Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Movie "Bless Me, Ultima"

I was treated to a sneak preview of the movie "Bless Me, Ultima" this evening at the Siverado Theaters in San Antonio, Texas. The movie is based upon the critically acclaimed novel written 40 years ago by Rudolfo Anaya, screenplay by Carl Franklin.

   "Bless Me, Ultima" is narrated by  Alfred Molina and stars Luke Ganalon as a young boy growing up during in New Mexico during WWII, who forms a bond with an elderly curandera or medicine woman.

I'm sure you will hear plenty about the beauty in this film: the story, the emotional resonance, the wonderful acting. And it's hard not to be mesmerized by  Luke Ganalon as seven year old "Antonio."

But, what blew me away was the cinematography! The artistic direction in this film is gorgeous! The scene of a pueblo church bell ringing on a hill (shot from behind shrubbery) where the sky separates into  a stormy white, gray, and blue, is done with such subtlety - that it virtually went unnoticed. Everyone  in the theater was too engrossed in the story.

I haven't seen a film like this in many, many years. I wanted to wake up there and smell the dirt. A moving, passionate, authentic, gem-of-a-movie. Go see it if you can.

"Bless Me, Ultima" opens in select theaters around the country this weekend.

Create something great,
Carolyn Dee Flores

Monday, February 4, 2013

What I Learned about Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney

I told my mother last week, "You know, I almost stole something once - a textbook from back in the fifth grade."

My mother gasped.

I said, "Don't worry. I didn't do it."

But, I remember. I was very tempted. By the illustrations!
It was KALEIDOSCOPE, a Houghton Mifflin Reader.

Is this not the best cover ever?!

 Recently, I found a copy of KALEIDOSCOPE in a used bookstore. I bought it, brought it home, and laid it carefully on my drawing board.

And then ...
I began to peruse the credits.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that all of these groovy textbook and section illustrations were the early work of none other than acclaimed Caldecott Medalist - Jerry Pinkney of "The Lion & The Mouse" fame.

I was so affected by those pictures. Some things stay with you.

 Jerry Pinkney has illustrated over one  hundred books, received five Caldecott honors, the Caldecott Medal for "The Lion & The Mouse,"  five Coretta Scott King Awards, four Coretta Scott King Honor Awards, and five New York Times "Best Illustrated Books."

And, of course, now, the fantastic "YOU WERE MY HERO IN FIFTH GRADE" AWARD from me!

Jerry Pinkney Signing My Book 2011

Jerry Pinkney Signs My iPad

Illustrate away,
Carolyn Dee Flores

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"I saw the angel in the marble…" Michelangelo

Last week I was working intensely on deadline to deliver the black and white drawings for an upcoming picture book I am illustrating - DALE, DALE, DALE/ HIT IT, HIT IT, HIT IT (written by Rene Saldaña Jr.) to my publisher.

As usual, I'd prepped. I'd paced. I'd thumbnailed. I was having a blast! But, I needed a little extra push when it came to spread #10 -  a drawing which included lots of toy marbles.

Partially exhausted, I felt I had not fully captured the magical essence of "marbles."

I remembered the enigma of little boys who carried around bags of marbles at recess when I was little. I internet-hunted marbles and learned about "shooters," "pee-wees," "steelies," and "agates." I stared at the small velvet pouch of vintage marbles that my mother bought me when I first got this book contract, and then - I poured the marbles onto my desk.

They rolled … everywhere.
I grabbed a small empty photo frame and corralled them.

I thought to myself, "These are beautiful. I have two more beautiful marbles in my jewelry box I will add to this collection."

I added two more marbles.

Hours later, I couldn't help thinking, "I'm sure there is one more marble in this house."
I stopped drawing and looked around. Now where?
 If I could find it, what a great sign that would be!

I looked down at my little marble corral and saw it.
One more marble.
Engraved around the edges of the wooden frame were these words:

"I saw the angel in the MARBLE and I carved until I set him free." Michelangelo

I had forgotten. Trust that you have the skills to listen. The book will draw itself. As with all art, a book becomes what it wants to become.

What an exciting process!

Happy GroundHog Day!
Carolyn Dee Flores/Illustrator