Common Threads

 
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Slowly, the seasons are shifting. I realized a few weeks back it wasn’t light past 8:00 at night any longer. And cardigans have gradually become needed in the early morning and late night. But since it’s still technically summer for a few more days, I’m relishing the last bits of the season.

I’m working on book sketches right now and I’m finishing up an illustration to have available as a print. And Open Studios will be in November, so I’ve already started planning goods to have available. Aside from that, I’ve been working on pacing myself this summer, getting done what has to get done and then stepping away from my drafting table (hence far less posting here). It’s definitely been a huge help in dealing with burnout and now that autumn is here, I’m feeling far more inspired.

*I finished sewing Butterick B5982 (there’s more pictures on Instagram). It’s my third time sewing this pattern and I love it: it comes together quickly, offers a couple different variations and fits perfectly. For fabric, I used a print from Eloise’s Garden, in rayon. Although I’ve been sewing since high school, I’ve never worked with rayon before. If you’re a rayon newbie too, the tips over on Megan Nielsen’s blog are so helpful.

* I’m working on this Alabama Chanin skirt pattern, embellishing it with a stencil I designed. I’m loving the slow, measured pace that hand sewing encourages and sitting out on the porch with this and a beverage is a pretty terrific past time.

* Assorted other late summer things? My Spanish Flag vine is blooming and it was well-worth the effort. The pumpkins, unfortunately, not so much (still grinding my teeth over that). Maigret mysteries continue keeping me up far too late. And I’m going apple picking this week, which means one thing: pie. And speaking of apples, if you’re in or around southern Maine, Giles in Alfred is my go to orchard for apples. It’s a beautiful spot and the nearby bakery an added bonus.

Harvesting and Winnowing

 
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This summer I’ve:

* Been working on half-finished projects, trying to bring to completion drawings and embroideries that have sat undone for far too long. I’m saving new ideas for Fall, when fresh starts seem more fitting. This embroidery was one I started back in December, right around the shortest day of the year. It feels good to finish it when the days are so much longer. And greener.

* I’m fussing over the pumpkins and don’t have any yet. But I have Swiss Chard in spades and am planning to make with it this pesto.

* I’ve just started diving into the Maigret mystery novels.

* I’m excited to finally share the cover for the book I spent this past winter working on, Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin. Written by Tracy Newman and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, I can’t wait for this to come out next Spring.

 

Summertime

 
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I’m caught up on work for the day (huzzah) and planning to sneak off early this afternoon (gasp), but thought a quick blog update was in order, seeing as it’s been awhile (mmhmm).

The past few weeks have been full. In June, I taught a class on sketchbooks at Squam Art Workshops and loved the experience, especially the amazing students and the terrific group of women I shared a cabin with. I’m still dreaming of the loons on the lake (and if I’m being honest, the peppermint ice cream in the dining hall).

Speaking of classes, I’m working on plans for a workshop on illustrating people, to be held in my studio this coming fall. If you’re in and around New Hampshire and would like more information when that’s available, feel free to drop me a line.

Aside from that? I finally have pea pods in the garden and the Swiss chard is plugging along. I’m growing pumpkins too, and attempting cabbage. I’m knitting this shawl, with yarn found on a day trip to MidCoast Maine. And I’m pretty sure a beach day is in order.

 

Salmon Falls

 
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I painted this back in April, bundled up in a coat sitting by the river’s edge. My observational drawing skills are rusty, so I’ve been trying to do more drawing outdoors. Cocoa helps. So does not knocking your paint water over. But learning to roll with the punches helps most.

Other things:

* I had a wonderful time doing an Anne’s Kindred Spirits event at Print in Portland last week. If you’re local, I signed some extra copies.

* I’m slowly prepping to do a shop update with originals and prints. It’s been a pretty intense year and I feel badly I haven’t been to offer goods with more regularity. So many apologies, it’ll just be a little while longer, scout’s honor.

Kindred Spirits

 
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Anne’s Kindred Spirits, the followup to Anne Arrives, is out in the world! Illustrating Anne Shirley’s continuing adventures was a real treat. And speaking of adventures, I was over the moon to be able to participate in a book launch for Anne in Prince Edward Island, hosted by the wonderful Bookmark Books and coordinated by Anne’s amazing publisher, Tundra Books.

I first visited Prince Edward Island as a twelve-year-old, back in the 90’s. My tween memories of the island were magical and as I sat in Halifax, waiting for my connecting flight to Charlottetown, I kept hoping that my childhood recollections were true.

They were. No doubt about it.

I had a wonderful, whirlwind couple of days in Prince Edward. Charlottetown is a delight of a city and full of some of the friendliest, most genuine people I’ve met. I may have even brought home a magazine with the local real estate listings. A girl can dream, right?

A couple things I loved:

  • Victoria Park was beautiful and the Confederation Centre full of good things.

  • I visited Receiver Coffee not once, but twice, because it’s that good. I left desperately wishing they’d open a location stateside, because they serve scones and play Bowie.

  • I had wanted to visit Province House, but it was closed for renovations. St. Dunstan’s was open, though, and it’s an absolutely stunning basilica.

  • And if you’re on Instagram, I have a bunch of photos over there.

Photo Credit: Michele Lawlor

Photo Credit: Michele Lawlor

But the real highlight of the visit was getting to meet author Kallie George, who’s adapted L.M. Montgomery’s words so perfectly. Kallie’s The Melancholic Mermaid was one of the first books I illustrated and when I heard she was going to be writing the Anne books, I knew I absolutely wanted to be involved. It was so much fun to be able to connect and in talking to Kallie, I felt like I’d known her forever; to quote Anne Shirley, she’s truly a kindred spirit.

I showed a few people a photo I brought with me, snapped decades ago. In it, my siblings and I are sitting with my sister’s penpal (who’d won an Anne of Green Gables lookalike contest) and her sister, all of us in front of a giant Anne of Green Gables figure in Cavendish. It’s a very Anne-centric photo. And looking at that snapshot, I can’t help but smile at how returning to the island felt like coming full-circle. It’s fascinating the twists and turns life takes, and how the seemingly unrelated bits intersect. So for that, thank you Anne Shirley.

Old Newness

 
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Old things that are new to me.

* The heart is something new I embroidered with pearl cotton thread, inspired by Milagros. When we were cleaning out my grandparents’ house, I brought home this salmon colored upholstery fabric (for reasons I can’t fathom now). It’s synthetic and pills like nobody’s business, but looks just like velvet when stitched up. Shortly after being sold, my grandparents’ house, the home that my grandfather built from scratch, was bulldozed. Losing that landmark, the family nerve center, left us all disoriented. But making new things with what was left behind feels like a way of returning home, if not physically, at least in memory.

* The water in the river melted, but if I walk down there early enough in the morning there’s still ice on the side, the cold not quite ready to give up. Today, though, all of the melt upriver has the water whooshing by and I’m typing this listening to the deluge outside my window. Spring comes when you least expect it.

* I don’t poke around Portland as much as I should, because it’s a delightful city. But the last time I did, I spotted this building (that type!) and thoroughly enjoyed Bam Bam Bakery.