Tuesday, September 30, 2008

sunflower people

I've been painting sunflowers while wall street collapsed and my bank failed. The sunlight shining on and through the petals and leaves was SO joyful! I feel as though I'm mining the sunflowers for joy to share with people in the depths of winter when we all need cheering up. Or now, when worries about the economy have people feeling scared and upset. 
  This blog is in transition. The stories I share are less about my immediate experiences with my current students--as I have none this year--and more about the child within me. Should I start a new blog? Yes, I think so. Look for a new blog soon.
I am developing a visual language, Sunflower Speak, using sunflowers to express human 
feelings and situations. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

school starts

School started last week for all my young friends--but not for me! I'm taking a 
sabatical this year to focus on my long time love for writing and illustrating children's books. I did some illustrations for Royal Spy, a middle grade novel by Marjorie Watkins, and we are working together on a web site for this book and for Rotaida and the Runestone, which was Marorie's first Rotaida book.  The site is in process, and you can see where we are at with it so far by visiting marjwatkins.com.  I did the colorful map, the illustrations for Royal Spy on the web, and this illustration for Rotaida and the Runestone.

I plan to continue adding anecdotes about kids from time to time, as I remember them, and to keep  you updated on my adventures in the publishing world. Meanwhile, the sun is shining through the yellow petals of the sunflowers in my sunflower forest, and I'm in seventh heaven painting them! 

The sunflower forest happened quite by accident. We had sunflowers 2 feet across last fall! There was also a variety of smaller sunflowers with black seeds popular with the birds. I think somehow the flowers got their pollen mixed up, because this year I have sunflowers from barely 2 inches across to almost a foot, and from 18 inches high to 8-10 feet high! The kids planted the seeds well, though quite by accident. We buried apple mash from our apple pressing in the garden area, and all winter long the children dug and stomped and got their boots stuck in the mud where the seeds fell. In the spring, something sprouted all over the garden. I thought maybe it was baby apple trees, but no, it was hundreds of sunflower plants! I gave away at least 40 plants, and still have a forest of sunflowers, as well as sunflowers over by Thomas the Train and the swing set, and among the potatoes (which are also volunteers).