Thursday, April 28, 2011
William Bligh captained the HMS Resolution from 1776–1780. But it was his tenure on the ill-fated HMS Bounty that made him famous. On this day in the year 1789, 18 mutineers led by Fletcher Christian set Captain Bligh and those loyal to him afloat on a small boat. The mutineers claimed the action was necessary in response to Bligh's cruel behavior, but some have speculated that the mutineers had merely become fond of the Tahitian lifestyle. The 18 men settled in Tahiti and on nearby Pitcairn Island. Many residents of present day Pitcairn are direct descendants of the mutineers. Bligh and his men managed to survive a harrowing trip aboard their small boat, finally landing on Timor before later returning to England.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Last week Erin and I were pleasantly surprised when a package arrived in the mail with 4 copies of A Sick Day for Amos McGee printed in Korean. Our Korean publisher did a wonderful job hand-making the cover type to mimic Erin's original woodcut type. Nicely done!
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
Nyassa was a Portuguese colony in Mozambique. The Nyassa Company had free reign from the Portuguese government to develop the land. The company was large and prosperous enough to require its own original postage. I'm sure the Nyassa Company did a lot of damage in East Africa, but at least they left us some pretty stamps, right?
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
This is the only boat stamp I have from WWII era Germany. The majority of German stamps from that time period feature the head of a certain insecure dictator sporting a scowl and a silly mustache. He looked a little bit like this guy.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
In 1869 John Wesley Powell led the Powell Geographic Expedition, a three month long trip down the Green and Colorado rivers. He and his companions became the first white men to pass through the Grand Canyon.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Hi there, folks. I thought we'd take a short break from our regular stamp countdown and talk a little bit about music. And movie making. I got it into my head a while back that I really wanted to make a book trailer for Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat. I put it off for a long time using the excuse that I had no idea how to make a movie. I firmly believe however that having no idea how to do something is NOT a good enough excuse not to do it. So at the beginning of February, when it was particularly cold and nasty outside, I sat down and taught myself the basics of moving pictures. As it turns out you don't need much in the way of skill to produce a competent short book trailer with Reading-Rainbow-Ken-Burns style imagery (a camera slowly panning over a still image). Before long I had a nice little trailer clocking in at just over a minute long. Next I wanted to add some original music. Making music is my secret passion. I never really took official lessons (sorry Mom and Dad), but over the years I've taught myself the rough basics of several instruments—guitar, banjo, ukelele, harmonica, and little bit of piano even (a very little bit). Music making is pure fun for me. It helps keep me sane when things are going poorly in the studio. There's nothing better for stress than organized noise making. While in art school I began recording many of my musical experiments, some which were more successful than others. Since then I've recorded dozens and dozens of tracks at varying levels of competence. Some could only marginally be described as music. Others, despite my lack of skill, are really not that bad. When I first have an idea for a piece of music I usually start by recording a layer with the one instrument that I can actually play pretty well, the guitar. I've had this guitar since the 6th grade and it has served me well over the years:
Next, I typically add more layers with instruments that I know less about. In the case of the music for the Jonathan trailer I chose the banjo. My banjo is unique from most other banjos. It has six strings (instead of four) and is tuned like a guitar. This means that I don't have to know how to play a real banjo in order to play this thing. A very handy shortcut for me.
For the Jonathan trailer I really wanted to add an accordion sound. This was problematic because I really, really don't know how to play the accordion. But like I said, having no idea how to do something is NOT a good enough excuse not to do it. (You may be asking yourself at this point: If he can't play the accordion then why does he have one? Good question. But an even better question is: If he can't play the accordion then why does he have THREE accordions?) So I sat down with my nice red accordion and spent three hours fiddling around and making noise. When I found two or three notes that sounded good together I wrote them down. Eventually I had a very simple melody that any beginning accordion student could play without difficulty. Unfortunately I am far less skilled than a beginner. And I am too impatient to practice. I simply couldn't remember how to play the melody when it came time to record. So I came up with a new plan. Sticky notes.
(Here is my dog, Wednesday, checking out my noise machine.)
I wrote numbers on each key so I would know in what order to play them. Very professional.
It took a while to get it just right, but it was well worth the effort. Watch the link below and let me know what you think!
Monday, April 11, 2011
Today I have a very special link to share. I've been meaning for a long, long time to do a post of some kind that details how I go about making a picture from start to finish. I love to see how other artists work. I always discover something that causes to me to say: "Really? You do it that way? Why don't I do it that way too? Illustration is a lonely business. A lot of time is spent in the studio away from our fellow humans and from other artists. (I of course am a little less lonely as I'm married to my studiomate.) This tendency toward the hermetic life has made the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast an enormous asset to our community. Julie Danielson at 7-imp has compiled hundreds of illustrator interviews and virtual studio visits. Erin and I have both had the pleasure of stopping by the 7-imp blog before. This time when Julie asked me if I would like to stop in and share some work from Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally put something together about my illustration process. Below are the first and last steps in the making of an illustration. To see all the steps in between please visit Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Thanks, and enjoy!
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Here we have the scenic Golden Gate of San Francisco, pre-bridge. In 1937 the Golden Gate Bridge was constructed. At the time it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. We Michiganders know a thing or two about bridges. In 1957 we completed construction of the Mackinac Bridge and subsequently set off a decades long feud over how exactly a bridge should be measured. The Mackinac Bridge, AKA Big Mac, connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. From anchorage to anchorage (meaning from beginning to end) it was the longest bridge in the world. However, the Golden Gate Bridge has a larger distance between towers, which is the more typical way of measuring a bridge. If you ask me I think that the Michigan way of measuring makes more sense. Ours is bigger, plain and simple.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011