It’s school vacation week here in western Massachusetts. I always try to do some cultural visits with Julia to help me keep my sanity and educate and have fun with Julia. Saturday, we went to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in South Amherst. We bought a membership there this year and I have vowed to get my money’s worth. Too bad it is an hour away but I’ll try. The place is not big by regular museum standards but it has a lot to offer children and others interested in children’s literature and picture book art. Here Julia stands in front of one of the four humongous murals Eric Carle painted on Tyvek for the lobby. They are so colorful and evocative of his collage papers. There's a wonderful art room for kids to make art each visit. We made some printed quilt squares with linoleum blocks and colored pencils.
The event we were attending was a reading and talk by local illustrator Margot Apple. If you are a knitter and have ever had small children, chances are you know Margot’s work. She is the illustrator for the popular Sheep in a Jeep, Sheep in a Shop (page here from this book), Sheep Out to Eat and a few more all written by Nancy Shaw. They are fun books to read to kids – the rhyming and clever use of words make them favorites with children and parents. There's another in the works on sheep in outerspace.
I first met Margot at a book signing in Shelburne Falls at the small Textile Arts a few years ago. I was signing Knitting for Baby, she her own Brave Martha. It was spring, it poured, and noone came but Margot and I talked and talked sharing war stories of book publishing. Margot is also a knitter and handknit sweaters often appear in her books.
Margot has illustrated over forty books for children. She began her career in the early 70’s. Margot is down to earth and honest and has a great way with children. The reading room at the Museum was crammed with people – kids, parents, and grandparents. She works in watercolor, pastels and pencil. When asked her favorite medium, she said pencil because she can erase – how honest. Her favorite book project is Brave Martha which I love. It's a story about a cat and a little girl and the dark. The illustrations are done in pencil with watercolor added on top. They have a lovely sepia quality and I think they are her strongest work.
Margot is still illustrating but said it is difficult to find work now as her style isn’t what editors are looking for. This made me sad to hear because she is definitely talented and loves what she does. Her comments made me think about my own career and how long I will be wanted. My style definitely isn’t what the younger knitters begin with. I’m interested to see if anyone in their 20’s will buy my new book Kristin Knits. I find it hard to deviate from my particular style in knitwear. I’ve been asked by editors to do ballet tops, ponchos, and more. I always politely decline – I really have no interest in creating things I wouldn’t like nor wear. I’ve never been one to wear a bustier and I stopped wearing halter tops back in the 70’s (thank goodness). All something to think about……. Maybe I should start a new career.
More tomorrow on Margot.