Happy  September!  This is Jan Brett and it's time for my September hedge a gram.  I went on a long run today through the Berkshire Hills, and I directed my thoughts to this hedge a gram, the time I take each month to tell about what is going on in my artistic life.   On my run I was wondering if someone listening, or reading my hedge a gram may grow up to be an artist that changes the way people see the world.  That is one of my definitions of a great artist.  The artist illuminates or makes special the world around him or her with their art.  One of my favorite artists is Martin Johnson Heade.  He traveled to South America to paint plants and birds.  You can almost feel the moisture in the air when you look at his pictures.  The feathers change color when light hits them from different angles.  I've seen those brightly colored birds speeding around and it's like looking at living jewels.  Heade's flowers seem to glow as well.  This artist has passed away, but his fascination with light playing on birds and plants still seems fresh and causes us to marvel.  If you are a young person who wants to be an artist, or someone who has lived a longer time on our earth, maybe there is some aspect of our world that you would like to describe in your art.  Your perspective may be transforming.
     I have always loved a poem by Gerard Manly Hopkins that speaks about his love for spotted and speckled things.  I'm like that too.  In the book I'm working on, I am focusing on fur.  The book stars three polar bears, and their fur is unique.  Each hair is actually colorless and hollow.  Light from the sun travels down the hair to warm the polar bear.  Its skin is black which absorbs light.  Sometimes a bear swims in water with tiny green algae in it.  The polar bear gets a green tint.  Usually its fur is slightly yellowish.  There will be lots of other effects that I'll be playing with in my book.  When we flew in a small plane low over the floe edge, where the frozen salt water ends and the Arctic ocean begins, we were entranced by the shades of blue and green.  Occasionally, we'd see a fresh water ice burg and the feeling was that it couldn't be real the color was so intense.   When I paint the illustrations for my Polar Three Bears, I will be exploring fur and ice.
     I am painting every day on my book, but I am also planning my book tour which will take place in October.  When I have time to think, I imagine some of the planets and aliens I will draw for the outer space mural I will create on the long bus rides from bookstore to bookstore.  Every night I will put up a new image until, "Poof!" there will be enough material for a mural.  I hope readers will feel connected with Hedgie Blasts Off!, which is the book that I'll be touring for.
     If you would like to see previous years' murals, animals from On Noah's Ark, the rain forest from The Umbrella, and African animals and plants from Honey...Honey...Lion! you can find the in the Murals section of my Home Page.
     Good luck and happy learning in school.  I hope you will make a new friend who will enjoy drawing or writing with you.  Or just as good, you'll be reunited with your old friend that you can create with.  Kids learn a lot from their friends!
     Use your imaginations in September.

                                   Your friend,
                                      Jan Brett