Thursday, May 7, 2015

Spring Joy

'Daydream' tulips are yellow on May 1
It's spring at last. Oh, I do love spring.

I've been enthralled with the new bulbs I put in last fall. Check out this one... tulipa 'daydream' in front, an old favorite 'ballerina' behind. On May 1, 'daydream' is yellow. Now, on the 7th, it's orange. It opens in the sunlight and folds up each night. I can't believe how much pleasure I get from a couple of tulips!

They open to the sun. Groundcovers are vinca, ajuga, grape hyacinths and dianthus 'firewitch'

Dwarf Japanese maple on left, dwarf pieris japonica on right

Soon they're tinged with orange

A shade lighter than the ballerina's in the back makes me happy
 I have a little path on the side of the house for my "woodland garden" (lol) Here are some woodland phlox and new ferns.

I spent quite awhile trying to photograph a bee drawn to the muscari.  Not great... but this was the best one. I got to lounge around in the grass on a beautiful day. Who could ask for anything more? 


Monday, March 23, 2015

Mandala making with Ms. Moffatt

Judith tries two versions of her
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending the day with my friend and fellow artist, Judith Moffatt. During the relaxing and enjoyable afternoon, we colored some of her "meditative mandalas."

Coloring books have been in the news recently. Both The Atlantic and Christian Science magazine had articles this month touting coloring as having the ability to lower stress, aid relaxation, and improve sleep and attention spans.

Mandala is the word for circle in Sanskrit, and this form of art has been around for thousands of years. Tibetan Buddhists create them with colored sand. Carl Jung used coloring mandalas as a calming exercise in his practice.

They have also been shown to be great for older folks.  They are great way to stay engaged and active, with or without company, even if you have mobility issues.

Of course, we know that kids have always loved coloring books.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Whisper Farewell to a Weekend at Whispering Pines KidLit Writer's Retreat

URI's Alton Jones campus is rustic and lovely.
Just home from a weekend at kid lit writer's retreat extraordinaire, Whispering Pines. From the first glimpse of the pines (can you hear them whisper?) to the last view of fog rising off the melting ice, it was a weekend filled with networking, critiques, writing exercises, and inspiration.
     It was the 20th anniversary of the retreat, so it was a special event. There were three editors: Kendra Levin, Sylvie Frank, and Mallory Kass, three agents: John Cusick, Erin Murphy, and Ammi-Joan Paquette, and a surprise panel with kid-lit luminaries like Brian Lies,  Kelly Murphy, Carlyn Beccia, Liz Dubois and Jennifer Thermes. And those were only the illustrators.
top row, L-R: WP co-director and author Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author Kimberly Newton Fusco, author Leslie Connor, author-illustrator Jennifer Thermes, illustrator Kelly Murphy, author Erin Dionne, agent Ammi-Joan Paquette. bottom row, L-R: author illustrator Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia, author-illustrator Liz Goulet Dubois, author Barbara O'Conner, author-illustrator Brian Lies, photo by Pam Vaughan
Add to that amazing food, fun games (KidLit Jeopardy), a crackling fire in the comfy living room...
it was a knock- your-socks-off event.

Me and my roomie, Linda.
Always makes me think of Narnia.
I even got to room with Whispering Pines co-founder, Linda Crotta Brennan.

As always I sketched during the panels and talks, one of the things that has kept me sane all my life.
I'm not that great at likenesses, but sketching keeps me focused.
 Mary Pierce, co-director for the past 4 years.

Jennifer Thermes designed this fantastic logo for the event!

Good-bye to Whispering Pines. (sad) Goodbye to snow. (not a moment too soon)
Thanks to everyone for making it such a memorable event.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

RISD Winter Weekend Watercolor Intensive, 2015

This past weekend, I enjoyed the beautiful views of Narragansett Bay from RISD's Tillinghast Farm in Barrington, RI, while working with students eager to learn more about watercolor.

We spent all day Saturday doing exercises to explore materials, mark- making, color combinations, properties such as staining and granulating, and the interaction of wetness, paper and pigment. 

Bethany worked on a dog portrait.
Michael did several paintings using a big brush technique.
Kate worked on the subtle gradations of color to create this beaded jewelry.

Priyankar took a step away from his usual work as a chemical engineer.
We laid washes, used salt and resists, and went through step by step procedures that watercolor artist's use.

On Sunday, each student came prepared to work on a personal project or two to put their new skills into practice, and we shared and critiqued the days work before heading home.

A big thanks to each and every student for sharing your talents and enthusiasm... teaching this class was a pleasure!
Stephen had a great view as he worked on painting puffins.
Barbara used washes, salt, and resist to complete her paintings
Fred did 3 paintings, including a monochromatic landscape that had great impact.
Richard worked to improve his watercolor skills for the natural science illustration certificate.
Amanda used blues, violets and roses to create wet on wet skies.
Rayne used resit to create wheat colored grasses against a dark blue sky.
Mandy underpainted layered washes to create space, and planned to glaze colors next.
Here is is after Mandy finished glazing the colors on at home.
Gloria used Derwent Inktense pencils to add texture to her abstract painting.

Donna dropped colors into her background wash to add interest.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Catching up with 2014!

©illustration by Cheryl Kirk Noll
Book Dummy 2014

2014 is gone! How did that happen?
It was a great year, and here are just a few of the highlights since my last post.

My Book Dummy class was small this past fall, but the creative energy from the stellar students lit up the room.

As the holiday season neared, I was honored to receive printed books from students I've had in other book dummy classes.  What a thrill!

My Mom, Uncle Bud (the birthday boy @ 90) and Aunt Dot

I missed my Uncle Bud's 90th birthday party celebration, but I celebrated with him from afar. Here he is flanked by his two sisters, my mom on the left and Aunt Dot on the right.
Dave and I began the holiday season with a rousing concert at Beneficent Congregational Church with RPM Concert.

Judith Moffatt adding a festive air to the RISD party
Lori, Cheryl and Judith
Among many holiday festivities, I especially enjoyed a party for RISD folks at Wood-Gerry in Providence, where I met fellow instructors Judith Moffatt, Lori Surdat Weinberg and Sandy Valpey Cordts.

Story Spinners and friends (and Willow)
Another holiday highlight was a dinner party with my writer's group, Story Spinners, and an extended group of talented writers that have connections to the group. This year's get-together, complete with goal-setting for the coming year, was particularly meaningful.

I took the train to spend a week visiting my mom for Christmas. (a loooooong ride) Unfortunately, she came down with pneumonia! We celebrated anyway, and the family was very understanding about me preparing Christmas dinner... the first one I've ever done!!!

I got to visit with old friends Lydia and Merrie, went shopping with my sister-in-law, Steph, and tried to take care of my mom with a fraction of the TLC she's shown me over the years. I'm happy to report that the doctor declared her lungs to be clear, and she is feeling much better.

Family gathering at my Mom's with brother, hubby, sister-in-law and nieces.
I feel very blessed that 2014 was filled with loving family, caring friends, talented and hard-working students, gratifying work and much more.

Warm wishes to each of you for a happy, healthy, creative and satisfying year in 2015. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Catching Up With Summer

Dave and me
How can it be the last day of summer already??? What a wonderful summer it was, too.
The weather was incredible. Only a few of those hot, humid "dog days," and literally weeks of perfection... 70's and low 80's, breezy, sunny and dry. This was MY kind of summer, for sure!

I didn't blog for months, so here's a "once over lightly" of summer 2014. 

I've been working on a few freelance illustration jobs. Sadly, I can't show them until they're published, so no pictures yet... but they've been fun to work on.

In the meantime, four wonderful students graduated from the RISD children's book certificate program this June. I'm such a proud mama hen. (Our fourth graduate, Clare, was on a plane to England, and couldn't attend.)
Bob with his family.

Sarita with her husband and mom-in-law
Marcela and Sarita bookended by two of our very fine instructors, Emilie Boon and Judith Moffatt.
I taught a summer class at RISD, with 10 talented students. It was 6 weeks, 2 days a week... a whirlwind class that I always enjoy.

Dave built a patio for our tiny back yard, and we ate dinners outside in the garden all summer. Our pear tree, which was old when we moved in 24 years ago, had it's best year ever. We estimated that it had about 300 pears, and they were delicious. Dave made his famous pear pies, and cooked them in our NEW oven!!!

One of Dave's pear pies!

Dave enjoying the view on the other side of Beavertail Point.
We took a few day trips, one to the island of Jamestown. Always a beautiful place to visit, we especially enjoy Beavertail, with the lighthouse, and a little cove over in Fort Weatherhill.

An idyllic view of Castle Hill from Fort Weatherhill
The spectacular rocks of Beavertail, on the island of Jamestown in RI.

My friend Judy celebrated her birthday in style, as Queen Judith with her court of ladies-in-waiting.  Tea, talk, great food and great weather... a wonderful day for a special friend.

The library in downtown Westerly

Dave and I took another day trip to Westerly, a town in the southwestern corner of RI, right before you cross into Stonington, CT.  Westerly's border on the north and west is the winding Pawcatuck River. The town is historic, and stately homes grace tree-lined State Street. To the south are beaches... East beach, Misquamiquit, Westerly town beach, and some shore-type food and shopping. There is also Watch Hill, filled with gorgeous shingled homes with manicured gardens.

Just one of the spectacular seaside  homes in Watch Hill, Westerly RI.
My ageless mom, and my brothers, John and Andy.

We also had a great family get-together in August. My niece, Cassie, had a party to celebrate graduating from high school. (wasn't she a baby just last year???)

We had several outings with Phil and his girlfriend Jess, and her 5-year old son Conner.

We celebrated my mother's birthday... last I heard she was 65.
;  )

Of course, there was much more... pool parties at Dot's and Linda's, dinners with Jeff and Mel, many repairs to the house done by Dave... FAN meetings...

It was a great summer. Have a great fall!

My lovely niece.
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