Common Core Standards

Monday, January 24, 2011

Capturing Moments & Doing the Peace

Wow! This past weekend I attended another conference. But this particular conference spoke to my heart as it was the Stewardship Network's Science, Practice & Art of Restoring Native Ecosystems 2011, held in East Lansing. Talk about sketching and notetaking. I had to act fast to capture quotes, moments and story as speakers took the podium.

In the past, I doodled out of boredom as scientist spoke to scientist, something that scientist Rachel Carson warned her scientific communtiy against. To paraphrase Rachel, "Do not speak to the scientists...but speak to the homemakers, the grocery clerks, and the hairdressers of our environmental message."


This year the conference theme, Sense of Place, had a different focus. It seemed to be on the artistic and spiritual aspect of land ethics and restoration. Connecting people--age and cultural diversity. Speakers and conference attendees alike, often made their case in an emotional manner.

As an artist, I have lived with being being moved by landscape, subject and human connection and story. But here were scientists sharing their intensely personal and emotional stories. Bear Track Studios, Marie and I, were there for the conference poster presentation. As a collaborative business of wildlife and nature artists we were attempting to show the science community the importance of art in conservation and to recognize our efforts and how we can assist them with our contributions. As artists, we connect nature and the science world to the public--who are the ones who need to hear this environmental message that Rachel spoke of.

"Fireside Chat" of Elders 1-22-11

That night after many sessions, I relaxed with a pencil sketch that captured a moment in history as different ethnic and age groups met for the sake of not just our planet, but for us, the humans who live here and call Earth home. This Fireside Chat brought together nations discussing how we as stewards can connect with more folks spreading our message of land ethics, conservation and restoration.
Seated in Council Circle are:

Henry Lickers (Haudenosaunee and representative of the Dept. of Envirorment for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne), Guy Williams (advocate for environmental justice), Frank Ettwageshik (Odawa pottery artist and elder of the United Tribes of Michigan), Steve Apfelbaum (conservation developer) and James Crowfoot (UofM's School of Natural Resources and Environment). And I apologize that I did not include Peg Kohring of the Conservaton Fund (I did not have enough paper space to add her where she sat next to Jim).

 The next day I sketched Henry's hand gestures and relaxed attitude during his storytelling.
Conferences are exhausitng and there is so much to absorb and digest. So after returning home, I worked up a "memory sketch" of Henry's message the memorable highlights of his talk. I was particularly struck with the Haudenosaunee concept that "PEACE" is a verb and to "DO THE PEACE" is an action of keeping and maintaining peace--peace is not something that you acquire and store away.
Go sketch, "Pass the Joy Forward" (giving freely to the other) and "DO THE PEACE"!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

S.C.B.W.I. Networks Weekend is HERE!

WRITERS! Pace Yourself for the Big Race: Networks Weekend 2011
WHEN:  Sat., February 26, 2011, 10 a.m. WHERE:  Bear Den Gallery
WHERE:  1877 Brandes Lane, Pinckney, MI 48169

I will be hosting the Networks Weekend for Mi-S.C.B.W.I . writers and illustrators in this part of the state. For a general headcount please email an RSVP if you think you can make it! See more about Networks Weekend below!
                                                                              YOUR HOST: Lori Taylor

Writing is a lot like running a marathon. You can't just wake up one morning and decide you are going to do a marathon when you've never run before. Writing for kids is the same way. No matter how good you are, you can't pen the great American novel in a day. It takes discipline, hard work, lots of practice, training, revision, revision and more revision, along with blood, sweat and tears to make it to the finish line (publication). In honor of the 2500th anniversary of the running of the first marathon, the theme for the 2011 Networks Weekend is "Pace Yourself for the Big Race."
What is Networks Weekend? It's an opportunity to informally meet up with others who love children's books as much as you do! You pick the day and time during the weekend of Feb. 25-27, invite fellow writers to your home (or other location in your area) and schmooze for a couple hours. You do not have to be an SCBWI member to attend, in fact, we encourage non-members to come and learn more about us at:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Strike a Critter Pose

Pooh Corner

So I tried the "drop-everything-and-
draw a corner of a room project from my
last posting. It turned out to be more
like a study of bears.

And just like the lesson mentioned, we go around these
familiar things every day and are not totally
concious of what is REALLY in our space.
("I didn't know we had a bear with antlers!" said Lisa)

Yoga Pets
All of us walk past the familiar daily and fail to really take notice. Or maybe we try not to notice--say the dustballs on tables, kleenex bunnies, or ledges of fantastic spiderweb  architectural wonders (that are so intricate that you hate to remove them)!

So, to honor the familiar folk--how about sketching pets. OK, so a pile of bears is easy--they sit still. How about tackling (artistically) a house-bound pet or two? Pets happily pose for us daily! Do we really notice their antics?

When we do yoga in the morning, everyone has to get in on the activity. (It's hard to be mindful of breathing when a cat tail is tickling your nose and to stretch out in corpse pose and compete with the dog for the floor.) Try sketching your own Buddha kitty or Down Dog some time. 

Our pets have it easy--warmth, food. What about the wild ones? Wild critters make themselves known but you can't see them. They leave "sign". Scat, food leavings or tracks. Tracks are the next best thing to being there. We've had wild critter action here all week.

The night before last, we had a predawn concert production from a local family of coyotes. It was rather exciting to hear them so close, although our chickens might have been a tad nervous.

The 'yotes held a party on the hill--and all were invited. Rabbits, too.

I went out early in the 16 degree morning and sketched the fresh tracks and activity I found there. Tracks are fabulous for telling animal stories, especially in snow! Later in the day I took out my long sketchpad to get more of a landscape scene. It was warmer to sketch then and as I climbed the hill I was greeted by a turkey call from the marsh directly across from me.

Another moment of nature caught on paper. It doesn't hurt when you have a fresh canvas of snow--perfect for getting animal track stories.

This morning there were turkey tracks on our deck!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

No Time Like the Present

Now that ii is the new year, everyone talks about exercising, improving skills and bettering their life. Even we, Bear Track Girls 3, are doing yoga here on an almost daily basis. And now that post-holiday mayhem is settling down, it's time to get to other exercises--the task of illustrating.

I found an excellent book, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures at the library on drawing comics and graphic novels. I highly recommend it. My own used copy is in the mail as we speak. In the book were exercises that I found helpful. One such sketching project has the artist filling 5 pages with drawings. Try it.
  • Heads - all angles, front, back, above and below.
  • Hands - yours or someone elses.
  • Poses - have a friend, SO, or stranger pose for you. Ex: holding a cell phone, sword play, sweeping.
  • People - in a group or cafe-visual note taking of a scene.
  • Mirror - look in the mirror, sketch yourself at all angles. Try a silver Christmas ball ornament for extra fun!
Well, I went to the Brighton Art Guild meeting last night and sketched a plein air artist while he painted. Too bad I was sitting behind him. Still, it turned out neat--and he never knew!
But this simple sketched scene tells much. From the paper towel on the floor, to his paintings of herons in the front of the classroom to his open paint box with a pine tree landscape and brushes. A lot of information was captured here in this quick 5 to 10 minute sketch.

Now try this the next time you go to a conference, gallery opening, grocery store parking lot, or oil change garage. I once got a wizard character for a book I had to illustrate while I waited for an oil change. The gentleman next to me in his SUV had the perfect face, nose and look I needed for a wizard. 

I am excited for the next conference I am attending. Of course, I will have sketchbook in hand.No one ever knows that they just might make it in my sketchbook. Here are a few from last year's Stewardship Network Conference.

Tire Change Gossip Lady

Pancake Breakfast Bunch at Art Show 2010

Wildflower Woman

Fish and Wildlife Guys

Faces, hands, poses, props all tell the tale of a scene. It is very exciting and you may come up with story characters in the process.

"No Time Like the Present"
  • sketchbook
  • drawing tools.
If you are reading this post, RIGHT NOW, drop everything and draw! Right now. Drop everything and draw. No one has to see it but you (unless you followers want to send me a scanned sketch--which I would really like).

The corner of your room, a nook or cranny of geegaws, what-nots or nick-nacks. RULE:  DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING OUT. Even though it is your own familiar space, you don't really know it as well as you thought you did. I challenge you to try this.

The idea is to get to the busyness of drawing. DRAWING FROM LIFE IS VISUAL NOTETAKING!
Flex your sketching muscle and remember to breathe, stretch and exercise life notetaking in 2011.