children’s book

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.

 

 

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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.

 

Little Brushes and the Magnificent Inefficiency of Painting Slow

brushes

I use small paint brushes.

Makes no difference how large the canvas is,

I always use the same little brushes.

Maybe that’s not very practical or efficient..

but the experience of art has nothing to do with such things.

Those who are aware of my methods often state the obvious:

“If you use bigger brushes, it won’t take you so long to finish a painting.”

It does take a long time.

I am a slow painter

but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I love the act of painting..

the experience of it.

So, I linger over my work.

I savor it.

Every little brushstroke

slowly adding layer after layer

of analogous color…

I want it to last.

Picture Books and the Shelf Life of a Faraway Aunt

secret angelina3     secret angelina1    secret angelina2

I am fortunate to have 2 of my sisters living just a few miles from my house..

but, my third sister lives over 2,000 miles away.

So we stay in touch with phone calls and video chats

and I watch my nieces and nephew grow up through pictures posted on Facebook.

I click “Like” and “Like” and “Like” – but, it’s just not the same as being there.

Recently, my sister posted pictures of my niece, Angelina.

Angelina had taken The Secret Kingdom off the bookshelf by herself and started looking at the pictures..

She said, “Night night!” to each one.

Staring at those photographs, I must admit I choked up a little..

Not because I was sad, but because it was a revelation.

Although I am far away, I am still there with them.

I have become a part of their childhood in the form of a well-loved book.

 

The Enemy Within and the Art of Fighting for Your Life

like clockwork 2

“Like Clockwork” by Michele Bledsoe

 

A couple of years ago, I experienced a home invasion.

I was alone when a man kicked in the back door and entered our house.

To make a long story short..

As we confronted each other in the middle of my living room

I did not feel fear – I felt anger.

And in that moment of fight or flight.. I chose to fight.

Eventually, we ended up in the laundry room where I tried to chop his face off with a pair of branch loppers.

He managed to stumble outside, shouted “Sorry, wrong house!” and ran for his life.

When I started working on The Secret Kingdom, I faced an even greater enemy…

Myself.

Not a physical fight, but an intensely psychological one.

This enemy had powerful weapons: Self-doubt. Procrastination. An arsenal of laziness, distraction and fear.

What was at stake was not the death of my physical body, but the death of fulfilling my life’s work. The loss of my creative life.

Every day I worked on my book was a fight to the death.

The day The Secret Kingdom was published, I realized that I had won… for now.

Truthfully, the fight never ends.

In The War of Art Steven Pressfield writes: “Fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”

This is so true.

Now I am fighting for the life of my second book.

Having lost before, it seems the enemy within has stepped up her game.

I am ready.

Giant Lincoln and The Art of Conquering Fear

VA21

Just got back from The Secret Kingdom book signing event in the beautiful state of Virginia.

Being that we were so close to Washington, D.C., we hopped on a train and spent the day sight-seeing, visiting the museums and walking around our nation’s capital surrounded by cherry trees in bloom.

I must admit I was a little anxious, because I knew at some point I would encounter the dreaded Lincoln Memorial.

Yes, dreaded.

It is a little known fact that I have a bizarre and somewhat embarrassing fear of unnaturally large things.

In an attempt to lighten the mood, my husband Richard told me that the giant Lincoln comes alive at night and eats tourists. Although that mental image actually made me shudder, I figured we’d be okay as long as we got out of there before nightfall.

Standing at the base of the stairs leading up to giant Lincoln.. my heart was pounding, my legs felt weak and I broke out in a cold sweat.

In this picture, I seem to be leaning slightly to the right.

Actually, I was cowering in fear at the terrible sight of enormous Lincoln.

It is always good to conquer your fears and do something that scares you..

But I swear I saw his finger twitch.