July Hedge a Gram


     That's the sound of fireworks and the 4th of July. I hope you enjoy a family picnic or see a parade to celebrate the 4th. We celebrate by putting up red, white, and blue bunting, and we're planning on a canoe picnic. Where we live in the summer, we have a really tall flagpole. Before breakfast every morning I raise our flags. The highest is the America flag, below it flies the Marine Corps flag for my daughter who is a Marine. When the Stars and Stripes is raised it is hoisted briskly. Before sunset, the flag is lowered slowly and ceremoniously. It's a time to reflect on the day. The important thing is to treat the flag with respect.

     As you probably know, our country's symbol is the bald eagle. We saw one over our lake this summer. It was the first time my husband or I had ever seen a bald eagle and it was a momentous sight from our canoe. There's no mistaking a bald eagle with its white head and neck, and its white tail and dark brown body. The one we saw was "fishing" - slowing flying over the lake and breaking the surface to catch a fish in his talons. Summer is a great time to look for wildlife and I hope we'll see the bald eagle again when our Marines visit on the 4th of July weekend!

     I invented my hedge a gram so you would know about what I'm working on during the course of the year. It's especially for those of you interested in what life as an illustrator is all about. Right now, I've finished about one half of the paintings for my fall 2001 book, Happy Hens. I'm working from the book dummy I did in January, but I still can be innovative and change things when a good idea comes along.

     This week, I've stopped everything to create my all about letter for this fall's book, Hedgie's Surprise. I have to completely change gears! We send my all about to classrooms, teachers and librarians. I'm having fun creating an art project for it, a paper chicky-chain. I also have directions on how to draw a hen, and I'm illustrating an Artistic License that can be cut out and personalized for all the boys and girls who are creating their own stories. The all about letter will tell about how I got the idea for Hedgie's Surprise and where I went - to Denmark - to get ideas for my book. It's my chance to show photos of the pet hens who modeled for the book! Next October, I'll add the Hedgie's Surprise all about letter to the all about letters for my other books on my web site. Then kids can print out the art project or a copy of the Artistic License.

     Artistic License is an expression that means when a artist uses their imagination to create their own world and characters. Next week, I'll be back at work on Happy Hens, using my artistic license to create the story and paintings. My summer wish is that your imaginations will grow and stretch with so many ideas that you'll create your best story and pictures ever.

     By for now, happy creating.