Sunday, October 28, 2007

Robert's Snow: Ashley Wolff

Robert's Snow: For Cancer's Cure : Seven Impossible Things... has a full explanation, including all posts to date.

The auctions start in November and continue until December. Go here to look at the artwork, and to bid once the auction goes "live."

Please consider bidding on a snowflake, and letting other art lovers know about the auction and this opportunity to own a unique work of art.

And now, on to the featured artist of the day!

Ashley Wolff's Snowflake is part of Auction 2: November 26-30 and is called "Kachinas Bearing Gifts" by Ashley Wolff.

Ashley's website shows her life as an artist, starting as a child who knew she wanted to be an artist when she grew up. She has illustrated more books than I can count, including the marvelous Miss Bindergarten series.

Ashley kindly agreed to an interview.

Liz B: I blog not just about books; but about how important story is in our lives. What children's book or children's book illustrator has most inspired you?

Ashley: If I had to choose a favorite from among many I admire it would be Barbara Cooney. She died in 2000 at the age of 83 and worked right up to the end. She wrote and illustrated over 200 books, AND married and raised a family. She illustrated one of my favorite books of all time: The Ox Cart Man, written by the poet Donald Hall. I think it is a perfect book. But all her books are beautiful. When she began her career illustrators were working mainly in black and white. The strength and delicacy of her line stood out in those early days. When everything switched to full color in the late 70s she began making wonderful gouache paintings.

Liz B: How did you get involved with Robert's Snow?

Ashley: My connection to Robert's Snow is through my editor and friend Alvina Ling. Alvina is a good friend of Grace Lin and when she told me the story of Robert's illness and this project I was eager to be involved.

Liz B: What inspired your snowflake?

Ashley: I drew my inspiration for this snowflake from the most recent book I did with Alvina called The 12 Days of Christmas/A Pinata for the Pinon Tree. The book and the snowflake are both dedicated to the author Philemon Sturges who died in 2005.

Liz B: Could you tell us something about The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Pinata for the Pinon Tree?

Ashley: Philemon Sturges and I met when I was in college and he was an architect, married to my favorite RISD professor Judy Sue Goodwin-Sturges. He began writing children's books in the 90s and in 2000 we worked together on Who Took the Cookies From the Cookie Jar. It was my choice to set that book in the American Southwest because I had just returned from my first visit to the Grand Canyon and I was in love with the landscape, flora and fauna. We changed one name in his manuscript. The word "Robin" became "Raven."

The book's southwestern setting was so much fun that we went on to do She'll be Comin' 'Round the Mountain in the same landscape for cactus and canyon. For that book I invented the little town of Reederville, where everyone always has a book in hand.

For our 3rd book we did the 12 Days of Christmas. It is set in Reederville and features characters from both of the 1st 2 books. The "me" character who receives all the gifts is a badger who makes the enchiladas in Comin' 'Round the Mountain and the band of Mariachis is led by a collared lizard who appears in both previous books.

The hardest part of this book for me was finishing it after Philemon's death and without his jolly suggestions and the glee he took in what my pictures brought to his words. To honor his memory I collaged a favorite photo of him into a small, painted shrine in the opening spread. It was taken by Judy Sue at my mother's home in Vermont.

Liz B: I also blog about pop culture. What is your "pop culture" area of expertise?

Ashley: I don't know if I have one. I have two teenage sons and I know more than I want to about Halo 3, warhammer, world of warcraft and other mmp games. My husband writes about AIDS and infectious disease for the SF Chronicle, so I know a lot about those subjects and I pay attention to theater and movies. However, except for having a substantial pelvic region, I am not hip in any sense of the word!

Liz B: Thank you, Ashley! And I'm only hip enough to recognize the names of those games.

Here is a close up of Ashley's snowflake. Please consider bidding on a snowflake this year!

Images used with permission.


Helen/Spike and Drusilla OK Citizens said...

I just love the colors of this snowflake. And Ashley has a great turn of phrase in her interview.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Liz and Ashley! Old MacDonald Had a Woodshop is a big favorite in our household (and a fabulous book), so I was particularly looking forward to this feature. That snowflake's 3-Dness is wonderful. Thanks for the feature!

Mary Lee said...

Dibs! I have dibs on this snowflake! It will be perfect for our annual Solstice celebration where we eat Hopi stew and Navajo sage bread, and give Kachina gifts to our friends. Also, our recently departed Bess was a perfect ringer for Miss Bindergarten! So this one's mine, okay everybody?!?

Anonymous said...

rick Taylor in Tucson:
I noticed your blog when I was looking for a tea cozie with Navajo designs. My wife commented she had never heard of Navajo sage bread. She is Kiyannee(Towering House Clan)born for Near to Water Clan. She stays away from Kachinas and Hopi Piki bread. Even though she is a Christian, the traditions still seem to hang on.