Map Of Our Garden World

With “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” at last in print, I am eager to get back to drawing and posting new story ideas and illustrations. This is a “to be continued next time” story and illustration…I don’t know where either will be going.

It is late October, early November. The garden plants have put forth their last and best efforts. They sense winter is coming and their lives will end. Daytime grows shorter. Nighttime grows colder.

They are doing their best to carry on into the future. The okra, the tomatoes, and the eggplants have put out blossoms and then their last fruits. None will have time to mature. The tomatoes, if they are fortunate, may get a slight blush, but most will remain hard and green. None will mature. The first frost will see to that. But they will try. They may succeed. Who knows? It is not for me to say.

Their lives seem so much like my own. Make something, make anything, just one thing that will continue on past the coming winter, past the time when I am gone.

I feel that for my chickens too. We can have no roosters in the city, only hens. “No roosters” means “no future.” Gracie’s sweet disposition and kind heart will end with her. We truly have only here and now to make a mark.

And so I draw. And then I write about what I draw. And I feel the same sense of urgency my garden plants are expressing in their final fruits of the season.

I tell Pearl, “People will always know how much you and Blanche meant to each other and what a glad and joyful heart you have.”

I tell Emily and Amelia, “People will always know how one of you was the first chicken to fly to the moon and back and how the other one made that possible.” 

I tell Bessie, “People will always know what a strong defender you are of life and fairness and respect.”

And I whisper softly into Gracie’s ear, “People will always know how full of grace your heart has always been. They will know how we danced together in the streets of Paris even if only in a drawing.”

Once everyone has been reassured, I return to my sketchbook and study the fall tomato vines. They have become bent and beaten down by the heavy winds and rains that have come at the end of hurricane season. Their growth has become straggly in search of more sunlight in the shorter days. They remind me of the lines on a face, the lines on a heart, the lines on a map. 

When I look up from my sketchbook, I see Amelia doing something I have never seen her do before, and I know I must add her to the drawing…

Our latest paperback book, “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” is finally now available through Amazon around the world! I truly appreciate all of the warm wishes and positive comments from you, our readers. Your encouragement throughout the process made this a much better book than I would have been able to make on my own!

My Unstoppable Pearl!

If I had to choose a favorite illustration from “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” it would probably be the one above.  (Each illustration is framed by a different border based on discarded gift wrap collected by Pearl on Trash Truck Tuesdays. Each border tries to compliment the mood or tone of the chapter.)

Hopefully this image is just as happy and joyful and full of movement as Pearl herself. And she is quite unstoppable in real life and on the pages of this book. She never gives up. This is also the only illustration in the book that shows Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia all together. The amazement on Emily’s face (second from the left in the audience) is so much like her. 

The backdrop you see to the right is based on a poster by one of my favorite artists, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Pearl picked it out as part of the backdrop for her comedy show because the Parisian dancing ladies remind her of white-feathered chickens like herself. (I did not tell her about how the yellow-orange background reminds me of an egg yolk, but it does!)

This chapter follows a chapter where all of my chickens, including Pearl, are practicing their ballet, a much more “refined and elegant” form of dance than the “rowdy and raucous” can-can. This chapter ends with Pearl’s statement, “There’s more than one kind of dancing in Paris, so maybe there’s more than one way to be a chicken!”

‘La Troupe De Mlle Églantine’, 1896. Poster. Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri, de (1864-1901). Found in the collection of the State A. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.

To end this post, I’d like to share this video clip from the movie “Can-Can” starring Shirley MacClaine. The music and choreography are simply brilliant. They make me want to dance right along with them, and my heart certainly does dances even if my legs can’t!

The exuberance and joy in this dance are exactly what Pearl has in her own heart. She absolutely loves everybody and everything, and by the end of the book, she embraces exactly who she is because of what she can give.

Our latest paperback book, “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” is finally now available through Amazon around the world! With its 64 pages, 6 inches x 9 inches trim size, 10 chapters, and full-color illustrations, it will be sharing the story of Blanche and Pearl with readers around the world. It’s definitely time for a happy dance!

Just Another Saturday? Maybe Not!

You might call this a “Here’s What’s Been Happening” post. Even though I am only working four days a week as a part-time employee now, it still seems as if there is never enough time to do everything I need to do and want to do!

While I have been waiting for Barnes & Noble Press to resolved their system issues and working to figure out why Kindle Direct Publishing will not accept my files, I’ve been working on a few book cover projects as gifts for other writer friends here on WordPress.

These projects include an adult non-fiction book cover for my friend Dave and a children’s fiction book cover for my friend Cathy. (After all, the main theme of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” is the importance of giving! It seemed only natural to give away some artwork.)

Honestly, I’ve learned and grown more as an artist by giving towards their projects rather than becoming a “drawing board hermit“ and only focusing on my own projects. Neither project looks like anything that you would find here or in my own books. 

I am looking at taking on one more book cover gift project before the end of the year, and I am leaning towards it being a book of poetry. Not sure why. Just seems to be “what’s next.” If your are a poet and need some help with a cover for a soon-to-be-published book, let me know. It would be my gift to you to help you share your gift with the world.

One of the most surprising things I learned has been that I felt much more creative freedom when working on projects for someone else! While I don’t totally understand why that was so, this awareness opened up some new possibilities for my own projects, and I’m very grateful for that.

So now I have been very eager to try out some new things for my own projects, like the simple line and ink wash you see in today’s illustration. Though I’m unsure how any of this will evolve, I am reminded that it is all about the journey.

Oh, and by the way, I almost forgot to mention this…Our latest paperback book, “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” is finally now available through Amazon around the world! With its 64 pages, 6 inches x 9 inches trim size, 10 chapters, and full-color illustrations, it will be sharing the story of Blanche and Pearl with readers around the world. It’s definitely time for a happy dance!