Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Field Trip: Eric Carle Museum and R.Michelson Galleries!

Yesterday a few of my artist friends and I (and hubby, of else would I drive there in one piece??) went to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.  It was a fun little trip to see some exceptional art, though I wish it was closer so I could visit each time a new exhibit comes along!  I forgot to take a photo of the front of it, so the image above is from cyberspace.

There were three exhibits, the first featuring Eric Carle's work, the second featuring the Leo Lionni's art from his book, Geraldine, the Music Mouse, and the last was a collection of work by the AMAZING Lisbeth Zwerger.  I emphasize the amazing part, because although I've always enjoyed her art, I had never realized how absolutely miniscule her pictures actually are! My friends and I oooh-ed and ahhh-ed at her teeny tiny details, and winced as we tried imagining ourselves working the way she does. Such elegance, with just the right touch of whimsy!


Then we made our way to the museum's personal library of children's books. We could have stayed there for days, but the gift shop and our stomaches were calling.  This was just a third of the books there:

After a lovely lunch of deluxe sushi rolls at Osaka Japanese Sushi & Steakhouse, we walked to the R. Michelson Galleries on Main Street. They have a wonderful collection of art for sale that includes an entire section of children's book illustration, and what a range it was! It was so great to see original work right there in front of us- to see the texture of the paint and the subtle pencil lines beneath the color. I didn't get any photos there, either, but check out the site since you're already online.

A few things I learned or was reminded of
on our little Field Trip:

1. Less is definitely more. 
Eric Carle, Leo Lionni and even Lisbeth Zwerger all had the right idea- they knew when to leave things out, when to walk away, when enough is enough! I overwork my art most of the time, probably because I just get caught up in the moment. I'm having fun! But I need to learn when white space should remain white space and when a nice flat wash doesn't need to be interrupted by unnecessary little details. Gotta remember to KISS my art! (I know you already know it, but there's always one in the group... Keep It Simple, Stupid!)

2. Writing in the margins is actually okay!
As I work on little pieces to find my true style, I've been penciling in margin notes to myself of what colors I'm using, my likes and dislikes about certain pieces, and ideas for a better image. I was surprised to see that Lisbeth Zwerger also writes in the white space outside her crop marks, though hers are usually color notes and start and finish dates. It was certainly refreshing, and even a bit comforting, to know that I'm not the only one, and that it is okay to do. I wouldn't be surprised if this sort of information also added value to each piece as well!

3. Cover art is important, but the spine of your book is too!
This I sort of knew already, but since I generally don't go to the library and browse for books (I order them online for pick-up), it didn't really hit me until we were looking at books in the Eric Carle library.  I was pretty overwhelmed by the sheer amount of books, and had no idea where to start.  So I just grabbed what looked interesting based on the spine colors and font, and even pattern. (I am also realizing that I am SO image driven, that I forget to actually read the books I pick up lately.) And now that I think of it, (because I also shop online), this same thing probably happens at bookstores, big or small. The best way to store a book is not the best way to sell a book, so us artsy people have to really think out of the box to get our stuff noticed. Good to know!

4. Doodles are art, too, you know.
This is going to sound silly, but let me explain. I have a terrible habit of neglecting to care for my sketches.   They are just little doodles that get tossed around in my bag or thrown into a pile.  My biggest problem is that I can't get myself to work in a sketchbook.  The paper is too white and new, and it puts too much pressure on me to come up with some masterpiece.  Plus, I like to conserve and re-use as much as possible, and I can't justify scribbling onto a brand new sheet of paper.  So I use things like the backside of junk mail, old menu pages from the restaurant, and cardboard cut from shipping boxes, and those things naturally get thrown around a lot. Those things also yield the best work! So I was surprised to see the sticker prices of sketches drawn by Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, or other artists. Granted, they are rather famous people, and I very much am not. But those sketches made me think twice about the horrid way I treat my earliest renderings, and how bad they would look behind a frame. Perhaps if I learned to value each and every step of the process of my work a bit more, I would exude a sort of valuable aura in my finished pieces, and therefore have better work? Hmmm... I really wonder!

Overall it was a great day, and the three artists went home just dying to get into the studio. There is nothing like seeing some fine original works of art to get the creative juices flowing!

1 comment:

  1. I would love to visit that museum someday...on my list of things to do!