Isosceles triangles and morning light.

Last night I had some off cuts… isosceles triangles. So, I made some more triangles. The kids enjoyed playing with them and so did I. I actually got a little obsessed with arranging and rearranging them. I quite like when rigid, geometry is interrupted. I also found they look nice when softened by light. Hope you like them too:

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Lily made a great one.. a bird!

I hope you are enjoying some great time with your families this summer too. ~Elly

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A Most Magical Girl & The Mazza

Happy Book Birthday to A Most Magical Girl
by Karen Foxlee  ~ August 2, 2016! (Alfred. A. Knopf)

“Karen Foxlee takes readers on an extraordinary journey from the depths of a secret world beneath city streets to the starry skies above London rooftops – a world where magic can be seen in puddles and teacups and heart lights lead the way home.” (jacket)

★ “Clever” – Booklist, starred
★ “Elegant and accessible.” – Publishers Weekly, starred (Best Book of the Year)
★ ” Deliciously complex and convincingly detailed.” – Kirkus, starred 

I was so excited to work on the cover and interior illustrations for this book. Here is the cover and one of the interiors.

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Congrats Karen! It is an enchanting read.

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The Mazza Museum

I was so honoured to present at the Mazza Museum: International Art from Picture Books summer conference this July.  The museum holds a collection of over 11,000 original pieces of picture book art. They even have a gallery dedicated to paper engineering! I found some of my favourites… Frog and Toad, Max drawings from Where the Wild Things Are, plasticine art from Barbara Reid and the moiré art from Gallop. (If you are curious about the hand – they cast our hands! How cool?!)

It is rare that so many kindred spirits are in one place at one time. I loved learning from all of you talented authors and illustrators! My kids are enjoying your books so much! These were the presenters this year –Mazza Summer 2016. Some personal highlights from the talks I took in: Mary Louise Gay explaining the “Show and Tell” of picture books; Lizzy Rockwell talking about how picture books can bring about social well being, Lita Judge’s inspiring story of growing up in the wilderness and how it has influenced her books, Steve Light’s pen collection (really!), and Randall de Seve’s thoughts on the power of picture books and how they influence us later in life. It is an inspiring week. I felt so lucky to be a part of it. I’ve never given a talk to such a large crowd but it was far less daunting than I expected – thanks to the warm welcome. Benjamin E. Sapp, Kerry Teeple, Dan Chudzinski, Matt Bower, the staff and the volunteers at the Mazza you are amazing!

 

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Other News

The CBC suggests Butterfly Park for a great summer read! CBC Summer Reading

The Kirkus Canadian Edition features Maya!

Teachers, I’ve updated the activities you can find for my books: Activities

We held a Beach Baby book party at the beach. So happy to finally met you Laurie Elmquist!

The Eden Mills Writer’s Festival is coming up . If you are there, come by and say hello! I’ll be presenting on the 18th of September.

And the Virginia Children’s Book Festival is on from October 13-15!

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It is so good to be home. Here are my little swimmers (photos by their grandfather, Steve Irvine). Enjoy your summer my friends! ~Elly

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The LCVA Exhibition & a shark in my suitcase.

Phew… back from travels and enjoying refreshing Georgian Bay with family. It has been just about the busiest month I’ve ever had and while fun, it is SO good to be home with my kiddos. I am going to break this up into 2 posts. One on the LCVA and one on the Mazza.

On July 3rd Simon and I took the kids to their Grandparent’s place and headed to Virginia to set up my exhibition at the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts. The exhibition is called Chasing Shadows (July-November, 2016). We spent a week with some of the nicest people. I am so happy to have met the staff and friends of the LCVA. It is in Farmville, a town between Richmond and Charlottesville. I was so impressed… everyday people were in and out of the gallery going to classes and peeking in as we set up. It is a thriving, well loved, well used center. In October I will be back when Farmville hosts the Virginia Children’s Book Festival. I will be holding my workshops right in the gallery. We’ll be playing with paper, light and shadow. The festival is going to be AMAZING: http://vachildrensbookfestival.com/

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The installation in the front window gallery was quite the challenge. I have never worked larger than about 3ft by 3ft and the window had to be 2 sided so it could be viewed outside from the street but also inside from the gallery space. The final piece is 33ft by 10 ft and is 3 ft deep. I learned so much from doing this and would likely do something completely different if I had the chance now but I like the way the room feels in the morning light and how it glows at night from outside. Here is a little animation of the set up.  So much Yupo paper and all inked and cut by hand! You can see lighting a space like this is tricky.

Here is BETTER view of the install… a time lapse. I am so thankful that Yupo sponsored the show by supplying the paper… that is a lot of paper! (Thanks Bill and Kevin!) I made all the coral, rocks, fish and squid at my studio and brought them with me. I even had a shark in my suitcase.😉

Installation Time Lapse LCVA

I thought I’d post some photos from the set up and the exhibition. Excuse the quality… many were taken with a cell. The exhibition includes about 70 photographs, 9 light boxes, some early tunnel books, a cabinet of weather, process work for my books and an installation. To read about the exhibition follow the link.

I am so grateful for my best friend and husband, Simon. He not only made the boxes for the show but came with me for the whole week to do install… he even fit in a date to a nice restaurant on my birthday. (And thanks Candy and Les for looking after the kiddos!)

Also, a big thank you to Rachel Ivers, the LCVA, the amazing staff and the sponsors of the show: The exhibition and related programming are made possible through the generosity of Candice Jamison Dowdy ’69 and Charles H. Dowdy III, Northwestern Mutual, the Sansom Foundation, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts,  and Yupo Synthetic Paper.

 

Exhibition in Virginia – Preparations

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It is just 2 weeks until Simon and I will be heading to Virginia to set up my show Chasing Shadows at the Longwood Center for the Arts in Farmville. You might have seen a post a while back when Rachel Ivers and Emily Grabiec visited the studio. That was a year ago… and now preparations are in full swing.

The exhibition will show original light boxes, photographs, working drawings for books and a large scale installation in the window of the gallery. The little squid picture above shows a 2×3 ft area of the 30×9 ft installation. My oh my… still more cutting to do!

OPENING ~ July 8th, 2016 from 5-8 at the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts

For more on the show visit: http://lcva.longwood.edu/events/chasing-shadows-opening-reception

Here are some preparation shots of inking the Yupo paper, creating the light boxes, and cutting the many, many pieces that will fill the huge window of the Longwood Center – quite a feat for someone who usually works in miniature.😉

The Virginia Children’s Book Festival!

The exhibition will coincide with the Virginia Children’s Book Festival. I am so excited to be one of the authors invited to participate in this amazing festival. Other authors include:  Matt de la Pena, Drew Daywalt, Marc Brown, Timothy Basil Ering and so many others.

Check it out! October 13, 14 and 15, 2016!  http://vachildrensbookfestival.com/

 

Another bit of news~ Emily Van Beek is now representing me through Folio Jr. I couldn’t be happier to be working with her!

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The Making of Maya

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maya_cover_lores_screenrgbMaya officially releases today!  It was written by Mahak Jain and is published by Owlkids. It is about the power of the stories we tell ourselves and how these stories shape the way we feel and see the world.

STARRED REVIEW from Kirkus!

Jain and MacKay’s story and art work seamlessly to convey an important and subtle story of love, loss, beauty, and joy. (Picture book. 4-10)

TO PURCHASE: It is available at bookstores and online at Indigo , Amazon and Owl.

Illustration shop talk

This is by far the most challenging book I have ever worked on and so I thought I’d share that illustration process with you. There were times when I was working on this book that I really wondered how to move forward. I even threw away 2 sets.

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The first hurdle was to decide if I could even do this book. I have never been to India, where the book is set and my savings would never allow me to take a research trip like this! I reread and reread the manuscript, worried I would have to decline this beautiful story. Then I realized that most of the book is actually set in a dream world, and that is something I am very familiar with illustrating. I asked for Mahak’s help to understand the urban Indian setting she was remembering from her childhood and she created a Pinterest board for me filled with reference photos… cots, rooftops, rickshaws, birds, animals, and even pyjamas. It might be a surprise to know that authors and illustrators rarely get the chance to interact. This was a real treat. I used her reference photos quite a bit to figure out things as simple as the skyline. Alisa Baldwin the designer, was so helpful too in guiding me (thanks Alisa).

 

Once I realized that Maya takes place in different dimensions, I had to figure out the aesthetic for each. There is a real world, a story world and a dream world and at times they blend. How to make each world feel separate but united? This is what I decided on:

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The next challenge was the lighting. Some of the scenes were at night but I rely on light to create my works. The urban scenes were tricky. I found I could put light in the scene in more subtle ways. Here I used the light of the rickshaw to add some interest. These are a couple of process shots.

The dream world had challenging lighting too. It is at first a fearful place but then becomes filled with light and play. This progression was very tricky. I ended up taking photos of each dream scene with several different types of light. We then found the ones that worked best together. Here are 4 rough shots of the elephant to show some of the types of lighting I tried. There is one dream scene that I won’t share here for fear of giving away too much of the story but once you see it, you will understand why I spent so long trying to get it right. It involves shadows.

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These were the big hurdles but there were lots of other ones along the way too. How does anyone do justice to the feathers of a peacock? All in all though, I think it came out pretty well and Mahak is happy too (Yay!) It has gotten some great reviews and I am really proud to be a co-creator of it. I hope you will enjoy it too.

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This post has really been about the illustrations. Mahak can tell you about writing it. Mahak, Allsion MacLacklan and Jemicah Marasigan came to the studio and Jemicah put together this Video Trailer!

I really want to thank Karen Li and Karen Boersma for making books with challenging subject matter. Also, diverse books (without that being the focus of the book!).

 

 

 

OTHER NEWS:

I will be at the Gananoque Literary Festival April 29th – May 1st.  http://www.gananoqueliteraryfestival.ca/  Come on out!

I will also be sharing my work at the Festival of Trees at Harbourfront Centre On May 17th and in Sault Ste. Marie on May 27th.

Thank you to all the schools who have invited me to give presentations! It has been loads of fun.

 

 

Beach Baby’s Birthday!

Yesterday I was out at a school visit in Brampton. It was a wonderful day of making art with kids. It was also the book birthday for Beach Baby!

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Laurie Elmquist, illus. by Elly MacKay. Orca (Age 0-3)

From Publishers Weekly:

Beach Baby

Dreamy artwork and verse reassure readers who are headed to bed that “Everything will be here when you wake.” Debut author Elmquist’s writing seems to drift along the seashore as she lists small natural wonders: “Purple starfish/ The goose waddling up from the bay.” MacKay (Butterfly Park), once again working in dramatically lit dioramas, creates a string of gauzy, delicate scenes—the lower half of a seal’s body is obscured by a translucent rolling wave in one image, while a pale, pink moon snail, “a mystery,” almost seems to glow. Enchanting, engaging, and restful. Up to age 3.Illustrator’s agency: Bright Agency. (Apr.)

“MacKay’s…illustrations are dreamlike…This board book…captures the beauty of the ocean, and it would evoke pleasant memories when falling asleep. Recommended.” (CM Magazine 2016-01-19)
“This lovely introduction to a beach environment is a good read for naptime and evening sharing.” (School Library Journal 2016-03-01)
“A gentle and gorgeous book.” (Quill & Quire 2016-03-01)

Available at your local bookstore and online: AmazonIndigo

Laurie lives in BC but will be coming to Ontario in July, sooooooo…. We are going to have a Book Bash for Beach Baby on July 12th at Sauble Beach! It will be beside Casero at 3:30. Join us for a reading, craft and treats.

Thought you might be curious to see a couple images from our board book:

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In a few days Maya, written by Mahak Jain will be having a book birthday too!!

 

 

Thaumatropes & this and that.

Hello, hello! It has been so long since I last posted! Lots happening in the studio these days. I just got these back from the printer and am so excited I have to share them. I was flipping my business card when I thought… hmm… Thaumatropes are way more fun. I love Victorian paper toys. This is the first of my designs… Spring!

EllyMacKayThaumatrope from Elly MacKay on Vimeo.

In the Studio

This winter I have been working on outlines for 2 new books that will be out in 2017. It has been a really enjoyable process. I have also been working on some boxes for the solo show I will be having at the Longwood Centre in Virginia this summer. The show will run the whole summer and will include my photos, original dioramas, a large installation, sketches and an animation wheel (if I can get it working).

Right now I am making a series of Grimm boxes. Here is a peek at one of the scenes – Snow White and Rose Red meet the ungrateful dwarf while collecting kindling. My wonderful husband, Simon MacKay is making all of the boxes for me. They will be available for sale in November.

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Interior of one of several Grimm boxes for the upcoming show at the Longwood Centre in Virginia.

The Nightingale Award

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