This holiday season, millions of families will cozy up by the fire to enjoy Clement C. Moore’s iconic poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”
Indeed, many of us know “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” by heart, and reciting it re-awakens the child in each of us who still believes. As soon as we hear those first few lines, the magic and wonder begin:
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
Wait a minute. Do you really believe that? 🙂
What if there was a mouse stirring? What would he be doing up late at night while the rest of the house was asleep?
These are the questions award winning author/illustrator Joan C. Waites asked herself, and she’s detailed her answers in a delightful new picture book (the first she has both written and illustrated), An Artist’s Night Before Christmas (Pelican Publishing Co., 2017)!
1. Can you guess who painted the above piece? Let me give you a few clues: he’s a legendary musician, poet, and songwriter who loves to watch “I Love Lucy” reruns, he makes a mean meatball, and he just happened to win the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.
And yes, my man Bob Dylan is also an accomplished visual artist. His second graphic release from The Beaten Path collection is now available worldwide. There are 15 hand-signed limited edition prints (some are already sold out), depicting the main routes and back roads of America.
Choice of subject is just as interesting as his unique perspective. Of course my faves are the eateries — this time there’s a hamburger stand and a diner. 🙂
It’s fun imagining collage artist, designer and illustrator Clover Robin creating another stunning piece in her Greenwich, London home. With her cat Winnie as companion and muse, she indulges her love of nature and all things botanical “inspired by a childhood of woodland walks and countryside rambles.”
Clover grew up in Devon and studied at Leeds College of Art and Design and Central Saint Martins. Home studio aside, she particularly enjoys being on location:
I’m pretty much at my happiest when I’m working in my sketchbook and looking directly at the scene or subject I’m creating.
She recently traveled up and down the west coast of America, documenting the beautiful vistas she viewed from the passenger side of the front seat. Where most artists would do pencil or ink sketches in their notebooks, Clover collaged as she went. Pretty amazing!
She hopes to tour the Nordic countries on her next road trip. 🙂
If you’re a fan of fashion and/or interior design you may have seen some of Caitlin McGauley’s work in the pages of Vogue, Better Homes and Gardens, or Elle Decor.
The bright, bold colors and whimsical details in her watercolors are hard to miss. Whether she’s painting a pretty interior, a spray of flowers, a lovely table setting, or a pastry shop, there’s a distinctive charm and élan that I find irresistible.
It’s fun to see the interesting characters, city scenes, and everyday objects that bear her cheery, chic and uplifting style. I am reminded of Emma Block and Maira Kalman with a touch of Raoul Dufy. A breath of fresh air!
Caitlin studied at the Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts, first majoring in illustration before switching to advertising. She experimented with a variety of mediums before discovering her love of watercolor via a “paint every day” project on her blog.
After college, she started working for Ralph Lauren Home as a textile designer, then went on to pursue freelance projects.
As the story goes, years ago Caitlin happened to comment on the Lonny magazine blog, which prompted the editor to visit Caitlin’s illustration blog. The editor liked Caitlin’s watercolors, so she asked her to do a weekly series for Lonny called Watercolor Wednesday. This led to a commission with Kate Spade, New York, and Caitlin hasn’t looked back since.
It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?
And is it not a kind of love how a poem can hold the words you most need to hear? Vessel of heart, unadorned yet profound, luminous in its simplicity, Schneider’s poem speaks to the sacred in the everyday and is a beautiful paean to patience and gratitude.
If you’re a writer, you know all about waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Every step in the process has a distinct purpose and unfolds in its own time. Every story or poem waits its turn for someone to give it form, shape, and resonance. Just as I appreciate the cup that holds my tea, I marvel at how ideas know how to find just the right people, and how the hundreds of books on my shelves silently wait for me to reach for them. I am most grateful for the patience of stories waiting to be told, and smile at the thought of how happy characters must be when we finally open their books and let them speak.
This poem gives me an inner sense of calm, making me feel centered and grounded. The outside world is chaotic and full of upheaval and uncertainty. It is good to know there are things we can count on, and that no matter what happens, there is art, the power of the imagination, unique voices and vision. One person’s poem can be another’s prayer.
A renowned teacher of writing, Pat Schneider is the author of ten works of poetry and nonfiction, including Writing Alone and With Others. Founder of Amherst Writers & Artists, she travels frequently to teach and has been leading workshops in creative writing at the Pacific School of Religion for almost thirty years. Garrison Keillor has read her poems sixteen times on “Writers Almanac.” Her most recent book is How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice (2013). Find out more about Pat’s books and writing workshops at her Official Website.
🐶 PET CRAZY GIVEAWAY WINNER! 🐰
Thank you for commenting about your favorite pets last week. Enjoyed reading the rhymes and picturing a white stray cat named Silmarillion lapping milk, a hound who croons at the moon, and a dog who likes to lick his owner’s feet. There was also a Lizzy and a Lizzie, one a salamander, the other a fish . . . or a dragon? 🙂
Mr Cornelius picked the winner with the careful long distance supervision of Monsieur Random Integer Generator, who’s in Provence having his mustache trimmed.
So, with a little trumpet fanfare and a jiggedy jig (drumrolls are passé this season),
we are pleased to announce that the winner of a brand new copy of Pet Crazy is:
🎉 Jan Godown Annino at BookSeedStudio!! 🎈
Please send your snail mail address to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com to receive your book. 🙂
Thanks again to everyone for entering the giveaway!
The lovely and immensely talented Laura Purdie Salas is hosting the Roundup at Writing the World for Kids. Glide over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week. I can’t believe September is all but over already! Enjoy your weekend. 🙂