Someone has to say it, so it might as well be me: Jeeze. I go away for a year and LOOK at the mess the world gets itself into. So I’m very happy to be baaaaaaack: Voice of Reason, thy name is Vivian.
Thank you all, Dear Readers, for all your notes last week, welcoming me back to the inter webs.
As per your requests, I will be catching you all up on What I Did on My Year Off, starting today.
One of the things that kept me very, very
aggravated busy in 2014 was writing and illustrating the Damn Garden Book. Although I am contractually forbidden from publishing any more than 10% of the content of what is, at this point, the paid-for intellectual property of BloomsburyUSA (YES — they put that in my contract!) I know I’m not flouting my legal obligations to show you these few pages of The Damn Garden Book.
This is Exhibit # 1:
This book, like my first two, is another Traveler’s Journal, this one on the Meaning of Life and Gardens. In it, I travel to thought-provoking gardens far and near; FAR — Rio de Janeiro, Marrakech, Edinburgh, London, Key West, and New Orleans. NEAR — a Japanese folly garden and a dead poet’s orchard here on my own home turf in Great Gatsby territory on the Isle of Long.
But I start the garden tour in the city were I have done some of the best gardening in my life. I mean , of course, Paris, The Gardening Capital of the World.
Exhibit #2 is a self portrait, which I call This is how I do my best “gardening” in Paris:
Both Exhibit #1 and Exhibit #2 are rescues. If you look carefully at Exhibit #1 , you’ll see that the edges of the trees’ foliage casts a shadow. (You can scroll up now. I’ll be still be here when you get back.)
Here’s the story: My big idea for the Damn Garden Book was to immerse my Dear Readers in the various garden experiences. In order to do that, I had to — cripes — paint full-page pictures, which I am not very good at. In fact, I stink.
I’m a miniaturist for DoG’s sake, but hey, why try to live an artful life if you’re just going to keep on doing what you’ve always been doing? So I tried something new, and painted a lot of full page-size pix, and was extremely impressed by my derring-do. I was much less impressed by the results.
About half of the pix turned out OK. But the other half looked as if I’d painted them blindfolded. Or drunk. I wish!
Most times, I re-paint the pic until I get it right. But sometimes I don’t. Like with Exhibit #1.
Painting those background apartment buildings was sooooo tedious that there was no way I was going to re-paint all those dastardly Juliet balconies. So I just painted new trees on a separate sheet of paper, cut them out, and glued them right on top of the offending verdure. I know! It’s amazing what you can get away with!
Exhibit #2 is also a clever run-around. I compensated for my lack of painting-a-window-that-looks-like-a-window skill by cutting out the window panes of the cafe and pasting in a separate illustration of a Paris street scene. ***That white goop on the right edge is hiding a mistake I made in painting my shadow. Computer-machine magic will get rid of the noticeable surface texture when it goes in for production.
In Exhibit #3 we arrive at the gorgeous Paris garden that I think was worth writing 14 pages about:
Do you recognize it? Here’s a hint: the garden actually is in the shape of a triangle.
Yes, it’s the Square du Vert-Galant on the tip of the Ile de la Cite!:
Changing subjects, please consider Exhibit #4, a photo I took on my last visit to the City of Light, in 2013:
Here is something that I haven’t told my editor yet but I’m telling you: I want to include 6-8 watercolor prints that can be removed from the Damn Garden Book… in other words, pages that are suitable for framing. Like, as my gift to my Dear Readers.
One of the subjects I can envision as a suitable for framing is Exhibit #4.
I think the idea of rip-out-able pages is a good one, and I think that if I can pull off painting this charming scene (with enhanced greenery, artistic license, etc.) it could be a collector’s piece. Yes, I said it: Collector’s Piece.
Thoughts? (I enabled Comments!!)
Meanwhile, let’s move on to the Author Photo: As you’ve seen in my previous book jackets, I like to have fun with my Author Photo. No itty bitty postage-stamp size mug shot for me! I want to send a message with my Author Photo, mostly something about how I’m kind of cute.
I was thinking that this photo, taken last September in my favorite cosmo patch along the Garden State Parkway, in New Jersey, near Atlantic City, might do:
My plan was to photoshop this pic heavily. Add many more cosmos to this field, swap out my frizzy hair for the hair in this pic (below) (of me on a Good Hair Day):
But last week, I cut my hair:
So back to the drawing table.
By the way, were you wondering, in that Good Hair Day photo, What’s with the cocker spaniel?
Well, that’s my cocker spaniel, my very own, the one and only Boogie Girl:
Because another one of the things that I did in my year off that kept me on my toes and put a whammy on my love of sitting around and never leaving the house was I got a DoG. The DoG of my heart, the best damn DoG anyone ever had. She was really something.
Next week: all about the wonderfulness of the Boogie Girl and the havoc her ilk causes in a previously cat-only household.
And when I say “havoc”, I mean it in the most awesome sense of the word.