September Hedge a gram.

It's September,

A busy time for an artist-illustrator. This is my September Hedge a gram, the time I take to tell about what is happening in my professional life. When I was little, I wondered what an illustrator did from day to day, because that's what I wanted to be. Now that illustrating is my profession, I'd like to tell all about it.

Right now my book tour has been planned for October and November and I'm counting the free days that I have left to finish my book Happy Hens (It may be called Fine Feather Friends, we still haven't decided. I love to know which name you like best). I have a big meeting with Margaret, and Cecilia in New York next week. They are my editor and art director. Luckily my pet hens have all molted - that's when their feathers drop out and new ones grow in.

They do look a little scruffy until they have all of their plumage back. I'm still bringing the hens up to my studio to model. I change their color to reddish orange, so they look like the hens I saw in Guilin, China where my new book takes place.

Did you know when you go to buy groceries in China that you'll see vegetables you may have never seen before. One is the bitter melon which looks like a bumpy cucumber. A yummy fruit is the litchi. They are red and bumpy on the outside, white and sweet on the inside. I haven't tasted a durian yet. It looks like a hedgehog with short spines all around. I put all the unusual ones in my book. In Guilin, across the street from our hotel, people arranged their fruit and vegetables neatly on the sidewalk on a mat. Shoppers inspect their purchases very carefully because it has to be fresh, fresh, fresh to be good enough for a Chinese cook. I'm painting the pages to my book that show the market. The trouble is, painting it gets me thinking about the mouth-watering banquet I had at our relatives house, and I get hungry. The special meal at our relatives had at least twenty different dishes. My daughter-in-law's grandmother, who is eighty, kept track of what everyone ate, so no one would forget anything. I thought that I was doing very well until I found out that what I thought was the whole meal, turned out to be only the appetizers! Then it was time for a cup of tea, so we could get back my appetite for all the yummy things coming next!

Since my last Hedge a gram, I had a visit from fifty kids from the Boston Symphony's Days in the Arts program. The children came to my studio, and met Buffy the hedgehog and all of my hens. They saw my tools and the first three quarters of my book. I put the "done" pages up on the wall so I can look at them and see how they balance. I was so happy to find out how many of the kids have creative projects. They write journals and stories, and draw and write poetry. How about you?

After talking to the kids, I was impressed with their individuality and strong ideas. It made me so happy that kids are excited about creating and performing. I hope you'll add your special talents to the world! Who wants to fritter away time being a couch potato! Not me! It's too much fun to surprise everyone with something from your imagination!

Bye for now,

Your friends,

Jan, Buffy, and my little hens,

Dahlia, Bluebell, Pansy, Chrissy, and Daisy