Monday, August 11, 2014

But Remember to Stop, Look & Listen

We’ve had a summer full of celebrations and some sadness, inspiration and bouts of exhaustion but it HAS felt like summer - and still does. The garden is beautiful again, and work, when we get the chance to do it, is going well. We’re gearing up for an autumn of book signings, lectures, workshops, a Labyrinth Ball, film showings and an exhibition of work from “Faeries’ Tales” at AFA gallery. Lots to do. I may even have missed a few things! We’re going to be busy. So - it’s good to just be at home for a while, entertaining friends, spending sunny evenings in the garden and letting the world carry on without us. 

When we get busy and crazy we tend to forget to just stop and look or listen - just experience the world around us. When we actually do that, it is easy to feel the nearness of the Faerie Realm, nature spirits and natural energy shifting and flowing as we stand or sit still and become aware of it. We paint it, sculpt it and write about it but sometimes we just forget to observe it. That’s the most important thing of all. So we both are trying to spend time each day just being here, in the present. It helps to remind us of why we do what we do. Magic is illusive and delicate and to capture it at all, it’s a good idea to remember to take time and be aware. There - that’s my musing for the day. I’m going to try to take my own advice.

We recently (two weekends ago actually) had a wonderful time in Brittany in the magical forest of Broceliande, attending a book and art festival at the Arthurian Center there. Wonderful people, renewed friendships and lots of new friends made as well. We gave a talk (quite something to have it all translated in to French!) and a puppet making and movement workshop with our friend and master puppet performer William Todd Jones (or Todd, as he is called). Fantastic to see twenty aspiring puppeteers with their arms in the air, a simple puppet on their hand, singing “Frere Jacques” as a round! We loved it! There is a beautiful exhibition of Brian and my art in the Arthurian Centre at the moment (it’s on until the end of the month) and Toby’s film made its French debut there as well. We loved everything about the festival and felt a true connection between where we live on Dartmoor and this ancient, magical place in Brittany. We will certainly go there again because we just didn’t have enough time to see and experience everything we wished to. Looking forward to it!

We are attending Karen Kay’s Labyrinth Ball in Glastonbury on August 29th. It will be great fun and we look forward to seeing lots of friends there. Do come if you can!

Toby’s film, Lessons Learned, will be screening in three film festivals at the end of the month and then he will be joining us in Chagford for the Chagford Film Festival at the end of September – you can see “Lessons Learned “ there. All three of us will be there for a lecture, book signing and perhaps a puppet workshop (with puppet movement master and puppeteer Todd) too. Again - come if you can - it’s going to be pretty exciting!

We will be signing “Faeries Tales” at Forbidden Planet on Saturday September 6th from 1 to 2 pm. Come along and support us if you can! You’ll also have the chance to get books signed at Gnash Comics in Ashburton on Saturday September 20th. We do count on your support so come and help us make this book the success we would love it to be. It will make the faeries happy too - and you know how important it is to make the faeries happy! 

In October we’ll be in New York for Comic Con, the AFA gallery for an exhibition (running 9/18 to 10/10 ) for the closing reception event and book signing on October 10th, a talk and signing at the Society of Illustrators on October 14th, hopefully a talk and signing at the University of Connecticut and a weekend of events at the BAM Puppetry on Film Festival at the end of the month. We also have a new app coming out in the middle of September - Faces of Faerie - it looks fantastic and is really fun and quirky. LOTS going on! Come and join us when ever and where ever you can.

Check our facebook page and website for specifics (dates, times, etc.) for all of the up-coming events.

Well, I think that’s it for the moment. After having said that the summer has been lovely, we’re having the remnants of a tropical storm sweeping through today - lots of wind and rain. Good weather to work in so I’m headed back to the studio.

And remember to stop once in a while and connect with the faery energy around you -that’s what we’ll be trying to do!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Grumpy to Glamour

Hello from Portland, Oregon! We’re here visiting Toby, Sarah and Sebastian. 

We’ve had a fantastic time in the states so far, catching up with business and friends in New York (including finding the perfect cafĂ© for Brian) and then spending one of the most interesting, challenging and inspiring weeks we've ever had as guest instructors at IMC - the Illustration Master Class that takes place every summer in Amherst, Mass. 

We came there feeling very shy and apprehensive about what we could contribute to the mix of fantastic professionals who teach and share their expertise with the students (who are a mix of professional and non-professional artists) but left feeling like we had been able to add something unexpected and exciting to the whole thing. Anyway - we LOVED it! Thank you Rebecca Guay and all of the other instructors and students who made it such an amazing experience!

Tomorrow afternoon we will be attending the premier of Toby’s film “Lessons Learned” at the Hollywood theater in Portland. We can’t wait to see it on a big screen! There is such a buzz surrounding the film and the only thing that could remotely disappoint anyone is that it’s only fifteen minutes long. But then, it’s always good to leave people wanting more! Seeing the puppets in person (all in Toby and Sarah’s house) is wonderful. The craftsmanship and effort involved in making them shines out. They are indeed beautiful and fascinating creations. 

Since it seems that we can never just sit still and relax (what’s that?) we are also working on a trailer for Youtube for the up coming book “Brian Froud’s Faeries’ Tales” while we’re here. We are taking advantage of Toby’s many skills to put together something fun that will of course have a puppet in it! 

The new app “Faces of Faerie” is also almost finished and we are excited to be seeing the newest version of it when we return to New York next week. 

All in all it is a very busy and exciting time for us. At the end of next week when we return home, we’ll start to concentrate on the festival in France and the book launch in New York and the gallery exhibition that will open at AFA gallery in the middle of September, but before doing that I can’t imagine anything better than to sit in the garden surrounded by faeries and drinking a nice cup of tea!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Back in Time to Catch CatBell

Well - this has been a VERY long break! Sorry about that. I’ve been in Michigan, land of eternal snow (this spring at least) and then trying to catch up with everything I missed while I was away. I’ve continued the stories of B. and Cat Bell in both Faery and Fae magazines and I’ve very much enjoyed discovering what those two are getting up to! 

Brian and I have been following the progress of Toby’s film “Lessons Learned” and were just delighted to be sent a final cut of it a few days ago. Speaking as artists (and extremely proud parents as well) and viewers - it’s fantastic! It leaves you wishing it was a whole lot longer! We’ve seen it quite a few times now and as Brian said to Toby yesterday -there’s more to see every time you view it. It’s multilayered and wonderfully complex. We can’t wait to see it on a big screen! Brian said that seeing his design for the spider woman (Fate) brought to life was one of the most satisfying interpretations of his work he’s seen on film so far. It is absolutely wonderful to see Froudian puppets on film again!

We’re working on a new app that will come out just after our new book “Brian Froud’s Faeries’ Tales” comes out this autumn. It’s REALLY fun and quite strange (in a good way!). People have had such a positive and strong reaction to the faery portraits Brian painted for the book that we decided to incorporate them into an app. Everyone who has tried it can’t stop playing with it! We’ll tell you more as we get further along in the process.

We’ll be teaching in just a few weeks now as part of IMC – Illustration Master Class in Amherst. We’re really looking forward to being a part of this wonderful week long gathering of students and an amazing group of instructors! It’s very exciting.

I followed CatBell outside today and photographed her exploring the spring flowers in the lane and meadow near our house. She looks very happy to be out in the fresh air. I’ll have to see if B. would like to come out some time soon as well!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Avalon Faery Fayre

Brian and I want to say a big “thank you” to Karen Kay and all of the people in Glastonbury who made last weekend so successful and truly enjoyable. We had a wonderful time! It was good to catch up with old friends, meet new people and help spread faery energy in the town. The weather was glorious (the only drawback being that we were inside for both days!) but we could feel the sun shining and could certainly feel everyone’s spirits lifting. The Steam Punk Faery Ball was great! The costumes were so inventive and imaginative that it felt far more as though people were putting on their “real” cloths after having to wear human disguises all week. Perhaps some of the beings attending both the ball and the fayre were less human than we knew. I always think that these events are perfect places for faeries to mingle without being noticed!
B and Cat Bell loved coming along and they enjoyed the attention from those of you who had read about them in Fae magazine. They made friends with Armorel’s “Faybles”, inhabiting the table next to us. I hope they haven’t given Cat Bell too many wild ideas (she’s very easily influenced!).
We apologize for running out of books so quickly  - especially ‘Trolls’. I should have ordered more. Oh well  - next time! Thank you all for the wonderful response to our preview of the new book, ‘Faeries’ Tales’. We’re very excited about it and it was wonderful to see that you were as well.
It’s back to work now. The sun is still shinning and we’re once again inside, working  - but  - at least we know it’s there!
I was so busy during the fayre that I didn’t have time to take many pictures. I’m sure you’ll be able to find many more on other facebook pages. Here are just a few from us.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Crazy on Page 143

Brian and I are feeling bear-ish. We’d like to hibernate for a month or so – maybe until it stops raining. Well, that might be more than a month if the past three months are anything to go by.  But  - we’re not bears and we can’t just sleep away the grey days. Buster and Elfie would get up to too much mischief if we did.

I think the faeries are doing a bit of their own hibernating. Nothing seems “active” at the moment.  There are flowers coming up (tentatively) and the birds are beginning to sing their spring songs, but it still feels everything is waiting to make that leap into the new. There isn’t any activity in our house (I’m still talking about faeries here) but perhaps that’s because they spent a very busy few months helping and hindering us while we finished the book. I truly believe that they don’t always know if they ARE helping or hindering. They just do what seems appropriate to them and it may not be at all appropriate to us. Here’s a good example of what I mean.

I decided (for some foolish reason) that I would write an afterword for the Faeries’ Tales book  - the last double page spread, explaining where some of the original stories and songs I used came from. Sounds like a good idea  - very grown up and book-ish. I duly did this and congratulated myself on the fact that I could do it (with help from Terri Windling and my editors!). I gave the pages to Brian (remember – this is the last two page spread in the book) and asked him to choose a few drawings to liven it up for any intrepid reader who ventured all the way to the very end pages. He did so and we sent it off to the editor for corrections.  I hadn’t paid much attention to the drawings he used, only noting that the very last one looked more than slightly mad. The page spread was returned with a few things to correct and at this point Brian said “I just knew this page spread would be trouble”.

We corrected and sent it back. The memory stick we sent got lost in the post. We sent it again and when it arrived it was found that we had sent the wrong version of the pages. We sent it via internet (after all it was only two pages!) and again more corrections came back  -things that no one had spotted before. We corrected and sent it back. It came back again with yet more and different corrections. This was bad enough, but every time we tried to correct the text, it took a different form on the pages. Sometimes it left out sections, sometimes it changes the format, sometimes it just refused to do anything.

As we were looking at it on the computer for what seemed like the hundredth time I said “I feel just like that little drawing you put in the corner” and Brian confessed that he had put it in as a joke because he just knew this page spread was going to be trouble and would drive us crazy. Well  - it did. The faery in the drawing was just doing its job. It had been drawn to be crazy and it was indeed crazy and very happily going about its business spreading that craziness around as much as it could. It was far too late to take it out and replace it with another drawing so we had to make due with a stern talk, trying to explain to it that it had now done its job and could stop!

We sent the pages off again and so far we haven’t had them back for any more corrections. I think our editor was being driven as crazy as we were. We’ll get color corrections for the whole book back soon. Luckily, that page spread is in black and white  - so, what could go wrong? Hah!

And what have we learned from this? Maybe that what one brings into this world, matters. Brian may still draw crazy faeries, but he’s going to be much more careful about where they go from now on (he says that now but he probably won’t do it)!

One last word. Most of the faeries involved in helping with the book did just that. They helped, inspired and facilitated. We thank them. Actually, we thank them all, helpful or otherwise. After all, they’re only doing their job. It’s up to us to be sensible about it!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A New Year?

A new year - I feel like I should write about it, but - I’m sort of still waiting for it to feel like a new year. Does that make sense? On some past New Years Days, I would wake up and feel that things had changed, moved - I’d feel energized and ready to start again, but this year feels, I don’t know, up in the air, perhaps. Maybe it’s because I’m still catching up with things left over from last year and things not quite resolved yet. They will all be resolved, but I feel like I’m still trailing stray tinsel and shaking pine needles out of my hair. The faeries are grumpy (or maybe washed away) or maybe I just haven’t been out to look for them lately. At least I can go out even if it is raining. I feel so (sorry, worried, anxious) for everyone in the U.S. and Canada experiencing the ice age, and people here who have been flooded out of their homes. Rain and mud I can deal with. Having just read this, I think the solution is to go out and have a little look around and see what the new year has brought so far (I know I’m a week late but hey, it’s closer to new year than not).

Well - it appears that Spring IS coming. I took a very fast walk out into the garden (in the rain) and found the first flowers of the year pushing their way through the leaf cover. No snow to hide them so far. 

I think the faeries are all gathered around the new little flowers, urging them on and making sure they enter the world safely.

This is enough of a New Year sign for me. I think I might be ready to move forward now - after all - if the flowers can do it, so can I.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Catching Up

Hello to everyone and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the U.S!

Brian and I have just returned from almost a month in the states, doing all sorts of exciting things.

We started our trip with a stop in New York to deliver our new (and almost completed) book to our publisher, Abrams Books. We are always SO nervous before we have to show anything to anyone, let alone the people who most need to approve it  - but the response was wonderful! We’ll have the new book –Brian Froud’s Faeries’ Tales – out next Autumn, hopefully in conjunction with New York ComicCon and an exhibition of paintings, drawings and sculpted figures at AFA gallery. This should all be happening around the beginning to middle of October. It’s very exciting to know that we’ll have another “big” book out there next year! It really IS a big book  - the same size as “TROLLS” with all new artwork  -portraits of faeries and their versions of faerytales we think we know well. As always, the faeries’ points of view are very different in most cases! We’ll keep you posted on related news and events.

Here are some images of our process:

After New York we flew on to Convolution – Gates of Horn and Ivory  -a myth and fantasy convention just outside of San Francisco, where we were guests of honour with Wendy and Richard Pini (of Elf Quest). We met up with the family there – Sarah, Toby, Sebastian and Sarah’s mom Sherri, and combined forces to teach two workshops  -a greenman mask making workshop, taught by Toby and assisted by us and a Troll Talisman workshop, taught by us and assisted by Toby. Sarah, Sherri and Sebastian were there to make sure everything ran smoothly. Sarah and Sherri did an amazing job collecting natural materials for us to use in the Troll Talisman workshop as well as the best collection of leaves we've ever had for a mask making workshop. We really enjoyed both workshops and so did the people participating in them. The masks were beautiful and the Troll Talismans were all quite profound. We’ll certainly be teaching that one again sometime soon. I’m hoping to figure out a spring schedule for a few weekends of teaching at our home (or somewhere in Chagford). I’ll let you know when I’ve got something sorted.
Anyway  - we loved being at Convolution and want to sincerely thank everyone who was involved in making it such an enjoyable, easy and interesting experience for us –especially Kimmi Allbee the convention chairwoman. Thank you Kimmi!!!

We returned to New York after a week of recovering (we both had colds) and sleeping at my mother’s house in Northern Michigan. It’s always so good to be there and just be able to relax and not have to do much. It is so important for us to get to see friends and family in Michigan. We don’t get there nearly as often as we would like to but it’s so special when we DO all meet up. I’m sure my mother was ready to have her house to herself again by the time we left though!

Back in New York we had lunch with Heidi Leigh our AFA gallery owner, where we talked about and planned some coming events for the next few years. We’ll (as I said earlier) be having an exhibition related to Faeries Tales at AFA Soho next October and then we’ll be back at BelCastel in France to teach workshops again in the summer of 2016. Two weeks this time, but the same courses we taught there before. So  - that gives you lots of time to think about joining us if you’d like to spend a week in France! I’ll also have some new pieces in the gallery before Christmas, so check out the AFA website for photos.

The other upcoming events that we’ll be a part of this coming year are  - the Faery Art Show at Krab Jab Studio in Seattle in February, Karen Kay’s Faery Fayre in Glastonbury on March 8th&9th.  And of course the Illustration MasterClass inAmherst this coming June. We’re looking forward to all of them and hope to see some of you either in Glastonbury or in Amherst.

If you have been following Toby’s facebook page (and others as well) you’ll know that he’s finished shooting for his film “Lessons Learned” and now has to turn it into the film we are all waiting to see! It looked totally amazing from what we could see when we face timed with everyone on set and from the photos we've seen. It’s going to be something very special indeed! And I love Digby!

We are updating our website with lots of new information and links to things of interest. It’s been ages since both Sarah and I have been concentrating on the Facebook page  - but, please have a look at the website soon. We’re doing our best to update it! 

Have I caught up with everything? I hope so. I’m getting excited about planning for Christmas this year. Toby, Sarah and Sebastian will be joining us and I’m going to ask the faeries to help us make it extra magical for Sebastian’s first Christmas! 

I left my camera at my mother’s house and until she sends it back, I don’t have any of the photos I took on our trip. Hmmmm. I’ll see if I can conjure something up from my iPad.

I realize that this has been an “information” blog and not a blog about faery experiences. But  - that doesn't mean that they weren't present on our trip and helping us when they could. They were and they did. I know I’ve said this many times before, but if you want to communicate with them  - if you want their help with things happening or about to happen in your life  - just ask. We find that when we remember to ask them for help, they really do come through (although in unexpected ways at times) but if we don’t ask, sometimes they’ll take it upon themselves to “help” anyway, which can be interesting to say the least! I think they are happy to have us home again and we are equally happy to be here!