Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Skull!

Thanks, everyone, for the kind wishes!! I'm so glad it's out in the open, and not that I'm 100% worry-free now, but I'm worrying less and less all the time. Well, rather, the nature of the worries shall shift to all new things. Like, you know: childbirth. Raising a person, hopefully a really good one. Little things like that!! But thank you all, and xoxo. (And I'm so glad to learn that two writer-friends, in faraway Norway and New Zealand, are also expecting :-)

Look at the red ceramic skull I found yesterday while buying Valentine's chocolates! It's by a local artist; there was a whole skully grouping and I had to have this one; it's sort of a Valentine's gift to "us." More traditional, from my sweetie:
This is kinda funny; I did this painting years ago based on a bit of folklore of how to tell if a mama is expecting a boy or a girl: offer her a lily and a rose; if she chooses the lily, it's a boy. The rose, a girl.
Jim forgot, though, and didn't make me choose! So now I'll have to wait until the next ultrasound. (Tone told me that in Norway cheese cravings are taken as a sure sign it's a boy. That contradicts the midwife's "girly heartbeat" prediction. So, who knows!)

Wow, this was unexpected. Digging through old floppies to find that painting, I sort of uncovered a whole buried chunk of my life: the part wherein I was a painter. Funny. All these paintings have long ago been purged from my hard drive to make space for other things, but here they are, on these discs, reminding me of years past. I spent a lot of time learning how to paint, and now I don't do it at all. I'm sure the caps of my oil paint tubes are all sealed on there like glue and entirely unopenable. I think I will paint again some day. Maybe not the same way, exactly, maybe in a simpler style. The way I was working before was a bit taxing. I think I'll show you some old paintings. It's been too long.

This is "Moon Balloon," a favorite:
It's a big one, and my parents own it so I get to visit it. Wow, it feels like ages ago. This one marked a breakthrough for me, when my skills took a huge leap, and it still thrills me to look at it and think, "I did that." At the time, I couldn't take my eyes off it. I was so amazed with myself. It's like that, learning a new skill or craft, if you're really committed to it. All of a sudden, you get better. And better. You amaze yourself. It's awesome. Here's a detail:

This next one was commissioned by Alexandra, who was a wonderful "patron of the arts" back when I was a struggling painter. She and also her parents (and their friends) commissioned a number of paintings at a time when I had quit my job to paint; I am eternally grateful to them and my parents for being so wonderful. Every artist should be so lucky to have friends and family like mine.
I love that quote. HERE is the ee cummings poem it comes from.

This one was a commission from a family who came to my booth at the Saturday Market; it was for their daughter's new bedroom as she transitioned from girlhood to teenhood.
When I finished it I had to mail it away to the East Coast and never saw it again. Sad. Detail:

A testament to how I'll put wings on anything and everything, even kangaroos:

One of about nine pieces I did for the Cricket Magazine Group, who was a great client. This one was for Ladybug:
Well. There are lots more, but I'll stop there for today. Funny how the memories come back. My time was spent so differently then. In the upstairs studio with Jim instead of the downstairs writing room by myself. Weeks I'd work on one piece, teeny weeny brushes, painstaking detail. Turpentine fumes. Gorgeous, gorgeous paint on a palette. And all the weekends at the Saturday Market, selling prints! And oh, the evenings with the mat cutter, assembling prints into colored mats and bagging them. That took so much time. Mind-numbing. I taught some painting classes back then too, specifically in how to use oils more "illustratively" -- it took me a lot of experimenting to develop a technique by which I could work on very detailed drawings. (I have a brief tutorial on my website.)

I wish there was just more time in life. More time in each day. I'd still love to illustrate a picture book some day -- that was my dream, why I went to art school, but I just never got there. I veered away. I think in the future I will find some time to dabble again with paint. For now, I need to focus on the book at hand, the writing.

And speaking of books: I got type-set pages for Lips Touch yesterday! SO EXCITING! It's gorgeously decorative throughout (thank you, Chris Stengel, designer extraordinaire) and I CAN'T WAIT TO SHOW YOU! But I must wait. So I will.

Happy Valentine's Day, and happy weekend. Cheers!

Oh, wait. One more thing: the Cybils winners have been announced. In my category, they are:

Middle grade sci-fi/fantasy: The Graveyard Book
Young adult sci-fi/fantasy: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Both fabulous books. Yay!


Kim G. said...

Congrats on the wonderful news Laini! Your little one will be so blessed to have parents who have such a joy and passion for living creative lives! Wishing you both all the best in the months to come. Blessings!

Gretchen Alice said...

Happy Valentine's Skull to you, too!
I never congratulated you on your last post, so let me say how thrilled I am for you and Jim! A million congrats and I half-expect that baby to come out with pink hair. :D

Heather said...

No paint or turpentine fumes for you, young lady. At least not until the spawnling arrives.

Love the skull. I am endlessly fascinated by them, and that one is exceptional.

I wish I could paint. Maybe one day....

Oh and here's another old wives' tale for gender:

Take the age you were at conception and add it to the number of the month you are due (eg. I was 36 when I conceived Hayden and he was due in June, the 6th month. 36+6=42) If you get an odd number it should be a girl and an even number will indicate a boy. Unfortunately this one is not foolproof but it worked for everyone in my family. Also there is the ring on the chain trick over the belly. As well, there is the one where if you are carrying a girl, she will steal your beauty for the duration of the pregnancy, but a son will make you more beautiful. I can testify to this one. I felt absolutely gorgeous while carrying my son but like a total dog with the girls. Oh there are so many of these, I could go on! Here's a good link for you to try out: Have fun!

Can't wait to see more of your painting! (Hmmm...maybe I will have to hire you to design a logo for my baby blanket business....)

Enna Isilee said...

You're paintings are GOREGOUS!

Q said...

Those are beautiful paintings. Make time to paint again when you can; your skills are too great to not use them!

tone almhjell said...

I love that owl! I love all owls, but especially that one. The paintings are wonderful :)

K. M. Walton said...

Wow, that is fantastic news. I remember having the same thoughts after I found out I was pregnant with my first - that I couldn't believe I was going to be somebody's mother. It is the most magical time - enjoy every single minute of your pregnancy. I wish you well on your journey of parenthood - it is, hands down, the best & most rewarding job you'll ever have...and the hardest.

It's so very exciting. Congrats again.

Charlotte said...

Hee hee--"in the future I will find some time..." um, maybe not! Unless it is the next five months...

I have often wondered if you ever think of your blog as "growings," which is how I often find myself reading it--especially apt now!

Your paintings are lovely!

Granny Smith said...

What wonderful news of your future family! Folk tell you how to determine if it's a girl or boy, but be sure to pick a name for each. Sometimes even ultrasounds don't tell the whole story!

I am utterly awed by the paintings you were kind enough to share. How could you bear to give it up when you were so good at it? Don't start again now, though! No telling how poisonous that delicious scent of turpentine would be for Junior or Missy.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Anonymous said...

Childbirth is often compared totrying to stuff and eat twenty two hot tamales in your mouth at the same time. You\ve done that countless times. Why I\ve seen you wolf down 33 Manischewitz weeniedogs in one gigantic bite of epic proportions. by the way, i am at sacramento airport right now. blizzard conditions. had to help the pilots keep their wits in the final descent.

Stephanie Perkins said...

Ooo, pretty pretty paintings! Miss Laini, you have WAY too many talents. For reals. Share some with the rest of us ;)

(My favorite detail? The snail with his head resting on a pillow!!! Eek!)

Loooooove the red skull.

Amber said...

Whoop whoop!!! I smiled all the way through your little announcement down below. Big smile for you all. ((hug)) It just makes me so happy!

You know I have a real "thing" for good people becoming parents... ;)

Now about this here, oh my. I just LURVE your art, Laini. I do. I love your writing, yes yes yes. But I LURVE your art! I hope you DO in fact write and illustrate a book someday, because it would be beautiful! Get ON that, chick.


Anonymous said...

Wow, again! I am SO happy for you!
And these paintings are LOVELY, Laini! Just beautiful! But I so hear you about the markets and the framing and the matting (oh how un-fun is the framing and matting, compared to the painting). But your artwork is so, so beautiful - lucky early patrons of your art!
I second the above comment - I so hope you live out your dream of writing AND illustrating a book. How cool would that be for your little one? And for all of your fans ;)
Best wishes to you!

Wyman Stewart said...

It has been an honor and a pleasure to view your brilliant artwork. Not that I am an expert. I just know what I like. "A child needs two things: roots and wings." is an incredible truth and artwork. Kangaroo with wings looks fine to me. Maybe you can hang that one in an appropriate room of your house one day.

I feel certain your best books will be those you write and illustrate yourself. You will know when to combine the two. Thank you again for sharing your artwork and I look forward to seeing more posted in the future. I stand and applaud your massive talents. Hard to believe I stumbled upon your site one day, then bookmarked it because I thought it might be interesting. Amazing describes it much better. WOW!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Stephanie. I lingered over the darling snail, yawning with it's head on a pillow.

How could you just stop creating such beautiful paintings? I know. I know. You decided to write your novel, and it was wonderful. But so are your paintings.

At the last writing workshop that I went to (I was workshopping a picture book I'd written), I heard that good writer/illustrators have a serious advantage at the moment. And, Laini girl, you are definitely GOOD!

Happy Valentines!

Christine Fletcher said...

Laini, your paintings are GORGEOUS! No wonder your writing is so visual and're still using those talents, just in another medium. I bow before you! :)

BTW, the friend I gave Blackbringer to emailed me to say she is LOVING it. She already can't wait for Silksinger!

Em said...

Wow, how can one person have that much talent?! :) You're one awesome lady!

Anonymous said...

Those paintings are so gorgeous. Do you ever sell prints? I would really, really love to hang a print of "Moon Balloon" in my baby son's bedroom...