July Hedge a gram

Happy July,

     When I celebrated the 4th of July this year, I thought about our kids in the military and all the men and women and their families that are on foreign soil.   My monthly hedge a gram is the time I take to share what I'm doing artistically.  This month though, I've just come back from Okinawa, Japan to see my daughter.  Because of her connections, I was able to talk to book lovers at the Camp Foster library.  I enjoy speaking to children, and especially drawing pictures for them as they follow along.
    I am so excited about the talent and enthusiasm children just have naturally for drawing.   Drawing is really something that can be taught.  When I see children using their unbridled imaginations, I feel like I'm experiencing something quite remarkable.
     Now that I'm back in my studio I'm working on the first spreads of The Big Sparkler.  The Big Sparkler is the working title for my story about Hedgie's travels in outer space.  So far my biggest challenge has been Hedgie's clothes.  I really wanted his prickles to show.  I decided that where he had soft fur on his underside, that would be where his clothes would go.  The top part of him, along his back, is all prickles.  When he goes to the planet Mikkop in the story, he'll wear a space helmet too.
      One of the hard things for me to draw is the space lab where the scientists work.  Luckily, I've visited our son's Sean's, laboratory, where he works as a physicist.   The scientists wear special uniforms called bunny suits, and they wear booties over their shoes.  That's because everything has to be clean, clean, clean.
     I also saw how the buildings looked at the Kennedy Space center.  There are windows for the tourists to look in at the scientists working on big machines.  I don't know exactly what the machines were for, but I think some will be used for a future space station.  We were told that there is a giant solar panel up there that gathers energy.  It's bigger than a house, but it is very thin, and folds up like origami to fit into the space shuttle.  Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding.  You may have seen paper cranes, paper boxes, or paper animals made by folding.  I am interested in this story about the folded solar panel because answers to problems often come from unexpected places.  I would never have guessed that origami would help engineers deliver a solar panel to the space station!
     At my art school, the Boston Museum School, we were encouraged to try different art styles.  That sounds easy, but we also want to reflect our own deep down feelings about how we want something to look.   One person might like big and bold, another might like mystery.  For me, I love details.  In my new space book, my art style is more cartoony and playful.  I thought my art would go fast and I'd be half way through my book by now.  It turns out, even my simple drawings have details, and it takes just as long to get things right.   Tonight, I made chocolate chip cookies.  Even though the timer is on for eight minutes, I know when they're done because of the delicious fragrance.  That's the same with the page I'm working on.  There's a finished feeling, when I know it's done.
     Good luck and happy drawing.  All of you with moms and dads in the armed services.  Thank you for helping our country.

                         Your friend,

                                Jan Brett