Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Moment of Truth...

Ladies and gentlemen... My latest book. 

I kid around about spending too much time in my studio, or not getting enough sleep, but when it finally comes time to unveil the fruit of all that labor, everything else goes away. 

This book was great fun to illustrate, which is usually the case with great stories. It's jam packed with history, and takes place in Tucson, Arizona in 1876.

Here's a few more illustrations from 
Esperanza Means Hope.

Bowler Hat & Red Beard

From a Distance


The Rescue

Esperanza Means Hope
Coming this Fall
Illustrated by Guy Porfirio
Written by Gwen Harvey
Published by The Arizona Historical Society

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Defining Moment in life #10...

It's just not possible to sum up my Mazza experience in a few words. You really had to be there. Much like the difference between a photograph of the Grand Canyon, and actually standing on the edge of the north rim at sunset—not even close... My week at the University of Findlay's Mazza Museum, along with many other incredible moments in my life, will live on, burned into my memory forever. Maybe it will be made into a movie someday! "What can I say, sometimes a guy just wants the impossible," (to borrow a line from Tom Hanks).

It's all about the pizza...

To have come this close to Chicago without stopping by for my all-time favorite pizza in the world, Gino's East, would have been a crime. So we did. My son was with me on this trip. It's always nice when I can impress him with something I think is "cool." I'm happy to report he agrees with me on that whole deep-dish versus thin-crust thing. He comes from good stock.

Then, on to Findlay.

This is Benjamin Sapp, Director, Mazza Museum; Instructor,
College of Education, and a very gracious Master of Ceremonies.

I was the first speaker presenting at the Mazza 2010 Summer Conference, so of course I was feeling no pressure (in opposite world, maybe). I'm always a little jittery about speaking until the first sentence leaves my lips. But, short of falling off the stage, or fainting, I couldn't really make a mistake here.

I can't tell you what a joy it is to talk about my artistic passion for visual storytelling to an audience who has that same passion and appreciation for the fine art of picture books. These people get it. Many of them artists and writers themselves. By the end of my short 45 minutes, I wanted to take this whole room, and all of the people in it, home with me so I could step back in and once in awhile get a little enthusiastic boost.

As you can see, it went well.

This is my view of Mazza's reaction to my presentation. I just happened to have a camera handy. It is a moment that will last me a very long time. Incidentally, that's Jerry Mallet, Professor of Education and Curator of the Mazza Museum on the left, and the famous author/illustrator Judith Caseley in the black on the right side of the picture. Now, if any of you are familiar with my earlier posts, you'll remember reading about my disappointment over never getting "The Wave" from my family after finishing a tough book project. Well... in a stunning show of empathy, these wonderful Mazza people took it upon themselves to give me a first class "Wave" just moments after this picture was taken. Definitely, my kind of people.

Left to right: Robert Sabuda, Patricia Polacco, Suzanne Bloom, Brian Lies, Ian Schoenherr, Me, and Carol Heyer.

I was in very good company.

Unfortunately, this wasn't everyone at this year's Summer Conference. Because of individual schedules, many of the artists were only able to commit to just enough time to make their presentations and break-out sessions, and then head back home. Calef Brown was one who had to leave early. He's not in any of these photos, but his presentation was incredible. Also, Steve Bjorkman and Matthew Reinhart spoke on Friday. I, on the other hand, was the guest who wouldn't leave. Too many times in the past I've made the mistake of not staying long enough to really soak up the essence of such an event. I'm glad I stayed this time.  

Here is Brandon Dorman giving his spirited demonstration.
Very inspiring.

And Patricia Polacco with the real "Keeping Quilt."

Patricia Polacco seated in front. Back row, left to right:  Suzanne Bloom, Carol Heyer, Brian Lies, Jackie Urbanovic, Me.

Something I don't get a chance to do very often is get out of my studio and spend some time talking with my peers. As it turns out there are quite a few similarities in how we approach our work. Every now and then when I'm working on a tight deadline and spending a lot of time in the studio, I start to feel like the guy in that old Twilight Zone episode who walks out of a cave one day and all the people are gone. Is there life outside these walls? There is, right?

As my week at Findlay was beginning to fade, I still had one more honorable Mazza Museum tradition to perform...

And there's only one thing better than drawing for a living, and that's drawing on someone's wall—someone else's wall! Which is something I haven't done since the first grade. But, just when I thought it couldn't get any better, the museum asked me to draw something on their wall... in ink too!

You betcha!

My preliminary sketch...

I thought this was good use
of corner space.

All in all, a great week. And hey, look! I'm still smiling, and sporting my new favorite coffee mug to boot! It doesn't get much better than this folks.

Now back to the drawing board...