nine cool things on a tuesday

 

1. Since we’re definitely in a “spring is almost here!” mood, we’re starting off with some charming watercolors by Chicago-based artist, illustrator, educator, and writer Michelle Kogan.

I first saw Michelle’s work on the cover of the very first Today’s Little Ditty Anthology (2014-2015), edited by the indefatigable Michelle H. Barnes (there is definitely something magical about Michelles). Michelle K. then joined the Poetry Friday gang, and we’ve been treated to her delightful posts every week, where she shares both her poetry and art (doubly delish).

 

 

Michelle is a lifelong nature lover, and her paintings depict the interesting bits of flora and fauna she observes in her various ramblings. She likes to paint outdoors during the summer, either in her own garden or in other nature venues in the Chicago area.

 

 

 

Michelle also paints figures, some of whom appear in her children’s illustrations. A staunch advocate of preserving our natural environment, she hopes her work will continue to inspire more beauty.

 

 

 

Do check out Michelle’s Etsy shop, where you can purchase archival prints, mini-prints, cards, bookmarks, journals and postcards. And of course there’s more art at her Official Website, and poetry and art every week at her blog. Contact Michelle directly via her website for info about classes and workshops, or for poetry, children’s book, or painting commissions.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

“Blue Skies” by Nathaniel Mather

 

1. Well, of course — must share something blue to kick off the first Cool Things Roundup of 2020. Memphis-based artist Nathaniel Mather is a recent discovery for me; another case of love at first sight.

I enjoy the playful spirit and child-like quality of his narrative pieces. Colors, textures, and simple renderings of flowers and animals evoke 19th century primitive folk art, but still feel contemporary.

 

 

His compositions have a wonderful “unstudied” quality about them — a brand of sophistication that’s difficult to pull off well.

 

 

 

 

As a typography freak, I swooned when I noticed text and numbers in some of his work. Letters floating around in paintings always make me happy, but alphabets in two blue trees? Have mercy!

 

 

He wants to produce work that is “true, beautiful, and restorative” . . . reflecting “God’s wonder and grace while wrestling with daily struggles and pain.” One can’t help but feel uplifted by his art.

Learn more about Mather’s work at his Official Website and Etsy Shop, NathanielMatherArt.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

 

 

1. Think pink and chew on this: behold the crazy cool bubblegum sculptures of Rome-based artist Maurizio Savini!

 

 

Yes, I did say bubblegum. Don’t worry, he doesn’t have to pre-chew his chosen medium. Two assistants help him soften bricks of the stuff into malleable sheets before they’re applied to plaster molds like traditional clay, and then carved with a razor-sharp scalpel.

 

 

His subjects include animals, objects from pop culture, and people — sometimes for the purpose of political or social commentary (“pink represents artificiality — when you see it, you associate it with a fake world”). He’s been working with bubblegum for over 20 years, and his pieces are exhibited in galleries all over the globe.

 

 

Since bubblegum cannot typically be recycled or composted, Savini’s art is a creative way of “stretching the boundaries of environmental conscientiousness.” Oh, and don’t worry, his sculptures are preserved with a special mixture of antibiotics and formaldehyde, so they can be enjoyed for generations to come. 😀

 

 

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2. It’s time to order your 2020 Julie Paschkis Vision Calendars!

 

 

This 2020 Vision Calendar is a one page poster, printed on heavy stock, 11″ x 17″. The watercolor and ink drawing celebrates the hope that our democracy will be strengthened and the rights of all protected – that 2020 will be a year of clarity and vision in the United States.

Each calendar costs $12. The entire $12 for each calendar sold goes to the ACLU. They make great gifts. Please get several of them! Shipping is free for 5 calendars or more.

A great cause, a beautiful calendar! Zip over to Julie Paprika to place your order.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

 

1. Let’s travel to the UK, shall we?  We can “visit” the English countryside and seaside thanks to Thatcham-based mixed media and acrylic artist Jo Grundy, who is largely inspired by nature, patterns, textiles and ceramics.

 

 

In addition to acrylics, she uses oil pastels, paper, texturizer, PVA glue, stitching beads and buttons.

Don’t you just want to enter the world of her paintings? Pretty, serene, peaceful. Love the delicate details.

 

 

Of course I especially love how she uses BLUES in her work. 🙂

 

 

See more at Jo’s Etsy Shop, where you can purchase mounted and canvas prints, greeting cards, tote bags, and cushions. She’s also happy to take commissions.

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2. New Book Alert! Just in case you missed it, must mention that The Ups and Downs of the Castle Mice by Michael Bond and Emily Sutton (Bodley Head, 2019),was released in the UK back in September.

 

 

It is the sequel to The Tale of the Castle Mice, which came out in 2016. Ups and Downs is one of the last (if not the last) picture books Mr Bond wrote before he died in 2017. As you know, the 70-something resident Paddingtons absolutely adore Mr Bond, and now that he’s gone, we cherish his final works even more.

Of course, these Castle Mice books are even more special because all of us here are also huge Emily Sutton fans. Her work in Ups and Downs is breathtakingly gorgeous. Do you see those teacups on the cover (why, yes, yes you should)?

Here’s a quick synopsis:

From the creator of Paddington Bear comes a tale of dastardly villains and unlikely tiny heroes.

The Perk family live in a doll’s house in a castle. The castle is their home – but when someone new with devious plans comes to rule the roost, will our family of mice come up trumps?

Full of humour and warmth, this nostalgic tale by Michael Bond is brought to life with exquisite detail by Emily Sutton.

 

LOVE. You. need. this. book!

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nine cool things on a tuesday

 

1. Hungry for a little lunch? Not so fast — you may have a little trouble actually eating this one, since it’s actually — *wait for it* — a purse!

 

 

Yes, Rotterdam based artist Rommy Kuperus is still creating her amazing, over-the-top accessories for fashion forward peeps who enjoy wearing their food.

 

 

 

 

And why not? Rommy’s pieces are handmade, totally calorie free and 100% eye-catching fun. You may remember when we interviewed Rommy a few years back. Glad to see she’s still going strong and bringing out new designs all the time.

 

 

 

I was especially tickled to see her instant ramen purse (having just reviewed Andrea Wang’s picture book biography of Momofuku Ando, who invented instant ramen).

Check out all of Rommy’s delicious offerings at her Official Website or at her Etsy Shop, RommydeBommy. Bring your appetite! 🙂

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2. Look at what I just started reading: Fierce Bad Rabbits: The Tales Behind Children’s Picture Books by Clare Pollard (Fig Tree, 2019). It came out this summer, and so far, I’m really enjoying it!

 

 

What is The Tiger Who Came to Tea really about?
What has Meg and Mog got to do with Polish embroidery?
Why is death in picture books so often represented by being eaten?

We’ve read Green Eggs and Ham, laughed at Mr Tickle and whetted our appetites with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. But what lies behind the picture books that make up our childhood?

Fierce Bad Rabbits takes us on an eye-opening journey in a pea-green boat through the history of picture books. From Edward Lear through to Beatrix Potter and contemporary picture books like Stick Man, Clare Pollard shines a light on some of our best-loved childhood stories, their histories and what they really mean. Because the best picture books are far more complex than they seem – and darker too. Monsters can gobble up children and go unnoticed, power is not always used wisely, and the wild things are closer than you think.

Sparkling with wit, magic and nostalgia, Fierce Bad Rabbits weaves in tales from Clare’s own childhood, and her re-readings as a parent, with fascinating facts and theories about the authors behind the books. Introducing you to new treasures while bringing your childhood favourites to vivid life, it will make you see even stories you’ve read a hundred times afresh.

Clare is a British poet and playwright whom I was not previously familiar with. Now I’m going to have to check out her poetry too! And, in case you’re wondering, the cover art for this book was created by fave British illustrator Emily Sutton. 🙂

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