Sunday, August 23, 2009

Overcoming Odds ~ Luis Alberto Urrea

The Writings of Luis Alberto Urrea

Some stories can be told again and again. Urrea re-tells the story of "Seven Samurai" & "The Magnificent Seven" in his latest, page-turner, Into the Beautiful North. In this version the hero is a 19 year old heroine, Neyeli. Against all odds, she travels north into the US to search for her father and to bring men back to her village. The story has humor, beautiful prose, and pathos
, all of which Urrea does superbly. His former book, Hummingbird's Daughter, is a novel based on his great-aunt Teresita, who became a folk saint in Mexico, after being beaten & raped, then receiving supernatural gifts while in the ensuing coma.
Good literature can be life-changing. Indeed, Robert Boswell declares, "'s what it must do." Urrea's books help me reach for that knowing that I can overcome odds, like Teresita & Neyeli, that we are all our own Samurai. This last week was one of those dragon-fighting weeks for me. I'm still not sure if I have overcome the odds, but with great literature, and great art, I have a much better chance. Read Urrea if you can.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Miracles and Dancing Elephants

from my art Journal this week!

This week our illustrators group from SCBWI (Society of Children's Writer's & Illustrators) went into the wilds of northern New Mexico to visit Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaws' studio, meet her new baby Tulsi, chat over potluck with pesto carrots, drink her yummy Chai, & watch her work on her next picture book. See her website at It was a wonderous, imaginative, miraculous experience for me. To be honest I was throwing in the towel about ever doing picture books again. I have worked diligently this past year on my novel & doing my fine art. That coupled with a devastating critique a year & half ago, I thought, O.K. I'll just put my passion elsewhere. But my great illustrator's group & Jenny's example have given me back the miracle about my passion for picture books., their history, and their evolving nature and good for young children. Maybe, I'll put my beloved Henri Rousseau book out into the slipstream of publishers again. Dare I? Yes! I hope that this week will bring you a creative miracle or synchronicity!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Art Camping

"Ruffled Feathers," ink on wood, 2.5 x 3 "
Judith, June 09

Quite a number of years ago now I went wilderness camping with a group of women artists: Leigh Hyams, Lyn Haxton, and Medora Bass in the High Sierras of California. It was glorious, just painting & exploring nature all day long. Ever since then I try to get away to create whenever I can. I went for four days last weekend (hence no blog). It had been four years since my last creative retreat ~ far too long! Needless to say, I got so inspired just by living directly in nature with a pair of hummingbirds visiting me severl times a day humming their hummingbird song. The chamisa was just beginning to bloom. And, I could stand on the rim of the Gorge and watch the tiny ribbon of the Rio Grande wend its way far, far below. I did get a lot done on the revision of my novel plus some spot drawings & paintings & a painting. Sunsets, in particular, captured my fancy. Perhaps that's because they set over the rim of the Gorge with the first of the evening's coyotes howling to the nearly full moon and to one another.
I wish for you to have at least one day of such a creative retreat for yourself this week!