Illustration Institute Inspires

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 in Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration, Maine College of Art, Peaks Island | 4 comments

This month has been jam-packed with visitors and events. I am inspired and jazzed about the new Illustration Institute’s Marilyn Faison Artist Residency.

There are two houses on Peaks Island available to illustrators and authors for retreats, and they are just up the hill in the woods behind my house. This is the Stone Cottage, nestled in the pines at the top of Tolman Heights.


I brought over a pie to Henrik and Wing, artists/residents for two weeks.


They had decent time to be residential, like take strolls and dunk in the ocean. We showed them our favorite cook-out spot.


The light shifts in lovely ways and the waves almost drown out the conversation.


We brought them back to their cottage just in time for their dog, Tofu, to fall fast asleep.


A few days later, Henrik led a two hour workshop at the Peaks Island branch library.


It was a great crowd of veterans and newcomers to book-making.


Henrik talked about his path to book making. “I went to art school for about five minutes,” he said. He was too restless and more inclined to travel, always drawing in books. “My portfolio was my notebook.” His work was well received, and he got contract offers, doing several books, some of which were in a pile on the table.


Simon’s Book appeared on Reading Rainbow, giving him great visibility beyond publishing. His most recent book, China Days, is a personal chronicle of living in Dali, Yunnan, a mountain town in Southwest China where he and his partner, Wu Wing Yee, enjoyed the benefits of time and space to make their art.

He also said, “Unless you are published, you can’t get published,” which is the current conundrum of today’s publishing landscape. He asked us to choose our paper supplies and begin folding.


Once we had our little books assembled, he gave us various drawing prompts, such as drawing the room and also the other folks. We also passed our books to others.


We cut up two of the pages into three sections for drawing parts of faces, swapping for others to add their bits.


Some observations and awls…


There was more tricky folding directions that required intense focus…


Witness the camaraderie of happy workshop campers.


L to F: Nancy Gibson Nash, James Steinberg, Wu Wing Yee, Michaela Flint, Hal Mayforth, Eda French, Henrik Drescher, Marty Braun

I decided to decorate the cover of my little book appropriately. Thanks to ii, Illustration Institute!


Just two days later, more ii goodness arrived when JooHee Yoon gave a fantastic lecture at Maine College of Art.


She spoke in Osher Hall to an eager crowd about her journey in the illustration field after graduating from Rhode Island School of Design in 2011. She explained the rigors of working for the New York Times, when an e-mail arrives in the morning and sketches are due by noon, final by 6 PM.


She was asked to provide a visual that conveyed her feelings after the November election. This is about the “worm of fear” she felt walking the streets in a daze.


She majored in illustration but spent a lot of time making silkscreen prints, which became an approach she has exploited digitally in her work, using separated colors in layers. But as for using Photoshop, she said she uses only three tools: the magic wand, the lasso, and the brush. “It’s better to know less. The infinite options available can make you crazy.”

She admitted she did not have a sketchbook practice in school, but said, “I’ve changed my ways. It’s relaxing to draw just by looking, and not have to have a clever idea.” This is a drawing from her sketchbook done while traveling in Japan, where her fascination for the jumble of signage led to a series of posters featuring food trucks.


Currently she is living in Brooklyn doing a one-year residency at the Lower East Side Printshop, exploring copper plate etching. While on her residency on Peaks Island, she worked on another book project for Enchanted Lion. I only spied her once, riding a bicycle backshore, where I gave her a sweaty hug. JooHee was in the second Faison Residency cottage with her parents, across the road from the Stone Cottage. I owe her a pie, because we took off for our own travels the next day.

There is SO MUCH going on with Illustration Institute events, my head is spinning. Soon, Lyn Smith will be in the Stone Cottage, and we’ll see what prickly trouble we can get into.

Coming up there will be a workshop with Mark Hoffman, talks given by Chris Raschka, Emily Flake, and Mimi Pond, plus a screening of Beauty is Embarrassing with Wayne White. You can keep up with this parade at the Illustration Institute’s Facebook page. Announcements keep coming!

I’ll leave you with my sketch of Mimi, last seen sporting a beard as Mistress of Ceremonies at the beard-heavy ICON in Portland, Oregon in 2014.


Kudos to the Illustration Institute for it’s bold advocacy of the illustration field. I’m off now to Kidlit Libations, another gathering of local folks in book-making hi-jinks. No lazy summer around these parts!



  1. The Illustration Institute looks amazing! I wish I was up thata’way to take advantage of it!

    • It’s a pretty cool venture, thanks to the vision of Scott Nash.

  2. WOW! Jam packed blog and so much going on#!@?%
    Thanks for the update from your world and all the goings on. Whew!
    Great that the Illustration Institute is giving space (home & island) for creativity to shine!
    Tons of good news and hopeful to meet Lyn sometime when she is on the island.
    Thanks for keeping us up on the goings on and also giving us a view into your world.

    • Peg, Lyn will be arriving this Saturday! Woot! Maybe I can get her to visit Art on the Porch with her adorable family.

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