August Hedge a gram

Happy August!

Summertime is when my book project is in full swing, and a great time to talk about all the goings on in my life as an illustrator plus random thoughts and I hope some inspiration to all of you planning a creative project.
As far as Gingerbread Christmas is going, it is slow, but exciting. I was worried that because I've done two books previously starring the Gingerbread Baby, that I might not have the creative excitement of fashioning a new character. Instead though, I feel carried along by the story idea,which begins with Matti cutting out cookies in the shape of musical instruments.When he "peeks" and opens the oven too soon the instruments march out playing.
I have always loved PETER AND THE WOLF and this is my idea of a similar story that could be set to music. My husband is a classical musician who plays the double bass with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and I go to all his concerts. He was the inspiration for BERLIOZ THE BEAR and now this Gingerbread story. The hours I spend listening sometimes bring ideas that come from a different place. I especially enjoy romantic works composed by Schubert, Mahler, Grieg and Dvorak. I will be joining the Boston Symphony as a music enthusiast later this month when they concertize in London, Paris, Cologne, Berlin, Salzburg, Vienna, Lucerne and Milan. I will go to many folk art museums that are more prevalent in Europe, to gather reference books for my current book as well as my library. The next time you take a trip, even if itís to a closer destination, it can be productive to assemble a scrapbook of design ideas. The best is when you get the ideas home, in the form of objects, postcards and photos and they begin to form a story on their own. We always laugh when we get pulled over in the customs line for having a very heavy bag. It is always books and more books. Although I remember volunteering that we were bringing in a Moose antler from Sweden. It had been shed naturally and over wintered so after a few minutes of consulting various customs officials we were allowed to bring it in. I ended up using it extensively to do my Moose drawings for my book HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, and we brought it on the book tour to show children and let them feel it.
Even though it is months away, the day after Thanksgiving, we go on the book tour for THE TURNIP . The cities and signing spots have been chosen. I will be bringing the little Dutch light brown cockerel, and his mother, Rilke on the bus. We just received the design on the bus from Ed Scully, the very talented designer who works for Penguin-Random House. Itís buoyant and eye catching. The bus, which is how we travel for 18 days will seem like home very quickly. I love that I can bring healthy food, including my favorite Black & Gold 80% Cacao chocolate! I will also be bringing a page from my current book to work on during my days off and a fantastic knitting project for when were moving and it is too bumpy to paint. It is a Alice Starmore fair Isle sweater I am making for myself. If it comes out well I will knit one for my granddaughter. the yarn is from sheep that live in the Hebrides islands. The colors are very stunning and have names like Selkie and Driftwood. You can see them on her website. I am using the yarn names for my 2015 young chickens. I raise over 75 and every year I have a theme.
I hope that you consider starting a creative project as summer crests and nature is in full bloom. Its great to be outside and re-imagine a story or a picture while walking, hiking, or canoeing. My daughter and her husband just came back from a three year time in Japan. It was so nice to have my grandchildren enjoy our "camp" in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. We hiked Monument Mountain and found that many literary luminaries have also hiked it including Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, who both lived very close to where we live. also Norman Rockwell, Daniel Chester French, the sculptor, and Edith Warton, lived a stones through away, although in much grander style. The children loved the hike and although I'll probably never get over them looking over the edge at the summit, I love thinking of us tracing those famous footsteps.

Happy Reading and creating. Your friend,

Jan Brett