July Hedge a gram

Happy July!

     Hello and thank you to all of you in the Armed Forces serving our country and to your families.  Every morning I go down to our lake and put up our flags.  I take a moment to think of everyone and say a prayer for your well being.
      On this 4th of July, we celebrated by having a cook out and displaying the red, white, and blue.  I created a special "Hedgie" coloring page for the occasion too.  I know you'll join me in appreciating the men and women serving our country here and abroad, especially those in difficult circumstances.  We are also celebrating a member of our family becoming a new American citizen which made this 4th of July very special.
     I'd like to talk about the book I'm working on.  When I was young and an aspiring illustrator, I didn't know what my life would be like.  That's why I like to share my thoughts with you.  Right now, I've written a new story, The Umbrella, and my editor has helped me by making it shorter and shaping it.   A pair of fresh eyes is always good.  If you are writing a story, try typing it, if you have written it in longhand, reading it aloud will give you a fresh look.
     I've finished the book dummy or cartoon version of The Umbrella.  It's like a road map.  And although I don't copy it exactly I can get a feeling of where I want to add some excitement or perhaps work harder on a character's personality.  The art director looks it over.  Many times she spots something I've missed.  You could try putting your art up to a mirror.  This also works when you want to look at your work as if you're someone else.
     I have four spreads - that's eight pages - finished.  Some of the animals I'm drawing are difficult to draw because I don't have one in my back yard, like the tapir.  To make it more difficult, it's a baby tapir.   This animal looks like an athletic pig, only it has feet like a hippo and a nose like an elephant whose trunk stopped growing at two inches long.  The baby is covered with white spots and stripes like a baby fawn (that's a baby deer).
    Around my studio I have copies of paintings by Martin Johnson Heade.  He lived in the late 1800's and traveled to Central and South America's rain forest to paint the lush vegetation, orchids, hummingbirds and other-worldly atmosphere.
    The hummingbirds are a very difficult subject for an artist because they are iridescent.   Their feathers are black until the light shines on them, then they flash brilliant neon-like colors.  Here are some names of hummingbirds from Costa Rica where my book takes place;  Bronzy Hermit, Fiery-throated, Garden Emerald, Purple Crowned Fairy, Blue Throated Golden Tail, and Purple Throated Mountain Gem.  These birds are often likened to flying jewels.  The hummingbird I chose for my book is the Violet Sabrewing, because it was one we saw perched from just a few feet away.
    I am inspired by Martin Johnson Heade's paintings because of their other-worldliness.  The landscapes look bizarre in their untamed beauty.  It's worthwhile to go to an art museum and see paintings, not only to appreciate, but to get new ideas.
    Last month we saw the art in the Austrian Gallery at Belvedere in Vienna.  One of the painters, Gustav Klimt, used gold and jewel-like colors in his work.   After seeing them I felt more free about putting metallic colors in my pictures.
     If you look up Martin Johnson Heade and Gustav Klimt, you will find two unique painters whose work is so compelling it found its way into my children's book!
     Happy drawing!  Bye for now.

                                  Your friend,

                                    Jan Brett