I always seem to run into Julie Paschkis' work when I'm not looking for it. Which is to say there is something in her illustrations that draws me to them. It's a strange magnetism, a quiet attraction not unlike the way a whisper can pull you closer and cause you to pay more attention over the din that surrounds it.
The most recent example was with Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal by Paul Fleishman, the multicultural retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale. Paschkis finds the common visual language necessary to give the story it's shifting fluidity, a cross between heavy-leaded storytelling of stained glass with the mysterious luminosity of illuminated manuscripts. With detailed borders and shifting complimentary tones she unifies the disparate elements in the margins while illustrating the story in a main panel on each spread.
Similarly, with Yellow Elephant by Julie Larios she includes a storytelling element within each of the poem's illustrations, monochromatic studies that blend elements of story scrolls within the palate and style of modern batik. Even when you can see the brush strokes in her media the dark outlines push the colors forward, giving everything a warm glow from within.
A visit to her website reveals all sorts of other treasures. In addition to her Liberty Notes cards, which revel in a playful naive folk art style, there are bold paintings, energetic posters, and the pleasant surprise of her black and white illustration work that treads the waters between Arts and Crafts era woodcuts and cut paper silhouette art.
A little over a year ago at the Horn Book awards when it was Julie Paschkis' turn to take the podium instead of a long speech she gave her thanks to all and shared a detail of one of her paintings with the audience. It made me smile to think, sitting there watching everyone else sort through their reactions, that if a picture's worth a thousand words then why shouldn't an artist make a speech with their art?
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The fancy "Winter Birds" of Julie Paschkis' double-sided snowflake remind me, for some reason, of the Russian tale of the Firebird. It could be the strong use of yellow and red, it could be the filigree and ornamentation. It could also be a trick of the mind, the idea of these birds representing the spirit of hope rising that embodies the efforts of artists from all over united in a cause that colors my vision. So be it.
As you probably know Robert's Snow For Cancer's Cure is a fundraising event for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where children's book illustrators provide hand decorated wooden snowflakes to be auctioned off online. The auctions are broken down into three groups (heats?) the first of which begins on November 19th. Julie Paschkis' "Winter Birds" is included in the third group of snowflakes that auctions off between December 3 through December 7.
Blogging For A Cure was the brainchild of Jules and Eisha over at the website Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. The hope was to create awareness for the event among the blogging community, bringing bloggers and artists together to help get the word out about the auction and the work of the good people at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Each day bloggers are taking turns featuring a different artist who has contributed to the auction, each post highlighting the artist and their snowflake. If you haven't had a chance yet, check out Blogging for a Cure page for daily updates on posts which is organized both by artist and by day.
Also be sure to check out the auctions pages at the Robert's Snow site for artists who are constantly being added to the auction, even as we blog! The auctions are coming soon, time to scope out your favorites and begin deciding where and how you're going to display your fine works of art.
Here are the rest of today's artist features:
Carol Heyer at The Shady Glade
Joe Kulka at ChatRabbit
Steven James Petruccio at Blog From the Windowsill
Carol Schwartz at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup