It’s no secret that most children’s books are about relationships.  Author Lyn Smith and I traveled recently to visit fellow book creator,  Jo Miles Schuman.  Lyn and Jo met via Maine Authors Publishing and I’m always down to meet fellow book makers. We found her homestead along a winding road with acres and acres of rolling woods and wetlands beyond.

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We ducked beneath swooping swallows nesting in the dark rafters of her barn and into a sunny studio where Jo served a scrumptious rhubarb pie and carrot cake. Double dessert, yes please.

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Her studio is filled with collections of nature objects and art tools.  As a former art teacher and author of Art From Many Hands, she is a strong advocate of drawing directly from the wild.

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Out the window, we spied a baby swallow resting between amateur flights.

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Jo shared some of the wood block prints she’s done for an evolving book idea. Absolutely stunning!

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At one point she wheeled aside a wall to reveal stacks upon stacks of amazing wood block prints from a long chapter in printmaking. Her keen eye for detail and compelling compositions had me gushing.

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All too soon it was time to depart. Thanks to Jo for a delicious window into her realm of art practice, book making, and carving a wild life in Maine.

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Authors Jo Mile Schuman and Lyn Smith

A week later, I attended the presentation, A Glimpse into North Korea, by long-time friend and Peaks Island neighbor, Anne Sibley O’Brien. With over 35 children’s books published, Annie has been a huge model and mentor for me. She was raised in South Korea as the daughter of medical missionaries and has worked for the last ten years on her latest, In the Shadow of the Sun, a political escape thriller set in North Korea.

The Portland Public Library sponsored event was held in the Peaks Island Branch Community Room, where Annie detailed the saga of her research and travels to a large crowd of neighbors and loyal island readers.  She is pointing here to the spot where her characters find a clue, I think!

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She read an early passage from the book and took questions.

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What a sweet feeling to buy her book and have her sign it! Book makers know these moments are hard-earned.

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In the same spot next week, I’m eager for an upcoming book-making workshop with Henrik Drescher, renowned artist and prolific book creator, thanks to Peaks Island’s own Illustration Institute. I have a small but mighty collection of his adventuresome works which I treasure.

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We met back when he did a 3-day workshop with Illustration majors at Maine College of Art, seen here intently assembling their hand-stitched collaboration in 2014.

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No doubt the energy will be just as fierce in next week’s workshop, with two hours of intensity. Bring it on!

For two weeks, Henrik and his partner, Wu Wing Yee, are encamped, just up the hill from my house, at the Illustration Institute’s Faison Residency. This secluded artist residency was initiated in memory of Marilyn Faison, an artist and long-time summer resident of Peaks Island, who with her husband, John, invited many artists to share their island retreat. Director Scott Nash is tickled to have a roster of notables in the field of children’s publishing visit Maine, the inspirational source of many classic story books.

Here Wing and Henrik look for inspiration, or maybe just the incoming fog.

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Also next week, fellow RISD alum and brave bookmaker JooHee Yoon will be in residency as well. She will  give a lecture at Maine College of Art’s Osher Hall on July 27 at 6:30. Make sure you are there early!

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JooHee’s work exuberantly layers unexpected colors, evidence of her joy in printmaking surprises. I met her a couple of years ago at a RISD Reads event. So looking forward to seeing her on Peaks Island!

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What a bounty of book making folks in my world. Every one of them is a shot in my drawing arm. Back to work I go!

 

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