May Hedge a gram

Happy May!

When I write my hedge a gram - and for those of you who are reading your first one, it's the time I take to tell about what's going on with me art-wize, when I write my hedge a gram, I have to stop and think about what I'm doing, which is a good thing! For me it's easy to get so involved with my current book that the other world out there gets very far away.

Often there's an experience that adds to my thought process - you could call it inspiration. Sometimes I manufacture an experience, and this month I'm going to Botswana to see some of the earth's most astonishing animals and birds. I'll keep a list of the animals we see so I can tell you about them in June.

Some animals are difficult to see in the wild, especially if they are shy or nocturnal. Since the book I'm illustrating next is about Noah's Ark, I'll show animals from all over the world. I visited the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago to see hard to find animals. I saw, close up, a very shy African animal called the okapi. It has similarities to a giraffe and to a zebra. I also saw the zoo's famous gorillas and the zoo's friendly and curious giraffes. My husband and I both got licked by the giraffes long black tongues that are square shaped. I've talked a lot about the zoo's polar bear, and Kinapak will definitely be a star in my version of Noah's Ark.

An experience I didn't expect to influence me was a show at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show displayed huge giant tapestries from the Renaissance. The animals and birds woven in colorful fiber were intricate and natural. The birds look fluffy and like they could fly off, and the fish looked..., well fishy. The biggest stunner was a tapestry of the flood with Noah's ark floating in the rising waters. It made me think of how many perspectives there are to tell a story from. Ever since I was a little girl, I've been fascinated by animals and birds, and my Noah's Ark will be coming from a lifetime of wishing to be closer to animals.

And speaking of animals, I would like to let you know that our chickens and ducks are loving their summer home here in the Berkshire mountains. The ducks have a small pond of their own in their pen and the chickens have new roosts and nest boxes and a huge pen with a roof. We have an Osprey on the lake, they're also called a fish hawk, and whenever it flies over the chickens, they send out the alarm - which is a growl from the boss hen, Rose. I think she sees the Osprey's large wingspan. My new little chick, Snowdrop is getting her first feathers and when she hears Rose's growl she runs right in under her. Snowdrop still thinks she has two mommies, Rose and Tiger Lily, but neither mommy will let Snowdrop ride on her back anymore. She is starting to do big girl actions like scratch for bugs, take dust baths and perch on the roost at dusk.

Getting back to my profession, I received the first bound copy of "Whos' that Knocking on Christmas Eve" today. I love the way it looks all put together - the cover showing through the dust jacket at the top, the flaps, and especially the end papers. I am also just finishing my newsnote letter from Who's that Knocking that I'll be posting on the Internet when the book is published next fall.

Starting a book as I'm doing now is always daunting even thought I've done it many times. Today I went for a run and solved a problem about the art away from my art desk. Thinking about one's work constantly is a big investment of time, but it seems like the only way to do it. I hope that you will give a creative project a try, and really work at it. Good luck on all your future projects.

Bye for now,

Your friend,

Jan Brett