I am thrilled beyond words (which is fitting) to reveal the cover of MORE THAN WORDS: SO MANY WAYS TO SAY WHAT WE MEAN, which will be coming out with Henry Holt this September.
This story has been a long time in the making, inspired by my time working in schools as an intervenor (supporting individuals who are DeafBlind) and support worker, my family relationships and my connection with disabled and neurodivergent community throughout my life.
My awareness that not everyone communicates with speech began when I was a child, as my brother didn’t begin to speak until he was about eight, and even then speech was not always what he went to first when he had a message to get across. To support him my parents hosted sign language teachers so we could all learn some sign language, and drawing materials so that he could always draw what he was thinking about.
Later, when I worked in inclusive education supporting students with disabilities, we developed and used communication systems. As an intervenor and support worker, part of my role was to educate and advocate, so there were many conversations with peers, other educators, and whole classrooms about different ways of communicating. Those conversations were so important and impactful, but I also knew that this learning should be happening on a bigger scale. MORE THAN WORDS came to life because I wanted to contribute something helpful to this learning space.
The book description:
In the tradition of All Are Welcome and The Day You Begin comes a touching picture book about the many unique ways we communicate, and how we can better listen to and respect these different modes of expression.
Nathan doesn’t say much.
He sure has a lot on his mind, though.
At school, Nathan quietly observes the ways his peers communicate. Even when they’re not talking, they’re expressing themselves in all sorts of ways!
By witnessing the beauty of communication diversity, Nathan learns and shows his classmates the essential lesson: Not only does everyone have something to say, but seeking to understand one another can be the greatest bridge to friendship and belonging.
This tender, stunningly illustrated picture book explores and celebrates the many forms of expression—signing, speaking, singing, smiling, among others— and culminates in a poignant story about connection and understanding.
I am so excited to share the upcoming release of I Am Odd, I Am New, a picture book based on Benjamin Giroux’s beautiful and exceedingly popular poem. Only ten at the time of writing, Benjamin, who is autistic, has created a poem that has illuminated his experience feeling out of place in a way that has resonated with many. Now he is 15 years old, and I feel honoured to have been tasked with creating the artwork to accompany his words. The creative challenge of illustrating Benjamin’s emotional journey throughout the text was right up my alley, as I love exploring emotions through art.
Books are availabe to pre order now wherever books are sold, with an updated release date of October 26th, 2021.
Congratulations to AutoHeartVan on the release of his gorgeous album! With songs in English, French and Portuguese, the album contemplates themes of extinction, referenced by the title, “Endlings” (which means “the last survivor of its species”).
This theme was the inspiration for the cover art I created, a blend of traditional and digital media. If you know of the mythological “Curapira,” * the human and animal steps going in opposite directions will make sense. I included drawings of the Arctic fox, an animal with subpopulations endangered by climate change, as well as its fossils. In a neat twist, the drawings ended up being used to represent different language portions of the album.
I highly encourage you to check out this album at Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, or wherever you get your tunes. It really is gorgeous, and created by a very sweet visionary human.
* The Curapira is a mythological creature from Brazilian folklore who bright red/orange hair, and resembled a man or a dwarf, but its feet are turned backwards. Living in the forests of Brazil, they used their backward feet to create footprints to confuse hunters. A Curapira would prey on hunters or poachers who take more than they need of the forest.
A few months ago I asked people to donate to Hope Glitters / Rainbow Refugee’s fundraising campaign to financially support an LGBTQIA+ refugee during their first year of settlement in Canada. In return the donors would be entered into a contest to win a custom painted pet portrait. Well, I am pleased to share with you the resulting artwork (a fair amount of time has passed since it was completed). This is a portrait to remember beloved pet and friend, Mugzy. Mugzy marks my first feline pet portrait, as until now I have only painted dogs. She was a beautiful subject, and I hope that this artwork will help her owner remember her presence and their special connection.
I am so excited to begin the process of working on this art project, in which I am inviting British Columbians with disabilities to share their experiences living on Disability Assistance or trying to access it. I will create digitally painted portraits of 20 participants and in the end an e- zine / e-book will be produced that can be used to share these stories and advocate for higher Disability Assistance Rates. Right now I am in the stage of calling for participants.
I wanted to undertake this project because for far too long people with disabilities have been expected to live on assistance rates that place them below the poverty line, and navigate a system that is often inaccessible and adversarial. Inspired by the campaign 300 To Live, which asks for rates to be raised to the $2000 / month income that has been deemed a minimum income for other Canadians with the Canada Response and Recovery Benefits, the goal of this project is to highlight why change is necessary for people with disabilities can have their basic needs met and escape poverty.
I have created some images to share on social media posts calling for participants. If you would like to share this post or the images, feel free.
I’m not doing any full on creative challenges this October, and am instead doing a bit of a mashup of prompts that match up with my theme of “big extinct animals.” I think extinct mega fauna are fascinating and this is the perfect excuse for some research. I’m also choosing a smattering of days from #inktober, #mintober (created by artist @mcmintea) and #spookyoctober, (created by Taylor Krulicki and Marina Dubuc) instead of doing every day of the month. I’m hoping to have some fun playing with illustrations and ideas for children’s illustration.
I created some bathroom logos to show that boys and girls and non binary kids will not always dress in the clothing or present in ways assigned to their gender. Boys will wear skirts, girls will have short hair – no biggie. But for kids who haven’t learned this yet, this sort of disregard for arbitrary gender norms can be kind of a big, mind blowing deal, and it can result in bullying and making children and youth feel unsafe. These logos were created in a response to that kind of situation, but I am happy to share them with whomever thinks they might help their school or public space be safer and more welcoming.
Thank you so much to Silk Purse Gallery in West Vancouver for hosting my solo show, All Together Now, from September 3rd to the 22nd. I showed watercolour and pen works as well as an art book.
The pieces explored the possible dualities contained within a person, playing with Carl Jung’s idea of the “shadow self” through visual metaphors and imagery. In a way this series was a kind of self exploratory therapy as I sorted through my own self definition, expectations left over from my youth, and definitions by others. My own departure from what I always thought (and was told) I should be, as well as the muddiness of figuring out what kind of person I was and where I fit as I struggled with some heavy feeling mental health issues, propelled me into considering what sorts of possible versions I (and others) might contain if we were not a fixed self.
I ended up with a kind of multi page self portrait that I also believe could mirror the experiences of others. It was nice to finally share this work in an exhibit format and watch people relate to the work, since I was hoping to illustrate states that would touch on the universal. Everyone feels disconnected sometimes, or fearful or trusting, generous or selfish.
I did one day of painting in the gallery, working on a sort of stream of consciousness abstract watercolour. I have been working on these lately as a sort of meditation, trying not to get too hung up on the end result.
Tomorrow I am going to a school as a visiting author and artist, and I will be leading an art activity around The Body Book. The workshop will be with children in kindergarten and grade one and integrating mixed media. The general idea is to have a background of collaged paper bursting out like sunbeams from a centre where a child’s portrait of their body is glued on top. The main idea is that their bodies are great and special, so the teacher and I wanted to incorporate positive messaging with the sunbeams. We decided that we wanted to offer pre written printed out messages to save on time and help out the students who are not confident writers. Of course the kids will have the choice to write their own if they like, but having pre printed messages seemed like a good starting point.
I had some ideas but wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, so searched online, and was suprised to find that there wasn’t much out there specifically for body positive affirmations for kids. So, I made one myself and wanted to share it in case anyone out there can use it as a resource or for inspiration.
Supplies for Craft:
watercolour or card stock paper (one small sheet for body, one for background)
white glue with a little water
containers or plates for glue
strips of paper for collaging
brushes for glue
watercolour paint and brushes
paper with affirmations written or printed on
Draw body on small paper in pencil. Outline in sharpie and erase pencil lines.
Paint body in watercolour paint. Leave to dry (this will be cut out later when dry)
Background: collage paper strips out from centre by laying down a layer of white glue and water mix with a brush onto paper, lying strip down, then covering in glue. Continue until paper covered. Strips can be hanging over edge of paper, then cut later when dry.
After everything is dry, cut out body and glue into centre in the same manner as strips of paper. Cut strips to fit background paper.