PenguinArt by Kate Garchinsky

Tag: travel

November Northwestern storm. Uclulet, Vancouver Island, BC

The rain sounds like crinkle paper as it overflows the gutters and forms pools around the house. The trees dance in the wind gusts. Water coats the surface of every sill.

Every place has it’s own style of rain. Here in Philadelphia, an evening thunderstorm is summer to me. When the electricity in the air makes my lungs ache, it stirs memories of camping on the living room floor with my sister, Maureen, in our childhood home. We’d roll out our Care Bear sleeping bags on the green shag rug, and scoot inside with our most frightened stuffed animal or doll. Storms were good, Mom would tell us, because they meant a change in the weather. Everything cooled off after a storm. If we didn’t have storms, it would never cool off.

When I lived in Colorado, rain was precious as snow. The headwaters of the Colorado River were a few miles from my house. They needed filling. A humongous water pipe stuck out of the mountain and plunged down to a tunnel that lead to Denver, which has been in a drought for over a decade. Any one who wanted to build a house in the mountains had to find a well first. Water was precious, and storms seemed magical. I’ve never seen so many rainbows–doubles and triples. Lightning was a fearsome creature, to be avoided at all costs, like a mama moose with a calf.

When I first visited the Northwest last fall, I expected rain all day, every day. In some places, it did, and others, it didn’t. On Vancouver Island the air is rain, and it creeps into your bones at 45-55 degrees. It’s not warm, it’s not cold, just damp. Chilling. You wish the temperature would make up it’s mind already, because dressing for “coolish” wet weather means layers. A fleece? A rain jacket? Wear both. Switch them up. Bring an extra pair of wool socks. The best remedy for cold hands is to wrap them around a hot cup of coffee. It makes total sense that Seattle is the home of the coffee shop. Yet the absence of Starbucks on every corner feels very alien, especially since Starbucks is headquartered there. No one in Seattle drinks Starbucks. There’s no reason to. The original old independent shops that Seattle built their business model on have better beans, and they vary in character from place to place. No one puts another out of business.

Then there’s Costa Rica. The sun rises at 5:00am and sets at 5:30pm. It’s best to embark upon adventures as early as possible, because by 9am you feel like it’s high noon, and by 11am clouds begin forming and bumping into each other. Clouds over the mountains mean rain at the beach, and clouds over the beach bring rain to the valley. It’s best to be prepared for a deluge.

It’s LOUD. Don’t try to have a conversation until it is over (don’t worry, that will likely be in about 20 minutes). When the rain stops, the sound shifts from tapdances on tin roofs to the awakening of birds. Birds who spent the hotter hours of the day under the parasols of palm and ficus trees pop up to the top of the canopy. Giving their feathers a shake, they proclaim, “the rain is over!” and get busy chasing insects. The flycatchers are especially fun to watch as they dive from telephone wires, then swoop UP SIDEWAYS and DIVE in a millisecond. It’s one thing to see a gnat make the gesture, and another to see a predator 10,000 times gnat size follow its movements. A flock of green parakeets darts across the skyline, and you only know it’s parakeets because you hear their rusty old bicycle screeches just long enough to know that they’ve passed you. Now they’ve disappeared into the canopy. They mimic the leaves as they preen.

I think the perfect combination would be a Rocky Mountain rain storm followed by a Costa Rican post-rain chorus.

Scarlet Macaw, Costa Rica

 

Tag: travel

Last week I spent a good solid 5 days in New York City via Brooklyn—the longest I’ve ever stayed in the big, big city. I hadn’t planned it that way. The original purpose of the trip was the Illustrator’s Intensive hosted by the Metro NY chapter of SCBWI on Saturday, July 24—a plan that I almost canceled due to a death in the family. In the end, everything worked out rather miraculously and I was on my way there with plans to return Sunday.

The workshop consisted of a full day of mini-classes, both hands-on sessions and lectures. Due to a last-minute cancellation or two, I obtained a spot in award-winning illustrator Pat Cummings‘ class on storytelling, and an extra unplanned critique with art director and former Muppet builder, Laurent Linn. This and another critique by art rep Mela Bolinao were the first portfolio reviews I’ve had on this level in quite some time. Five years since a critique in Colorado and triple that since anything in NYC.

I was giddy to receive positive reactions from both reviewers, even some instant oooh’s and aaah’s but I wanted the nitty gritty. I had requested 100% honesty and I received it with gratitude. My style has changed and evolved for the better, all agreed. Awesome. However, showing multiple styles of illustration in a children’s trade picture book folio may imply weakness in consistency. It is paramount that an illustrator be able to deliver one, beautifully rendered style without deviation when assigned an entire picture book. So a style change, while good from a growth standpoint, does me no good until I prove it’s not a fluke but a regular way of working for me now.

In other words, I have work to do. And that’s ok.

After the workshop I confirmed two appointments for that coming Monday, and, thanks to ridiculously reasonable, flexible accommodations and a gracious host, I was able to extend my stay as needed. Then an angel secured me tickets for the sold-out Celebrate Brooklyn fundraiser with The National and Beach House in Prospect Park that Tuesday. Yes, amazing. With extra tickets I was able to invite and bring some of my newest contacts. I hope that I did not geek out as much as I suspect I did….. ok I’m rather certain I did. Restraint is quite impossible when something moves you, fills you up and just keeps spilling over, again and again and again. Some music just does that. As do some films, some works of art. I want to move people like that.

The events leading up to the show that night surely amplified my celebratory mood; with each day came a new experience; with every new connection a cobwebbed door cracked open, illuminating the brain dust before scattering it in a crosswind. I was alive. I am still alive. I like it.

Why didn’t I do this sooner?

Obligatory Hipstamatic Photos