August Hedge a gram,

     Hi, this is Jan Brett and this is my August Hedge a gram.   I am right in the middle of painting the illustrations for The Three Snow Bears.  It takes me about an hour to paint a square inch of the illustrations, so it's a slow process.  I love to sketch out the little Inuit girl trying on the three pairs of boots in the bears igloo, first in pencil, then with a soft gray line in watercolor.  As I fill in all the colors and details, I loose track of time.  It's always a fresh surprise when after a few hours, poof! there she is with a character all her own.  It's funny, even though I'm a professional artist, and make my living drawing, I am uncomfortable unless the picture feels right.  It's almost like there's a world I can enter by drawing like flashing a light in a dark cave and seeing paintings on the wall.  If a picture is going well it's like electricity is going through me it's so exciting.  There's a down side too, when every path I take doesn't seem to work.  It's especially frustrating when I have to start over.
     For all of you kids that are serious about your art, here's my motto  "If it was easy, anyone could do it!"  
I say that to myself when I need determination.
     My favorite page so far, is when the little Inuit girl tries on three pairs of boots.  On Baffin Island where I visited, and in all of the Arctic, boots are marvels of ingenuity and art.   Sometimes they are made to be waterproof, and the stitches can only be made by a seamstress who is very skilled and meticulous.  The materials are chosen very carefully so nothing is wasted.  Sometimes there is stiff fur on the bottoms so you don't slide on slippery ice.  Komituks, which is Inuktitut for traditional boots are so warm that no other material can rival them.
     The seamstress sometimes will make designs with different colors of fur.  In my book I studied many, many boots in order to make the three bears boots extra special, but also look authentic.  Now when I look at that page I can almost believe those boots really exist.  I'm always amazed at the way reality is blurred when I'm making a book!  During August, perhaps you'll take pencils or markers and paper, close the door to your room and let your mind drift as you draw.  You too may be surprised at the new place that comes into existence from your artwork!
     Happy drawing.  Bye for now, your friend,

                             Jan Brett