Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Several weeks ago, I submitted my book to Kirkus Indie (the method by which a self-published work can be reviewed by Kirkus).  Well, Yesterday I got the review in my inbox and, after avoiding looking at it for an entire afternoon, I finally worked-up the guts to see what they made of my book.

As the seasons pass, a wise and beautiful tree must persuade a jolly woodcutter not to chop her down.
“Thwickety-THWACK! Thwickety-THWACK!” sings the woodcutter as he tromps through the forest, swinging his trusty axe and looking for a suitable tree to chop. When he comes upon a beautiful tree, he is at first delighted—until the tree asks him what he intends to do. The startled woodcutter declares that he will “CHOP-CHOP-CHOP” her “DOWN-DOWN-DOWN!” and the clever tree offers him her flowers instead. He agrees to take these home to his wife in lieu of cutting the tree down. Again and again, the woodcutter encounters the tree, and each time she offers him a gift to dissuade him from chopping her down. Come winter, however, the tree is despondent—her branches are bare and she no longer has anything to offer. To her surprise, the friendly woodcutter offers her a gift. The illustrations by debut author Johnston suit the titular characters well—the loud-mouthed woodcutter’s words burst onto the page alongside his gorgeous and whimsical surroundings. The author’s depiction of the tree is enchanting, with leaves and flowers blossoming onto the page in a colorful display that will captivate the eyes and minds of young readers. Johnston’s illustrations are so beautiful and intricate that they nearly overwhelm the narrative. Still, young readers and listeners are sure to enjoy the repetitive lyrics of the woodcutter’s song. Parents, librarians and schoolteachers may also enjoy belting out the woodcutter’s amusing dialogue. In the end, readers learn a touching lesson of friendship and giving as its own reward.
Gorgeous illustrations, humorous dialogue and a moving narrative make this a stunning debut.
Needless to say, I'm pretty happy.  AND!  They gave me a star :-D  Here's a link to the REVIEW.  

Believe in yourself, believe in your craft, believe in your works.  Others will follow.
The Kirkus Star: "Awarded to books of remarkable merit."  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Locusts and Honey

The Gospel of St. Matthew Ch. 3:1-4

In Those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

This is the most recent I've done in a sort of religious, icon-esque style.  Religion and mythology in and of themselves are such rich sources from which to draw inspiration, add to that the countless interpretations and styles developed by artists over the centuries...and I find I am helpless to avoid trying my own hand.  My style is still somewhat cartoon-y and lacks the bold character of so many works by others (maybe watercolor is not ideal?  Perhaps I need to refine my watercolor techniques?).  Still, I think I have some basic elements that are unique to my vision, and I am excited to continue growing within this genre.  

This particular piece was framed at Nelson Amos Studio in Ypsilanti, MI (They absolutely CRUSHED it...the matting and framing [not pictured] look gorgeous) and was a house-warming gift for my sister and her husband, married this past weekend.  Congratulations again, to Cam and Selina Breiden.