Friday, December 10, 2010

Il fait froid, gla gla gla!

I'm back!  Il fait super froid here in Paris, and there has been so much to see and do lately....  from art openings to the Salon du Livre to out-of-town guests—even a funeral in a snow-storm (but that's another story for another time).  Anyway, I have been running-running-running (and slipping and falling on the ice!), but I will return in the next post and show you some of what I saw.

À bientôt, alors...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Miss Clara

I was in Les Trois Hiboux children's bookshop about a week ago, looking for a present for The Nephew™, when I stumbled upon a little art exhibit by Miss Clara.  She has two books coming out— La Petite Poule Rousse (The Little Red Hen) and Trois Petits Cochons (Three Little Pigs), both published by Éditions Scarabéa.  

On display were a dozen or so shadow boxes (boîtes vitrines) peopled with small, exquisitely crafted characters out of her picture books—pigs, chicken, geese and the like.  Made with layers of thin paper and fine silk upon an under-structure of wire, they also include found objects (buttons, discarded hardware, feathers...) and collaged backgrounds of book pages and old wallpaper. 

Out of such prosaic and discarded materials, she creates a tiny dream world of poetry and magic.

Miss Clara worked as a graphic designer for nine years before she began creating her dioramas and collages.  Her work can now be seen in magazines, books and art galleries. Some are even available as paper goods from La Marelle.  Her home town is Bordeaux, where she still lives and works.

PS.  Here is a little video about Miss Clara and her world, in case you'd like to see more. In French.

Découvrez Miss Clara et ses merveilles en papier sur Culturebox !

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Il pleut!

It is a damp and drizzly day today, so I give you another sketch of Omelette, with his trusty eggshell umbrella.  The day looks to be filled with down-pourings and puddle-stompings—but if you get tired of watching the raindrops roll down your window-pane, you could do worse than clicking on some of these links:

Sarmède, in the Veneto region of northern Italy, is home to an art school (founded by the wonderful Czech artist Stepan Zavrel) and to an annual illustration exhibit.  Beatrice Alemagna, whose picture books are sublime, is the guest of honour this year.  She is in good company: there are over 300 illustrations by 38 artists— including Martin Jarrie, Kitty Crowther, Violeta Lopiz, Madalena Matoso.  And so many others!  Anna Castagnoli (illustrator and keeper of the marvelous Italian blog on children's books, Le Figure dei Libri)  has written an introduction (in English) for the catalog.  The exhibit runs until 19 December— wish I could go!

Urban Outfitter has asked 10 artists to do 10 bookmarks for them— they are here, as well as downloadable wallpapers.  I especially like Joe McLaren's contribution.

And finally, in keeping with this drippy day, here are some spreads from the out-of-print picture book, Monsieur Cloud, Nuagiste.  Illustrated by François Roca in black and white, it is about a cloud expert (a nephologist) who is hired to make rain by a crooked umbrella manufacturer hoping to make a fortune.  But all does not go as planned...of course!  via Gone Fishing.

OK, back to watching raindrops...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Calendar time

It's calendar season!  This image is by Thomas Baas, part of a recent exhibit of calendar illustrations.  Now extremely prized and very hard to come by, these calendars were produced every year for about two decades by Alain Lachartre, an illustrator and graphic designer and founder of the legendary agence-atelier Vue Sur La Ville.  Images are by an all-star cast of illustrators (over 200 of them, all told) including Loustal, Marc Boutavant, Benoit Jacques, Gary Baseman, Pierre Le-Tan and many others.  It was an open assignment with the only condition being that the calendar itself had to be incorporated into the illustration. With wonderful results!

Originally presented last summer at Cité de l'Architecture in Paris, I was able to see it recently at the gallery at Parsons Paris art school.  I look forward to seeing more of the offerings here in the coming season...
Camilla's calendar is now available.  As we all know!

Arche Kinder Kalendar is a gorgeous calendar filled with poetic images resulting from an exhibit organized by Internationale Jugendbiliothek, gathering together 150 of the best illustrated poems for children. They have chosen twelve of them for this calendar  (via Topipittori).

National Public Radio's 2011 calendar has a dream team of illustrators creating images for it, including Matte Stephens, Jeremy Holmes, heads of State, Lab Partners and many more.

The Tolkein calendar has images by Dutch artist Cor Blok, originally created in 1960.  Both modernist and child-like, they are inspired by Blok's take on the Bayeux tapestry and applied to the imaginative universe of J.R.R. Tolkein.

Finally, for those of you who love owls, here is a free downloadable and customizable calendar, featuring artwork (yes, of owls!) from 30 different illustrators.  From My Owl Barn.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Warm and cozy

Hamlet the pig has made another appearance in my sketchbook!
Just a little comfort and warmth on this chilly autumn day...

In other news:
As I mentioned before, Serge Bloch recently designed a set of postage stamps.  They are called "Sourires" and are now —finally!— available from La Poste.  Get 'em while they're hot!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kveta Pacovska, again

Here, as promised, are more images from Kveta Pacovska's exhibit.

This owl is an original from her new book, Couleurs du Jour.

This collage was from a book called A l'Infini (published by Editions Paname in 2007).

Quite a few of her books are on display as well, spanning five decades from the early sixties to the present.  Many of them are exceedingly hard to get a hold of, having only been published in Czechoslovakia (as was) — they come from private collections such as that of Paris's wonderful children's library, Bibliothèque de l'Heure Joyeuse. Also some very rarely seen books published by Albatros, the legendary Czech publisher of children's books.

Cover art for Das Tier mit den Funkelaugen (Beltz & Gelberg, 1990) —about a flying animal with sparkly eyes.

Published by Albatros in 1986, the illustrations inside this book are all in black and white.

This 1968 version of Lord of the Flies was published by Pan Much, and all the illustrations are black and white.

The exhibit is still running until 30 October at the Libraires Associés. This combination gallery, publisher and bookshop is a veritable paper paradise — ça vaut le détour.  And those of you going to the Salon de Livres Jeunesse at Montreuil in December may be able to see Kveta Pacovska in person — rumour has it that she will be speaking and signing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Places to go

A few places you might like to visit if your time permits:

Josef Palacek: the wonderful Czech illustrator — a marvelously poetic vision in his children's books amply rewarded by prizes at Bologna Book Fair, IBBY, Teatrio... There is surprisingly little about him on the internet, but I found more images on Natascha Rosenberg's blog...

Analogue: a gallery and bookshop in Edinburgh— I wish I lived nearer to it! They have had some interesting exhibits I'd like to have seen, including Jean Jullien, Marcus Oakley, Nigel Peake and Tom Gauld.  See their flickr for more!

Armenian tales and legends: illustrated by the Russian illustrator Victoria Semykina.  Quel talent!  Also here and here and on tzeh (fabulous Russian illustrator's collective).  And I think this is her blog (in Russian).

Enjoy yourselves!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Kveta Pacovska!!

Kveta Pacovska has an exhibit of her artwork— original drawings, prints, posters and her books (dating back to the early '60's) at Les Libraires Associés, in Paris.  A few nights ago, there was a vernissage for it, and I was lucky enough to be able to attend it — and even luckier to have a chance to meet and chat with Kveta herself!

 82 years old and still going strong as ever, she has just put out a new book. Couleurs du Jour (Editions Grandes Personnes, 2010) is an amazing achievement.  A bit over 5 inches square and almost as thick (it's the cube of paper you see in her hand above) , it is a 90-page accordeon-fold book which measures over 10 meters when opened!  It's hard to give a sense of it in photos, but it took up a whole wall of the gallery space. when displayed.  PLUS, it's printed on both sides — and larded with little paper doors and windows and mirrors, so that the pages are interacting with each other.

It's a bit like a kaleidoscope, in a sense — same elements, but different every time you look at it. And (it goes without saying) the images are just brilliant.  I will be showing more soon...

It is a wordless book, but the driving idea of Couleurs du Jour is that colours are chosen according to their sound, and each day of the week has its own sound and colour— Monday is green, Tuesday is blue, and so on.  Of course —according to one's mood, age or point of view — the colours could change.  This is how Kveta saw things when she was 10 years old...

If any of you have the chance to go, the exhibit runs until 30 October at:
Les Libraires Associés
3, rue Pierre l'Ermite
75018 Paris

It's open every day, but by appointment.  Phone:

((((((Thanks, Kveta!!!))))))

PS. Kveta Pakovska does not have a website but to find out more look here:  Ricochet article (French only) and Links list.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Casting Call, Part 3

More from my sketchbooks.  This is another one of the recurring characters that's been popping up in the pages for some time:  a lost bird, named Omelette.  

He first showed up, curiously enough, when I found myself drawing eggs all the time — mysteriously large eggs.

The more I draw him, the more I find out what he's like — but one thing's for sure:  he's not like the other birds.  He always wants to do everything his own way.  Eggsasperating, sometimes...

Related: here, here, and here.... enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Places to go

A few places to go, if time is hanging heavy on your hands:

Getting back to the Phantom Skill: rediscovering the lost skill and singular pleasure of drawing by James McMullan. The first article in the weekly "LINE BY LINE" column in the New York Times, by a great working illustrator and artist.

Anja Mulder's beautiful corner of the internet.

Five Books —Every day, an eminent writer, thinker, academic picks five books from their own field of expertise. You too can be an expert! The ones that caught my eye: Michael Morpurgo (former chidren's laureate) on books for children; Richard Walters on screenwriting (he was my professor once upon a time!); Alain de Botton on Illuminating Essays; Calvin Trillin on memoirs; Mary Beard on ancient history in modern life. And much much more...

Croquis Parisens — a book of spare and elegant line drawings of Paris by Lionel Koechlin. Alain Beaulet, the editeur, offers many other interesting books and prints, too.

The Browser — I just discovered it: "writing worth reading".

But really, it's time to go and draw...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mogu Takahashi at L'Articho

I just got word of another illustrator's art opening coming to town soon*— to L'Articho (in Paris), starting 2 October 2010.
Mogu Takahashi is a wonderful Japanese illustrator who creates works (illustrations, dolls, zines —entre autres) in a fresh and spontaneous way. I am quite smitten with her playfulness! As for L'Articho, it is a collective of illustrators of all stripes who come together to organize events, exhibits, parties, and the like. Among its members are Chamo (here too) and Yassine, who you may already know... More on Mogu here, here, and here. To attend: L'Articho, 28 rue des 3 Bornes, 75011 Paris Vernissage: Saturday 2 October 2010, 2:00 to 10:00 PM and Sunday 3 October 2010, 2:00 to 10:00 PM.
*For those of you who can't make it to Paris, Mogu will also be showing in Barcelona, from October 8 to 23 at Dudua. Don't say I didn't warn you!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My favourite season

Here's an editorial illustration* in suitably autumnal colours to ring in the first day of fall, my favourite season.

*Topic: "Opening up: do men and women speak the same language?"
(Client: Microsoft)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Louise Heugel at La Maison des Contes

A few days ago, I saw the illustrations of Louise Heugel at La Maison des Contes et des Histoires, which currently has an exhibit featuring illustrated books on the theme of ancient Egypt. Louise did illustrations for Le Papyrus Sacre (by Aude Gros de Beler, published by Actes Sud Junior), which explores the secrets of hieroglyphs.

Louise studied at Penninghen (the highly reputed Parisian art college), and now lives and works in Barcelona. I love her approach to image-making, involving drawing, block-printing and layering with torn paper, vellum and ephemera.

The linoleum block prints are shown in workshops at the Maison des Contes. Louise also creates and teaches regular workshops for the Revue Dada, the wonderful art magazine for kids (and art teachers!).

I love these illustrations from Les Noces de Messire Chat

As for La Maison des Contes et des Histoires, it is a small gallery specializing in art for children's books. Located in the Marais district of Paris on 7 rue Pecquay (in the back streets behind the Centre Pompidou), it is well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in livres jeunesse.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nocturne Croco

I have been feeling the change of seasons lately — the nights are getting longer and colder. But this crocodile is still frisky when it gets dark out. Either that or he's got a touch of insomnia!

Stay warm, out there...

PS. To see more of these charming creatures, check out the gallery "Crocodiles make great pets".

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Image by Philip Giordano

I just heard of Filustra, an international illustration fair to be held in Guadalajara this coming November.

Image by Javier Zabala

Among the participants are: Beatrice Alemagna, Javier Zabala, Arnal Ballester, Diego Bianchi, Philip Giordano, Miguel Tanco, Eliana Pasaran, Javier Recio, Kitty Crowther and Gabriel Pacheco... all of them stellar, exceptional talents!

I believe it is under the auspices of the Book Fair of Guadalajara (FIL: Forio Internacionál del Libro de Guadalajara), the largest global market for Spanish language publications.

Image by Gabriel Pacheco

I look forward to finding out what transpires at Filustra!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bumping into Serge Bloch

I was on my way back from the swimming pool (26 laps today, yay me!) when I noticed a gallery on rue Dante. Galerie des Arts Graphiques, specializing in illustration, graphic design and bande dessinée, just put a new show up. Serge Bloch, one of my heroes!

Left: "C'était Fatal"
Right: "Un Bon Gars"

He has a beautiful bold line and an inspired way with ephemera. Wooden blocks, old envelopes, wine labels, postage stamps... it's all grist to his mill.

"Général Timbré"

If I had 600 euros burning a hole in my pocket, I'd certainly be tempted by this one!

As for the gallery, they've got an interesting fall season lined up including Loustal and Jean Jullien. So I shall certainly be returning — stay tuned!

PS. I was told by the woman running the gallery that La Poste (the French mail service) would be putting out a set of postage stamps designed by Serge Bloch within the next few months. You heard it here first!

Monday, September 6, 2010

On the rue des Écoles

And speaking of Michel de Montaigne...

This statue of him is near where I live, and the inscription below it reads:

"Paris a mon coeur des mon enfance. Je ne suis français que par cette grande cité — grande surtout et incomparable en varieté, la gloire de France et l'un des plus nobles ornaments du monde."*

This quote has always resonated with me — like Paris was saying a welcome to newcomers like myself! I have been living here for 18 years (already!) and it still makes me smile every time, to bump into this man, these words...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The cure for melancholy

"If you are idle, be not solitary;
if you are solitary, be not idle."

Samuel Johnson said that, putting it forward as a cure for melancholy. He was such a prolific writer of letters and essays and bons mots that some think of him as the very first blogger ever! But of course, this distinction could just as easily go to other writers — to the likes of Michel de Montaigne, Samuel Pepys, writers of Japanese "Pillow Books", and (my personal favourite) E.B. White... especially his letters.

How about you? Do you have a favourite proto-blogger?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Casting Call, Part 2

Boo! For some time now —a year, maybe more —I have had an infestation of crocodiles in my sketchbook. Here are a few to be going on with:

My crocodiles are friendly —sometimes homesick, sometimes mischievous, sometimes awkward and shy — and come in all colours and sizes. But so far, never mean...

I am so used to my version of crocodiles that I am quite shocked when I watch nature documentaries and see real crocs in action. They employ the element of surprise to perfection, leaping out of still waters and clamping onto their unsuspecting dinner with a sudden splash and thrash. Poor old wildebeest cannot slake its thirst without taking its life in its own hands hooves!

But still —I love their cheeky smiles...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pets... in unexpected places

I got a lovely surprise in my boîte aux lettres from Hazel.

This "Pet in the Post" is a cheerful little spider... she even came with her own web!

The other pets seem to be taking to her just fine...

...and she seems to be right at home in Paris. Thanks, Hazel!

For those of you who don't know, Hazel is a painter and a teacher from Scotland, and the blogueuse responsible for the wonderful and inspiring blog, The Art Room Plant. So much treasure and inspiration — go look...right NOW! Run, don't walk.

You're welcome.