Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Illustration Friday-bicycle



There are often debates about what is art? What is literature? What is serious music?  We're always doing that, labeling, sorting. 

There must be something in our DNA, that as a species we feel the need to but things into categories. Once upon a time this instinct must have been critical to our survival. I like to sort things. One time when I was babysitting at a house that didn't have a T.V. or a radio, I separated a large bag of peanut M&Ms. I own a label maker, I get it. 

It still annoys me though when it comes to artistic endeavors.  

My answer is, "Who cares?". 

Here are some more important questions to ask of a work of art:

Does it capture my attention? 
Does it stir something in my mind or heart? 
Does it evoke a memory? 
Does it get me up dancing?
Does it make me laugh?
Does it take my breath away?
Is it something I want to share?

Is it a good story?

That's the real genetic trait that separates us from the Bonobos, storytelling. 

And it is all storytelling.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Illustration Friday-journey-Maria

by Maria Swiatkowski
My daughter and I were talking about the Illustration Friday word this week, "journey".  I told her that the word reminded me of the band by the same name. 

I explained that they did the original version of that Glee song she likes. I then Googled them, so she could see what they looked like.  

A picture of the same cassette that I had won in the seventh-grade for the foreign-language-week-poster-contest showed up in the images. This was the one cassette that my older sister and I could agree on.  We would listen to it as we fell asleep, one side each night.

I explained what a cassette was. I told her it was what we used to listen to music, in the old days of the nineteen eighties. 

Before I could get a Journey video up on the screen, my daughter grabbed her markers and a piece of paper out of the printer tray and said, "That's what I'm doing for Illustration Friday".

Illustration Friday-journey


Monday, April 18, 2011


We've got a lot of breakfast joints around here.  There are more breakfast places than ice cream parlors here on sunny Cape Cod.  Most places have lines out the door in the summer and a decent crowd of regulars in the off season.

I love to go out to breakfast.

I usually get one of those big meals with a name like, "Farmer's Special". Eggs, bacon, homefries, toast and coffee. Yes, please. I'll have some coffee.

I got this love of breakfast from my dad.  

When we were kids, Dad worked a lot of hours as a repairman for for the phone company.  On weekdays, Joe would pick him up in the New England Telephone van before we left for school in the morning. We'd see Dad again at dinner and shortly thereafter say we'd say "goodnight". 

Saturdays were for running errands, doing yard work or repairs to the house, as well as keeping an eye on a good percentage of us five kids.

Sundays were a different story.  If you got up and went with Dad to the early Mass at St. Mary's there was breakfast in the deal.  

I'm no early riser.  There are few things I cherish more than sleeping in.  Breakfast with my dad is one of them.  

From my Sunday morning slumber, I would hear Dad getting ready to go. In a semi-conscious state I would get myself dressed and in the kitchen just in time to go with Dad. "Ready?", he'd say and we'd be out the door.

There wasn't a lot of conversation. I would still be waking up on the short ride to church. Other than, "Peace be with you" we didn't talk during Mass.  At the diner, Dad would say, "Hello" to a few folks. He'd say a few words about the headlines or the Red Sox to the guys sitting at the counter seats. Those guys would wave to me as he reminded them which kid I was.  

The meal itself was usually pretty quiet. When we were done, Dad would say, "All set?" and we'd head back home.  

These days I see Sunday morning from the mom's perspective.  My husband takes the kids out to breakfast and I stay in bed on the one day that I can.  I don't do this purely for the love of my comforter and down pillow. 

I'm staying out of the way of breakfast with Dad.

Monday, April 11, 2011


See, I told you it would be soon.

 I'm back and I have a new list of words.  

I took me a little while to think of what do do next, after the alphabet.  Numbers would have been a logical progression.  I also considered different colors, animals and children's names. 

I could have done the alphabet again, with 26 new words.  I do own a fat dictionary. 

I wanted to get started on the drawings.  I was just about to choose one already, when I passed by the hallway bulletin board at our house.  This is where we put up well marked papers and interesting pictures from school.  I was struck by the list of perfectly spelled "word wall" words and I knew what to do next.

The Spelling List.

There are only ten words which I'm glad about. I wanted to work on scene pictures rather than spot images.  I also wanted to add a splash of color this time around.  I knew that would take a little longer.  I wanted to start back to posting as soon as possible so I got right to work on the list. 

I completed all ten images.

I liked having the pictures already done, when I did the alphabet series. 

The words inspired an image.
The images inspired more words to go with the image  and perhaps this post will inspire another form of creativity.

 I love the idea of  the domino effect.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

What's the Buzz Tell Me What's Happening

The alphabet series is done and I am going to start the new series very soon...right after this post soon.

I learned a lot since I started the alphabet series.  My digital skills have improved and my comfort level as a member of the blogosphere has increased immensely.

I still feel like I'm bumbling along most of the time but that's part of the fun.

"Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming."

Let's see.

The tax preparation is done.  Now it's in the hands of the accountant who will tell us how much to put into the hands of Uncle Sam and Aunt Massachusetts.

Speaking of aunts, I became an aunt for the...uhmm...fourteenth time (unless you count my great-niece and nephews which would bring me to eighteen).

The Clouds Book went in to it's second printing. My mother gets the saleswoman of the year award. Congratulations, Eileen!

On the subject of promoting family members creative endeavors, I made a poster for this show.

If you live near NYC, you can go see it.  It is running from April 7th to April 9th, 2011.
Here is a link to Bricken's website with time and ticket info.


I am working on a picture book. I have all the sketches scanned. I am going to do a couple of pages in full color.  I've got all four of the words of the text done but they might need editing. So that will take a little time.  If you are an agent or a publisher and want me to send you a dummy book, please email me.

Hmm, what else?

Oh, it turns out I'm not the only one who gets inspired to make pictures from random words.  There is this great website that you probably already knew about called Illustration Friday. Once a week they post a new word for folks to illustrate. It's fun and it is free.  I've been doing it for the past few weeks.  I love to do it because I am totally free to do a quick illustration just for fun, no pressure.  I've been posting them on my Flickr page so as not to confuse my dear reader.  I might start posting them here though just to keep things simple.

I also plan on working on some new wall art and finishing some old wall art.  I'll be posting those on the atlanticmo page.

Ever since I got back from the SCBWIWCNYC the idea fish have been swimming by faster than I can draw a picture of a net.  I made some notebooks out of recycled paper with cereal box covers to keep nearby for all the ideas.

I have also been giving written affirmations a try (why not?*).

Of course I continue my pursuit of the laundry.

I am doing it right now as a matter of fact.

*I am a little concerned that repetitive phrases on the pages of a book made out of trash might be a little shining-ish