Archive for July, 2011

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

News Flash!!!

Five of my original watercolors are en-route to Susanna Maier (founder of the Trade Your Talent art blog) for a New York City fundraiser. You can see all five of them in advance, posted here. Proceeds from the August 10th, 2011 event will fund educational scholarships for a small group of deserving girls in Tanzania. These paintings will be auctioned off along with other donated artworks, including photographs taken by the fundraiser’s co-sponsor, Patricia Schneidewind, during her recent trip to Tanzania.

If you would like to donate some artwork yourself (hurry!), attend the fundraiser and bid on artworks, or find out how you might buy artwork if you are not nearby (or your Learjet is in the shop this month), please visit Susanna’s July 30, 2011 post about the event at her blog, Trade Your Talent, for more information. There is also a link to my recent Artist Interview with Trade Your Talent included in this post about the fundraiser.

It’s a very warm and worthy cause, and also a chance to get your hands on an original work of art for your burgeoning collection. Thanks so much for your support!

“Frankenstein”   (watercolor, pen & ink, pastel, colored pencil)   This is one of the paintings that will be auctioned.

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is obsession.

You know the stereotypes: with women it’s usually clothes, and just as often, shoes, jewelry, makeup and purses. One female friend of mine is obsessed with buying plants. (I’ve been there.) Books can be very tempting too. But for this lady writer (and I know I’m never going to hear the end of this now from certain family members), the ongoing obsession is…art supplies. And not just any art supplies. Browsing the cheapo paintbox sets or little-girl notebooks in the five-and-dime will not suffice to fill my appetite: only the best Professional Level art supplies will do. Fortunately, my studio space and quantity of disposable cash are both quite small, so this obsession cannot take over my life or home…

For my money, a catalog or online purchase is by far the best. Think of it: I can spend hours or days shopping from the newly arrived catalogue, or browsing a company’s online selections! (The quick glance at two whole pages of antique dipping nibs in my newest New York Central catalog recently sent shivers of delight up my spine, and I’ve tucked that catalog away for a ‘private moment’ of more browsing.) I can have the pure pleasure of filling out that order form or clicking the Buy Now button. And then, just like Christmas, I can look forward for days or weeks to the inevitable arrival of one or more brown cardboard boxes with my name on the label! I’ve grown out of the acute listening skills of the child waiting to hear reindeer bells or rooftop “Ho! Ho! Ho!” but I find myself perfectly tuned to the rumbly sound of the approaching UPS truck’s muffler. My Santa shows up in fudge-colored brown uniforms now, not red with white fur. So much more adult, don’t you agree??

But seriously, I adore art supplies. Tubes of paint, paper, pencils, pens and nibs, ink, tracing paper pads, clear bags for the finished paintings. And don’t get me going on the joys of studio furniture. What could be better than buying a new flat file, drafting table or book shelf for all of those art supplies and beautiful paintings that I’ve made in my not-shopping time? And, of course, these arrive in even bigger brown cardboard boxes and sometimes even require entire studio ‘makeovers’ of shuffling beloved art supplies around!

You may have guessed that I’ve had this obsession for more than a few years? Recently I realized that I have managed to create a close-to-perfect working space (within the limitations of an eleven-by-eleven room in my rented house, and the constraints of my not-so-available cash). I’ve got storage, bookshelves and reference books, a beautiful and inspiring table and comfortable chair, a cosy ‘thinking’ chair, pretty good light, privacy, and a good stockpile of my favorite watercolor paints, pencils, pens and papers. I’ve made lots of good paintings and built a good website. I’ve got my skills, training, experience…and I’ve got my creative passion. I feel ready for something wonderful and Big to happen. Looking back, it seems that my obsession was not a trivial one at all, but an inner prompting, linked with that What I Am Here To Do? question. My obsession was linked to my Life Purpose. I like that: obsession as the Soul speaking to me. “Go here, do this. This is something you need to do or learn next. This is important.” An obsession with art supplies has led me to where I am now, and I am grateful.

What’s your obsession, deep down? What’s calling and nudging you? What lifts you up?


“Paul’s Balloon”    (watercolor, pen & ink)

Have you voted for your favorite book cover at Undercover Cover Art yet? Remember: you’ll have to click the stars, not just leave a lovely comment…thanks everyone!!

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Susanna Maier from Berlin, Germany has given me a “Sunshine Award“. Thanks so much Susanna! Visit her great site for art lovers at Trade Your Talent.

Susanna is also currently working on a fundraiser to provide scholarships for young mothers and underprivileged girls to attend secondary schools in Ifakara, Tanzania. For information about how you can participate, as an artist or as an art collector, visit here. (Five of my own small watercolor originals will be auctioned too.) Hurry…the fundraiser is scheduled for August 10th.

Here’s the ‘fine print’ for receiving a Sunshine Award:
– Thank the person who gave you this award. (You are an amazing inspiration, Susanna!)
– Write a post about it. (Yes, you are reading this now…)
– Pass it on to 10 bloggers who you think really deserve it and send them a message to let them know. Yes, I know these are the rules, but as with the Stylish Blogger Award, which I received a while back, there is so much work involved, that I am instead directing all of you lovely readers to my Links of Interest list on the lower right hand side of my blog. Any and all of these bloggers and web-siters certainly deserve The Sunshine Award 2011 too! 

– And finally, answer these questions:

1. Your favorite color? Blue Violet and Teal Green, tied. Sorry, can’t split them up.

2. Your favorite animal? Cats, of course.

3. Your favorite number? Silly question. But I am a ‘5’ in numerology and Angeles Arrien’s Tarot system.

4. Your favorite non-alcoholic drink? Twig tea. Yep, I’m addicted.

5. Have you joined facebook or twitter? Facebook.

6. What’s your passion? Color!!! I also love to read, and am obsessively curious about “what makes people tick?” All good illustrator traits, so I’m told.

7. What’s your favorite: getting or giving presents? Giving, definitely. I love to find the perfect gift, wrap and bow it, and watch the happy (usually) expression on someone’s face when they get that ‘something wonderful.’ Getting presents can be very awkward indeed!

8. Your favorite pattern? Tiny dots. But when I was an avid sewer, I adored *Vogue* Designer Patterns. Not the same thing, I know…

9. Your favorite day of the week? Friday night…it’s “Free Parking” time.

10. Your favorite flower? Really…how can one choose? Roses that smell, especially the tiny Cecil Brueners, Freesias, Lavender, Lilac, Japanese Eggplant and Pumpkin blossoms…

That’s it. Between the Stylish Blogger Award post and this one, you now know all the important stuff about me! Scary.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite re-imagined book cover at the Undercover Cover Art site…maybe “The Girl with Silver Hands?” Thanks so much for your vote!

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is perennial.

What’s this disappearing blogger been up to? Well, lots of art and story-related things: sending out query letters and competition entries, finishing the new manuscript for my second author and illustrator storybook, boning up on the illustration world’s rules and rituals, browsing fairy tales and children’s books, not-nearly-enough painting and… stacking firewood. Stacking firewood? Yes…time away from the studio can be as important as time in the studio, especially when it will keep me warm in my studio this Winter. Gives the eye and the imagination a bit of a rest too.

But I digress…

Ever wonder why fairy tales are such a perennial favorite? Perhaps it’s because, in their essence, fairy tales are talking about the Journey of Life. They are telling stories using ‘archetypes’ (i.e. The Lover, the Hero, the Wise Man) that everyone can relate to, deep down. Some fairy tales are silly, some magical, and some can be a little dark. (But isn’t life that way too sometimes?)

I am a big fan of fairytales and archetypal stories in general. Could it be the amateur psychologist side of my personality? Fairy tales are a satisfying, thought-provoking read, and I suspect that they plant tiny seeds in the psyche about Life on Planet Earth far more frequently than the latest run-of-the-mill story about teeth brushing or new puppies. Fairy tales are much more than entertainment…and they can be read on more than one level. That is precisely why they have endured and are found in every culture. Fairy tales are a slice of life, all dressed up and ready for magic.

Take the fairy tale, “The Handless Maiden,” for example.

I read my first version of “The Handless Maiden” tale in Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ popular book, Women Who Run with the Wolves.  With a story that resonates deeply, it is not surprising that similar tales are found worldwide. “The Girl with Silver Hands,” collected by the Brothers Grimm, “The Armless Maiden” and “The Girl Without Hands” are just a few examples.

With a woman atypically cast in the leading role, all versions of the tale are every bit the archetypal journey of a woman growing into her own strength and autonomy. There are difficult obstacles, a King and his castle, helping fairies/angels vs the Devil/Mystery Stranger (depending upon who’s telling it), several forests, a garden, and eventually, the traditional happy ending.

However, there is, as Midori Snyder writes, “a strange hiccup in the middle.” Rather than going from a bad beginning to happily-ever-after, our heroine is cast out once again and forced to fend for herself for a very long time. We thought that marriage to the King and his magnanimous gift of custom-made silver hands for his handless wife would be enough to make everyone content! But no, the Handless Maiden (now a Handless Queen with a baby) must re-enter the forest and find her own way, patiently and faithfully, to that happy ending. (The King is elsewhere on his own seven-year archetypal healing journey, thank goodness.) Of course, it all works out beautifully in the long run…it is a fairy tale, after all.

This tale is a favorite in Jungian and Women’s Studies circles, and there is a lot to read between the lines and ponder. Besides Women Who Run with the Wolves, Gertrud Mueller Nelson’s Here All Dwell Free: Stories to Heal the Wounded Feminine and Endicott Studio’s own Midori Snyder offer deeper looks (here) at “The Handless Maiden” tale.

“The Girl with Silver Hands”  (watercolor, pen & ink, digital type)     I’ve shown this image before (here), but now it’s been designed into a book cover. Read the News section below and you’ll understand why…


Another enterprising lover of illustrated books has just announced the debut of her new blog project, Uncovered Cover Art: A Sketchbook of Reimagined Children’s BooksIntended to be “…a celebration of creativity, children’s literature, and art,” the site is already a visual feast!

Heidi Kellenberger, the originator, writes that the blog is designed for…

  • Artists who want to show off their passion for illustrating children’s books.
  • Art directors looking for artists, wondering if the work in Hot New Thing’s portfolio will transfer to children’s book illustration.
  • Agents on the lookout for new talent.
  • The children’s book lovers who stay up late, imagining the faces of Harry Potter,  Katniss Everdeen, and Little Red Riding Hood.

To celebrate the site’s launch, Heidi will award the three most voted-for artists with a copy of the book,  Show and Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration by Dilys Evans.

If you know someone who really should submit to Uncovered Cover Art (You, maybe?), please pass the news! If you’d like to enter the contest…or cast a vote for my own entry, posted July 28th (shown above, and thank you so much!!)…or vote for one of the other book covers, visit http://uncoveredcoverart.wordpress.com/

To vote, click the ‘Leave a Comment’ link below your favorite book cover on the Uncovered Cover Art site, then click one of the stars (from excellent to very poor) above the Comment form.

This is what the voting stars will look like!

Hurry…voting ends August 30th, 2011!

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