Paschkis happy family An example of Greg’s approach is how he plans to show Apple Cake, a book I wrote and illustrated in 2012. Apple Cake Cover   The original seed for this book was my Great Grandmother’s recipe for Apple Cake. The text of the book is mainly the simple instructions on how to bake the cake. (The story comes in the wild ways that those instructions are carried out.) Greg asked me to track down the original recipe card. I wasn’t even sure it existed because Lily Jane Powell didn’t use written recipes, but my mother had a card that her mother had transcribed, battered by time and pin pricks; that card will be part of the show. apple cake recipe card   One of the paintings in the book shows Alfonso getting a bit of salt to put in the cake. (My grandmother didn’t use salt but I do.) Paschkis salt painting That painting of a whale inspired this quilt, which will also be included.Paschkis JonahsBrother   So you can see the generous and open way that Greg and the museum are mounting the exhibition, and why they are calling it Points of Entry. This is all in keeping with the overall philosophy of the museum. The museum shows mainly artists from the northwest and it shows not only paintings and sculpture but also crafts and book arts. I will be in good company in this show: the other three illustrators are Woodleigh Marx Hubbard, Jennifer K. Mann and Nikki McClure.

Pug in a Pail by Woodleigh Hubbard

Pug in a Pail by Woodleigh Hubbard

TWO_EGGS_jacket art 150

from May the Stars Drip Down by Nikki McClure

from May the Stars Drip Down by Nikki McClure

I hope that if you are in the Seattle area you will take the ferry over to Bainbridge Island and visit the show. Admission to the museum is free, and you can walk from the ferry terminal. There will be an opening from 2-5 on Saturday, October 11th. Come dip your toes in!

Nikki McClure paper cut

Nikki McClure paper cut

Three

In July I painted this Green Summer Day,Paschkis Green Summer Dayand these Ripe Red Apples.Paschkis red ripe applesIn the back of my mind I was remembering something the editor Elizabeth Law mentioned in a talk years ago. She kept a piece of paper pinned up by her desk that said simply; “Red, ripe tomatoes.” It reminded her of how powerful words could be, and every manuscript that she accepted had to deliver as much punch as those three words.

The phrase is evocative because it brings to mind color and taste, but also because it consists of three words. Three is the magic number.

How many billy goats are there?
De Tre Bukke Bruse (The Three Billy Goats Gruff) 1

How many bears?three bearsThere are Three Stooges, Three Musketeers and Three Blind Mice. Witches and fishes grant three wishes – not two or four.Paschkis three fish wishes

I have read that the power of three comes from the Christian religion: the father, the son and the holy ghost. But it could be vice-versa: the threeness might give power to the trinity.
Another theory is that three is a powerful number because the triangle is such a stable form.Paschkis Twist triangleHere are some images from a wonderful book published in 1963:three by three 1963In it the story of a day unfolds in threes.three by three roostersThe extra text on this page was written (many years ago) by my sister Karla who brought this book to my attention (a few weeks ago).three by three huntersThe sun has different expressions as the day goes on. The three foxes have remarkably similar expressions.three by three foxesAnd of course there is:Book of Three

Do you agree that three is an especially powerful number? If so, please tell my why. And enjoy a ripe, red tomato while you think about it.botanical-flore-des-seres-et-des-jardins-de-leurope-tomato-solanum-sp

p.s. If you are interested in adjective order here is an article from Slate. It explores why it sounds normal to say BIG GREEN CHAIR and odd to say GREEN BIG CHAIR, for example.

p.s.s. If you are a close observer of this blog you will know that it is Margaret’s turn to post. Don’t worry – she will be writing next Friday instead of me.

 

Bugs Abound

The world is thrumming with insect life. In the summer I feel more aware of all the bugs around us.Paschkis Summer Birds p6When I illustrated Summer Birds by Margarita Engle I got to spend some time with insects. When I began the book I knew it would be fun to illustrate imaginary creatures and misconceptions about metamorphosis, but it turned out to be equally entertaining to draw real insects.Paschkis Summer Birds p30-31

In a field of one square mile you will find as many insects as there are people on the entire planet. The Smithsonian Institute estimates that there are 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) insects on earth. That means there are 200 million insects for each human being.

Raul Dufy 1911

Raul Dufy 1911

There are roughly 900,000 different kinds of living species of insects, fascinating in their particulars. Check out the website What’s That Bug to see some of them.

Here is an unscientific selection of some bugs that have buzzed through children’s books, in chronological order.

In 1807 John Harris came out with the Butterfly’s Ball. It was one of the first books made to delight children as opposed to improve or edify them.butterfly ball

The success of that book spawned The Butterfly’s Birthday in 1809, illustrated by William Mulready.Mulready Butterfly

Palmer Cox (who created the Brownies) painted this is 1890. .queerie queers 1890

Kafka published Metamorphosis in 1915. In 1927 you could have tea with Fly Ratter Tatter, illustrated by Vladimir Konashevich.fly ratter tatter

Some bugs are easier to love in art than in life. This lone cockroach and the swarming mosquitos below are from Alyonushka’s Tales, illustrated by Yuri Vasnetsov in 1935:
vasnetsov kitchenvasnetsov bear mosquitos

John Langstaff wrote Frog Went A-Courtin in 1955 and Feodor Rojankovsky won a Caldecott for the illustrations. The book teems with bugs in minor and major roles.
Rojankovsky frogRojankovsky flyRojankovsky fly pie593Rojankovsky snakeNext to come in was a little chick,Rojankovsky chick591

Wm. Steig’s Presumptuous Insect is not from a children’s book but it begged to be included.steig insect

Doug Florian is a modern master of the insect. Check out his books Insectlopedia from 2002 and Unbeelievables from 2012.drones

…I’ve got to fly now.
Don’t bug out!
Bee well!

Margaret Chodos-Irvine illustration for Buzz by Janet Wong 2000

Margaret Chodos-Irvine’s illustration for Buzz by Janet Wong, 2000

Update: Joellyn Rock sent a link to this video that she made called Pollinatrix the Pollinator. Buzz over and check it out!

 

Pencils, Pens and Brushes

Recently a friend suggested that I consider working on some of my illustrations in photoshop for the ease of trying out different solutions to a problem. I saw her point, but I prefer the point of a pencil, or the flow of a pen.

paschkis inko

When I am illustrating or painting I start with an idea in my head. But once I start working on it other things kick in – my hand and the materials with which I am working. A line drawn with a pencil is different than line drawn with a brush. A line drawn with my hand is different than a line drawn in my head. Although a computer can recreate the looks of various media, I want the physical experience of interacting with real materials. I want to eat paper and drink ink.

Ink leads to scratches and blots, like this gongozzler by Ben Shahn.

ben shahn ounce dice trice

Ink leads to elegant script and crosshatching as in this drawing by Saul Steinberg.

steinberg nose

…or to elegant script and scratchy lines as in this Pennsylvania Fraktur for a Sam Book (psalm book) from 1809.

fraktur

Ink is tempting, as in this drawing by John Coates.

John coates

A pencil will take you to an entirely different place.

Paschkis Point

Saul Steinberg‘s pencil still life feels intimate, yet airy.

steinberg still life

Garth Williams illustration has warmth, weight and softness.

garthwilliams

James Edward Deeds ( 1908 – 1987) was an inmate of State Hospital #3 in Nevada, Missouri. He was also known as the Electric Pencil. He left behind an amazing trove of subtle and haunting pencil drawings.

edwarddeeds2

edwarddeeds Don’t miss the upper left corner of Rebel Girl…edward deeds rebel girl

I want to make art, but I don’t want to be the total master of the material. I want to see where the brush or pen or pencil will take me.

Paschkis brush

Paschkis word bird

P.S. Here is a pencil poem by Todd Boss which I first saw on Julie Larios’s blog, the Drift Record.

todd boss poem