News from Yvonne
Super Simple Sumi-e won another gold medal last fall in the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book awards! These awards highlight excellence in family-friendly books – which in this case is in the Arts category. This medal is in addition to a Gold Medal from Mom’s Choice Awards and a Silver from the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. And along with another gold medal I had the chance to teach sumi-e in a variety of settings in Minnesota during the fall and this very cold winter. Two highlights stand out – the first was teaching at a Conference for Young Artists in Marshall, MN which drew inspired kids from all over the southwestern part of the state. And then this winter I had a chance to teach sumi-e to adopted Chinese children and their parents to celebrate Chinese New Year – the year of the horse – sponsored by the the Families with Children from Asia. And also a first for me – getting to demonstrate super simple sumi-e and later teach a class for Wet Paint Art in St Paul, MN! Here are some photos from that event.
Sumi painting this summer took the form of meeting the public and getting them excited about sumi painting in various Farmer’s Markets on beautiful Whidbey Island where I live in the summer. Plus sketching and hiking in the Olympic Mountains and visiting the home of the dragons – Shi Shi Beach! We took 10 adults and 10 teenagers out to that magical world. The dragon back rocks aren’t so visible this year – perhaps they are sleeping through the summer instead of being out to play? But still they showed up to play soccer with a group of enthusiastic teens!
The Super Simple Sumi-e book has won a Silver medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards in November, 2012 in the Art and Crafts Activity book category! This is a great honor – the sumi pandas are following in their dragon cousin’s footsteps since Dragon Fire, Ocean Mist won a Bronze medal in the same competition in 2009. Presented by Jenkins Group and Independent Publisher magazine, the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading.
At the end of our stay in Minnesota I was invited to create some really, really large (read 30 feet long) dragon banners to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Dragon. It was thrilling to create 15 foot dragons flying over the heads of children in the media centers (libraries) of Fernbrook and Rush Creek Elementary Schools in Maple Grove, MN. The kids immediately recognized the dragons as Shiran and Zorg, the two big male dragons in Dragon Fire, Ocean Mist!
It was a busy winter in Minnesota teaching sumi painting in a variety of different settings to children of different ages. We got off to a great start with 5th-7th graders at the Student Creativity Festival at the Minnesota Science Museum and then a little later at another Creativity Festival with 3rd-4th graders at the University of Minnesota – over 500 kids in all! They were so focused and absorbed in painting birds, panda bears and dragons that room was absolutely silent. At first I thought something was wrong – but no, it was just focused creative energy. The feedback was great:”I will remember how to draw interesting pandas for my friends.””Making pandas and dragons was fun!””I love art and now I love it more!”
I just tallied up how many school visits I’ve done this winter in Minnesota, particularly in February, which is “I Love to Read” month and I’ve introduced the dragons and Dragon Fire, Ocean Mist to over 2000 children from kindergarten to 6th grade!!!. It’s been a wonderful experience for me to talk with children about writing and illustrating, share with them how magical Shi Shi beach and other Washington beaches are, and especially to introduce them to sumi painting. Here are some pics of my demonstrating how to paint dragons (a great hit!)