A Book Contest and Storytelling

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From The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Images courtesy of Project Gutenberg

Have you heard? Generations With Vision is hosting Nurture Little Hearts Book Contest!  It was announced in January; the deadline is July 1st.  Their desire for launching it is one I hear frequently, and you’ve probably thought yourself:

Christian families want more nurturing, helpful picture books for children. . . something besides Curious George, Dr. Seuss, Meatballs Raining from the Sky, Wild Kids Doing Wild Things Where the Wild Things Are, and Cookies for Ungrateful Mice. Christian parents tell us they have the hardest time finding nutritious, nurturing, fun books for their little tots and totettes. There are not enough solid, biblically-based, family-oriented picture books for children. That is why Generations with Vision is launching a Christian Children’s Picture Book Contest for 2014.

What a great opportunity for Christian aspiring authors and illustrators!  While it might be a bit late to get started on this year’s contest, it’s never too early to start learning, writing and re-writing, and experimenting with illustration and design.  I hope they do this again next year!

Excellence is a skill, and art is really a just craft that can be learned — of course you must love it to want to pursue it; but natural inclination requires hard work for it to grow.  Don’t be intimidated by the elites who make art look like you need a secret password to get into their world.  (Actually, you don’t want into that world.  The answer is to start rebuilding culture now — Christians have the answer: beauty and truth according to God’s standard.)

When you think about it, this is God’s world, and the art of storytelling began with Him.  He weaves stories and truth and beauty all throughout His divine and natural revelation (that is, in the Bible, and in the natural world).  The Bible is full of rich imagery that symbolize deeper truths; this is a tremendous key in Christian art that we can recover.

I’d love to introduce you to one of my favorite resources on how picture books work” Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz.  I recommend it to everyone interested in children’s books.  He presents an overview of picture books’ uniqueness from other book forms, their strengths and variety, and most of all how they work and communicate.

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 Images courtesy of Project Gutenberg

He starts off defining the picture book as different from a story book which “consists mostly of narrating what is seen and heard. . . . Take, for example, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit:”

Mr. McGregor was on his hands and knees planting out young cabbages, but he jumped up and ran after Peter, waving a rake and calling out, “Stop thief!”

These words are accompanied by an illustration of Mr. McGregor planting cabbages.  Although Beatrix Potter’s images add a visual dimension to the story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit can be fully understood without them.  In addition to telling the story, the words themselves contain images.  The picture simply underlines the description: “Mr. McGregor was on his hands and knees.” (p. 16)

He then goes on to distinguish between the story book and the picture book:

Picture books are “written” with pictures as much as they are written with words.  A picture book is read to the very young child who doesn’t know how to read yet . . . By telling a story visually, instead of through verbal description, a picture book becomes a dramatic experience: immediate, vivid, moving.  A picture book is closer to theater and film . . . . (p. 16)

Further elaborating on Mr. McGregor’s example and the relationship between pictures and words, he says on p. 53,

A picture book favors a direct approach.  A description such as “Mr. McGregor was on his hands and knees” would be either shown by a picture or avoided altogether.  When an image such as this is clearly described, with the visual details presented through words, to show it again through a picture would be redundant and possibly boring.  In a picture book there should be no such repetition; the visual representation takes precedence.  Repetition in a picture book only lengthens and complicates a form that is best kept simple, brief, and clear as possible.

It’s just fascinating, isn’t it?  This is a major element in children’s literature.  I’m far from getting the swing of it, but when you’re really able to wed words and pictures together like that, it’s a very rewarding experience.

There are many other books that are more technical and psychological about the creating process, but for those who are beginning a journey into the world of creating books for children, Writing with Pictures is a guide you’ll keep coming back to.

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Images courtesy of Project Gutenberg

Mother’s Day Sale

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Mother’s Day is just around the corner!  And if you’re looking for a special gift, use coupon code MOTHER14 at The Breezy Tulip Studio for 20% off at check out!  (Sale ends May 1.)

Spring is here!

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Many of the buds seem to have appeared overnight; a sweet reminder that God’s mercies are new every morning.  It’s rainy today, and there may be snow tomorrow, but I’m so glad to see these little hints of what’s to come!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations 2:22-24

Working on Thumbnails

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Work on the storybook Bible continues!  These are thumbnails, the “seedlings” that will become finished drawings and paintings in the book.  (Above is Anna from Luke 2:36-38)

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Angie Smith has done a beautiful job writing the stories for girls, each featuring a woman from the Bible.  The redemptive narrative is thoroughly woven into every page.  It’s really, truly beautiful.

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Emily Rose has been assisting me by editing and scanning my artwork for the publisher.  (My work is never perfect and can always use a touch up to make it ready for the book!  She does an excellent job!)

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The publisher, B&H Kids, is planning on an October 2014 release.  We can’t wait to share it with you!

Spiced Rooibus Tea

We’ve had days of beautiful, sparkling snow, just perfect for the Christmas season. Mother and Emily Rose have been busily packaging all the orders for Clementine Pattern Co.. Daddy has been faithfully taking them to the post on the way back to work after his lunch break, lightening the load for us.  (Thank you, Daddy!)

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I’ll frequently take tea to the studio, so after nearly exhausting my tea supply, I decided to experiment for a spicy, chai-like tea.  It’s nothing radically new, and the ingredients are rough estimates – but it’s yummy!  Next time I think I’ll add more spice or steep it longer for a stronger tea:

SPICED ROOIBUS TEA
1 spoon of Rooibus tea
1 good pinch of cinnamon
1 good pinch of nutmeg
a few “petals” of star anise
a sprinkling of ginger root
1 small pinch of allspice
Stevia, to taste

Combine ingredients in a cloth tea bag.  Bring a kettle of water to boil, then steep the tea for 5-6 minutes.  Add cream if desired, and enjoy!  (Makes one serving.)

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Drawing and painting for the storybook Bible continues in the studio . . .

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Everything beautiful in its time

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The first week of July we were able to fellowship with dear friends, visit the Gettysburg battlefield, and see the Civil War Museum.

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After recovering from from a nasty bug, I worked on sketching and drawing the cover of the story book Bible cover.

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A bit of nature keeps itself occupied on my desk while I work.  Except George.

He’s really high maintenance.

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Now that I’ve finished the cover drawing for the story book Bible, I’ll be spending this next week painting, and then Emily Rose will get it ready to send to the publisher.

What gain has the worker from his toil?
I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart,
yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful
and to do good as long as they live;

also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil
—this is God’s gift to man.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13

The Lord’s Provision for the Zimmermans + Giveaway Winner

Praise the Lord, the Zimmerman’s goal was met yesterday evening!
A big “Thank you!” to everyone who entered, donated and spread the word to bless the Zimmermans.

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The Giveaway for Little Tait’s Preemie Fund is now closed, and the winner is . . .
Samantha R.
(Entry #480)!  Thank you so much for entering the giveaway, Samantha!
(I’ve sent you an email with the details!)

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!”
—Psalm 98:1a—

Chalk Art Giveaway for Little Tait’s Preemie Fund!

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Four years ago, Little Tait was born three months prematurely and spent three months in NICU.  Today, Little Tait is now a happy, healthy little boy.  (Read more of his story here.)  However, his parents are still chipping away at the last of an almost 1 million dollar expense.  The hospital has agreed to settle if they can raise $100,000 in 90 days.  They’ve reached $80,222 and are believing, with God’s help and the help of His people, to be able to reach the goal by Monday.

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You can help the Zimmerman family and enter a giveaway for one of my large Chalkboard art prints, “Teach Them Diligently.” Simply follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter:

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The giveaway is for the 11″ x 14″ print — it fits perfectly in an 11″ x 14″ frame.  We bought an antique white frame from Hobby Lobby, and it looks just lovely!  (You can find this print in my Etsy Shop here.)

“Teach Them Diligently” will go to one winner, and will be announced on Monday at midnight (June 17th).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As the Zimmerman’s deadline quickly approaches, please consider making a donation and praying for the Lord’s provision for them; it would be such a blessing.  You can find out about more giveaways for Little Tait’s Preemie Fund on Little Tait’s Facebook page.

“Claudia visits the Jolly Cottage”

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The past few weeks have been more full than usual — traveling, vending our wares at the Family Economics Conference (which was wonderful!), visiting with friends, celebrating a new marriage, and preparing for a little more traveling and vending.  I’ve loved it, and here in the next week or two I’ll be starting work on the next book, the Storybook Bible for girls, with Angie Smith.  I can hardly wait!

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While tidying up the studio I came across this drawing from a couple years ago.  I wondered what it would look like in color, and since the original drawing is on cheap sketch book paper, watercolor was out of the question.  I experimented with Photoshop and a few PS watercolor brushes.

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 “Claudia visits the Jolly Cottage”

Perhaps it’s an elderly neighbor in need of a friendly visit, or a young mother who will be surprised by an afternoon’s rest while Claudia makes dinner for her . . .

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession,
and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and
among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death,
to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity,
as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
2 Corinthians 2:14-17—

Oh, and I’ve added some brand new note cards to the shop!  And who knows, Claudia might end up there soon, too!

Spring happenings

A couple weeks ago I finished up a new chalk art print!  It’ll be in the shop soon as a print and as boxed note cards.  But more importantly . . .

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This Saturday, our precious friend, Sarah, will be getting married, and she’ll be moving far away to NC with her wonderful, godly husband, Jordan.  This week we’re enjoying hosting his family and getting ready for the big day!  It has been beautiful to watch the Lord weave Sarah’s and Jordan’s lives together.

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