Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Quick Visit to the Graveyard

I promised her I'd come back to visit with my daughter...

We have always celebrated my Grandmother's Birthday in the graveyard, with chocolate cake, but this year I went alone. I brought cake. But it didn't taste as good. I felt so sad. For the first time.
I always feel sad and miss Gramma like crazy, but this was that disappearing kind of sad. I believe that, when someone's Story ceases to be told - they disappear.

I sat on her grave (it's a bench), licking chocolate frosting off my fingers, and realized that she was the only family I still had, in Warner, that I could visit. Maybe that's why I feel so "dis-appear-y" too?

Last year, I went sort-of-alone. The Fireman came with me at the last minute. But that made me start thinking about how I needed to write a story about my Gramma so she doesn't really disappear. I made notes... and one year later, I've done nothing. I can remember sitting at the drafting table in my new studio, at the Community Arts Center, writing and sketching - as if it were yesterday. And here I am ONE YEAR LATER.

To torture myself, I searched back through Facebook and this blog to find all the posts I'd written about our celebrations in the Graveyard - and they are mostly joyous occasions. And I also realized - it's been TEN YEARS of parties!

To make myself feel better and so she is not forgotten - at least - not this year - here is a retrospective of the past ten years. With links to the original posts. And with quotes. And my favorite pictures from that party...

2009 - Goodbye
My Grandma Magda died yesterday.

I am glad that I took her to California to visit my brother. I'm glad I took her to Arizona to visit her best friend. I wish I had forced her to go to Estonia to see her family again. It's so ironic - she was afraid she might die there and have to be shipped "home". That was ten years ago.

2010 - A Grave Situation

...I mean, she was buried in a tote bag for goodness sakes...

And on others [in the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris], there were small piles of rocks. I suppose it is a way of saying, "I was here and I miss you."

My grandmother shares her headstone with her mother-in-law, Jenni, her husband, Johannes, and her baby daughter, Merike. Jenni and John are actually buried somewhere on Long Island and Merike had been in a mass grave in Germany. But she was... "removed"... when a large highway was built. It's nice to have them all together again in Warner, even if it is only in name.

2010 - Good Times in the Graveyard  - [How it began]

[The bear would] dream about a lady with lovely smooth, pink skin, mischievous blue eyes surrounded by laugh lines, and the heart of a bear. And for that minute, the bear would wonder 'Am I a woman dreaming of being a bear, or a bear dreaming that I am a woman?' And my Grandmother would look down from where she is watching and have a good laugh.

2011 - Graveyard Bash

On my Grandmother's Birthday, we marched off to the cemetery for a little visit and some cake. Of all the holidays and traditions that families can follow or create, this has become one of our favorites. So, welcome to our Second Annual Grandma Magda's Birthday Celebration.
My mom, sits on HER mom.
Lilah, sits on HER mom... me! 

2013 - Graveyards, Bugs and ... Whoopie Pies. 
[this one has MAGGOTS!]

And just to prove that I have perfectly normal kids... Alex teased Lilah about who-knows-what and she proceeded to pelt him with the bag of dirt. Alex enjoyed it immensely. Ok, maybe they aren't normal.

2014 - Happy 100!  [One of my favorites!]

But, alas, Alex is the Gramma... er... grammar... police in any language. Especially chocolate.

But he is also an excellent big brother. He spells correctly, but he let his sister have the last Kiss.

2015 - Happy 101th!

Gramma Magda was an amazing lady who once rescued her mother-in-law from a concentration camp. 
Show of hands... how many of us would do that? 

Happy Birthday Gramma Magda. I miss you so much. The chocolate cake is very yummy, but celebrating your birthday alone this year made me miss ya so much more. 
But... I also started getting an idea for a graphic novel...


Happy Birthday Gramma Magda. Vanaema. I miss you so much.

This is the first time I have celebrated her birthday completely on my own. 
I didn’t even have to share the chocolate cake. 

I would have preferred to share the cake.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Ready, Set... Interview!

I'm the featured Illustrator today in Mira Reisberg's "Craft & Business of Illustrating Children's Books" course! It's a closed group on Facebook and I can't send you to the page, so I made a screenshot of Mira's introduction of me. It made me blush. And giggle "Sandy lives somewhere beautiful with kids and barns." Yup, that's New England... where the leaves are already changing color and I haven't been to the beach yet.

I've been answering questions on the page all day while also cleaning out The BeeHive and hosting an impromptu yard sale in the Studio! I'd be talking to someone about how to use something I had for sale, and my back pocket and laptop would be binging with Facebook notifications! It was surreal.

My plan had been to run into Concord for a few hours, sell a few things people had asked to pick up, throw some more things into boxes, pack them into the car, come home and do the Facebook thing...
I didn't get home until after 9:30pm! I am so tired. I should just save time and have that tattooed on my forehead: "I'm Tired"


Right. Here is the interview that I had with Mira when I finished the Ready, Set, GOrilla! book and she featured in her online class today:

Ready, Set, GOrilla! should be out around November 13th.

You can Pre-order the book directly from Clear Fork Publishing!
Please please encourage your libraries and local bookstores to pre-order - here's the link to share:

You'll also be able to pre-order on Amazon.

There's another short video on YouTube which has a glimpse of a book I wrote and I'm illustrating -  and a testimonial for the Children's Book Academy classes. (Here: )

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Sketch of a Sketch-note

I got distracted by a bunch of things so I didn't post this right after the Graphic Medicine Conference this weekend - as I had planned.

I was photographed while sketching David Macaulay's Keynote Presentation on Saturday at Dartmouth - and thought you might like to see a little of the progression:

Since I had a lot of lectures to sketch-note and little time between, I composed a template ahead of time with very pale gray lines to help keep me organized. I also made a page for each lecture with the title, the presenter, and any subtitle, also in pale gray - so I wouldn't mess up the spelling. I inked over the pale letters just before each lecture:

I like to draw a quick cartoon of the presenter and put any really good quotes in speech balloons. I don't draw them ahead of time as they tend to look really different in person than in their promo photos!

It's really intense! You have to pay very close attention to what is being said and interpret it quickly. No time to doze off or let your mind wander.

I like to use a black Flair pen and a colored Flair pen as well as a cool Japanese brush pen that has black on one end and gray on the other. I work on a magnetic portfolio/clipboard... usually on my lap!

One of the most difficult things is planning! Some presenters cram so much material in - it barely fits and you have to leave stuff out when you run out of space. If someone doesn't fill the page, that's easier - I just add some more graphic elements to fill the voids.

Then I add the grays for shading and contrast. It also helps divide up the space and the information and make it easier to read. Borders hold it all in!

Since he is one of my heroes, I also wanted to show you some of David Macaulay's work in case you aren't familiar with it. I think he is best known for these two books:

And they were the focus of the Graphic Medicine talk.

He's a genius at showing how architecture works too - Cathedral and Underground are classics...

And he has lots of picture books too.

My absolute favorites are Motel of the Mysteries (Discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb parody!) and BAAA (people are sheep... but what if sheep were...people? Spoiler, it turns out badly). 
My copies are so old the glue has let go and the pages are falling out!

I got mine signed back in 1991! 

I was a student at RISD and David Macaulay took over as the Head of the Illustration Department.

I had already been at two colleges and hadn't been able to convince any schools to transfer my credits. I was beyond discouraged and tired of being in school (5 years at three colleges!) David took a look at my transcripts and said "Want to graduate with the Seniors this Spring?"
"I love you Mr. Macaulay."

It took me 25 years to go back to school (for my Masters) and finally do school properly. And I ran into David at the Center for Cartoon Studies a few years ago.

I've always been grateful to David Macaulay for releasing me from the academic world and for showing me how warped and ingenious kids' books could be! 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Graphic Medicine Conference - Day Three

The final day of the Graphic Medicine Conference (next year will be in the UK!) Today went better for me than yesterday. Maybe because I blew off the evening events and went to see "Crazy Rich Asians" - laughter always helps me feel better! And - there was no Marketplace so I didn't get overwhelmed so quickly today.

There was an interesting exhibit up at the Baker Library about Graphic Medicine - in case you are looking for a better explanation that my sketch-notes...

Here are my Sketch-notes from today's lectures and workshops:

That last class was a little intense! And I was just a tiny bit loopy when I left - but My Guy was sitting out in the lobby and he'd brought me a Chai! And Snapdragons! 

I took him to see the final Keynote presentation which was by David Macaulay - one of my Super-Heros!! It was such an incredible funny lecture!
And that was that!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Graphic Medicine Conference - Day Two

Here are my sketch-notes from today's conference:

I was STARVING by lunch - which was also Day Two of the Marketplace. I stuffed bites of sandwich into my mouth between conversations. I did sell a few comics and buttons, but I think I spent a lot of it on other people's comics (there were more that I wanted but didn't get).

 I got it signed! Yah! It's nice to have so many famous cartoonists in one room.

I cleared my booth, ran to my car, tossed it all in and...

...then off to another workshop...

 This is what the group created for the Interconnected Energy Exercise in the "Cartooning in Education Workshop. Kind of like artsy dominos!

In case you were wondering - Sketch-noting a lecture is exhausting. Normally, you doze off and perk up as needed. But when you are Sketch-noting, you're hyper "On". You have to be listening incredibly carefully and FAST - almost like you know what's coming next. All the time. You LISTEN and interpret and draw SO fast... It's incredibly exhausting. These Notes are drawn in real time, scanned in an App on my iPhone, then I go to the next lecture.

I was FRIED. No other word for it. And add in all the talking and noise at Marketplace... F-R-I-E-D.

I was supposed to draw notes for one more Field Workshop and the evening Keynote. But I excused myself and ran. Actually I sat in my car trying to breathe for half an hour.

I decided to go to the Co-op and get some sushi to bring back to the hotel. I was standing near the deli, trying to remember why I was there.

The probably-also-exhausted-deli-lady said, "Can I help you dear?"
I almost burst into tears at her obvious concern - "I need a chocolate chip cookie!"
She said, "Of course you do. It's just about that time of day."
She understood! And pointed me toward the locally made cookies - where I took an oatmeal one as well. I deserved it.

My hotel room smelled like a florist's shop! The white and purple flowers smell like honey...

 I had to post two pictures because the flowers on the back are completely different! And there was even a VASE this time! :-) I think I'm getting spoiled...

I'm still thinking a lot about depression - all the talks mention it, the speakers suffer from it, and most of my head is consumed by it. I've been wondering if cartoonists become depressed... or depressed people become cartoonists? Either way - seems like a school for depressed cartoonists, and a conference that seems to be focused on mental health issues and cartooning - should be able to find another model for educating - other than sitting for hours on end in semi-dark rooms. And don't get me started on anxiety and stress!

OK. So, I'm fried, depressed and reaching the conclusion that it may be best to give up the studio in Concord (talked with a fellow cartoonist who is also considering it).
I'm going to a movie. I want to watch someone else's life and not have to talk Notes!


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