Tag: Art

Blog Disclosure

I’m so glad you’ve come to visit! Here you will find my thoughts about art, life, writing, book reviews and home improvement adventures.
 
I review books I love and have purchased (or checked out at the library) all on my own. I also receive books at no cost to me for review. My book reviews (Bookscoops) mainly focus on YA and children’s fiction. All reviews written prior to 2013 were originally written for a website that no longer exists.
I will let you know in each post, if I received the item for free for review. Some posts may contain affiliate links and if you click on them, I may make a bit of. Money.  Please contact me if you would like to collaborate.

Book Review! Beyond the Mapped Stars by Rosalyn Collings Eves Score 0%

Book Review! Beyond the Mapped Stars by Rosalyn Collings Eves

Who is ready for cozy sweaters, hot cocoa, warm fireplaces and good books?!
I’ve got my cozy socks ready for the fire!
I recently read a book that I loved. I haven’t reviewed any books or made any book recommendations for a long, long time (like years, people!). Remember how I retired from writing Bookscoops Reviews a long time ago? No? Well, I did. But…
This book is worth coming out of retirement for.
You need to read it!
In Beyond the Mapped Stars, by Rosalyn Collings Eves, the main character, Elizabeth Bertelsen, dreams of studying the stars. She wants an education, but is expected to help care for her own siblings, then marry and have her own family.  Any education she gets is incidental to those priorities. Before I go on, you should know a few things about Elizabeth, and a few things about me…
Elizabeth is the second oldest of her mother’s nine children. I am also the second oldest of nine children and I think this is the first time in my entire life I have read a book about someone so much like me. There are a few key ways that Elizabeth is not like me, but even then– her history informs my own. Elizabeth has an older, married half-sister and talks about the four babies her father and his first wife lost as well as the struggles her mom has as a polygamous wife with depression/melancholy. You might think that this is where our histories part ways but you would be wrong: this is where Elizabeth’s history informs my own.

No, my parents were not polygamists (I see where your thoughts are taking you!). However, for years and years growing up, the stories I was told about my great grandmother Sophia Rebecca Kunz Buhler (Elizabeth’s contemporary) were sad. Stories of heartache when my great grandmother’s mom passed away a few months after childbirth due to appendicitis, leaving many children behind. For years, I believed the story that everyone else did too- she raised her siblings while working to graduate from 8th grade, which is true. She mixed bread dough in the mornings, took the littles to her ‘Aunt’s’ house, went to school, came home, baked bread, served supper, and did her homework.). All because they had been abandoned by her father who married another woman and went to live with her (not true).
It turns out history can be tricky, when it is written and rewritten by the people telling the story. As a grown woman with children of my own, I felt a connection to this great grandmother whose middle name I share. I went digging in our family records and what I found surprised me. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or ‘Mormon’ as so many have historically known us as, I learned at some point growing up that there had been polygamy among members of our church. But certainly not in my family! Though I had heard every rumor or justification under the sun for such a practice in the past or in the future, it was something I never wanted a part of.
And then, I discovered it was my family. My great grandma was the daughter of a second wife. Her father’s first wife supported him for years by milking cows while he served a mission. At some point, he came home, took his herds to the summer grazing grounds in Eastern Idaho, and returned with a new Danish immigrant second wife from the summer dairy (my great-great-grandmother). I don’t know the details of how that went down, although it was a secret he kept from his own father who was trying to convince him to marry her (they had already secretly married by then). No one recorded or talked about it more that I am aware of. I have since read how early polygamists were hunted by Federal Agents in small towns around Bern, Idaho, and the system of warning signals networked from the train depot to the countryside to go ‘underground’ to avoid arrest.
Before and after our church officially ceased practicing polygamy, people were hesitant to talk about it for many reasons and were often asked not to do so. Assimilation can mean many things, and early members of our church assimilated to main stream American culture (more or less) in order to survive. I am so glad they did! My great grandma bore a son who married a ‘gentile’ from the nearby town of Montpelier, Idaho and the mixing of their two religious cultures produced a more acceptable narrative to his new bride’s sense of propriety and it basically went like this: Hide the truth. Change the Narrative. Especially when it’s repugnant to your sensibilities. I still remember the day I laid my research out, on the kitchen table I grew up loading my Thanksgiving plate from, and asked my grandparents for the truth.
What I love about Beyond the Mapped Stars, is that it doesn’t hide the truth.
What I love about Beyond the Mapped Stars, is that it doesn’t hide the truth. Eves uncovers so many of the hard-to-confront truths about Mormonism in a blend of contemporary and historical fiction that speaks from a place of knowing and feeling these truths herself. Elizabeth worries about people knowing she is a Mormon. She worries about the sting of rejection and sometimes hesitates to be herself (boy do I know that feeling!). She dreams of a future she doesn’t know how to create- a way to reconcile her dreams with her reality and find a way to be both Mormon and an astronomer. Is such a thing even possible? Elizabeth loves her family, and sometimes she needs a break. She loves her mother (who is a proper English woman) even though she experiences extended periods of melancholy, and needs extra help with the kids. Elizabeth misses her Aunt Elisa’s Danish fairytales and wonders how to reconcile her father getting a third wife even though he no longer practices his religion. I often wonder what fairytales my Danish great-great grandmother told to her children before she died and the British legacy of my father’s proper English family is still woven in the fabric of my identity. I relate to Elizabeth’s character on so many levels- even to the great love and honor I hold for those of my family who no longer practice the religion they were born into like Elizabeth’s father.
The most beautiful part of the book might very well be the scene where Elizabeth helps her half sister through the pains of childbirth. The research Eves obviously conducted into the birth practices of early Mormon mid-wifery informs this scene in ways I have never read anywhere else in fiction (and I’ve read a fair amount of books about midwifery and childbirth). It made me hunger to know more of the time in our religious history when women called the blessings of heaven down upon laboring women and ministered to one another. My own great grandmother helped her older sister through childbirth and I wonder how similar her experiences were.
At times it seemed the only things I don’t have in common with Elizabeth is that I have running water and I need an app to help me navigate the stars while Elizabeth seemed to know them by heart. We even both took a train ride as teenagers on our own (I did have my younger brother with me but it was just the two of us and I was in charge. I felt so brave and independent). Spoiler alert: My train ride did not have a train robber on it.
So many books have been written about Mormons for Mormons but this is the first YA Novel of its kind- it’s not about Mormonism or about converting anyone to our version of a happily ever after. It’s about a young girl, hungering for adventure and learning to embrace her past while forging a future all her own. Becoming our true selves is an adventure. When we learn to use the word and instead of or, we can be so much more.
***Full Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money. I was so excited for it to come out that I pre-ordered it. It did not disappoint!
I did win a contest created by the author. Which is how I got a package with the adorable cosy socks pictured below and above as well as an awesome galaxy inspired water bottle and a few other fun things. I was not paid for this review, and I don’t have any affiliate links in this post.

Comics and Children’s books

To be honest, comic books are not something I ever expected to create until recently. And then I realized how much I didn’t know or understand about the process. I set about to learn as much as I could as fast as I could. The world of comics and children’s books is fascinating. On the surface they seem so simple- especially children’s books. Have you ever tried to distill an important thought to 500 words or less? It’s harder than it sounds. But that’s the standard manuscript word count for children’s books these days. And it’s even better if it’s shorter. Be careful not to make it too short though, some publishers and parents don’t tend to like no-word picture books. (Stay tuned to the end of this article and I’ll tell you the biggest reason why.)

For now, I’d like to share some great resources for aspiring comic book writers. My illustration teacher, Bill Carman recommended I look at a few books about writing comics and I took his recommendation to heart. I am so glad I did. Scott McCloud has really outdone himself in teaching and analyzing comics and breaking down why they work. I basically locked my door, pulled the blinds and pretended I wasn’t home and had nowhere to go so I could read his book Making Comics, as fast as possible. It was so informative and helpful that I then moved quickly on to his next book…

…Understanding Comics and pretty much did the same thing. Again I learned so much I had never thought about before- like how to use the space between comic panels and how to make characters more universally appealing.The favorite thing I learned was about the space between panels and how it is a world of infinite possibilities. To quote the infamous Mr. McCloud, “Space does for comics, what time does for film.” Combine that nugget with another quote by Mr. McCloud, “Creator and reader are partners in the invisible, creating something out of nothing, time and time again.” and you get a small peak inside his genius mind. In the short span of about a week I read both of them, and it helped my creative process so much! I then worked on a few comic style illustrations and realized I still needed to know more.  I have another of Scott’s books on my list of things to read, but first I decided to read a few others. I am in the middle of reading another comics guide and I have a few others in a pile on my nightstand waiting for a turn. Here is what I am reading now:

The DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics. DC Comics has a whole series on creating, writing, coloring, and lettering comics. And this series goes into every. nitty. gritty. detail. Seriously. Everything you could ever want to know (Except for all the cool stuff Scott McCloud has that DC doesn’t). They are a bit dated- having been written in the early 2000s and prior to the advent of the cloud and online file transfers so there is a bit of mumbo jumbo about cd burners and even floppy disk back-ups that can be glossed over by modern readers. But, I learned a lot- especially about how to get black lines to print super crisp. (If you care about that sort of thing. Right now, I like the grey, faded line look that not following their recommended process helps me create).
I personally love vintage style illustration both for comic books and children’s books. I hope to share more of the things I love about illustration soon. But first… a word to the wise. Above I promised to tell you why wordless picture books are sometimes a parent’s nightmare. Or, at least for me, more particularly, a babysitter’s nightmare.
The answer is simply because parents/babysitters have to work at making up stories and… not all parents (or babysitters) excel in that department. I once watched a 1-year-old for a week while his parents went to Hawaii. He brought his favorite board book and blankie with him and I settled in to read him his goodnight story. That’s when it all went wrong. With his rudimentary language skills he told me in no uncertain terms that, “No! No! Dat not right.” and nuclear toddler melt down set in for the next few hours and again every night after that. Until I finally figured out to hide his precious storybook and we found a ‘new’ book to read instead. One with more words and different pictures. I have a similar hard time reading comics out loud, but my son loves it. So I keep trying. But I feel like they need more words. Except the pictures tell the story in a way picture books just can’t. Maybe words aren’t really as necessary as I think they are. What do you think? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think. Are words or pictures more important to your story experience?
 

What?! A Mammary Gland Mandala? That’s so weird.

This Mammary Gland Mandala is based on an anatomical cutaway of a lactating breast (I know some of you think I am crazy for doing this- but hang with me. I have a really good reason). Here’s the story… One day, not very long ago, some amazing Tibetan monks came to the College of Idaho campus. They created a gorgeous sand painting/mandala for the purpose of healing and blessing our area (see the picture below).
They began this days-long event with a prayer to clear all negativity.
It was Amazing!
 
They also let the community members (like me) work on our own mandala (we were nowhere near as good as they were, although their tools were better). It was fascinating to be able to watch them work with the colored sand- they are so meticulous! See how amazing that looks?

I wanted to see if I could have a healing experience of my own, by following their example.
But, what did I need to heal?
This was before the time of the #metoo movement and even before the #treeoflife #brelfies. But, I had grown up, like all of you in a society full of objectification, and I internalized a lot of shame with regard to female bodies. I have long been a fan of the Beauty Redefined gals and wanted to create a piece of work that celebrated something unique to women’s bodies- the power of nurturing life. Now some have argued that anatomical drawings are objectification in and of themselves, and I guess there is an argument for that. But any representational art could be argued as objectification. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.
What do you see?
Following the monks’ example, I too began and continued throughout the process with a prayer to clear negativity. I drew by hand- first in pencil, then in ink. I scanned my line work into a computer and digitally extracted the line and then began to experiment with color. After much trial and error, I finally landed on blue and green. Why, you may ask? As you may have noticed in the photo of the monks above, they used a lot of yellow and red, and with good purpose. According to the site, Tibet Travel, in Tibetan buddhism, colors have specific meanings. Blue is the color that can help one transform anger into wisdom and provide healing. Also, green represents nature. And…
We all know that Mother Nature probably has breasts, right? 
Right.
(Plus, in a super scientific, quick poll of my instagram followers (after the fact) most of them said they prefer blue and green in their home decor. I hope you love the blue and green as much as we do!)
Do you want to know the best part?
The best part is… it’s a beautiful mandala whether you know its purpose or not. And many people have no idea what it’s really about. You decide who gets to know. You can use it as an opportunity to educate people about breastfeeding, open up conversations about healing… so many options! You might find it fun to see how awkward some people get when you tell them what it’s really about.
Do you want to know the other best part?
When you tell people what it’s about and…
they get excited!!! 
This mandala encompasses the healing intentions of women who want to reclaim health and wholeness for themselves and their communities. And that is something to get excited about.
Mammary Gland Mandala by Holly Papa
Thank you for helping to celebrate and empower women!
A portion of the profit of the sale of every Mammary Gland Mandala print,  is donated to the Idaho Breastfeeding Coalition (IBFC) to fund education and awareness. Each fine art quality giclee print is locally made on luxurious cold press watercolor paper and is available in 3 sizes (or as a blank greeting card so you can share with someone you love!)
Purchase now…
and pat yourself on the back for doing good and scoring awesome art!
Now that you’ve heard the story, what do you think?
Now that you’ve heard the story, what do you think about my Mammary Gland Mandala?  Do you think it’s healing or just weird? Does it feel objectifying to you? Do you think others would find it that way and if so, why?

It’s Not a Bad Thing to be a Feminist

“I think you might be a Feminist,” my sister Cari said, and I laughed into my wireless phone..
“No. I’m not a feminist. I just have a need to know women’s stories. And I have such a hunger to know what God thinks of women. ” I picked up my whining toddler, set him on my hip, and kissed his curls “I just think women have been overlooked and understudied and we should find out their stories and tell them more. Even the ones we have been telling seem like sometimes maybe they haven’t been told quite right and- “
“Do you know what a feminist even is?”
“Yes. Of course I do.”
“Well, if you’re thinking it’s just crazy women who hoist bras up on flag poles, you’re wrong.”
“uhh…” I set my toddler down and reached for my Bible. The one I had been reading for years- searching for any mention of women. The pages were dotted with pink colored-pencil highlights for every story and reference I had found. There were so few- yet so many more than I had ever realized when I started.
Cari continued, “Feminists are people who believe that women are just as important as men and that their stories should be told. They believe that women and girls are just as smart and capable as men and boys and should be given equal opportunities. Feminists are the reason women have the right to vote. It’s not a bad thing to be a feminist.”
“Really? You think I’m a Feminist?” I was dumbfounded. Could I really be a feminist? Could I even say it out loud?
“Well, I am.” said Cari. “And I think you are too, you just have to get used to the idea.”
It took me months and years to get comfortable with the idea that I was a feminist and that it wasn’t a bad word. Years of growing up in conservative Idaho had somehow lead to me believing feminists were crazy, liberal, naughty, women. And it got in my way of embracing the idea that I could be a feminist But only for awhile.
I’m an Artist. A Wife. A Mom of Boys. A Student. An Activist. A Mormon. A lover of words, art, people and pink.
And… I’m a Feminist.
Are you a Feminist?

Duck Duck Donkey

Do you ever feel like you can’t quite get your ducks in a row? I know I’ve felt a bit like a ‘donkey’ a time or two. This fun illustration will help you look at the bright side of life and remind you that it’s okay to be different. D is for Different. And Donkey. And Duck. The best part? You can get your very own limited-edition fine art reproduction print in my shop by clicking right here!

Starting an Art Business

Mammary Gland Mandala
I’ve finally opened up a shop on Facebook for purchasing art originals and prints! I’ll be adding to it as I go along, so please check back often to see what’s new!
Mammary Gland Flower Fairy

Idaho Breastfeeding Coalition Coloring Pages

I am thrilled to share with you that I had the great opportunity to create some coloring pages for the Idaho Breastfeeding Coalition’s 2017 Conference in Boise, Idaho. It’s been so. much. fun! Check out my finished piece and then share yours in the comments and on social media using #hollypapacoloring. Let’s use our art to promote the beautiful gift of breastfeeding!

If you would like to purchase my breastfeeding coloring book, Drops of Love, please check out my shop. Thank you for partnering with me to create art that empowers women. Together we can help the world embrace the natural, organic, magnificent art and gift of breastfeeding!
Don’t forget to share your finished or in-progress piece in the comments below and post to social media with the tag #hollypapacoloring.
 

Announcing the Winner of our Bookscoops Christmas 2013 Giveaway!

Craft-a-Doodle, 75 Creative exercises from 18 artists
Hooray! Tiffani Cluff is the winner of our Christmas Giveaway. Lucky Tiffani gets a free copy of Craft-a-Doodle courtesy of Sterling Publishing and wrapped with love by Bookscoops! Tiffani, I will be in touch to discuss delivery arrangements!
I am also, belatedly, announcing the winner of our Fall giveaway… I know, it was a busy fall! The winner of one Copy of Only Cows allowed by Lynn Plourde is… Arienne. I will also be in touch with Arienne to get contact info.
Thanks everyone for participating in our giveaways! literacy and artistry are such important elements of life. I’m so glad to share my love of both with you all!

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