I welcome winter when it comes. I think I must have bear blood in me, because I like to hibernate in my studio when the flurries fly and the temperatures drop below 0. The sun pours in on sunny days, but mostly it is cloudy gray in Minnesota, which does not beckon me outside my studio-cave until the first signs of spring. I stay inside and paint.
And right now I am painting green. Not just ordinary green. The green that goes with a story by the author Mary Lyn Ray. Her stories are often quiet and soft- evoking a magic found when one communes intimately with the wonders of nature. It took me awhile to find just the right quiet and soft green for this story. At first it was too loud. Colors make sound and it is important to find the right sound for each story. Last winter when I painted When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky I deliberately chose bold bright colors that became louder and louder as the book progressed to the final chords ofThe Rite of Spring-- a very loud piece of music!
But this winter, painting Deer Dancer, I have to be careful with my greens. They are earthy and subdued. More like the green of avocados than limes. Which is louder, avocados or limes?
Winter can be a very quiet time of year, so although it is gray and white outside, I am tuning into the hushed greens of another season and the silence of winter is helping me along the way.
Though it feels like a year must have already passed, it was just two months ago that the wonderful author, Mem Fox came for a visit to Minneapolis. We had never met before this visit and yet we had just published a picture book together: Tell Me About Your Day Today, so there were lots of reasons to celebrate!
Our first meeting was at Wild Rumpus Book Store. It quickly filled with lovers of children's books and we took the stage. First I told the story of how I painted the pictures, then Mem read the story two times through. The second time the audience joined in for "The who, the what, the why, and the way..."
The second day of Mem's visit was a huge welcome party given by the creative children's literature community of Minnesota gathered together by friend and author, Debra Frasier. Authors, illustrators, book sellers, librarians, teachers, and professors of children's literature brought food and stories to share. Mem made so many new friends. At the end of the party she said she could not wait to come back!
The last day of Mem Fox's visit to Minneapolis she spoke at the University of Minnesota for Book Week 2012. Everyone who listened to her read her books aloud was transported to a world of magic where stuffed animals talk, pirates cry, and Koala mamas love their babies. I could listen to Mem Fox read picture books for hours and hours. She truly knows how to bring words alive.
When Mem Fox came to Minneapolis I made a new friend. I hope she comes back next year!
Lauren's latest illustrated children's book is The Shape of the World, A Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright.