Happy April,

      I'm just back from visiting last year's contest winner, the Thomas Page Elementary School in Cotati, California.  I met the most dedicated teachers and very enthusiastic students, all of them very talented at drawing and creating.  Being creative is like playing.   When you have ideas drawing, you might put your main goal aside and try out new ideas.  Try whatever comes into your head.  I always laugh when I think about being creative and making something new, because I do opposite things at once.  I have a picture in mind right now, it is the inside of the three bear's house, but I try not to think about getting it done.  I pretend I have all the time in world.  Lots of people give me advise, but that makes me feel boxed in, so I try to find my own voice and after I've finished, then think of their words.  In my case the advise is good!  It comes from my editor, my art director, from parents, teachers, and kids.  It comes from my husband and my daughter.  I like their different perspectives , but when I first start a project I like to pretend I'm seven years old again, playing and having fun with the picture.  Once my picture is finished, then I go back and change a little here or there.  It's a funny way of doing things!  The three bear's house I will be drawing will be an igloo.  I will travel to the Arctic to experience Nunavut, a Northern territory of Canada that is home to Inuit people.  Their culture is very old and strongly guarded, because their way of life, living off the land, is changing with access to TV and gas engines.  I have always been an admirer of Inuit art because often it depicts animals and birds.  I hope I can soak up the Inuit way of creating and let it change my art.  I am getting ready for the trip by gathering together very warm clothes.  No matter how high tech our materials are, the clothes we have are no match for the traditional skin and fur clothes made by Inuit people.
     To get a head start on the experience we will have up north, I have sent away for books on Inuit art, and on the Inuit art of making clothes.  I am learning about what the clothes tell us.  For example, little boy's parkers have pointed hoods, and little girls hoods are round.  Women's parkas go up on the sides and hang down in the front and the back.  They also have a big hood where a baby can ride, or it can be used to carry something that needs to be kept warm, like water.  Some parkas are decorated with beautiful designs and colorful patterns and are used for dances and social occasions.  It is unlikely the Goldilocks characters would have one on when she is out and about with her dog sled team, but I may use my artistic license so I can paint the original and skillfully made clothes. That is something I'll ask about when I'm in the Arctic.
     One of the important things I've learned about in my reading is about the ice itself.  Sea ice, although frozen moves around with the wind.  Huge cracks form where water shows through called leads.  Sometimes the ice crashes together and forms ridges that have fantastic shapes.  Sea animals that feed on fish under the ice must come up for air.  The air holes for seals are kept clear of new ice by the seal.  I will feel I am really in the Arctic when I see one of the those.  I will show icebergs in my book and I am eager to see them.  I have read that only 1/8 of an iceberg is visible about the surface.  Will the ocean be so clear that you can see the underwater part?  These are only a few of the questions I have, so you can see my story will reflect a sense of discovery of a new place.
     Happy reading and good luck drawing and creating your new world on paper.   Bye for now, your friend,

                             Jan Brett