Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Plein-Air Painting (in the living room)

Now that spring is finally (kinda) here, I'm painting with the window open in the living room.

It's great! Except for the fact that I haven't installed the screen in the window, so nosy bees keep popping in to buzz around me. But it's great to paint and feel a cool (not frigid) breeze on my shoulder. In the winter, I was doing this for shorter periods of time, bundled up with sweater, scarf and flannel pants.

Also, it's great for listening to the sounds of the street (when I'm not blasting music in my earphones). And for spying on passers-by and their conversations- BUT the mailman is pretty tall and has a booming voice, and the sounds of his phone conversations while he walks by sometimes startle me!  

And if I can hear people out there, they can probably hear me, which means I am less apt to uninhibitedly (is that a word?) sing along with my music like a crazy person... In my mind, I have a voice like Norah Jones, but I will not sing for the whole neighborhood... but I do sometimes forget that the window is open and sing anyway... What can i say? It it helps me relax.

... the living room at the end of the hallway...
... little front table overrun with necessities:
brushes, music, glue, tape, etc...
(yes, I still buy CDs)

I also make sure to close the sheer curtain when I need to get up for a dance break! Sometimes don't you need to just get up and DANCE?

You do. Trust me.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We Need Diverse Books Campaign

Today marks the first day of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign to promote diversity in literature! 

There is a Tumblr at http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com/ that is hosting all of the photos and messages contributed for the campaign.

You can also take part on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

Here is my contribution!

Join the party! Post a photo of yourself holding a sign that says: "We need diverse books because....." fill in the blank and post, tweet, blog, whatever!! 

Fempowering Q&A

Today is the day my Fempowering.org interview goes live, and the first day of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign!
Fempower: Q&A's that interest. inspire. ignite, featuring influential women.
You can read my interview here:

Q&A with Elizabeth Zunon, artist and children’s book illustrator

Melissa Seymour: Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for speaking with us today. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Elizabeth Zunon: I am a children’s book illustrator, working mostly in oil paint and collage. I love bright colors, funky patterns, and hearing stories about people and their passions. I lived in the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), West Africa, where my Dad is from, until I was twelve years old, and many of the books I have illustrated take place in Africa.
MS: When did you know you were an artist? Did you draw as a child?
EZ: I think I always knew I was an artist- I’ve loved to draw, paint, color, create, and use my imagination ever since I was a child. I knew I was an artist maybe the first time that I drew something and felt very proud of it.
MS: How did you get involved in illustrating picture books? What do you love about them?
EZ: I studied Illustration in college at the Rhode island School of Design. After that, I submitted my portfolio to book publishers in New York, all the while attending author/illustrator conferences and events. Eventually I met my agent, who has helped me get published! I’d always loved the format of picture books, having being read to by my Mom and grandmother as a child (and loving to watch “Reading Rainbow” on TV!). I love that the images in a picture book often tell a story all on their own without the words, and the words of course tell a story, but when you use both words and images together, the depth of the story is reinforced into one complete and very unique package.
MS: What’s your favorite type of picture book? Why are you drawn to it?
EZ: My favorite type of picture book is non-fiction, because I love learning about real places and real people I might never get to experience in person.
MS: What’s your process for creating picture book illustrations? Do the characters appear in your mind or does it take some work to create them?
EZ: The characters are usually the first thing to appear in my mind when I read a manuscript. I feel if I can see them, if I can draw them, it helps me get to know them and try to put myself in their shoes. I plot out the picture book into a storyboard first, where I doodle and play around to figure out which images will go on which pages. Next, I look for reference images of certain things in the story, like clothing, houses or animals. Sometimes I take photos of myself to use as reference, posing in various situations from the story. Then, I create larger drawings, one for each page of the book, with more detail, and transfer my drawings on to the final paper I will paint them on. Finally, I break out the oil paint and get to work! Sometimes, once my paint is dry, I will add collage elements of cut paper onto the illustration.
MS: What motto do you live by?
EZ: “Don’t worry about it. Just do what you do- And do it good.”- Bill Withers
MS: Who is your hero/heroine?
EZ: Hmm… I admire many different people, artists, musicians… I would say my hero/heroine is anyone who pursues their passion.


Check out more of Elizabeth Zunon’s work here: http://lizzunon.com/