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26 April 2017

Hand-printed Cards

So I have a bunch of leftover textile screen printing ink that I didn't know what to do with. I experimented using some of my linocut pieces sort of like stamps with the ink onto cards, and VOILA! I really like how they turned out! They've got a gorgeous texture to them.
Truly, I've been having a lot of fun turning my art into cards lately, which I'm making available in my Zazzle store (click the image below). What do you think of these? Should I make them available too?
Greeting Cards

Berwick Upon Tweed! Part 1 - the cafe

Tuesday we all took a field trip down to Berwick Upon Tweed! One of our classmates, Katie, commutes up to Edinburgh every day, but this time she invited us to commute to one of the most charming villages along the east coast of Britain. We arrived ready for the bad weather forecasted.
Well, the weather was bad...and good...and snowy...and sunny...it changed every 15 minutes, which means for portions of the day we completely lucked out! Wandering around we were easy to spot - the group with the backpacks.
We began the day by meeting up in an adorable cafe that handled our enormous group remarkably well.
We all settled in to draw, which is what we do. Although I did it a little differently from normal. Usually, I lightly pencil in my composition, then tighten it up. This time, I just started drawing one thing and then worked out in a spiral as I drew.
From there, we wandered around a bit - a fun thing to do in this lovely town.

In no time, we were at the beach...

25 April 2017

Coloring Page Tuesday - Sloth!

     You know, sometimes it's okay to be a slow reader, even if you're trying not to be. CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of over a dozen literary awards, including Georgia Author of the Year. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

24 April 2017

Dr. Neal's Garden

We had to wind through the coffee shop to find the entrance to Dr. Neal's Garden, and it was so worth hunting out.
There's not much to say about this, it was just lovely to wander about this garden at the edge of Duddingston Loch...(most of the images can be viewed larger with a right-click).



See the wood duck?


I do have to talk about the Physic Garden though. I fell in love with it. If I ever have a wee plot of land in my life again, I want to recreate this garden.
It's called a Physic Garden because the plants in it all have medicinal purposes.
But basically, they're all herbs, so it smells wonderful.
I pieced together the entire garden for you in Photomerge.
The nice thing is, there were seats everywhere to sit and enjoy this natural remedy for lowering blood pressure.
We sat and just stared and listened for quite a while. Check out a quick scan of our view on Youtube (click the image).
How nice to experience such lovely mini-adventures as a day in Duddingston!

23 April 2017

Duddingston Loch

From the Sheep Heid Inn we headed down to Duddingston Loch. It wasn't hard to find, we just followed the smiling people. This is a lake (Loch) at the base of Arthur's Seat.
Here's the history. Click the image to view it larger in a new window.
The closer we got, the more it became clear that something was different about this place...
Notice the swans? First thing to know is they are all the property of the Queen. It's illegal to hunt them, kill them or eat them. You'll have Elizabeth to answer to. Second thing to notice is that these magnificent birds are nearly tame.
As we walked closer, they came to us, curious to see what we'd brought them. Nothing, I'm afraid. But when they figured that out, they didn't leave! We were just visitors in their world. How magical to just hang out with them. And they are so very BIG!
I really wanted to pet one, but they kept picking at each other, revealing large beaks full of tiny, razor sharp teeth that I didn't want to experience. So, I just stood nearby. But it wasn't just swans. There were also Canadian Geese, Wood Ducks, Mallards, and again this wee funny duck with the chicken legs. I still don't know what it is.
Oh, and there were crows too! Although, they weren't tame and flew off before I could grab their pictures.
 From there, we headed up the road towards Duddingston Kirk, a church dating from the late 12th century.
It had a proper graveyard with this one tiny grave marker that simply broke my heart. It reads "Wee Jim" - a child.
Inside felt much more modern.
(That's Stan in front of the pulpit.)
But what we really came to see was Dr. Neal's Garden behind this tricky entrance.
More soon...

VIDEO: Climate Change Artists

Two artists who work with themes addressing Climate Change are featured in this PBS special. It's not long, but it's powerful. Click the image to go watch.
Thanks to Illustration Island for the heads up - this great interview show for creatives is back after a five-year hiatus!

22 April 2017

Duddingston Village

Yesterday I finished the last big project that will go into my graduate show - Woohoo! Yes, there are some other things yet to do, but my main projects will be well represented. I felt like celebrating! How to do it?
     Edinburgh is chock-full of charming hidden gardens like Dr. Neal's Garden. I've wanted to see it for ages. And with spring blooming wildly, this was the perfect time. But it's a bit far to walk to, so Stan figured out the way. We popped on the #44 bus at the top of our street.
In no time, we were off the bus on the far side of Arthur's Seat in Duddingston Village.
This is an extremely old part of town, dating back to the 12th century. The history is fascinating.
(Most of these images are larger - just click on them to view in a new window at a larger size.)
It's no wonder the first building we came across was the iron forger.
Alleyways really reflected the age (if you ignored the cars at the end).

Our first destination was lunch reservations at the oldest surviving pub in Edinburgh, the Sheep Heid Inn.
Everything inside was tartan, including the floors. (We see a lot of that in Scotland and I just love it.)
I ordered a pink drink in honor of my friend Kevan Atteberry's late wife, Teri.
And there were sheep everywhere. This is for you, Trish!
There was also a helpful map in the pub to give us our bearings after lunch.
Next stop...Duddingston Loch.

Happy Earth Day!

I have lots of free Earth Day coloring pages for you to share today - CLICK HERE or the image to see the entire collection! You can also purchase some of my Earth Day products in my Earth Day Zazzle Store. And learn more about Earth Day at http://www.earthday.org/.

2017 Green Earth Book Awards!

I'm happy to spread the word about the winners of the 2017 Green Earth Book Awards hosted by The Nature Generation!
This prize is near and dear to my heart since A BIRD ON WATER STREET was awarded a Green Earth Book Award Honor in 2015.

20 April 2017

TIME TRAVELER TOURS: BURIED ALIVE



The Making of
Time Traveler Tours:
BURIED ALIVE: THE SECRET MICHELANGELO TOOK TO HIS GRAVE

by Sarah Towle

I published a story this month. Not just any story. It's a true tale narrated by Michelangelo wrapped around a walking tour of Florence all packaged inside an app so it's always with you – on your phone or tablet. There's nothing else like it. Elizabeth, who acted as Art Designer on the project, asked me to share how it came to be…

The seed was planted in April 2014. My friend Mary Hoffman, an author with a love of Italy, pitched me an idea for an interactive storyapp following the format I'd pioneered in 2011 with Beware Madame La Guillotine, a mobile story and tour of the French Revolution brought to life by Charlotte Corday. It was a critical success, but a commercial flop. So while I was thrilled at the prospect of producing a second Time Traveler Tour, I was daunted by the mundane and unavoidable question of finance.
I'd done a Kickstarter to cover some of the cost of that debut StoryApp, but this time I was determined not to spend any more of my daughter's college-tuition fund. So I turned again to the crowd, thinking if they were willing to support the project, I would do it. On June 26, 2015, they came through.

Cash now in hand, the pressure was really on. While Mary got to work on her manuscript, I focused on how we were going to make this app. Beware Madame la Guillotine failed commercially because of a rookie error: I built one app to tell one story. I should have developed an app publishing engine to produce myriad stories. And while $41,500 was a major Kickstarter windfall, it was not even close to what I needed to create software.
Necessity being the mother of invention, I sought an app-publishing company willing to partner with me to build a BookApp creation tool on their technology. With both money and a development team now secured, the project put down roots. For the past two years, I nurtured them with the help of many talented collaborators. Along the way, we changed narrators, titles, and covers, while working farmers' hours. But we kept our eye on the prize: to make the drama and excitement of history come alive for youth… and the young at heart.

In the waning days of 2015, Mary delivered her story treatment, then called In the Footsteps of Giants. Now came the task of transforming her tale into a Time Traveler Tour: a story that transports you to another place and time, and makes both narrative as well as logistical sense. In February 2016, I landed in Florence to figure out how best to weave Mary’s treatment into the city as it was 486 years ago, in 1530.
Fortunately, Florence is Mary’s home-away-from-home, and her knowledge of Michelangelo’s era is encyclopedic. So she set me off on a good start. I wore out my hips and a pair of shoes walking those cobblestoned streets. I visited every museum and site Mary suggested, and then some. I befriended a Michelangelo scholar who helped me jump queues and get past gatekeepers to visit the off-the-beaten-track places little known to tourists. I drank a lot of espresso. I ate a lot of pasta. I gorged on Michelangelo's life and art.
In April, I was back in Florence, this time with Mary, to verify that both story and tour wove seamlessly together while we hunted for the artifacts that would comprise the app's treasure hunts and games.

That’s when we moved into production mode. We returned to the crowd to source our vocal talent. A reward for $100+ backers was the right to audition for the lead role. We got lucky: our Michelangelo is both voice actor and audio engineer. We added a photo editor to the team; drilled down on the user experience (UX) design; then brought Elizabeth in to wire everything together with the gorgeous user interface (UI, i.e. graphic design) that you can hold in your hand today.
To find our StoryApp and Tour, open the app store on your mobile device, search for Time Traveler Tours, locate Buried Alive, install, download, and let Michelangelo transport you to Renaissance Florence.

While there, if you have an idea for a Time Traveler Tour, we are actively seeking submissions. Click here to view our guidelines. I hope, too, you’ll give it an app store review.

Now, unless you have a full-time cook, nanny, and dog walker, can function on a few hours of sleep many nights on end, and don’t mind riding an emotional roller-coaster, I'd avoid crowd-sourcing your financing. But if you really want to try it, FYI, I run a crowd-funding consultancy that helps keep the lights turned on at my now independent app-publishing house: Time Traveler Tours. Feel free to reach out!

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