The Secret Kingdom

Prussian Blue and the Art of Being Impulsive

“Frozen Zoo” by Michele Bledsoe

 

I have a very distinct palette…

a range of colors that I use

every time I paint.

Raw umber

Chromium Oxide Green

Cobalt Blue

Turner’s Yellow

Red Oxide

Raw Sienna..

to name a few.

I know these colors intimately;

How they react to each other..

all their moods

and subtleties..

I know them like I know

the landscape of my own heart.

 

But, when I started work on my painting Frozen Zoo

I did something outrageously impulsive

and decided to use a new color.

Not just a little taste of it..

not just dipping my toe in the water..

Instead, I stared at that strange tube of paint in front of me

and decided to cover a huge portion of my canvas with it.

 

That was my introduction to Prussian Blue.

A tremendous leap of artistic faith..

it was an epic struggle

to incorporate this alien color into my familiar palette.

It did weird things

when I mixed it with raw umber.

Is that a hint of green I see?

Yellow?

I never realized that blue could be so warm.

Flailing about and lost in unfamiliar territory

I refused to back down.

 

By the time the painting was completed

Prussian Blue was like an old friend..

battle tested and true,

it is a welcome addition

to my comfortable palette.

 

There is no place for cowardice in art.

 

 

Advertisements

Paintbrushes, Pencils and A Love That Lasts Forever

Still life with Creature by Michele Bledsoe

Still life with Creature by Michele Bledsoe

I love to draw.

When I was a child

all I wanted to do was stay up all night long

and draw pictures.

45 years later,

not much has changed..

except sometimes I am holding

a paintbrush instead of a pencil.

 

Diary of a Hungry Dog

Many years ago, Gunther kept an online diary.

Because he was a dog, I did all the typing for him.

All these entries are completely true.

slide1

FOOD OR NOT FOOD

Current Mood: Hungry

sometimes i eat things that aren’t food. i ate a cassette tape, a bilbo baggins action figure and a stuffed alligator head. then i go for a ride in the car to visit the vet.

 

 

FLOOR TREATS

Current Mood: Hungry

everything that falls on the floor is mine to eat. i can hear a crumb drop from the other end of the house. sometimes i find small pieces of paper, pen caps and furballs instead. i eat them too because they are on the floor.

 

 

 

slide12DIGGING HOLES

Current Mood: Hungry

i like to dig big deep holes in the backyard. then i stick my head in the hole and bark.

 

 

 

slide4EATING CACTUS

Current Mood: Hungry

when i was a puppy, i ate a row of aloe cactus. they tasted pointy. the vet said that the cactus didn’t hurt my mouth at all and that my fur was very soft and shiny.

 

 

slide11OUTSIDE TREATS

Current Mood: Hungry

i like to bark at pigeons. i eat birdseed and gravel in the backyard.

 

 

 

dog1CHRISTMAS TREATS

Current Mood: Hungry

i have a cat friend. last christmas she pushed a chocolate santa off the table and onto the floor for me. it had crunchy tinfoil on the outside.

 

 

gunthermanGARBAGE TREATS

Current Mood: Hungry

i like peanut butter. i like to eat things out of the garbage. i have one head, three legs and a tail.

 

 

 

slide5UNDERGROUND TREATS

Current Mood: Hungry

i can smell mushrooms growing deep under the ground. i dig them up and eat them and then i get in trouble.

 

 

 

birthday dogGOAT TREATS

Current Mood: Hungry

i chewed on my goat hoof all day long. it had peanut butter in it but i licked it away. i take hoofie outside with me. i hold it in my mouth when i pee. hoofie smells good and stinky.

 

 

001RECYCLED TREATS

Current Mood: Hungry

i ate dog food and some carrots. when i threw up the carrots were back so i ate them again.

 

 

 

 

 

me and guntherALLIGATOR TREATS

Current Mood: Hungry

i ate a taxidermy alligator head i found on the bookshelf. it was crunchy and tasted like a mummy. mama thought it was a chicken carcass or maybe one of the cats. she screamed and took it away.

 

 

JAN42008 001SHINY TREATS

Current Mood: Hungry

i ate a sheet of aluminum foil covered with chicken grease and crunchy burnt things. the vet said i would be okay, but to call them if i threw up or made sparks.

 

 

MONKEYTOY 010BREADY TREATS

Current Mood: Hungry

i found a piece of bread on poppa’s plate. i had to jump up to reach it. i ate it real fast. poppa got another bready piece to make his sandwich.

 

 

slide9REFRIGERATOR TREATS

Current Mood: Hungry

i push people into the refrigerator so they will give me food. i know that’s where the carrots live.

 

 

 

beggingBEGGING FOR FOOD

Current Mood: Hungry

this is my begging face. if i do this long enough someone gives me food.

 

 

 

My beloved Gunther makes a cameo appearance in The Secret Kingdom..

I miss him very much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lifetime Commitments and the Full Circle of Art

sketchbook1

When I was little, all I wanted was to draw well.

My dream was not to be some rich and famous artist..

Not to win awards or have my paintings hanging in museums.

I just wanted to be good.

I remember staring endlessly at the pictures of the beautifully illustrated books I grew up with.  The people who made those pictures had somehow managed to capture their imagination on paper and make it real. My mind was filled with pictures, too – and there were worlds inside me that had to come out. The urge to create was irresistible.. and it ignited a fire inside me that will burn forever.

Exposure to art at an early age is a powerful experience. It can change your life. My husband Richard talks about this in his recent post, The Fine Art of Childhood.

Art is a lifetime commitment. The endless months, years, decades invested to get my skills to match my vision. Always pushing further – I love every step of my artistic journey. This is what I was meant to do. I have dedicated my life to bringing my unique vision out into the light. Truly, art is the soul made visible.

It seems only fitting that I have become the author / illustrator of children’s books..

After all, that is where it all began.

The circle is complete.

 

Three-Legged Dogs and the Unexpected Blindness of Love

Gunther makes a cameo appearance in The Secret Kingdom. This performance became part of our routine whenever it was time to feed the dog.

It’s fascinating how people never seemed to notice that Gunther was missing a leg.

Since Dalmatians are not very common, and Gunther was tremendously friendly, we were often approached by a variety of strangers wanting to get a closer look.

Once, while sitting outside at a coffee shop, a man approached and asked if it was okay to pet Gunther.

“Yes.” I replied, “He’s very friendly.”

This gentleman crouched down to where Gunther was sitting and smiled. He stayed there for several minutes, talking and petting my happy dog.

When he stood up to leave… Gunther took a couple of hopping steps toward him.

The man was worried, “Oh sweetie, what happened? Did you hurt your foot?”

“He’s missing a whole leg.” I explained.

The man did a double-take.

Maybe he was distracted by all the spots.

Or maybe he suddenly understood how love is truly blind.

I never noticed Gunther’s missing leg, either.

To this day, four-legged dogs look really weird to me..

too many legs.

Lost Books and the Selfless Motivation of Art

DSCF9511    DSCF9510

The ONCE-UPON-A-TIME Storybook is the best-loved book of my childhood.

Never heard of it?

Well, you’re not alone.

Unlike the works of Dr. Suess, Maurice Sendak and Shel Silverstein, this storybook has slipped away into oblivion. Just another lost book that could not withstand the test of time..

but not really.

I loved this book so deeply and completely as a child, but as I grew older.. I started to forget.

I forgot the title. I forgot the stories. I forgot the name of the author..

but I never forgot the illustrations.

Those pictures haunted me.

So, I began a search that would last for 20 years.

I prowled endlessly through the children’s section of every used book store I could find. I had no information on what I was looking for other than the memory of the wondrous images that were burned into my heart.  When eBay came along, I spent thousands of hours searching in the middle of the night.. desperately plugging in keywords in an attempt to describe the pictures I cherished. A pine tree with golden leaves. A dragon and a monkey.

It seemed impossible… but I refused to give up.

To make a long story short, I found the book.

Nowadays, it seems that practically everyone on earth has written a children’s book. In the era of self-publishing and user-friendly illustration programs.. there are authors out there churning out children’s books by the dozens. But, the difference in quality is obvious. I think most people (and children) instinctively know when someone is just “phoning it in”. Nevertheless, by working the system, these savvy authors have helped their books find their way to the top of Amazon’s best-seller lists.

I suppose I could do this too.

But, unlike those masters of marketing and self-promotion, I am not motivated by money.

The ONCE-UPON-A-TIME Storybook was originally published in 1958, and the author and the illustrator of this beloved book are probably long gone.

Maybe they never achieved fame and fortune. Maybe they never realized that their book could create such a lasting impression.

And maybe they never knew that they inspired a child to become an artist.

This is my hope for The Secret Kingdom, and for any other books I plan to create while I still live and breathe.

Every time I see my book in the hands of a child, I am reminded again and again that this is not about me..

and success is not measured in dollar signs.

baby

 

 

The Art of the Extended Family

michele1

My husband and I are returning to Copper Trails School to take part in their gifted arts night. I am looking forward to spending the evening drawing pictures with these talented young artists.

Having no children of my own, I must admit I was a little anxious the first time I found myself in a room surrounded by kids.

But the moment we sat down to draw together, all of that disappeared.

A wondrous thing happens when people create art together..

We discover that we are all family.