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[Brooklyn] Baby Landon

14 Jun

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Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, NY is a book lover’s dream. The entire upper floor is devoted to children’s books, and the incredible staff is devoted to children and their parents. Events for kids—planned with excellence by the ever lovely and hospitable Rachel Person—are always happening at Northshire.

Because my family lives nearby, I am considered local artist. Northshire has been extremely gracious, inviting me to participate in some very cool kid-friendly events celebrating independent bookstores, and also events designed to promote specific books I have written and/or illustrated for duopress. One little guy and his amazing mom have tied all of these experiences together for me in a manner that can only be described as uncanny.

w Michele & LandonWhile signing copies of Isabella’s Shoe Studio at a Northshire event in January 2014, I was entranced by the little red-headed sweetie pie shown in the photo above—and by his beautiful mom! I made a mental note of her cool, arty look as she handed her baby across the table to me. I got to hold him for a few minutes. What a sweet, pensive little bundle. In my imagination I was reliving my now teen-age, still carrot-topped son’s precious babyhood. (For a glimpse of my son Gray’s road-cone orange locks, see the post just before this one.)

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At the time I was in the middle of a new illustration project, Brooklyn Baby. While drawing characters for the busy farmer’s market scene shown here, the little red-headed baby and his mom from Northshire came to mind. I put them at the pickle stand. Purple hair didn’t seem inappropriate for Mom, and I am Violet after all—so I painted her with purple hair. This image is one of my all-time faves, in large part because of these two characters. Written by Lisa McKeon for duopress, Brooklyn Baby was released in the fall of 2014.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 7.58.34 AMFast forward to May 2, 2015. Northshire invited me to read from my favorite Dr. Seuss books at an in-store event celebrating independent bookstores. While reading aloud from Oh, The Places You’ll Go, I noticed a red-headed toddler in the crowd, sitting with his very stylish blonde grandmother. Later, these two were joined by the toddler’s mother—whose hair was a glorious shade of violet—and who was carrying a new baby. I recognized the family and approached them while frantically scrolling through Facebook photos on my phone, searching for the farmer’s market scene from Brooklyn Baby. The mom and I peered at the image together on the tiny screen, both of us amazed at the connection between us. In my mind, this was the penultimate Sisterhood Moment—two artistic women, strangers connected by motherhood, a love of children’s books, and hair color. As they disappeared into the stacks on the other side of the store, I instantly regretted not having exchanged contact information.

Yesterday (June 13, 2015) Northshire hosted an event for my latest duopress illustration project, 100 PABLO PICASSOS (written by Mauricio Velázquez de León). My family is moving to New Zealand at the end of June, so this event was especially poignant for me as I knew it would be my last one in Saratoga Springs.

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Families filtered in as we kicked off the event with a game of Picasso bingo. I was delighted when my eye caught glimpses of red and lavender hair in the small crowd. They had come! This time we had a change to chat for a few minutes, and I made sure to jot down names—and get permission to share this story!

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Class, meet Michele Sperber, the mystery-mom (whose violet hair is now a softer shade of lavender) and her little red-head Landon—who is now a big brother! This photo was taken by Marilyn, Michele’s beautiful, charming mother-in-law. My only regret at this point is that I didn’t get a photo with Marilyn!

Soon I’ll write a post about all of the events we’ve done to promote 100 PABLO PICASSOS. Several incredible local shops have hosted events for me, and the best part about that has been the people; in particular, the hostesses who made it all happen. But for today I wanted to share this odd little story, because stuff like this makes life interesting and beautiful. What a gift.

Hoping you all enjoy your serendipitous moments,

Professor V

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100PP outlined cover100 PABLO PICASSOS (written by Mauricio Velázquez de León/illustrated by Violet Lemay) is available Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, and at bookstores everywhere. Click here to order your copy today!

Go APE for Art!

23 Feb

APE

Recently I was honored to be included in a local small works show sponsored by Glens Falls NY’s  Art In The Public Eye (APE).

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Art In The Public Eye is a not-for-profit group whose mission “is to cultivate a partnership between the area arts community and local businesses, to promote established and emerging artists and local commerce, and to create greater access to the arts through cultural activities and public exhibitions.”

Gallery 99 is kind of a guerilla art exhibit, occupying a different vacant storefront in Glens Falls every year. The event was headed up by the super-team of Liz Wilcox and Jennifer Kraft, APE’s executive director and director of marketing. These dynamic women co-own Samantha’s Cafe and Catering. (By the way, for you foodies out there: In my experience, Samantha’s is Glens Falls’ most highly recommended restaurant, with good reason. Standard Glens Falls greeting = “Nice to meetcha! Been to Samantha’s yet?” <– well-deserved!

I met Liz and her adorable daughter Daphne at an Isabella’s Shoe Studio promo event at Sketch Design Lounge in Glens Falls a few months ago (click here to read more about that).

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Photo by PJN Photography

Soon after, Liz invited me to Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves, 2013’s APE fund raising auction /costume party, whose theme this year was vintage circus—fun!

Later, Ms. Wilcox invited me to participate in Gallery 99. Despite an over-busy schedule I was able to take part, because I had painted a series of shoes for the event at Sketch, and they were just begging to be shown again—in a box, ready to go. All I had to do was to drop them off.

spectator

guitarThe Gallery 99 show included a broad variety of art—paintings, jewelry, hats, batik scarves… even a cigar box guitar and matching amp! Many of the artists rent space in Glens Falls’s Shirt Factory—definitely worth a day trip, if you’re in the area.

All participants helped out, volunteering a few hours manning the gallery. Our schedules overlapped, giving us all a chance to chat and get to know one another. Spectacular people, each and every one.

Glens Falls has got it going on, Class. I hope you all can come visit some day.

Meanwhile, *like* APE’s Facebook fan page.

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Like the shoe paintings? A few are available for sale as greting cards at my store on Zazzle.com. Click here to check it out.

SKETCH!

15 Nov

SKETCH sign

Recently I had the pleasure of co-hosting a party at SKETCH design lounge in Glens Falls, NY to promote Isabella’s Shoe Studio (duopress/2013), a Doodle Storybook™ which I wrote and illustrated.

bw groupShop owner Rianna Hogan-Cerro did most of the heavy lifting, advertising in the local paper, and ordering cupcakes, books and art supplies. Together we concocted the following fun activities for the party-goers:

Felt City Wall

city wall 2

Let’s face it—Isabella’s Shoe Studio is (unintentionally) a bit gender-biased toward the pink end of the spectrum. We certainly didn’t want to exclude boys from the fun! I suggested putting paper on the wall so that everyone could work together to draw a city mural, an idea that was no doubt influenced by the many Doodle books I have illustrated for duopress. Rhianna took that idea and made it a million times better by suggesting that everyone draw with washable markers on pre-cut pieces of felt. As the pictures clearly show, she is a genius.

Felt Shoe Wall

baby lily shoe wall

This was all Rhianna’s idea—a little something in felt, for our tiniest guests. Kind of like shoe colorforms, for the wall.

Isabella Paper Dolls

paper doll in colorI cut out free-standing paper dolls for all of the girls (bonus: they looked adorable standing on the craft table before the party started), and printed activity sheets featuring a variety of outfits for everyone to color and cut out for the dolls. The girls were instructed to design shoes to go with each outfit, and were given examples to get their creative juices flowing.

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Shoe-Design Worksheets

shoe pageRhianna and I each created activity sheets to get everyone designing shoes. On the advice of my friend Jodie Fitz, I added a written activity, asking participants to draw their favorite shoes and then explain their affinity for those particular shoes: Were they a gift? Hand-me-downs from someone you love? Have you worn them somewhere special? Or do you love them just because they are beautiful?

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Illustration Demonstration

As everyone was drawing and gluing glitter and eating cupcakes and generally having a fantastic time (the place was slam-packed!), I started chatting with some of the girls at the activity table. The teacher in me r-e-a-l-l-y wanted to help them with their shoe drawings, so,  I stood at my easel. With my Pentel pen-brush and soft vine charcoal, I began drawing the shoes that they were wearing, and then began drawing each of the girls, as if they were characters in Isabella’s Shoe Studio.

In between drawings we took book-signing breaks.

signing with Viv

In short, the party was an amazing success.

One of the moms sent me a note the next day:

I was at the party today at Sketch and wanted to thank you again for such a wonderful time! You were kind, gracious and attentive to each of the children. We will promptly be framing the drawings you did for us… She is very honored.

My very best regards,

Liz Wilcox

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Violet Lemay tailors events for schools, libraries, and bookstores. To check availability, send her a note.

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SKETCH is an amazing place! Rhianna teaches sewing and drawing classes, and also hosts parties and sells a variety of incredible inspirational books. If you’re ever in the Glens Falls area, you have to stop by! Meanwhile, click here to follow SKETCH on Facebook.

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Thanks to Rhianna, my husband Fred, and my friend Laura Conklin for all of the photos in this post.