Illustrations and Children

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Alto, the dog in the picture above, is a character from Michele’s new book, “The Harp and the Storm Tamer: Michigan Conservatory Harp Method Book 1.”

In a world where binge watching is our favorite pass time and devices are used by children under two, books often are a forgotten tool for parents and childcare providers.  Still, libraries are finding new and creative ways to keep their doors open to serve a base number of patrons.  A good percentage of those patrons in my area are toddlers and young children.

For a toddler, the library is a safe place to make a first friend or listen to a story read by someone other than a parent.  Children’s illustrated books are the introduction to the world of books.  As an illustrator, I don’t take that lightly.

Children’s authors and illustrators, in this growing age of digital media, owe it to the upcoming readers of today to be more creative, more imaginative and more inviting than ever.  It is our job to hold the line and make the subtle argument that books are not dead; in fact, they are a place of happiness and sanctuary throughout childhood and life.

It has come to my attention that some well loved children’s book stores have recently been forced to closed their doors in Seattle.  If you are a parent or a child care provider, I implore you to support your local children’s books store as well as your local library.  Children have few places of quiet and simplicity left in a world moving faster and faster; a world which expects more and more of them at an earlier and earlier age.

Books ask nothing of us save our time and our imagination.  Children’s bookstores and libraries provide a space where children can walk into that world of words and pictures with confidence.  Build a pillow fort, bring home a stack of colorful books and spend the day lost in a place where dragons sing, robots know friendship, animals talk and children can do just about anything.  If you need me, I will be painting and writing more worlds in which I take sanctuary.  You’re very welcome to join me.  The door to those worlds is only a page turn away.

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Watercolor as Through the Eyes of the Author

This week, my students and I read excerpts from, “The Wind in the Willows”, trying to imagine what the author had pictured in his head.  While much of the time was spent experimenting with the paints and brush strokes, listening to the podcast definitely gave inspiration to both the kids as well as the adult painters.

On June 20, we will be painting with the book, “The Dragons Are Singing Tonight” as our inspiration.  Please join us if you love all things dragons, both modern and traditional.

To any of you painters of all ages, I want to ask a question.  Do podcasts stories or reading books ever inspire your work?

 

Why Murals?

When I was a kid, I loved to hang out at family parties, play sports, loved school and my friends but sometimes the world was a little too much.  I escaped into the world of books when I needed to get away.  Eventually, I set up a reading “nest” inside of my closet, complete with stacks of books, several over-stuffed pillows, blankets, a flashlight and snacks.  I could have lived in that closet over summer break and during winter snow storms when a snow day was declared.  That “nest” was my sanctuary.

With the bombardment of media, the faster pace of modern life and the increasing demand for children to produce excellent work and achieve at higher standards, I see my music students melting down.  They either break down in tears over the smallest mistake or they just begin to do everything half way, just to get through the day.  There is an overwhelming need for sanctuary.

When my children were young, something inspired me to paint murals and scenes from their favorite books on to their bedroom walls.  It is a memory they still have as young adults.  I felt as though surrounding them with their favorite characters and scenes that inspired their imagination could make them feel safe.  While adults may go into their study, a sewing room, a music studio, a library or a pub, children need a place to escape to when school and family have demanded the better of them.

Why A Mural?

A mural is silent.  It doesn’t move when you touch it, like an iPad or a video game.  It is a gentle reminder of a favorite feeling or place in one’s imagination without the words of a story being read aloud.  It is a place where a child can relax without overstimulation.

Accompanying a mural may be a futon, a small tent, a comfortable chair and lamp or a shelf of books or art supplies.  Some adults take to the sanctitude of camping leaving technology behind to recharge themselves.  What if you were a child and didn’t have the ability to leave home?  Where can your child go, away from the noise and flashing lights of a screen to calm down?  A mural may be a good beginning.

 

Book Review: Jordin’s Life Lessons-Moving Day by Jazmar Allison

Counselors often tell parents to read a book to a child that will prepare them for a life event.  I know my mother did back in the 1980’s when she wanted to broach the topic of her returning to work full time.  The story and illustrations helped me and my younger sister to understand how our daily routine would change and what was expected as we faced each day as a family.

“Jordan’s Life Lessons-Moving Day” by Jazmar Allison is founded on the same principle that children benefit from a book that prepares them for a new chapter in life.   Jordan, the main character has to come to terms with leaving the only home she has ever known.  She clings her her dog, Milo for support.

Throughout the story, the childhood fears of many children as they pertain to moving are addressed.  Friends from the neighborhood stop in to say goodbye.  They promise to stay in touch.  Old memories of her room, including painting on her walls and enjoying sleep overs are celebrated with the excitement and expectation of new adventures to have in her new room.

By the time Jordan and Milo arrive at their new house, the main character falls in love with her new room.  Her name is already on the door, a good subtle suggestion for parents as they prepare their own child with a future moving day.

Beautifully illustrated and seamlessly presented, it is a book with both a positive message and a simple layout, helping children to understand that their fears about are normal. It takes the scary out of moving day!

Why Murals?

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When my children were small, I painted murals in their bedrooms with their favorite characters from literature.  I felt as though it gave them a place to imagine, think and play away from technology.  It was my hope that they had a place where they could escape.

When creating sanctuary, a corner of the room, a small tent or even a sheet over two chairs helps a child to feel safe as they read, color or study.  I believe in the power of murals.  Visit your local library.  Many children’s departments also have murals for the same reason.

Email me at beresfordmediaproductions@gmail.com and let’s talk about a mural you envision.

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Watercolor

Michele Beresford illustrates her books, as well as the books of others, using water color.  Her lovable characters are typically the focus of each frame, often featured as a close up rather than a landscape.  When possible, she paints from the visual perspective of children.

The Next Generation

Our children are the future.  That goes without saying.  Raising well rounded, independent and healthy children is the challenge.  Michele spent a lot of time reading in her family garden as a child. She learned the value of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Her husband, the inspiration for the Mr. Kiwi series, also spent many happy moments of his childhood in his family garden in New Zealand.  That is why a portion of the proceeds of the sales of the Mr. Kiwi go to the preservation and inspiration of children’s gardens.