Accidental Illustrator Encounters (Maine Post #1)

Alison Morris -- September 4th, 2007

Though you wouldn’t know it from the posts that I put up last week, I was actually in Bar Harbor, Maine during those days, attending a wedding, savoring a week-long vacation and falling in love with Acadia National Park. As children’s books are my life, though, my vacation couldn’t help but include them and the week was so much richer as a result! This blog tool is limiting when it comes to the length of my posts and numbers of photos I can include, so my Maine adventures are going to have to be broken into three (count ’em – THREE) posts. Stick around as the week progresses to see photos of my visits to the homes of Ashley Bryan and Melissa Sweet.

My first children’s book-related encounter was a reminder that the world (and specifically the children’s book world) is a very, very small place. The fact that Acadia is a five hour-drive from "home" did not prevent me from bumping into local author/illustrator Jamie Harper last Tuesday when Gareth and I accompanied a few friends to Jordan Pond. Jamie, her husband, and their three girls were the only people standing by the pond when we traipsed the short distance down to the water, and I did at least a double-take (maybe even a triple-take) when I saw who was standing there. Sadly Jamie and I were both so flummoxed by the coincidence that neither of us thought to capture it on film (or pixels or whatever we’re calling it when we shoot digitally nowadays), but I promise you that Jamie Harper and I were at Jordan Pond together. Unfortunately this meant that neither of us was onhand at Wellesley Booksmith when her adorable new Baby Bundt board books arrived, but I think we were both right where we wanted to be! (Oh, if only our store had a view of Jordan Pond… Although then I’d get nothing done, staring out the window all day at visions like the one below.)

The second kid lit coincidence of the week was walking into a small gallery in Northeast Harbor and realizing that the beautiful linocuts and woodblock prints I was admiring (also known as "pining for") had been created by Holly Meade! Of course! No wonder I like them! Here are some of the prints we saw on display (there are many more on Holly’s studio website):

And the cool fish painting that caught Gareth’s eye as we walked through the gallery door? It too was by a children’s book illustrator — Rebekah Raye:

I always enjoy seeing the "other work" that occupies illustrators’ time and keeps their feet firmly planted in the fine art world. When you know illustrators solely for their book work it’s easy to forget that they often also produce work as "artists" (indeed, most of them began that way).

Case in point: Ashley Bryan creates linoleum block prints (some from his books, some not) and large canvas paintings of his garden which he sells by way of the wonderful Islesford Artists gallery, just a stone’s throw from his house. Read tomorrow’s post to see why Ashley and his house are such a big draw for island visitors. Take a peek at his linoleum blocks and prints below.

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