Get a bird’s-eye view of featured museums, galleries, art venues (diverse habitats for artists and their art). Learn about some behind-the-scenes supporters of art and artistic opportunities.
In his essay “What is Art?” Leo Tolstoy wrote: “Every work of art causes the receiver to enter into a certain kind of relationship both with him who produced, or is producing, the art, and with all those who, simultaneously, previously, or subsequently, receive the same artistic impression.”
Art allows us to engage with the artist and, on a larger level, with everyone else who has shared in the experience of encountering the same work of art.
It also allows us to become part of a larger conversation about life, the world we live in, and ourselves.
A dialogue that isn’t necessarily spoken with words, but with whatever language the artist has chosen. As a result, sometimes these dialogues are even more profound, for they tend to connect people on an emotional level.
Tolstoy went on to state: “The activity of art is based on the fact that a man, receiving through his sense of hearing or sight another man’s expression of feeling, is capable of experiencing the emotion which moved the man who expressed it. . . . If people lacked this capacity to receive the thoughts conceived by the men who preceded them and to pass on to others their own thoughts, men would be like wild beasts . . . And if men lacked this other capacity of being infected by art, people might be almost more savage still, and, above all, more separated from, and more hostile to, one another. . . . And therefore the activity of art is a most important one, as important as the activity of speech itself . . .”
In order for people to interact in such a way, however, there need to be places where art can exist, where it can be shown and discovered, illuminated and shared.
That’s what this section of Other Cool Birds is about. Habitats.
Settings, exceptional in their own right, where artists can display their work, convey their ideas and feelings, and where others can find them, receive them, become infected by them or inspired by them (to accept or resist or adapt), and respond to them.
“I don’t even consider 7-Imp a ‘review’ blog anymore. I’d like to think of it as a sort of literary salon where authors and illustrators stop by, after getting a cup of cyber-coffee, to share their craft — and where illustrators wake us up with art. Yeah. That.” Julie Danielson
Just so you know, “7-Imp” is short for Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast which might, itself, be short for a magical place where writers and illustrators run free.
Everything about Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast says, habitat to me, in the sense of it being a special “place or environment where a art and artists naturally or normally live and grow.” I’m talking about birds, sure, but so much more than birds. 7-Imp is a habitat for art and Julie Danielson is one of those behind-the-scenes supporters we acknowledge here in Bird’s-Eye-View.
Julie Danielson a fan it seems of Alice in Wonderland (see logo above) and one of the co-creators of 7-Imp, the one who has stayed with it during it’s various transitions and transformations into what is now primarily a blog about illustration — picture books and illustrated novels — conducts some fabulous interviews. Julie studied children’s literature in grad school, and it was there that she studied picture books, though that, she claims, is the extent of her studies when it comes to art.
Julie also teaches a grad course on picture books. (“I’m a Lecturer for The University of Tennessee, the same place where I got my degree.”) And maybe that’s one of the things that resonates with me most about Julie and 7-Imp. She’s not some formally trained writer or artist. She calls herself a “‘spectator in the gallery,’ who appreciates and shares what she sees.” In a way, that’s exactly how I view myself here. As an observer. A witness fortunate enough to come across some cool birds, some remarkable art, while on my own creative quest to be a writer. And I appreciate what I see and I share it here at Other Cool Birds or on my blog, Write Side Up, which is why I felt compelled to share a little about Julie Danielson and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
Of course, Julie also writes reviews for Kirkus Review (you may have heard of it) and I’ll ask her about that, too. Here’s a brief interview conducted via email especially for Other Cool Birds.
Other Cool Birds: What are you reviewing/blogging for?
Julie Danielson (7-Imp): As you’ve already noted, I don’t consider 7-Imp a review blog, though I do review for BookPage and sometimes do review-like columns for Kirkus. But why write about picture books at all? I think because it’s the most fascinating art form there is. And because I love art and, in particular, I enjoy really good illustration. I take time in my life to blog about picture books, because I think they’re endlessly intriguing. That about covers it!
OCB: What is it regarding reading and/or illustration that you are so passionate about and what do you get personally out of writing reviews?
JD: What I really love doing at my site is interviewing illustrators. I interview authors, too, but I love to share lots and lots of art. I feel like the interviews are an excuse for sharing as much art as they’ll allow me to. The blog is, for all intents and purposes, an art blog. I love seeing illustration, and I love seeing things like early sketches and how a piece of art progressed from sketch to final illustration. And I love sharing that with my readers.
OCB: What is it about creating such a wonderful blog that you like most? Least?
JD: I love the sense of community that comes from blogging — getting to meet people (cyber-meet and in-real-life meet) folks who love picture books as much as I do.
The most challenging part would be . . . well, it’s a hobby, not a job, so it has to come after family and work. There’s a lot more I’d like to do there if I had more time. But your blog only becomes a full-time job in Bizarro World, and I don’t have directions to that place.
OCB: I’ve asked the artists who are found here on Other Cool Birds, so I’ll ask you also: what is your relationship with color?
JD: Well, that’s a very fun question. Since I’m not an artist, I can only answer with regard to my own personal life. I’d say this: The aesthetics of a room are very important to me. And I don’t mean that it matters for even one second that someone has expensive furniture or furnishings. What I mean is that I like to see people’s personalities stamped on their walls. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I find it depressing to walk into someone’s home and see that it looks like, say, a Rooms to Go showroom. I feel the same way about children’s libraries. You want to see that the librarian running the place has given the space its own unique feel, unlike any other library. With regard to color, in my own home, I need a lot of it. I especially need it in the kitchen for when I wake, because a morning person I am not. My kitchen walls are painted yellow in an effort to wake and cheer me.
This is more about my home than anyone needs or cares to know, but I can’t answer as an artist. I do love this question, though. May I steal it one day? 😉
OCB – Of course.
OCB: What is one thing about ART (or specifically illustration/illustrated books if you’d prefer) that you think people might not understand?
JD: A lot of people (think: the average person on the street) assume writing a picture book is easy. That kills me. It really does. I took a grad course years ago (taught by none other than the very entertaining Jack Gantos) in which I had to write a picture book manuscript, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I mean, there’s childbirth, and then there’s that. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but only slight, because there is a great difficulty in making every word count. And with picture books, like poetry, every word has a great deal of weight. It’s hard to pull that off well.
I also often meet aspiring picture book authors who assume they can get their best friend to illustrate their book. They don’t have an understanding of how modern children’s book publishing works: The publishing house is responsible for pairing you with your illustrator (in most cases). Fortunately, there’s SCBWI, a great resource for those wanting to get into this field, and I direct folks there.
OCB: Is there something particular that most people don’t know about 7-Imp that makes you unique?
JD: I have been thinking and thinking about this question. That’s a hard one. I asked my husband, who said to tell you the site is actually run by ninjas and that I’m a 10,000-year-old alien, here to expose our species to more picture book art.
But that’d be stealing his response.
Maybe what most people don’t know is that I’m a hopeless night owl and I’m usually typing posts at, say, midnight? I enjoy it. Night time is my best time. I like to stay up and make stuff.
OCB: If you could work on any art project (related to a painting, a book; developing a personal idea; helping on an historical piece, interviewing a particular author or illustrator) what might it be and why?
JD: I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but if I could open a children’s literature education center and/or picture book gallery—anything that promotes the art of the picture book and children’s literature in this country (as the wonderful Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art does)—-I’d be so happy.
OCB: I see that you also write for Kirkus Review. Do you have any specific book reviews, illustrator interviews for Kirkus or for 7-Imp, already slated for after July 2014 that we should keep our eyes out for?
JD: I don’t really plan ahead as often as I should! I take things week-by-week for the most part. But I will say that I just finished reading Cece Bell’s graphic novel memoir for children, El Deafo, and I really enjoyed it. I’ll be doing a Q&A with her, as well as reviewing the book, in August over at BookPage. She’s such a talented author-illustrator, and this new book is, all at once, funny and poignant and very honest.
Oh! And BookPage also asked me to guest-blog in August, and I’ll be sharing my list of favorite new illustrators. I love this assignment!
OCB: Aside from your main website, are there any specific websites related to 7-Imp that you’d like me to possibly link back to (i.e social media sites, etc)?
JD: Well, as you’ve already noted, I write for Kirkus and BookPage. I share blog posts over at The Niblings page at Facebook, a page I created where I share blog posts with three other bloggers (with the idea that it can be a place to get children’s lit news, all in one location). I use Twitter, and I share links over at my Google+ page (under “Julie Danielson”). I have a book about children’s lit coming out in August, and my co-author and I are creating a website for it — to share stories that never quite made it in the book. That work-in-progress site is here, and it should go live soon.
For more about Julie Danielson or Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, visit her website here. And keep going back for more wonderful interviews and glimpses into the world of picture books and illustrated novels for kids.