Sunday, December 23, 2012

Painting Banners for Studio 54 at the McNay

In 2006, The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio asked me to make some banners for a "Studio 54" themed event. Art patrons could buy a  V.I.P. section - and each section was named after a famous celebrity. There was an "Andy Warhol" room, a "Cher" room, a "Jackie O." room,  etc...

 I wanted every painting to look great under the DJ lights, so I made each "banner" 70" long,  out of colored transparency sheets sandwiched between two pieces of black theater skrim.  I sewed the whole thing together. Then I painted the surface with oil paint.
Here are some of the results:

Next day, I told the lady that hired me at the museum, "The very first thing you should say to yourself when you see me coming down the street is, 'Yeah, but has this REALLY ever been done before? ' "

She smiled and said that's what she liked about me.

Have fun taking the "road less traveled"!

Carolyn Dee Flores

Painting a Mural in Freezing Weather

Here I am painting a mural in 2006. It was 15 degrees above zero - so I wore hunting gear to keep warm. Also, I painted with oils directly onto the wall. Doctors in the neighborhood kept coming by to check my pulse. This piece was called "Gravitas." 

Little kids would run up to me and ask, "Are you the mural lady?"
How cool is that?

Finished product.

I love glazes. The blue paint was so deep, you could see it from the freeway.

Have fun this week,
Carolyn Dee Flores

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Counting Books


I read this book when I was five years old. I loved it so much,  I bought a copy of it recently off of Ebay.

Was I reading a 189 page book at age five because I was a child prodigy?
Of course not.  I started reading at age four, because when I was growing up every one of my cousins wanted to become a teacher. And I was their only student.
And guess what?  They did become teachers. All except one. She became an interior designer.

So, at this year's Christmas Cookie Exchange, I sat next to one of my cousins who became a kindergarten and special needs teacher. I mentioned to her that I was working on a book about counting.

Now, understand, I had some grand ideas about the illustrations for this book. (I did not write the book. I am the illustrator.) Marbles  being flung this way and that - toys falling from the sky - jacks as huge as baseballs.
But ... before I could go into it all, my cousin said, "Oh, yeah, my kids love counting books. Especially the boys - with superheroes. They love to shout one, two, three, four, …"
"One, two, three, four, .."
 I was  reminded:
                  Counting books are about  counting.
                  Counting books must be orderly - not chaotic.

Counting books  are about interaction. They must have READILY identifiable quantities of objects, at that age. It's not enough to include the right number of objects. You have to make them easily recognizable AND countable - FROM A DISTANCE.

A counting picture book is still a book. It must still be high interest, with  character and story. But here, the numbers and the objects and the colors are the stars.

 Lesson Learned: Know your audience.  See your book through the eyes of the children you are illustrating for. Stick to your purpose. And, STILL, add fun and character and story. The challenge is - make it exciting and cohesive on all of these levels.

So …

Trust me. I will still make all my drawings about character. I will still sketch 50 versions of each page before I pick the one I will illustrate. However, I will also REMEMBER to give kids plenty of things to count! That is, out loud.

One more thing. A counting book is a group activity. That means, counting books are almost ALWAYS read aloud. Kids count  aloud - in front of a parent, adult, or a teacher. The book itself, is just part of that experience. So, fellow writers and illustrators, let's uphold our end of the bargain!

Have a great Christmas!
 Carolyn Dee Flores

P.S. My five favorite counting or math books of all time!
Go, Dog. Go! By P.D. Eastman
Bears On Wheels - A Bright and Early Counting Book By Stan and Jan Berenstein
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish  By Dr. Seuss
365 Penguins By Jean-Luc Fromental Illustrated By Joelle Jolivet
Tyrannosaurus Math By Michelle Markel and Doug Cushman

BTW, fortunately, I have great text by the author, a great publisher, and a great art director to help guide me through this journey.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Judy Garland Videos - Courtesy Jo Knowles - Acclaimed YA Author

Two Judy Garland Videos. "Somewhere over the Rainbow." Courtesy of acclaimed and award-winning YA author (See You at Harry's) Jo Knowles. Both intense and mesmerizing.

The thing is - I think BOTH performances are incredible. Judy Garland may have been beaten up by her industry - but I don't see her as beaten.She knew her own voice, and that's an incredible gift for any artist.

Thank you, Jo Knowles for the post.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Caldecott Medalist Eric Rohmann and Candace Fleming, and Ellen Hopkins in San Antonio This Week

Announcing 2 Big Book Events in San Antonio This Week!
Caldecott Medal Winner  Eric Rohmann and author Candace Fleming will be speaking at UTSA this Wednesday, December 5 at 6:00 p.m.
Here is the link:

Ellen Hopkins, esteemed author of teen novels in verse including Crank, will be appearing at Barnes and Noble at La Cantera Parkway, discussing and signing her new book "Collateral" at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday December 6.

Other News:
Guadalupe Garcia McCall's new book, Summer of the Mariposas, was just named one of School Library Journal's Best Books of 2012.

And on a personal note, my first picture book -  Sing, Froggie, Sing / Canta, Rana, Canta is now available for pre-order on,,,, and, among others.
The book is illustrated by me, Carolyn Dee Flores, and translated by Natalia Rosales-yeomans, published by Arte Público Press.