1. Here’s the perfect cheer-up: cut paper collages courtesy of UK illustrator and surface pattern artist Tracey English!
Love her refreshing style, pretty colors, uplifting subjects, and appealing compositions. Tracey lives in SW London with her husband, two sons, a cat named Jelly and their dog Daisy. If I do say so myself, she has the *best* surname. 🙂
She uses hand painted papers in all her pieces, and has worked for such clients as Quarry Books, Bloomsbury Publishing, Design House Greeting, and Calypso Cards.
One can’t help but feel happy when looking at her pictures; she has such a joyous spirit! I mean — ice cream sundaes, birthday tea, blue pots, birdies in cups! Does she know me or what?
No doubt — this is a crazy, scary, sad, worrying time for everyone. Most of us are sheltering in place and trying our best to adjust to a new reality.
While we are not performing heroic deeds like all the frontline healthcare workers and first responders, grocery store employees and delivery drivers, we can all do our part by simply staying at home.
During tough times, I’m even more grateful for the artists, poets, writers, and musicians who make self-isolation more bearable by generously sharing their talents. What would we do without stories and poems to read, music and podcasts to listen to, movies to watch? Prime example of how healing the arts can be — a good reminder that all of us are in this together.
1. Uber-talented Vermont author/illustrator Ashley Wolff is featuring her border collie Rufus in a new series of “Stay Home, Save Lives” prints. She says this is her way of coping with the new reality and sharing solidarity. Pictured above is “We Are United States Strong.” Ashley also painted all 50 states and one territory.
Each signed, 11″ x 14″ print is made with archival inks on heavyweight 100% cotton watercolor paper. Visit her Etsy Shop or PM her on FBto order your state of choice (she will also personalize upon request).
You can’t help but smile when you see Gill Pinkney’shandiwork. Colorful, quirky, and brimming with charm, her lovingly crafted wonders are made from wool, felt, buttons, beads, and a fanciful imagination.
Gill’s a wet felt artist and designer based in Whitley Bay, a seaside town on the northeast coast of England. She makes a variety of products, including jewelry, wall hangings, bags, scarves, framed pictures, dolls, and seasonal ornaments.
Her birds, bunnies and grinning cats are adorable, while her fairies and mermaids are lovely and whimsical.
I also love her landscapes and seascapes. What gorgeous colors, lines and textures! Who can resist her rows of tidy houses, her flowers, her trees? Her hand embroidered finishing details are exquisite, too. Such a distinctive style. 🙂
Gill’s work can be found in several galleries in Northumberland, Newcastle and Yorkshire, and she also exhibits in various craft fairs and other events in Northeast England.
1.Flower Box, Flower Box! Celebrate all things green and abloom this summer with these lovely postcards published by Princeton Architectural Press.
Sunflowers, roses, succulents, ferns, wildflowers— this rich bouquet of postcards features one hundred botanical postcards by ten celebrated artists from around the world: Sonia Cavallini, Nour Flayhan, Carolyn Gavin, Jen Hewett, Sam Kalda, Marc Martin, Angela McKay of Ohkii Studio, Clover Robin, Wies van der Velde of SowiesoWies, and Rose Wong. A booklet about the artists highlights their creative processes, influences, and favorite plants.
I love the idea of having lots of postcards on hand — you just never know when you might feel like sending a little natural beauty through the mail to a special someone. Wouldn’t it also be fun to select several of these and frame them? 🙂
Juliet has just moved to a beachside town with her newly separated mother and her moody older sister. When she meets their new neighbor, Emma, the girls form an instant bond. Emma’s big family takes Juliet in, and the girls have fun together — starting with the night they throw bottles with secret messages into the sea.
Then someone writes back to Juliet’s message. An email arrives, inviting her to join the Starry Beach Club. All she has to do is make someone else’s wish come true.
So Juliet and Emma set off to help as many other people as they can. It’s fun! But as Juliet spends more and more time away from home, enjoying her new town and Emma’s family more than her own mom and sister, she starts feeling lost. It’s been easy to find others to help. But maybe her star would shine a little brighter if she brought it closer to home.
Lisa is one of those rare, versatile authors who can write well in several different genres. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed her picture books, middle grade and YA novels. This new middle grade book sounds like the perfect summer read. Have you ever sent a secret message in a bottle?
1. Now you see her, now you don’t. Peruvian-born, Philadelphia-based camouflage artist Cecilia Paredes creates extraordinary “photo performances” using her own body as part of the canvas.
She blends in with beautiful patterned backgrounds by painting her own skin (sometimes her entire body), or wearing painted clothing that will allow her to disappear/reappear.
Such precise, tedious work to transfer all the details onto a three dimensional surface! Cecilia was initially inspired to begin this photographic series because of her constant relocation, using the body as part of the intended landscape. How do we adjust to our new surroundings? How do we fit in?
Her artist statement:
Part of what makes us human is our ability to see beyond the narrow door through which we enter the world—to grow beyond the culture of our birth by recognizing other cultures, other patterns of life. Yet our birth culture is always imprinted upon us; the mystery of identity is never fully resolved. We are always from a time and place to which we can never return.
We continue to marvel as she explores themes of self identity, belonging, displacement, invisibility/visibility, emotional interiors, and body politics. Her striking, thought-provoking pieces certainly encompass self reflection as well as social commentary. Coincidentally, her last name, “Paredes,” means “Walls” in Spanish. Some of her pieces are for sale here.
2. You may know I’m a longtime fan of Salley Mavor’s exquisite fabric relief artwork. I religiously follow her Facebook updatesand blog to see what she’s currently working on, and am constantly awed and amazed by her creativity and productivity. For the last year, she’s been working on a stop-motion animation movie called “Liberty and Justice: A Cautionary Tale in the Land of the Free.” She hopes to release it this summer. Can’t wait!
Meanwhile, just wanted to give you the heads up in case you weren’t aware that in addition to notecards, posters, and prints, Salley has autographed books for sale in her Etsy Shop, Wee Folk Studio. Both of her Felt Wee Folk craft books as well as two picture books, In the Heart and Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes, are currently available. Wonderful gifts and keepsakes!
3. March is a very good month for poet, author and educator Amy Ludwig Vanderwater. She has two new books being released!
This soothing bedtime story explores the question, When animals sleep, what do they see in their dreams? The lyrical text tells readers that chipmunks dream of digging deep burrows, puppies dream of long, waggy walks, and horses dream of wild, windy rides. But most of all, the animals dream of all the fun and adventure the next day will bring. The gentle rhymes and gorgeous, serene illustrations combine to create a comforting story perfect for transitioning from a busy day to being tucked in peacefully at night.
Dreaming of You has already earned a *starred review* from Kirkus, who described it as, “sweetly imaginative, linguistically rich, and featuring enlivening vocabulary with lots of active verbs and new and interesting nouns and adjectives.”
Building, baking, folding, drawing, shaping . . . making something with your own hands is a special, personal experience. Taking an idea from your imagination and turning it into something real is satisfying and makes the maker proud.
With My Hands is an inspiring invitation to tap into creativity and enjoy the hands-on energy that comes from making things.
I’m looking forward to featuring both books in the coming weeks. Stay tuned. 🙂
Double Congratulations to Amy!!
4. I don’t know. There’s just something about these fruity pencil cases. I was big on pencil cases in grade school and still lament the loss of my shiny royal blue one. These colorful cuties are so cheery I’m sure my pens and pencils would enjoy hanging out in them. 🙂
They’re about 8 inches long and made of bicast leather. Get yours here. Fun! :).
Who knew that Bill Wyman (The Rolling Stones) makes an amazing Lamb Chops with Endive and Blue Cheese Salad, that Michael McDonald (The Doobie Brothers) loves Pasta with Ham and Parmesan Cheese, or that Boz Scaggs eats Tuscan Grilled Chicken?
With more than a hundred recipes from seven decades of rock ‘n’ roll, pop, country, RnB, and disco, Mark Bego, along with Mary Wilson of The Supremes, gathers beloved recipes from legendary rocker friends and invites the ultimate music fan to put on an apron and join them at the table. Featuring each rock star’s biography, their favorite recipe, and other fun facts, Eat Like a Rock Star is a must-have for every die-hard rocker-at-heart who loves to eat.
There is nowhere else you will find Ray Parker Jr.’s Salmon and Eggs, Joey Fatone’s (NSYNC) Rice Balls, Micky Dolenz’s (The Monkees) Micky ‘D’ Cocktail, and Angela Bowie’s (David Bowie’s ex-wife’s) Rosti Hash Brown Potatoes all in one book. Whether it’s brunch, lunch, dinner, or dessert, learn to cook:
• Michelle Phillips’s (The Mamas & The Papas) Organic Lemon Chicken • Lou Christie’s Linguine with Fresh Tomatoes • Marilyn McCoo’s (The 5th Dimension) Leg of Lamb • Glen Campbell’s Favorite Mexican Chicken Casserole • Sarah Dash’s (Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles) Peach Cobbler, and more!
With a section on head-spinning cocktails, full menu suggestions, as well as author Mark Bego’s own culinary concoctions such as Spicy Szechuan Sesame Noodles and Boozy Banana Cream Pie, look no further for the all-in-one cooking and rock ‘n’ roll companion. As Martha Reeves says about her Smoked Turkey Necks & Lima Beans, “Honey, this is real soul food!”
Okay, I may just pass on the smoked turkey necks but this book sounds like a hoot. Even if I never make any of the recipes, I’m curious to know what these music types like to cook and eat.
“California Dreamin’ on such a winter’s day . . . ”
6. You’re hungry now? Well, what a surprise. Take a little time to enjoy this wonderful “Storymakers in the Kitchen” Kidlit TV video featuring Aram Kim making kimchi pancakes with Rocco Staino. You may remember we interviewed Aram shortly after No Kimchi for Me was published last summer. Put a little spice in your day! Hooray for Aram!
7. Not too long ago, I stumbled upon Lieke van der Vorst’swork online and fell in love. I admit her food and bear illustrations were the first to catch my eye, but as I explored further, I noticed how calm and peaceful her art in general made me feel.
Lieke hails from the Netherlands, is a nature lover, and draws inspiration from everyday life. In a recent interview, she was asked if there is a message she wishes to convey through her art.
That people should start [to] listen, to themselves, their bodies and nature. It would be so nice if we can all live together without hurting any living thing.
Love her focus on the interconnectedness of all living things, as well as how she blends whimsy/fantasy with reality.
Check out her Liekeland Shop, where she sells prints, cards, and bags.
8. You know me, I need my pottery fix. Been following Nancy Gardner Ceramicsfor awhile. Nancy is an award winning potter from Illinois who’s been collaborating with her partner Burton Isenstein since 1988.
They produce one-of-a-kind, hand-built and hand decorated pieces, works of art that are meant to be used and enjoyed (the glaze they use is food safe and water tight).
Their work is inspired by historical and contemporary pottery forms, textiles, paintings and illustration. I like the whimsy and quirkiness. See more at their official website and Etsy Shop. Happy stuff!
9. Finally, a hedgehog. This little guy called out to me recently. Just sitting there, all balled up, not demanding anything of anyone — adorable and cozy. Just a lump. Check him out at GladoArt, along with other needle felt animals made by Olga Gladkaya of the Ukraine.
Would you like to adopt this little friend? 🙂
Mustn’t forget our blue song. Here’s a tune courtesy of the wayback time machine. I think I was in utero when it first came out :D, but I remember hearing it on the radio all the time in grade school. Until I saw this video, I never knew what Jimmy Clanton looked like.
DON’T LOSE HOPE
HAVE A GOOD WEEK!
*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. When you purchase something using a link on this site, Jama’s Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee (at no cost to you). Thanks for your support!