Creating the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book

 Events and Happenings  Comments Off on Creating the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book
Sep 152016
 

Much of my summer has been dedicated to writing and illustrating the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book, which I hope to finish this month. I have been spending a lot of time creating paintings that will tell the story along with the written words for the book. Each illustration is a 30″H x 40″W acrylic painting on textured wood. I thought I would share the first eight illustrations and basic story line to give a glimpse into my creative process for the book.

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In the beginning of the book, Mia Meow, a small cat with big dreams, looks out a window from the inside of her home. Although she loves her home, she longs for adventure, desiring to play with the squirrels and birds that she sees from her inside perch.

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Mia Meow lives in a creative place with her human companion who is an artist. Her particular art tends to be creating havoc!

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In a bout of mischievous play, Mia Meow discovers a red crayon on the floor. She whacks the crayon around the floor as cats will do…

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…and then she hits it so hard, it sails through the air onto the table. On the table is a collar and a piece of paper.1-Mia-Meow-book-illustration-scribble-LR

Being a curious cat, Mia Meow dons the collar. Cats are not naturally given to drawing, but with the collar, she feels a creative impulse that she has never experienced before. She begins to draw with the crayon. As she draws, she discovers that the collar has given her magical powers, and her drawing comes to life off the paper!

“Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book Illustration Squirrel and Bird in tree

Realizing that she can bring her imagination to life, Mia Meow uses her crayon to draw the squirrel and bird that she had dreamed of earlier, watching from behind her window on the inside. Mia befriends the bird and squirrel that she has created.

“Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book Illustration Farm animals

Next, Mia Meow creates a farm, drawing a cow, a pig, a goat and a chicken, and she enjoys visiting her new friends.

“Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book Illustration Forest animals

After visiting the farm, Mia explores the forest, creating more new friends, including a bear, a raccoon, a skunk, a fox and a rabbit.

Mia has a few more adventures ahead of her, and new friends to meet. Stay tuned for more illustrations and more of the story!

The book and the illustrations should be completed within the next month. My plan is to have the book self published and ready to have preordered copies shipped before the 2016 winter holidays in time for gift giving.

You  can preorder copies of the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book  here. All hardcover preorders made before 9/15/16 will include a pdf copy emailed to you for mobile device reading.

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

“Daddy, Can we get a balloon?” – A painting inspired by the “Immel Circus” at the Massillon Museum

 Events and Happenings  Comments Off on “Daddy, Can we get a balloon?” – A painting inspired by the “Immel Circus” at the Massillon Museum
Aug 122016
 
Circus Art Painting Balloon Vendor by BZTAT

Painting by BZTAT

As a Teaching Artist for the Massillon Museum, I was invited to participate in the exhibition “Conversations with Our Collection”.  For the exhibit, artists who are on staff with the museum were asked to create artworks inspired by items in the museum’s collection. I chose the “Immel Circus” as my inspiration.

According to the museum’s website, the “Immel Circus” is a “100-square foot miniature circus [that] contains 2,620 pieces: thirty-six elephants, 186 horses, 102 assorted animals, ninety-one wagons, seven tents, and 2,207 people. Most of the pieces were hand-carved by Dr. Robert Immel using tools from his dental practice. Some were handcrafted by friends and retired circus performers.” 

The Lilliputian sized model remains on permanent display on the second floor of the museum.

the "Immel Circus" at the Massillon Museum

The “Immel Circus”

 

The Immel Circus celebrates the exuberant pageantry and constant motion involved in a circus. It also celebrates the culture of those who bring the circus about in the greatest of detail. I chose to highlight what might seem to be an insignificant detail in the overall largeness of it all – a balloon seller in the grandstand.

As a child, my father took my brother and sister and me to the circus many times. I remember being enthralled with how there were so many things going on at the same time, and how everything seemed so magical. My perspective came from a seat in the grandstand, and my view was framed by the vendors in the stands who cried out to us to sell their wares.

the "Immel Circus" at the Massillon Museum

The “Immel Circus”

As much as I enjoyed the theatrical qualities of the circus as a child, I have been saddened to learn as an adult that the animals in circuses were often mistreated. I am glad that our respect for the quality of life for animals is evolving and that circuses are changing in our modern world. My hope is that future generations of children can enjoy the pageantry and magic of the circus without harm to exotic animals.

You can see the “Conversations with Our Collection” exhibit at Cyrus Custom Framing & Art Gallery, 2645 Cleveland Ave NW in Canton, Ohio from August 12 – September 23, 2016.

 

 

 

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

“Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book Project

 Events and Happenings  Comments Off on “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book Project
Jun 062016
 

This post was originally posted on the Mia Meow Creative Adventures blog. Learn more about Mia Meow and the upcoming book at: MiaMeow.com.

 
Mia Meow Children's Picture Book Project about a creative catHave you heard about the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book Project?

I have done a lot of special projects through the years, and all have been important in some way. This project, however, rises to a whole new level of importance for me.

The more I get into it, the more I realize that this book can have significant impact on the lives of children, and there is nothing more important than making a difference to a child.

The book itself is simple. An ordinary cat faces everyday obstacles and seeks to find a way to overcome them. In the process, she discovers her power through creativity and ingenuity, and she becomes a very extraordinary cat. She explores new environments and meets a variety of animal friends along the way. It is an adventure that is revealed through colorful illustrations that intrigue and enamor children, and thus, inspire their imaginations.

Simple books for children can have a lot of power. Life lessons that are revealed through endearing stories and imaginative illustrations help children develop perspectives to shape their understanding of the world. Tapping into children’s imaginations allows us to broaden their understanding so they can create their own worldview.

So, what is so important about this book project?

  1. The stories and artwork of Mia Meow grew out of my work with preschool children. Their enthusiasm for the character, the artwork, and the story is what inspired me to create the book.
  2. The Mia Meow story teaches children that they can overcome obstacles with creative thinking and imaginative resourcefulness.
  3. Our culture tends to emphasize idealized stereotypes of power and mastery. Typical childhood “superheroes” have unrealistic strength and mythical weapons to demonstrate power, and they give children an unrealistic vision of how they should engage with their world. The story of Mia Meow lays a more realistic foundation for a child’s belief in his or her own creative abilities as a source of personal power.
  4. The story encourages arts integration as an important learning process for young children. The arts are key to childhood learning and healthy emotional development, yet so many schools struggle to maintain arts programming due to funding cuts. Mia Meow offers a creative and fun approach to learning which is supported by research in its effectiveness.
  5. The book engenders a love and empathy for animals, encouraging children to be considerate and respectful of all creatures.
  6. The book project and crowdfunding program, which will be launched soon, has a goal of raising funds for creating and publishing the book, but beyond that, there is also a goal of donating books to programs that serve children. My hope is that the crowdfunding campaign, once launched, will raise enough funds to donate books to:
  • Preschool classrooms of schools involved in the Artful Living Program, where the Mia Meow story and art were inspired.
  • The Canton, OH Police Department Community Policing Program, as a way for police officers to develop positive relationships with children and families in challenged neighborhoods.
  • Libraries in Stark County, OH and surrounding areas.
  • Other school and youth programs designated by contributors. Although my own focus will be local programs, my hope is that contributors will consider donating books to programs worldwide.

I will be launching an Indiegogo campaign soon for the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book Project. I am using this online program to allow others to be a part of the project to gain seed funding for publishing the book and also to encourage donation of books to worthy programs. I hope that you will consider helping me with the campaign by contributing and/or sharing it with others to get the word out. Thanks so much for your interest in the project!

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT