Tag Archives: Julie Paschkis

The Barking Ballad

Woof! Please welcome a new book onto the shelf.

The Barking Ballad is a true pandemic puppy.

Before the pandemic I became interested in Crankie Theaters. I wrote about them HERE. I decided to make a crankie theater production of The Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog by Oliver Goldsmith. To make it more interesting the audience would bark along. But then the pandemic struck. Gathering to bark (or meow) around a theater was unwise.

It occurred to me that a bark-along children’s book would be just as fun.

Goldsmith’s elegy is wonderful (you can hear it sung HERE). But its gentle mocking of piety didn’t seem clear or interesting to children. So I took one stanza of his poem and wrote my own story using Goldsmith’s structure and rhythm. Thank you, Oliver Goldsmith.

The book opens with instructions on how to bark and meow along.

The new story is about a lonely cat…

…who eventually meets a particular dog. Read the book to find out how.

They become true friends and companions. They travel paw by paw.

There are more dogs. More barking ensues…

and even more. Cacophany!

Just like it takes many dogs to make a chorus, it takes many people to make a book sing. I was lucky to work once again with the editor Reka Simonsen and the art director Michael McCartney at Simon & Schuster.

This book is best read aloud with lots of barking. For story hour you could cut out a large red circle and yellow diamond to use as cues.

Have fun. Woof!

P.S. The Wordy Book came out in September. It was expected earlier but supply chain and shipping issues delayed its arrival. So The Barking Ballad came fast on its heels, although the creation of the two books was more spread out.

The two books are quite different. Thanks for looking at them both.

You can find The Barking Ballad at your local bookstore, at bookshop.org or at Secret Garden Books in Seattle.

Distelfink

Distelfink is the delightful word for the birds in Fraktur. (The literal translation is thistle finch.)

Fraktur is folk art made by the Pennsylvania Dutch, mainly in the 1700 and 1800’s. I grew up in Pennsylvania and saw a lot of Fraktur. The ink seeped into me.

The word refers to the type of script which was used in baptismal and other documents in Germany. In the new world the Fraktur included script, and became increasingly decorative.

Fraktur were drawn with ink and watercolor and often included flowers and distelfink.

In 2016 I was in a bicycle accident and broke my arm. I was despondent because I couldn’t draw, until a friend suggested that I draw with my left hand. My left hand drawing was slow, wonky and pulled me from my sadness. I did a series of paintings I called Fracture Fraktur.

That fall I made a calendar to support the ACLU, drawn left-handed in my fracture fraktur style.

I included the lion and the lamb – made famous by Edward Hicks’s paintings of The Peaceable Kingdom.

Sales of the calendar raised a lot of money for the ACLU, so I have made one every year since then. I have continued with the same fraktur style, although I reverted to my right hand out of habit and ease.

Most of the calendar images have included the lion and the lamb.

I am currently selling the 2022 calendar called We Are All Connected. Thank you to the many people who have purchased them already.

My hope is to help heal the fractures of America with these odd frakturs. I hope you will get one by clicking here. Each calendar sells for $12, and all $12 goes to the ACLU. The printing is donated by G & H Printing, and Ingrid Savage contributes greatly to the shipping. Your many purchases add up to something larger.

Thank you for your help in this endeavor. Distelfink by distelfink!

P.S. Recently I took part in a live Instagram series called Art Out Loud OnLine, hosted by the Society of Illustrators and Enchanted Lion Books. It was archived. Please click here for a leisurely visit with me at my house and studio, along with Julian Snider and Madeline Feig.

Wordy

Hark! A new book!

The Wordy Book, published by Enchanted Lion is coming soon.

The Wordy Book, as you might have guessed, is bursting, babbling, mumbling and billowing with words, beginning with the endpapers.

The book is a collection of paintings that I made over many years. Each painting is paired with an open ended question.

A word can be savored for its sound and shape as well as for its meaning.

When you hear a word the meaning usually arrives first; sometimes the meaning obliterates the other qualities.

In paintings those other qualities have time to surface; meaning can be fluid. The words bump into each other and they bump into the images in the painting. They ask questions as well as giving answers.

Some of the paintings were created years ago, and they inspired new questions. The Sea of Words was used by the King County Library for their Playing With Words program. What do you sea?

In some of the paintings the question came first and I painted a response to it. What do you see?

Can the inside be bigger than the outside? The dragon has other creatures inside of it, as do we. All of the words in the dragon also have a second word embedded inside them.

In the Ouroboros the end of each word contains the beginning of the next.

Some of the pages are plain silly.

Some ask for more thought.

Is this book for kids? Yes. (Although adults are allowed to enjoy it too.) When I was a child I loved words. A favorite book of mine was Ounce Dice Trice and I itched to read it. I hope my book will scratch that same itch for kids now.

The Wordy Book can be preordered now from your local bookstore, from Enchanted Lion or from Bookshop.org. It will be available in mid August – a good time to notice words, bathe in words, play with words and go astray with words.

p.s. Can you find the tribute to Ounce, Dice, Trice hidden in the endpapers?


p.s.s. Here is what Kirkus has to say about the book:

THE WORDY BOOK[STARRED REVIEW!]

Words and pictures connect in surprising, stimulating ways.

Talk about painting with words. Author/illustrator Paschkis plays with them, too, and encourages readers to do likewise. In the process, she explores the elasticity and seemingly endless possibilities of language. The vividly colored, wittily detailed, folk-style paintings on double-page spreads organically incorporate words into the artwork in wondrous, creative ways. Words frequently repeat in different sizes and colors; illustrated images include words that sound or are shaped like them, are variations of them, rhyme or nearly rhyme with them, sort of resemble them, are sort of spelled like them, etc. A bouquet of flowers in a vase sports roses exuding the scents of slumbersultry, shush, and other evocative words beginning with S; on a daisy’s petals readers find dizzy, doozy, lazy, jazzylief, leap, life, and more decorate the leaves. Delightful words—many of which readers won’t know, and that’s OK—flex vocabulary and spelling muscles to the max and also enhance readers’ visual and auditory senses when the pictures are taken in. Furthermore, the spreads are connected to thought-provoking questions. Some inspired the paintings, or vice versa, and themselves contain examples of wordplay. Persons depicted have diverse skin tones. The book makes a great springboard for creative-thinking activities in writing and art units in classroom and library programs. Keep dictionaries handy. Endpapers abound with swirling words readers can savor (and look up).

In a word, a feast for the eyes, brain, and artistic imagination. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-10)

i.e. gallery show

A solo show of my paintings will be at the i.e. gallery in Edison, WA. for the month of June, opening this Saturday June 5th from 2-4 PM.

Here are many of the paintings for those of you who can’t visit in real life.

My paintings have always been connected to my work as a children’s book illustrator. Most of my paintings tell stories although they don’t have manuscripts. You can make up your own stories when you see them.
This show includes a few series of work done over the past several years, before and during Covid isolation.

One group of paintings began with this character whom I call Aurinko (the Finnish word for sun). In this painting she has lots of feet so that she can travel far. Those feet were inspired by a Catalan print of La Vella Quaresma that hangs in the kitchen of my friends Karel and Nancy.

I imagined her in different settings and seasons (and with varying numbers of legs and heads).

I painted this series using a dip pen and waterproof ink, then added color. Here is a detail. What is summer without bugs?

The Fishermoon soon joined Aurinko.

And the mermaid. And various other creatures of the woods and waterways.

Another group of paintings was painted with gouache and pinpricks. These were from the heart of the pandemic – a time of isolation.

Here is a detail:

Another series is gouache and collage with simple shapes and bold colors.The paper for the collage elements is hand-painted. I began this series in 2019 and have continued because the strong colors feed me.

Here is a detail:

I made designs for giant enamel panels for Sound Transit in 2020 with this technique, playing with the idea of transportation. I will be redesigning them to be mosaics, so these paintings could be included in the show. You might recognize the influence of La Vella Quaresma again. Unlike that story, my character gets to keep and use her legs. She even gets new shoes.

The Skagit Valley is a wonderful place to ride your bicycle.

I hope that by bike, car or foot you can see the show in real life, or visit the i.e. website to see more work. Thank you.

On the last day of the show (Sunday June 27) I will be teaching a workshop where we will make paper lanterns. For more information on the workshop please click here.

Paprika Coloring Book

Last spring I started creating coloring pages and posting them on my website here. It was a way for me to offer something to people who were suddenly home all the time (kids and adults). And it was a way to steady myself in a wobbling world.

Now, a year later, I have posted more than 150 drawing pages. They are all available to download for free here.

Recently I picked 21 of my favorite pages and made a new coloring book.

You can buy the coloring book at JuliePaprika for $10. (Click here). The pages can be colored with pencils, crayons, markers or paint.

You can make up your own stories for the images as you add color.

Because I used to be an art teacher, I hope that you will also make your own drawings from scratch. Here are a few prompts for starting a drawing. These are some of the ways I jump start myself.

DRAWING PROMPTS:

  1. Draw a shape and repeat it many times. Then decorate that shape with doodles.

2. Draw a straight line. Connect another line to it. Keep adding lines and see what happens. Various dimensions might appear.

3. Write a word so that the letters fill the whole page. Decorate the letters.

4. Draw something that is laying around your house. Don’t worry if your drawing is wonky or strange. If you wanted a perfect picture you could take a photograph.

5. Draw a line and repeat a similar line next to it, over and over. You can do it with many shapes (like these leaves), or just one shape over and over. The little irregularities and variations of the line as it repeats will make your drawing interesting.

I hope that you will have fun creating your own drawings, and adding color to mine. And I hope that as the world opens up there is still time to draw or be contemplative in other ways.

p.s. Today’s blogpost comes with dessert. Here is a recipe/painting of strawberry rhubarb pie by my niece Zoe Paschkis. You can see more of Zoe’s work on Instagram ( click HERE) or Etsy (HERE).

Piano

Drawing by Saul Steinberg

Pianos are splendid. Here is a book that explains with brio how they came to be.

My friend Julan Chu, a gifted pianist, lent me a fine, shiny piano. It felt wrong to have it and not to play it, so I began to take lessons again last January.

Julan Chu -portrait by Julie Paschkis 2003

My lessons became virtual when the pandemic arrived, and they also became more important to me. The discipline of practicing scales and pieces has been an anchor (a metronome?) during these strange times.

In the book Dancing Hands, Margarita Engle tells the story of the pianist, composer and singer Teresa Carreño, who immigrated to the U.S.A. from Venezuela during the Civil War. This book tells the story of the power of music in light and dark times- like a piano it conveys a whole range of emotions. Click here for a link to the illustrator Rafael Lopez’s fantastic blog about how he illustrated the book.

Although I am practicing and playing through dark and cloudy times, you wouldn’t illustrate my attempts with vivid blossoms. My hands stumble and squawk more often than they dance.

Christoph Niemann

But it is interesting to try, and it is satisfying to see incremental change. Every once in a while I can make music.

Petr Vasilievich Miturich

When I am at the piano I need to let everything else go, which is difficult. I realize how fractured my attention has become. Practicing requires presence.

In May Christoph Niemann published a graphic essay in the New York Times about the solace of learning piano as an adult during the pandemic.  (Click HERE for a link.) He brilliantly illustrated the pain and the pleasure of the practice. Now he has turned that essay into a book: Pianoforte.

His illustrations are perfectly compressed ideas – succinct, funny, and true to my experiences.

He shows the frustrations …

the side benefits…

and the ephemeral pleasures.

 

I had to include actual music in this post!  Please click HERE for a link to Ballade No. 15 , composed by Teresa Carreño, played by Alexandra Oehler.

And here is a link to the website of my fantastic piano teacher, Carrie Kahler. She teaches young children as well as adults. Because the lessons are virtual you could sign up no matter where you live.

What has kept you going during the pandemic? Please share your thoughts in the comment section. Thank you.

 

The love of doing, redoing and not doing

In a year of great doing, and the sometimes even harder task of not doing, we thought we’d pause and share our appreciation of the things that give us joy, purpose and meaning no matter what is happening in the world around us.

Julie let what she loves–creating images and writing–speak for itself.

Flourish and Grow by Julie Paschkis

By Julie Paschkis

Planting Thoughts by Laura Kvasnovsky

Illustration by Mila Marquis

Here you are again, on your knees in the dirt. 

Close your eyes and feel the sun warm on your back and the dry papery husks of the bulbs in your hand: Muscari armeniacum.

Breathe in the sharp scent of sandy soil and the darker fragrance of compost and leaf mulch, and hear the birds, if they chirp, and the rustle of the breeze.

The earth waits. Dig in and settle the bulbs, grateful for that ancient impulse to grow, to bloom, to go to seed, to fade.

And grateful for the turning of the seasons that finds you here again, on your knees in the dirt.

Mending by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

Dress and photo by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

Close your eyes and think about the clothes you are wearing.

Think about everything that went into making them: 

The people who put them together, somewhere in the world, 

the plants and animals and energy that were used in making them.

We mend in gratitude for all these things. 

We practice patience. We practice acceptance. 

We embrace imperfection as part of what makes everything unique.

Words Full of Promise by Julie Larios

Illustration by Piero Schirinzi

I’m a poet. To me, being a poet means using words – individual words – words made of evocative letters. How can letters evoke feelings? Well, when I see the letter “j,” I love the dip it takes below the line, the little hook that feels rebellious, non-conformist. I love the letter “z” in a word, because it feels (and even sounds) strange; it’s a letter that can’t decide if it wants to go forward or backward. When you write it, it reverses direction. It’s a letter full of doubt, and I prefer doubt to certainty. The letter “k” is a bit aggressive, very certain, the Genghis Khan of letters. Each letter of the alphabet has a unique personality, yet together they cooperate, they cohere, they form little societies called words. 

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for each letter of the alphabet, and for the way letters make words and words make poems, and poems are, by nature, inclusive, they invite people of differing experiences to contemplate shared feelings – they help us share a spot at the Thanksgiving table. 

I invite you to think about the shapes of letters. Rebellious, uncertain, bold, shy – you’ll find their nature if you look. String some together into a word, two words, three. Don’t worry about grammar yet. Build a poem with one-syllable words. Right now I’m thinking of the word “thirst.” Begins with a “t,” ends with a “t.” That word feels suspended in time -something hangs in the balance, makes a growl. Then I consider the word “juice.” Playful. Generous. Put them together for a two-word poem, full of promise – “Thirst? Juice!”

Sleep by Bonny Becker

Illustration by Eugeni Balakshin

Close your eyes and think about sleep.

Turn off noise, color, fear, hate, right, wrong.

Even love can wait.

Nothing needs you right now.

Turn off the story.

Slip over the edge into the velvet void.

Nothing needs you right now. 

Be done today with do.

Rest and begin anew. 





Thank you from all of us to all of you.

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