Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Robin's Nest

I've been doing a quick sketch of the robin hatchlings every morning. I try to be quick because the mother seems agitated whenever she sees me on the ladder, but amazingly both she and the hatchlings seem to be getting used to me.

Three years ago we raised a baby robin that fell out of a nest, and during those two weeks of feeding I developed a great appreciation for the work of robin parents. It was an amazing feeling to see the little guy fly off on his own for the first time.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Books as Symphonies

Barry (introduced in the last post) believes that illustrated books should be composed like symphonies. The artist has the resources of the entire color palette at his or her command, just as the composer of a symphony can draw on the full range of forces of the symphony orchestra. In a book, as in a symphony, there should be loud parts blaring with color, but also quiet, monochromatic sequences to establish a quieter mood. It’s an interesting analogy, and I’ve thought that way about it myself.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Illustrated Books

Here’s a sketch of my friend Barry Klugerman. He drove up from New York City and we spent an afternoon in the screen porch looking at art books. Barry is a collector of illustrated books and knows a lot about American and European illustrators from the “golden age,” around 1890-1920. Through him I’ve learned about amazing artists like Jose Segrelles and Fortunino Matania who are not well enough known.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Baby Robins

The robins are raising their second brood on the nesting shelf in our back porch. Three eggs hatched just yesterday. I heard the hatchlings peeping while I was taking out the compost. This morning while Jeanette was making the pancakes I climbed up the ladder and did a quick sketch of one of them, while the very distraught mother called out her alarm.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Road Tour

I should explain about what I hope to accomplish this blog. It’s called Gurney Journey because it will be a simple record of people and places that my wife Jeanette and I encounter on the road tour for the new Dinotopia book. The new book officially launches October 1.

I’m trying to do the same thing Arthur Denison did on his travels and record what he saw, heard, and thought during his journey. I want to use this blog to let you follow the ups and downs as we travel around to meet Dinotopia readers.

I’ll include pages from my sketchbook whenever possible, along with a few photos to take you behind the scenes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Portrait in Poughkeepsie

Whenever I meet an interesting stranger, I try to work up the courage to ask them to pose for an impromptu portrait. I was standing next to a pool table in Poughkeepsie when this guy from Northern Ireland named “Pockets” came up and challenged me to a game. It wasn’t long before he saw what a lousy player I am.

He took pity on me and gave me a few pointers on pool and on life. “My daddy always told me before he left this stinkin’world,” he said, “Always chalk the stick!”

After the game he agreed to pose, standing stock-still just two feet away, staring like a cobra. The tattoos around his eyes were a little unnerving.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Breathe Deep, Seek Peace

June 2007—Book Expo
The Jacob Javits Center in New York is the scene where over 50,000 new fall titles are introduced to booksellers. Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara was just one of them. I signed free posters for everyone who visited the Andrews McMeel booth, and I even had an audience with the Pope—OK, well, at least a cardboard replica of him.

ALA Convention
At the American Library Association convention in Washington, I signed posters for librarians from elementary, middle and high schools, and from small towns and big cities, and even one librarian who was going to four countries in Africa to build up the libraries there.

Puerto Rico, July 2007
To celebrate my son Franklin’s graduation from high school, Jeanette and I took him on a trip to Puerto Rico, where he learned to snorkel. While we were there, we met up with Tamith and Aravis, two people from the Dinotopia Forum. They took us to visit the rain forest at El Junque, which looked quite a bit like the Rainy Basin.

Then we convoyed with Tamith and Aravis to the other corner of the island, where Tamith’s family has a houseboat. Her mom is a terrific cook, and made a delicious dinner of Puerto Rican cuisine, or as they call it, “comida criolla.”

Puerto Rico is sketchers’ heaven! I tried to catch my fellow breakfasters unawares by sketching in my trusty pencil sketchbook…

...or painting watercolor street scenes in the sweltering heat of Ponce or the cool nights of San Juan.

Most often sketching draws a crowd of curious onlookers.