Monday, November 21, 2011

"A Celebration of Food!"

The turkey sits in the fridge, slowly thawing, getting ready for the food frenzy that is in two days...the feast of Thanksgiving! Everyone seems to love this holiday, a day to overeat, watch television and sleep...sounds like heaven to me!!
I personally enjoy the planning and preparation of the meal. There's something so basic and traditional about simmering the nasty bits, (the heart, liver, gizzard and turkey neck), in water, onion, celery and garlic the evening before to make stock for the stuffing. Oh can buy chicken stock, but why let those perfectly good organ meats go to waste?  Stew those bad boys up! Let them simmer for hours until the entire house is filled with the savory aroma of Thanksgiving!!
I love getting up early Thanksgiving morning to start cooking, seasoning the bird and getting the sausage and mushrooms ready for the stuffing. Having a couple cups of freshly brewed coffee with my lovely wife is also part of the morning celebration...which eventually turns into a couple glasses of wine as the feast begins to take shape. Having a glass of crisp white zinfandel at 10:00 a.m. makes the holidays even more special!  You can't cook gourmet without wine.

Turkey, sausage and mushroom dressing, Yukon gold mashed potatoes with homemade turkey gravy, acorn squash, brussel sprouts, buttered corn and soft dinner buns...oh heavens yes!!  Cranberry sauce? Of that I am unsure. I have never really been a fan, though I do enjoy a cold glass of cranberry juice cocktail...maybe this year he will give cranberry sauce a try.  
Afterwords we will all gather for pumpkin pie with whipped is the American thing to do!

So enjoy your Thanksgiving anyway you want to. Watch the parades, have a little wine, sleep all afternoon...oh yeah, I guess there's football on somewhere. Enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

"And the Winner is....."

I recently submitted my newest book entitled "At the End of the Day" for nomination to The Minnesota Book Awards. I haven't received my official e-mail  confirmation yet, but I'm fairly confident that my package of five books with nomination form and entry fee have made it safely to St. Paul, MN.  
I go into this with the full realization that I haven't got the slightest chance in hell of ever winning this thing, but I figure that at least it will get some good exposure for my new book. I'm not trying to be overly modest or anything here, I'm just being realistic. Who knows, maybe I'll be surprised...but don't count on it.

We all like to be recognized for our talents. Most artist, whether they admit to it or not, can trace their passion for what they do back to a need to be noticed. I can trace my own  identity as an artist back to kindergarten when my teacher gathered the entire class around me during art period and proclaimed  "Looks like we have quite the little artist here!"  I had found my purpose.

Randolph Caldecott
In the world of children's book illustration, the Randolph Caldecott Medal is as good as it gets. Winning the Caldecott gives an illustrator instant recognition, countless new admirers and a whole lot of reasons to be noticed!  When my first book "I Hear the Wind" was in production, I dreamed about it somehow beating the odds and winning the Caldecott! My rise to the top of the literary world would be the stuff of legend! My name would suddenly be mentioned in the same context as Maurice Sendak, Chris Van Allsburg or David Wiesner. I would be immortal! I then read the submission guidelines... 

Only hardcover books were eligible for consideration. My book had been hastily released in softcover after being delayed for almost two years, I was in fact, ineligible. I was crushed. It was eligible for The Minnesota Book Awards, much to my relief, and so I sent it in hoping for the best.  And guess what? It didn't win a thing! Not even honorable mention!!

And so again I will try for literary immortality and hope the judges decide in my favor. This book was released in hardcover, so I may even submit it for the Caldecott Medal this year. Keep your fingers crossed...but don't hold your breath!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

"My Little Corner of the World"

This is what I call my creative place, my studio.

In this little 5 x 6 ft. space, tucked neatly between the upstairs railing and the wall, I sit and create artwork for my various book projects. The space itself could be considered wasted space by most people, I suppose one could shove a dresser or bookcase back there, but it just seems a little, oh I don't know...out of the way.

My drafting table was a cast off from my wife's workplace, no one else wanted it, so she brought it home. It fits perfectly between the railing and the wall! My cheap, imitation wood, three drawer filing cabinet, (I've had that thing for years, I think I bought it at Shopko) also fit like a glove. Even the office chair was a entire studio just sort of fell together, a bunch of rejects that fit perfectly in a wasted space, just wonderful!

I have a little radio/cd player tucked under the drafting table for music, though I usually hear every sound that goes on downstairs from the open stairwell directly to my right anyways, I've dropped more than a few paintbrushes and pencils down those stairs. I have a window a little off to the right as well, we had to put a tiny jog in the railing to compensate for it, otherwise the railing would have ended up in the middle of said window. But that's okay! That tiny jog allowed the perfect spot for my cheap, imitation wood, Shopko filing cabinet. Things do happen for a reason.

And so there I sit, wedged in the corner between the stairway and an over sized dresser at the end of our upstairs bedroom. It is rather cozy I must say, sometimes a bit of a squeeze to maneuver around in that tiny space, considering that I am not the most compact person on the face of the earth. But it's my space, my place to create, to paint, to dream. I should really go there more often, but sometimes the ambition to get up there needs a little prodding.

I sorely realize that I would be a much better artist if I would only sit down and sketch once in awhile, just do a painting for God's sake!! I seem to be a binge artist... I can spend months away from my drawing board, but once I get in the groove of doing some illustrations I can spend countless hours involved in my work. I feel a little rusty at first, but as soon as I get back into the swing of things I seem to make some artistic progress. But once the project it complete, I'll be gone for another couple months, that just seems to be my way of doing things.

Typically I get back into the mood to paint at this time of year, which seems to be happening now, I've got a number of illustrative ideas running around in my head right at this very instant!!

I hope to tackle an older story this winter, I created a number of illustrations for this story in the past...most of which don't impress me anymore. I thought I was done with this story a couple years back, but now I know I can do's time to get back into that wasted space and start working again!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I had forgotten about November, with her lonely grey eyes, she waits in silence for her time to begin. She has always been known as a rather quiet child, so somber, so patient, so glum.

Who can compare to October and the splendor of fall or the spectacle we call Halloween. November has charms, though they are earthy and quiet, more of a feeling than things that are seen.

I had forgotten about November, with her soft cloudy hair, it covered the sun like a shroud. She speaks in a voice that is often times mute, but some times it rumbles and howls!

So we welcome November as she slowly glides in, like a fog or a mist or a rain. For the time of November is a time to reflect... a time to remember again.