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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

News from Robin Brickman

On April 16 and 17, I visited the Sewickley Academy, in Sewickely, PA, to present my Community Mural workshops to students in the Lower School. I taught Pre-K and Kindergarten students how to cut, color, and shape paper into butterflies, leaves, ants, and feathers. Then we assembled the art into a "Wings" mural at the school. Grades 1-3 created a Log's Life Community Mural, also following Robin's unique sculpted paper technique. They researched plants and animals in a northeast forest. Everyone is delighted with the murals, and my ability to teach some special art skills and a little biology to students this young.

While I was in Pennsylvania, I was asked by my hosts when I would find out if my painting from WINGS, "Green Darner and Pitcher Plant" won a purchase prize from the Focus On Nature X juried show. The show was opening at the same time and they were familiar with this painting's inclusion in the show. Also, they were certain I had a very good chance of winning this! Well, I figured they were being very polite and supportive, and I love them for that, but their opinion was not based on much evidence. After all, this is an international show, with amazing art! I have had my art included in a Focus On Nature show three years before and I know that the quality is extraordinarily high.

Well, I kept telling everyone that I really wasn't thinking about it!
And in order to keep my ego protected, I tried to forget about it.

I did check my e-mail the night the announcement was made in Albany, NY. No messages. I checked that morning, too; nothing. That was fine, just as I expected, really. When I arrived back home to Massachusetts, I had quietly concluded that I didn't win any award, and found a message on my phone machine telling me that I did indeed
win! I'm really happy, and of course: it's a winning painting!

To, be fair, there are over a dozen artists who won purchase awards from the FON X show this year, and I understand that over 13 countries are represented. I haven't seen the show, yet, but it is an easy hours drive so I can visit it very soon.

To me, one of the best parts of being a book illustrator has been working with students and educators in school visits all over the country. I love showing people how to create their own natural science art. Besides, I've been an illustrator for over thirty years and my studio work is very isolated, even lonely sometimes.

Although I missed being able to get the purchase award at the New York State Museum in person, on April 17. I was with a wonderful group of students and educators that night and they believed I could do it, and I did.

Posted by Robin Brickman, illustrator of Beaks! and Wings by Sneed B. Collard III.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Inspiration in Children’s Art, by illustrator Frank Dormer

I am a voracious lurker.

Actually my grandfather’s last name was Lurker, but that’s beside the point.

I look forward to finding new art to look at. Not so much to steal as to feed the artistic appetite.

I get hungry about once a month.

When that happens my wife takes the kids to a ball game, or to view chest x-rays at the local hospital. They’ll do anything to get away from the Hungry Artist.

Recently I have been able to limit my travels. And this is where my confession comes in.

I like to visit the hospital and view chest x-rays too.

Only kidding.

Ok, here it is.

I am not just an illustrator. I am also an art teacher.

There, I’ve said it. Whew. I feel better already.

Not only that, but I’ve been seen joyously exclaiming my love for my students art. It inspires me after I’ve seen the original Monet’s far too long, and have seen Van Gogh on everything from coffee cups to polish sausage casings.

Children’s art is simple, uncluttered, and all about them. How can you not love it? In their art one can find out many things about how they feel about someone, what is important to them. It’s all there.

Now, I will admit that it can take some information to decipher these 2-dimensional jewels. But who hasn’t looked at a Jackson Pollock and wondered if it’s real art, or his breakfast on that canvas? It’s the same for children’s art, too.

Children see the world in simple terms. And here is where I will put down my dusty soapbox, and stand on it in my fuzzy slippers and hold my coffee cup, ready to overpower you with my feelings.

If you like, go find a hospital and look at some x-rays. I won’t be insulted.

If you are still reading this, I’ll make it simple.

And in case you are in doubt about my sanity, I am a certified teacher, and have been teaching, or faking it well, for over 15 years. I have a Masters in Education and been known to have beginning teachers actually visit my classroom.

Ok, here it is, that thing I wanted to tell you.

While I am standing on my soapbox.

Children’s art reflects pure lines and shapes. The beginning elements of art. The First thing any art maker does after placing pencil on paper. It also reflects pure emotion.

No subtlety, no layers to hide things in.

I have been known to try and emulate it. I fall far short, as my art education fights with the inner child in me. But I get the child out most times these days.

So leave the hospital X-ray room, wander out of the museums of artistic perfection, and go over to the local school art show. Visit with the art teacher, and gaze in wonderment at what these miniature people can do when given the power.

You can visit my students’ work. It is much more interesting than mine, I assure you.

Their work can be viewed at: www.slineyart.blogspot.com

If after all this you still have an interest in what I do for books, you may visit me at: frankwdormer dot com.

I promise I won’t bite.

You’ll notice I haven’t gotten off my soapbox, though.

Posted by Frank Dormer, illustrator of Aggie and Ben and Not So Tall for Six and the upcoming Good Dog, Aggie.