Susan Mariano, CMNH Intern
Q. Barbara, I really like the way that you have added dimension to your painting by affixing the smaller canvases of the two children on top of your hillside background canvas. The way the string of the balloon appears in the foreground and balloon itself in the background, makes it seem as though the balloon belongs to the children, yet has a separate existence of its own outside of their play.
What feeling or message are you hoping to
invoke with the viewers of “The Red Balloon”?
A. Children often struggle with sharing. My painting of two kids with a red balloon, tells a story about making choices. Look closely at the boy on the left. Does the way he is standing suggest that he wants to hold the balloon, too? You can feel the boy wanting to hold the string while the girl on the right seems unwilling to share her prize. Do you think the girl on the right will let him? Will he convince her to let it go? Will the balloon escape at first opportunity? If it was your balloon would you share it?
Q. Yong, the detailed facial expressions in your paintings are very moving and being able to watch you actually paint a portrait during the artists’ reception was incredible! The watercolor paintings that you have chosen for this exhibition truly capture the emotional element of childhood play when there is not a care in the world but the moment that you are living in, and the sense of security found in spending unhurried, quality time with treasured parents.
What is it that
catches your eye and creates the desire within you to paint a particular
A. Whenever I see happy children under the sun, I want to put them in my paintings, because I would feel the genuine, unselfish love from the parents. I hope that my paintings will inspire my viewers to spend more quality time with their children.
My core belief that guides my parenting is that children are happier when they're outside, in the sunshine, playing, enjoying, exploring and learning about the wonderful world they live in. I'm experiencing the same struggle as most parents do of how to balance life and work in the modern technologically obsessed environment around us. For many working parents, it is very difficult to consistently make their children the priority. In each of my watercolor paintings in this series, there is one story to tell, and behind it a very happy child. We should see the love, caring and sacrifice from the parents. As an illustrator, I am trying to use my paintings to connect the parents with their own happy childhood memories, when in those times there was not much technology, and share my thought with them that they should make time to bring their children outside and play.
Q. Taylore, the golden circular shapes in the center of all of your mixed media artwork convey a sense of warmth and security, as they surround the delicate creatures within.
What statement are you making with the vintage printed backgrounds that you have chosen for each of your pieces?
A. I like to up-cycle the vintage pages from damaged antique books that would have otherwise found their demise and give them a new life by creating on them.
Q. Would you share your thoughts on your unique title choices?
A. Then All the Sky Which Only, the hummingbird, has the specific background because I saw the sentence, “Nature of Matter and Mind” within it and I turned it into my belief system of nature being grace, and that I do not understand, nor do I need to understand the mystery of grace. The title is simply a sing song way to say “Look what the sky holds! Hummingbirds!” Words have melody when we look and search.
By All and Deep by Deep, the whale, has a mathematical equation background because when I squinted my eyes the equations looked like music notes. Well let’s be honest I am far sighted and thought, indeed they were music notes. I love the songs whales sing. The title is because whales seem to live very deeply on all levels, figuratively, literally, musically, richly.
Whatever a Sun will Always Sing is You, the fox in the eclipse, is on a page about insanity, but the page is reversed. Tarot Cards meanings at times will be the complete opposite if inverted. Actually a lot of symbols mean the opposite when inverted. A subliminal message of how rabies seem to get these lovely creatures quite often, but not this one. She is sleeping in a soft eclipse of her own music.
Open You the Biggest and All, the deer, is in a sun nest. She is open and feels one with the Universe and what is bigger than that? I can not think of anything. She is on upside down equations as well because I thought they were music notes. Sometimes these things happen and I just flow with them!
Q. Gina, I really love the way that your colorful illustrations have captured the whimsy of a child’s imagination, the details that you put into your work, and how each person and creature is sharing time with others, yet in their own little world.
What made you decide to become an illustrator?
A. My short answer is usually that a very big part of me is STILL a child, and I'm making pictures that make that part of me happy! But here is the long answer, as well. Books were a huge part of my childhood. They allowed me to see into other worlds that as a child I couldn't travel to on my own. I also loved art from a young age but never thought of illustration as a career path until I was in art school. Even then, I studied computer animation - and I think what most attracted me to that profession was the visual storytelling. Once I was working in animation, I understood how little personal vision I could put into a project and that I wasn't working with the audience I loved the most - children. I didn't put the pieces together until I was taking a children's illustration class - suddenly I knew exactly what I wanted to do! It really felt like a light deep inside me finally clicked on. I love learning, so I soaked up everything that would help me reach my goal. Over the years I took lots of classes, joined critique groups, attended conferences, read mountains of picture books, and worked incredibly hard to find a place in children's book illustration.
Q. Do the authors set “rules” for you limiting you to their vision or do you get to express what you see within your own imagination?
A. Most projects allow me to set lots of rules - from how the characters look to the size of the book itself and where the text breaks up throughout the book. Other projects come with more guidelines, usually from an editor or art director, but there is always room for my own approach and vision. Finding ideas and characters that the author didn't originally state, but that add to the story, is one of the most exciting parts of my job!
Q. What medium to you use to craft your illustrations?
A. I use a mix of gouache (opaque watercolor), soft pencils and Photoshop.
Q. Michal, you are known for drawing incredibly detailed black and white penciled portraits and illustrations. In this exhibition you have traveled in a totally different artistic direction, leading you to the creation of fascinating 3-dimensional, illuminated worlds inside of cigar boxes. In conversation you eluded to a future endeavor using yet another medium.
Please share what it is that truly inspires you to boldly go where you have not gone before.
A. On a visit to our favorite Maine 'Dowling Walsh' Gallery, located in Rockland, we came across artwork the likes I had never seen before. I was immediately fascinated by the medium, craftsmanship and story. The artist is Anne Emmanuelle Marpeau from Brittany France. The works were of dioramas of the coast, sailing and sea. I was so taken with them I got to thinking about creating something similar on a smaller scale, and so after much experimentation and development my boxes were born.
Less exacting than my pencil portraits and entirely different, I
loved the change in medium and the unending and imaginative ideas you
I am always coming up with new ideas and creative projects, adding
them to my repertoire of artworks. The part I quite enjoy is figuring
out (engineering) how these 3 dimensional projects can work, and yes, I
have yet another idea in my mind… here we
go again. It's so much fun!
In the world of hi-tech, the hand-crafted creative is both rewarding and therapeutic.
Q. Debra, I like that you selected photographs of children from France, Mexico and Italy for this exhibition as your photos serve as a reminder that the essence of being a child has no international borders. Your statement that “Photography is so much about ‘seeing’ and not just taking snapshots,“ rings so true with your photographs. As the viewer continues to gaze at one of your photos, it seems that there is more going on than just a quick glance can reveal.
Do you see these nuances as you are taking the photo or discover afterwards that they were what compelled you to capture the image?
you for saying that my photographs are not snapshots, but more about
seeing. That is what I strive for. As for whether capturing the
essence of being a child was intent or a lucky result of my shooting
(which I admit can absolutely happen!) on those days in Mexico, Paris
and Tuscany, I think I can fairly say that with these particular photos I
was excited to see what was happening in the world around me and sought
to capture the moment. The child in Mexico was playing with some of
the jewelry that her parents crafted and sold and I could see that she
was just so beautiful. In Tuscany, I shot many images of those boys
playing soccer but was happy that I stuck around to photograph
their camaraderie afterwards. And in Paris, I was very excited to
see that little girl on her scooter in front of the carousel. It was an
image I would never be able to capture close to home. It was so
Parisian. She reminded me of the little girl in the Madeline books!