Aloha Friday Art, episode 8 is all about PLAY. I’m doing things a little differently in July–featuring this PLAY theme a bit longer. It is the “biggest” episode of Summer :). Check back often to see interviews of each special guest. ~ECM
Above photo: Linda Ólafsdóttir (author/illustrator of Play? & many other kid lit books), Baptiste Paul (author/poet and creator of The Field and more), Jeff Raz (world class circus artist -professional clown, director, author & consultant) & Edna Cabcabin Moran (with the most recent books she’s written & contributed). This series is created by Edna Cabcabin Moran (AKA Ms. Edna, teaching artist in the schools). Stay tuned for ep.9 in August. [ETA: Due to technical difficulties, the articles below have posted in succession beginning with Jeff Raz’s video through Thurs, July 30.] Happy Aloha Friday~stay safe and wear a mask!
INSIDE EPISODE 8 (Click on title to see article/video)
Play is the work of childhood.
Author/Illustrator LINDA ÓLAFSDÓTTIR on the Art of “PLAY?”
ABOUT THIS SLIDE SHOW: Linda Ólafsdóttir shares some of her character studies and pencil sketches for her picture book, Play?
ECM: Why are you an artist and writer?
LO: First and foremost, I am an illustrator. I think in images and I would call myself a visual storyteller. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but did not start writing my own books until recently.
I have been drawing my whole life, it is what I love to do the most and I am lucky to call it my job and my number one hobby. When I take a vacation, I always take a bunch of art supplies with me.
ECM: Why did you write the book PLAY?
LO: This little guy (see first sketch attached) appeared in my sketchbook a few years ago. Originally he had a stuffed penguin but I changed it to a puffin, to link it more to the country where I am from, Iceland. My agent, Abigail Samoun encouraged me to write him a story. It took several attempts and years to find Phil’s story. I would never have imagined it could take so long to write a story with such few words! It wasn’t until I found him a friend, a spunky little character named Frida, that the story fell in place.
ECM: What are the challenges and joys of creating books?
LO: I love that question because I think it has so much of both! The real joy for me in the process of making books is at the first and the last stages, when I’m brainstorming and playing with different ideas without any pressure.
And then the joy when I can finally move on to creating and painting the final illustrations. There in the middle is by far the hardest stage, getting the story just right, creating the right phasing in the right amount of spreads. Creating books definitely has more joy than struggles, although it doesn’t always seem so when you are tearing your hair out getting it all to work! But it is all oh so worth it.
ECM: How important is “play” to your profession?
LO: I think that to “play” is important in everything we do! To get the joy and fun out of everyday things is what play is all about. In my book PLAY?, Phil and Frida are at the stage where they are just learning to play together and realizing the joy in interacting with others. Many times, my work feels like play, I enjoy it so much, and when I’m at the rewarding stage in my book where I can let myself play with the characters, my work feels more like play than work.
ECM: What advice do you have for youth who want to make books?
LO: Draw and write, all the time. Read books, read pictures. If you want to make this your profession, you must LOVE this. It is hard, but the most rewarding thing I can imagine. But number one, practice, practice, practice. And if you like illustrating books, then draw all the time, carry a sketchbook with you and draw what is around you and scribble down what inspires you.
To get the joy and fun out of everyday things is what play is all about.
LINDA ÓLAFSDÓTTIR is an Icelandic author and illustrator, living in Reykjavik with her husband and two children. She has been drawing ever since she can remember and has an MFA degree in Illustration from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. Linda has written and illustrated Children’s Books in Iceland and the US. Her debut picture book PLAY? came out in 2017 and has since been published in Icelandic and French. She is currently working on a few picture books which are a whirlwind of drawings, brushes, paint, elves and coffee cups. She is happiest spending time with her family, cooking, hiking in the highlands with her friends and writing and illustrating children’s books from her Reykjavik studio.
Author/Poet BAPTISTE PAUL on playing The Beautiful Game
ABOUT THIS VIDEO: Author, Baptiste Paul, is serious about taking a “playful” approach in his practice and profession as a writer. A player of futbol (soccer) since his youth, in his native Caribbean island home, St. Lucia, Baptiste extols one of the beautiful game’s greatest virtues: creativity–both on and off the field. He offers heartfelt and timely advice for writers of all ages and abilities.
Born and raised on the island of Saint Lucia, BAPTISTE PAUL is a native Creole/Patois (patwa) speaker who enjoys reading his books and sharing about his experiences with anyone who will listen. His debut picture book, The Field, received starred reviews from Kirkus, The Horn Book, and Booklist. According to Kirkus, his co-authored book Adventures To School, “will pique readers’ curiosity.” His picture book biography, I Am Farmer, chronicles the work of Cameroonian environmentalist Tantoh Nforba. Learn more about Baptiste at baptistepaul.net.
SOCCER PLAYER PERSPECTIVE
I met Baptiste when he and his wife, author Miranda Paul, and their kids made a brief stop to the SF Bay Area in summer 2017. Fellow author, Zainab Khan, and I, took them on an evening tour of The Golden Gate Bridge. Little did we think we’d be met by the famous SF fog. It showed up biting cold and thick as a wall. Any potential viewing of the bridge was moot. While the Paul family didn’t get to see the bridge, they did experience the the coldest winter that summer–Bay Area style. Fast forward to 2020, when my “thinking” paid off: Brainstorming on the theme of PLAY for Aloha Friday Art. I thought about Baptiste and his book, THE FIELD. I’m so glad he said “yes” because in true soccer player style, his video presentation exudes the language, passion and play of the beautiful game. ~ECM
Talking “Play” with JEFF RAZ, Professional Clown, Author & Consultant
ABOUT THIS VIDEO: Get a behind the scenes perspective on play and the performing arts from professional clown, theatrical artist, consultant and author, JEFF RAZ, whose work has taken him around the world and back home again to the SF Bay Area.
RAMBLING DOWN MEMORY LANE
I got to know Jeff Raz in my volunteer work for Circus For The Arts In The Schools, a fundraising event he and his wife, Sherry Sherman, co-founded back in the early 2000’s. Our kids went to the same public school and we were on a PTA committee, brainstorming what to do about the cuts in education. Of course, Circus For The Arts, helped to solve that dilemma however the event caught on and grew to have a life of its own. It was clear back then that Jeff was not only dedicated to his artistry and craft but also to a greater good in connecting people and making a difference through the arts. Circus for the Arts was a magical experience both from behind the scenes and the theater seats. I gather it was also magical from the vantage point of many performers who happily volunteered to bring the circus to town. ~ECM
JEFF RAZ has starred in many plays and circuses, from Corteo with Cirque du Soleil to Comedy of Errors on Broadway. He is a graduate of Dell’Arte International, a playwright and director of dozens of circus, dance, puppet and theater productions. His first book, The Secret Life of Clowns, was launched nationally at the Smithsonian followed by The Snow Clown and now his third Love Death Circus. Along with his performing, directing and writing, Jeff is a communications consultant with the global firm Stand & Deliver.
Clowning is the touchstone I use to try to be a whole person and treat others as whole people.
Jeff’s books, The Snow Clown and The Secret Life of Clowns are available at www.jeffraz.com, Books Inc. Alameda or Amazon.
Stay Tuned: Playful Origami — Make A Paper Toy w/ Ms. Edna
ORIGAMI (pronounced or-ee-gah-mee) is the Japanese name for a popular paper craft and art from East Asia. As this episode is dedicated to Play, I thought it would be fun to make several origami toys and offer tips for creating your own type of folded toy or decoration or anything you can think up. Stay tuned! =) ~ECM (Ms. Edna)
From ALOHA ART FRIDAY creator, Edna Cabcabin Moran (AKA Ms. Edna): This free series grew out of a compilation of art projects, references and materials and an interest in sharing new perspectives and approaches by creative makers of all kinds. The majority of content in this series is either created and/or sourced from public domain or stock art by me except for feature writings, artwork or other media by other creators who have given their express permission for use in ALOHA FRIDAY ART. If you have any questions pertaining to any content in this series, please send me an email query at info (at) kidlitedna (dot) com. Thank you! ALOHA FRIDAY ART ©2020 Edna Cabcabin Moran. All Rights Reserved.