Another year has presented itself with opportunity and promise. I am not one to make resolutions, but I do have a few “big girl” goals mapped out for myself this year. I am terrible about keeping a zipped lip about most things that happen in my life (I just get so excited to share), but I will try and be a little more discreet in the future…for paranoid artist reasons that I only disclose to those closest to me. Plus, there’s a certain personal power in working things out behind the scenes as opposed to expending too much energy talking about what will be. No?
This month marks the end of my teaching sabbatical. It has been an amazing time of productivity and creativity here in the studio. I worked on a few personal pieces that had been brewing in my head for a couple of years. Thought it was super indulgent to do so with deadlines always lingering, it was also necessary for my own sanity. “Okra” and “Collard Queen” are two new additions to my etsy shop. They didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped, but it was nice to get them out of my head and onto paper.
I also completed the cover of the fall SCBWI Bulletin. What an honor! The response I got from readers and fellow illustrators was phenomenal. I am so glad that people appreciated that work.
I wrapped up a book with Chronicle back in February that I can’t wait to share with everyone. It was slated to publish in March 2016, but will be pushed back to give plenty of time for promotion. This time, it wasn’t my fault. 😉 I will still be a bit hush-hush about the project until we get closer to publication, but I will say it was right at the top of the “dream job” list.
I’ve been working diligently on a new picture book. It’s my second with Paula Wiseman over at Simon & Schuster. For this book, I am working in oil based hand printed linocuts. Some have been upwards of 11 colors. I love the process, but man, is it labor intensive. Last summer, I visited my dear friend and fellow artist, Taeeun Yoo, who taught me the technique in a day. Of course, I had to reteach myself by the time I was ready to make final art for this book, but her living room workshop was definitely helpful and a lot of fun.
I contributed a piece of art (another linocut) to Bloomsbury for a middle-grade collection of poetry inspired by poems/poets of the Harlem renaissance written by THE Nikki Grimes. I tried to focus on a lesser known artist of the Harlem Renaissance for inspiration – James Lesesne Wells. I’ll reveal and share a bit more as we move closer to publication.
Along with the image making, I have traveled and spoken at many wonderful conferences and was a part of an amazing show with Robert Pruitt at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design. With the help of a fantastic team of volunteers, we launched the first Ezra Jack Keats Baltimore Bookmaking Competition this summer and will celebrate our creative Baltimore City students this spring! I also snuck in a little workation to Negril, Jamaica to do a bit of location drawing and research for an upcoming project with friend and neighbor Matthew David Olshan! I’ll tell you how that collaboration came about a little later. It was magical.
To start off the New Year in typical busy bee fashion, I will be speaking with students at Vermont College of Fine Art next week before starting an exciting new semester of teaching and coaching at MICA! Thanks for reading. Stay tuned in 2016.