VIDEO: Flash Mob Wedding Proposal in Edinburgh

I feel for you guys trying to out-do this romantic proposal! From The Scotsman: "Watch: Romantic moment man proposes with flash mob on Edinburgh's Castle Street." I used to walk this street every day during my MFA. I'm sorry I missed it! Click the image to watch at The Scotsman:

Living Overseas - 12 Things I've learned...

One of the commenters on my FB thread about the new job in South Carolina asked for tips on moving overseas. I responded 'Good lord, where to start!' So I thought, perhaps this would make a good blog post. These aren't so much tips as they are 12 things I've learned:
1. People are people no matter where you go. We may have cultural or racial differences, but at the core, we are all as wonderful and imperfect as anybody else.

2. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence, but sometimes it is. There are good and bad things about anywhere you live. They may be different things, but they'll probably weigh out about the same. (Unless you go somewhere truly challenging.)

3. Socialized medicine is AMAZING. I have received the BEST HEALTHCARE OF MY LIFE in Scotland, by a very, very wide margin. Socialized medicine is far superior. The reasons why are too long to list here, so that may have to be another post. But I can say that healthcare should be a human RIGHT everywhere and knowing that you are covered for life's catastrophes completely changes your quality of life. I do wish the US would get their act together on this.

4. The gulf stream is massively important, as is the threat of climate change. Scotland is as far north as Alaska. Most of the UK is as far north as Canada. It's the gulf stream that makes them feel like they are much farther south. If that weather pattern gets disrupted, this region will feel it deeply.

5. Politics are a mess everywhere right now. (Does that ever really change?) It seems like the entire world is becoming more nationalistic and scarily conservative. I don't know why. That said, there are many people in the world living in war, in terror, or living displaced. If you're reading my blog, you're probably one of the lucky ones who has a choice.

6. Brexit is perhaps even worse than the US mess right now because it will take decades to undo, whereas in the US, we hold elections that can radically change things every four years.

7. Coming off of that nationalism topic, visas are a bear. Trying to get permission to live in a foreign country, especially one that is clamping down on immigration, is extremely, extremely difficult. I hate that.

8. It is not fun to live somewhere where you can't vote to change the politics of where you live. I think of all the immigrants living in the US, who suffer because of legislation they have no power to change. That powerlessness is not funny. And the people who do have the power to vote are oftentimes the people who will be least affected by the legislation they vote for.

9. Public transportation ROCKS. To not have to own a car, to have multiple options of how to get around, these are freedoms and environmentally--friendly options that everyone should have. (It also makes drunk-driving less of a thing.)

10. Knowing that food and medicine must be proved safe before being made publicly available is a much better system than playing catch-up after food or medicine turns out to be unsafe. This system means that most of the produce in the UK is near or better quality than the organic produce you can buy in the US. Not having to worry about the toxicity of your food is a marvellous thing.

11. When you live in a tight/walkable community, where you can walk to the grocer, walk to restaurants, walk to the library, etc., you end up not needing as much stuff of your own. Your neighborhood becomes your extended home. That's a lovely feeling.

12. You probably have more invested in your home than you realize. We take so much for granted - friendships, familiarity, native knowledge (jokes, lingo, accents, etc.). It can be very fun to be somewhere where all those things are new and different, but it can also become an ongoing challenge that can get old sometimes. That said, no matter how beautiful and wonderous a new place is, you will eventually find yourself taking it for granted too. We humans just do that.

13. Let's make this a Baker's Dozen... The math of different currencies and measuring systems is challenging and fun! It's nice to finally have a feel for celsius and the metric system considering the majority of the globe is on that system rather than the US system. And one does feel especially worldly when carrying several different currencies in your wallet at the same time!
All said, living overseas has been exciting adventure for me. It's made the entire world feel more accessible. It's given me objectivity and new ways of thinking, more empathy, international awareness, and it's gifted me with friends all over the planet - making our world a much smaller and friendlier place.
     Another FB poster asked if I was going to miss Edinburgh. Of COURSE I will! How could I not? Edinburgh is a very special place and I'm so grateful to have had this experience!!!

Kelly Pousette's LITTLE THINGS

Peter Pauper Press is coming out with some truly lovely books of late. I can't wait to share LITTLE THINGS with you, illustrated by debut illustrator, Kelly Pousette. It's so charming! She stopped by to talk about it...
e: Is that all cut paper in Little Things!? Can you walk us through your process?
The majority of the illustrations in Little Things are created with paper cut pieces and set up in a diorama setting. I love the process of paper cutting and constructing dioramas, its beautiful to watch the scene take shape and develop. I start the process with an idea in mind, of how I want the end result to look. I sketch it out,

create and add colour to the individual pieces. Then I cut these pieces out using a very sharp knife–I try to cut out as much as I can, even very small and tiny details, like grasses and tiny flowers–that way I have as much flexibility as possible with placing the pieces.
Once the pieces are cut out I start to arrange them and place them in the diorama setting.
I love this part so much –well, I love all of it, but this part is magical. I love how when I create the scenes, changing one flower or footprint changes the mood of the scene. It is fascinating to me! I usually start to add lighting as I’m doing this as I want to see where the shadows will lie. And it is so enjoyable to hide tiny details within the shadows, so they are like little hidden surprises. Once the diorama is created and the lighting is how I would like it, then my husband and I work together to take the photo of the scene. We love working together as a team and I feel so grateful to be able to do this! He is an incredibly talented photographer and videographer and has an amazing eye for colour and detail. The photo is then processed in Photoshop, but only minor tweaks here and there are applied. The process is lengthily but I adore it.
e: It’s hard to believe this is your debut picture book. Wowsa, what a debut! What was your path to publication?
Thank you so much, that’s very kind of you! I’m overjoyed that it was my debut picturebook. I have an amazing agent, Abigail Samoun with Red Fox Literary. She is incredible, so supportive and tenacious! She contacted me with the manuscript and I fell in love with it immediately. I was so nervous, sending in samples, I was worried that they would decide in the end to go with a different illustrator. So when Abi sent me the contract details, I literally yelped for joy! Then I cried tears of joy, haha. I have wanted to illustrate a children’s book since I was very small so this was a dream come true. I believe though it is a result of hard work, persistence, amazing support from my husband and family, and an incredible agent who believes in what you do.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of Little Things?
For me, there isn’t one unique story behind the art creation for Little Things, but a accumulation of many stories. As I created it, I was reminded of so many lovely memories of my childhood – exploring my mum’s garden, painting rocks, playing dress up with my sister, playing in our fort. I kept thinking too about my niece, Emerson. I think of her all the time anyways, but when I created the art, I kept thinking about what she would notice in the world around her. She will be seven this year and is the most incredible little human. She is constantly reminding me in her own way, to slow down, and take in what’s around me.

Click the image to view it larger in a new window.

e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
There are illustrations that I can picture with my eyes closed - they seem to nestle into my being and stay with me. I think the magic of these illustrations lies in that they connect with a part of me – maybe something from my childhood, or a memory of a place I’ve been, or even something in the not so distant past. There is a book I found once, a lovely book about a young boy who had lost his mum and is grieving with his father. The art is so beautiful, and it evokes such strong emotions. And I believe that anyone that reads this book, that looks at the art, would feel a connection with it. We have all lost someone dear and close to us, and illustrations like that, that give us comfort and communion, that to me is Heart Art. To me they are magical because they remind us of our humanness, of our connection with one another.
e: How do you advertise yourself?
I am very fortunate to work with my agent Abi. She is regularly marketing my artwork and creating connections. I wouldn’t be in this place today without her. I have a portfolio and biography page on the Red Fox Literary website. I am also on Instagram, which has also been a very positive experience for me. I try to post regularly which I think is worthwhile if you are able. The community of artists and creatives on Instagram is very supportive.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
I tend to be quite hard on myself and critical – which I don’t think is necessarily a negative thing. I think it pushes you to work hard and keep at something until you are happy with it. But I’m slowly learning to accept that I am human and perfection doesn’t exist. That sometimes I need to sit back and just take a break and that’s ok. But I sometimes wonder who I would be if I didn’t illustrate? It is so much a part of me. I love creating, I love the whole process – from imagining something, to sketching it, cutting out and creating a scene from it. I can’t really say if I have a favourite part, I adore the whole process.

Click the image to view it larger in a new window.

e: Is there something in particular about Little Things you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
I feel so honoured to be apart of Little Things. I know that the story meant a great deal to Nick, and it does to me as well. While working on it, I felt the child-like part of my being erupting forth. I suddenly started to notice the small, little things. And I think they are things I have been taking for granted or have been moving too quickly to notice. I know that life can be so busy and demanding. But I hope if someone reads Little Things it will give them an opportunity to pause and take in the little things around them too – because those little things can give us so much joy. Knowing Little Things gave the reader joy would fill my heart to bursting point.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I recently finished illustrating a book project, which will be out in September of this year. I am just in the process of finishing up the illustrations for another new book project that I can’t share too much about yet...but I’m really excited about it so stay tuned! I will announce on my Instagram when both are available. I would love to at some point to illustrate a pop up book – those were my favourite books as a child. I would also love to eventually write and illustrate a book.
     Thank you so much Elizabeth for this wonderful opportunity! I am honoured and very excited, and greatly appreciate you taking the time to speak with me about Little Things.

e: Lovely to have you on, Kelly! I can't wait to see the new book too!

Congratulations Rebekah!

I'm thrilled for one of my students at Hollins University who has made her first book sale! This was the listing in Publishers Weekly:

Coloring Page Tuesday - Flying Books

     I love it when good books carry you away!
CLICK HERE for more coloring pages.
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     I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books! For instance...
my latest picture book, Crow Not Crow - written by New York Times Best-selling author Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple.
     Kirkus calls it "a solid choice for introducing the hobby [birdwatching] to younger readers."
      Also, A Bird on Water Street is now available in Chinese!
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

Sunshine in Glasgow!

We've been blessed with a sudden few days of warm, wonderful sunshine here in Scotland. It made walking through Kelvingrove Park a real treat.

And it made the ride home on the train absolutely stunning. I told you about the rapeseed in bloom the other day. Well, this is what it looks like with the sun shining on it!


BIG NEWS!!! I am now a Professor at Winthrop University!

BIG, BIG, BIG NEWS!!! I have landed my dream job!
I am now Associate Professor of Illustration at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina (just south of Charlotte, NC) beginning this fall - woohoo!
So, my trip to Hollins University this year will be via a one-way ticket. Can you believe it?
Wowsa, this is all happening so fast. I have loved Edinburgh, but the MFA degree was to land the dream job, which I have! And I'm hoping to finish my PhD long-distance with Winthrop's full support!
So, off to the next adventure! I hope you'll keep following along! Oh, and, GO EAGLES!!!
Photos used with permission from Winthrop University.


My first board book, MERBABY'S LULLABY, written by the fabulous Jane Yolen and published by Simon & Schuster's Little Simon imprint is now IN THE WORLD!!!! WOOHOOOOOO!!! I am so thrilled with the way it turned out, and the big thick pages make me so HAPPY!!! If you see it in the wild, will you please send me photos? I'm so excited!!!!
CLICK HERE to see some work-in-progress images!

Ed Young's SMILE

I've had Gary Golio visit my blog before along with Ed Young. Well, here's a treat for you. This time, Ed delved deep into his philosophy behind his process in the making of their latest collaboration, SMILE - the story of Charlie Chaplin.
An Essay on Making the Picture Book SMILE
by Ed Young

      Even born and raised in war-torn China as I was, my suffering was nowhere near Chaplin’s, earning pennies and sleeping in doorways of London ghettos.
That said, those early days having to live with a constant shortage of goods had influenced me in saving discarded materials for use in my art. Though I had no forethought to portray things this way for Charlie’s hardships in early 20th- century England.
In fact, when I agreed to do SMILE, I somehow expected to depict a colorful, whimsical clown with funny baggy attire and huge turned-out shoes;
little did I know that it wasn't until the end of the book that he finally becomes the tramp we all know so well.
      My question then was how could I entice a child to find the Darkness of Charlie's life (poverty, sadness) inviting?
Once that challenge put me to the test, I was hooked. Making a book is like making conversation with someone at the other end by finding a common bridge.
Then, how to have a solo conversation, as the artist, from both ends throughout a 32-page book? This act must continue to trigger an interest, like playing a fisherman. Once engaged, the fish will pull away while the man lets out the line; as soon it slacks, he reels it in, creating a game. Once the reader is hooked, his fish will want to come back, only this time it’s not for the bait but for the game.
As to Elizabeth Dulemba's idea of Heart Art: The heart turns a mundane illustrated-telling into extraordinary poetry, intended to fill the reader with imaginings far beyond a series of pictures that reach his physical eye. When his looking turns into seeing, the mind lingers and the fish will return for more. That’s a HEART BOOK. I own many of those treasures done by my own illustrator-heroes.
     What’s difficult for me, in most cases, is to accept an offer to do a book. In such a case, I become the fish that teases the fisherman’s hook to see if the bait is worth a bite. A skillful fisherman must convince me to play this push-and-pull game (but not Gary, who is already a playmate). Once begun, it is just as difficult to stop - like raising a child; one could never tell if the child is really full-grown. The parent—and the artist—must find himself no longer needed for an incubation period after the child decides to go public. At least a month from the request; then he is free to venture out on his own.
      My dream project is the next one that defies my ability to put “improbable” into pictures. On hearing “I bet you can’t. It’s humanly impossible!” Guess what? I am born in the Year of the Goat, so I usually am dumb enough to take on the challenge and often wonder later why I got myself into it! Now I know: It has made me a better artist.
Ed Young