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This is new for me. Instead of writing and playing around with cover art, this is my first sojourn into the illustration world. I have a few other illustration projects I've been working on, but this is the first one published.
Last Haven is an epic poem where the author sees through the eyes of War, a horseman, and chronicles his arrival at the last sanctuary, the Last Haven.
Originally Jeremy knew this piece was near and dear to his heart, but he had no plans on sharing it with the world...until I got my hands on it. What are friends for? I put it together with my own illustrations in a way that gave the story meaning and brought the world closer to eyes of the beholders. Or at least I hope I did. I'm always my own worst critic. He loved it so much that what followed was slide after slide until we had a complete book.
Each plate on each suit of armor was individually rendered and put into place. Each scene went through many texture and lighting effects, finally fading into the words leaving the viewer feeling as if they have been transported into the fantasy. On each page the horseman stands out sharply reminding us of the brutal reality the poem mirrors.
Here is a sample page, but one is all you get. If you want to see more you'll have to buy the book!
The poem itself shows the reader a side of the legends no one thinks about. More than bringer of War, more than legendary warrior, more than a vision in a centuries old book. This is a horseman as a solid being with a soul. What happens to someone that was put on Earth for such a purpose? What wounds of the heart do they suffer?
The raising of children is a sacred duty. If we want a better society, we start with our children and attempt to raise them better, to not accept the societal problems we live under. Books and art are a great way to incorporate those ideas to children.
JEA very recently opened up a kids imprint, JEApers! My fellow press artists and I have been in lots of discussions about getting these books good art and what the industry looks like for children’s writers and illustrators. What burdens do they bring into the market? Should we be the press that publishes books about gender creative children (pre-adolescent group that defies gender status quo. i.e. boys who wear dresses) because it’s right, and stick our noses up to the inevitable backlash from new ideas? Or should we stick to the tried and true golden book model? What do we gain or lose then? Dr. Seuss was a huge pioneer in his day, incorporating ideas into his books that could potentially have him arrested in his era, but has become a mainstay and standard of children’s literature, in some cases for those very ideas.
I’m going to go back to an old landmark study from the 1940’s. Kenneth and Mamie Clark conducted a study in which both black and white children were asked which baby doll they liked better, the black or white one. A huge majority chose the white doll because they, even the black children, perceived the white doll as being all around better. Prettier, smarter, nicer. This study showed how very damaging racism is and the messages we surround our children with. It took many many years, but that study was a step in normalizing race equality. The lesson was so well learned in fact, that I run into all white families that purposely buy their children black, American Indian, and even Asian dolls, so they can normalize these cultures for their children early on.
I believe children’s illustrators have a chance to really make a difference here. I think we need to make a point of including different cultures, races, gender creativeness, faith practices in our drawings. If the character is never described by the author, why not make the child Asian, or American Indian? If the room is never described why not put some African tribal art on the walls? How about sneaking in bits of culture into the nick nacks of a scene? Maybe Grandma wears a pentacle, or Uncle Dan has picture of the Baha’i house of worship on his desk. Maybe Mom is in a wheelchair, or uses fake legs to walk. If we want our children to live in a global society we need to make seeing these cultural cues normal.
I’m currently illustrating a children’s book written by my husband, who likes the pen name, Uncle Dave. You see a sample page above. I have armies of teddy bears in this book and it was very important to me to include a gender creative bear. This choice was made after watching the struggle, devotion, and strength of a friend of mine who is raising her children to make their own music in every possible way. For me, personally, gender creative children are on the rise. Just like being in the LGBT community or a bi-racial community, they are here to stay. I support rainbow and blended children everywhere. And on a more selfish note, when my children come in contact with someone who looks or thinks different, I would be ashamed if their first reaction is fear. It doesn’t really matter in the end whether you agree or disagree with the differences people are born with or choose. It’s about teaching children to learn and grow from them all and to sing their own personal music as loud as they can because it brings them joy.
I'm up for *2* awards. Can you believe that? I'm still kind of in shock.
I'm up for the Artwork on Fish To Die For seen at the left. This composite is made up of 10 layers, 3 different fish and 4 human body parts, to capture the imagination of the author.
Keith Milstead is up for his own P&E in Short Story Horror for this book.
Go here to Vote for artwork: http://critters.org/predpoll/artwork.shtml
My Debut novel, Silent Heart, is up for a P&E in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category.
Silent Heart is the tale of a deaf woman who stumbled headlong into the murder of a royal. As the only witness to a horrible crime she must make it across the country to seat of the King and tell him of his son's death. A stranger stumbles into her path and realizing what she has seen and what she must do swears to protect her. Through battles, night time cliff climbing, abductions, torture, and houses under siege a love like no other blossoms and changes them both forever.
Go here to vote for Silent Heart: http://critters.org/predpoll/novelsf.shtml
Susan is a writer and artist by day, a child and pet wrangler by night, and occasional crazy person on the weekends. She walks the path of a Siedr and strives to grow day by day.