Since my time spent at Chautauqua, I have returned to Southern California to enjoy a semester off from Carnegie Mellon University. This break from the university setting has offered me the invaluable experience of “life on the outside,” for a lack of better words. While friends and professors are certainly missed, this structure-less environment has really put my personal initiative to the test. So far, so good, I would say.
I jumped straight back into work with larger paintings of the insects I had brought back from New York – many of which you can see here. I also resumed my research and concept sketches for my SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship), to be completed in the summer of 2011 (more on this when we get closer). Of course, a given at any time I am back in California, I have been meeting with my wonderful mentor, talented artist, and closest friend, Frank Minuto, for guidance and support.
In the midst of all of this, I was approached by the lovely author and good friend, Cie Anne. After a meeting with her in the studio, I was honored with the task of illustrating her remarkable “Bobby the Donkey” series – a children’s book series geared towards children with autism. These short and simple books tell of the charming adventures of an adorable, sassy Irish donkey, Bobby, and his three Irish friends. I am thrilled to be working on this, and Cie makes for a wonderful work partner. Character designs were just finalized yesterday, so I am looking forward to finishing the first book’s illustrations in the next two months.
Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, Ireland (a.k.a. a spring semester spent on the grounds of a sixteenth century castle in the best sort of “middle of nowhere”)
And what better time to be illustrating an Irish children’s book, than when I receive my acceptance letter to study abroad in the spring at Burren College of Art in Ireland! I was introduced to the school over a year ago during a lecture presented by the school’s dean, and had fallen love with the idea of working at such an incredible place ever since. Like Chautauqua, Burren offers a small school experience, nestled in a cozy, yet supportive community, complete with excellent studio spaces and the promise of an undisturbed creative environment. All this, in a village of 400 people, on the grounds of a 16th century castle, nestled into the renowned beauty of Ireland. It’s almost unreal.
Needless to say, I am keeping busy, and I am looking forward to my semester abroad at Burren.