One must not be too romantic about madness…

Feeling burned out today from my bread and butter work, I decided to ignore my entire to-do list this evening, decided to not to catch up on things, to ignore prepping for the rest of the week.

Instead– I got my hands dirty, dove back into my research into mental health treatment 1940’s to 60’s and finished a sketch.

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Electroshock therapy unit

This current exploration is a natural sequel to my ever-evolving project: Molly- a true crime analysis.  

Molly’s younger brother, Joseph, was admitted to the Provincial Mental Hospital, in Essondale BC, on November 25, 1948 at 1:15 PM.  He was institutionalized until his death in 1963.

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DEATH CERTIFICATE CLOSEUP 2

Joseph’s 270+ page file and my historical research into his treatment is being developed into a visual thesis of some sorts.  How it will all look in the end is a mystery.  I remain passionate and mesmerized and grateful for “being chosen” to tell their story.

 

 

One must not be too romantic about madness, or the madhouses in which the insane were confined.  There is, under the manias and grandiosities and fantasies and hallucinations, an immeasurably deep sadness about mental illness, a sadness that is reflected in the often grandiose but melancholy architecture of the old state hospitals. – Oliver Sacks

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Inktober 2018: 31 studies of Truman Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD

 

COVER INKTOBER

Imagination, of course, can open any door– turn the key and let the terror walk right in.

– Truman Capote

No. 1 Richard Hickock: “It was early, not yet nine…”

No. 2: “Nancy Clutter is always in a hurry, but she always has time.”

No. 3 Truman Capote: “In Cold Blood- a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences.”

No. 4 Kenyon Clutter: “… so I took him down and to the playroom where there was a comfortable looking couch.”

No. 5 Herbert Clutter: “The master of River Valley Farm, Herbert William Clutter, was forty-eight years old…”

No. 6: “… 7 miles west of Garden City.”

No. 7 Bonnie Clutter: “… poor Bonnie’s affliction was in the least a secret.”

No. 8 Bonnie Clutter: “… had resurrected her ‘old self’; as if serving up a preview of the normality…”

No. 9 Floyd Wells: “His drowsiness instantly vanished when he heard, officers investigating tragic slaying of four members of the Herbert W. Clutter family…”

No. 10A: “Truman sits with his coffee, reading the New York Times.  He sits up straight, folds the paper over, reads it. C/U of article being snipped out of PAGE 39 of the Times.” [Capote Screenplay by Dan Futterman]

No. 10B: “I think this is what I want to write about.” [Capote Screenplay by Dan Futterman]

No. 11 Perry Smith: “Were any representatives of the cinema there?” [Life Magazine, May 12, 1967]

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No. 12 Nancy Clutter: “The snake swallows you?  Or what?”

No. 13 Richard Hickock: “Well, hell, give it all to us then.”

No. 14 Harper Lee: “You’re the only one I know with the qualifications to be both research assistant and personal bodyguard.” [Capote Screenplay by Dan Futterman]

No. 15: Forty seven dollars.

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No. 16: EXT KANSAS STATE PENITENTIARY (KSP) LANSING-DAY. [Capote Screenplay by Dan Futterman]

No. 17 Walter Hickock Sr.: “The judge up there! I have never seen a man so prejudiced… No sense.  Just no sense having a trial.”

No. 18 Susan Kidwell: “Susan Kidwell, her confidante…”

No. 19 Richard Avedon: “Perry, honey.  You look terrific.” [Capote Screenplay by Dan Futterman]

No. 20: “My cup runneth over…”

No. 21 Alvin Dewey’s cat: “Courthouse Pete, the family watchcat.  Pete weighs 13 pounds.” – from Harper Lee’s article in the Grapevine, March 2960

No. 22 Truman Capote: “Imagination, of course, can open any door– turn the key and let the terror walk right in.”

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No. 23 The Big Yellow Bird: “… the yellow bird, huge and parrot-faced, board in Perry’s dream, an avenging angel who savaged his enemies or, as now, rescued him in moments of mortal danger.””

No. 24 Truman Capote: “It scraped me right to the marrow of my bones.  It nearly killed me.  I think, in a way, it did kill me.”

No. 25 Perry and Dick: “A week in Mexico City…”

No. 26: Plot Analysis

No. 27: In the District Court of Finney County Kansas.  The State of Kansas (Plaintiff) vs. Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith (Defendants), No. 2322

No. 28: “Autumn rewards western Kansas for the evils that the remaining seasons impose.”

No. 29: “Or the moon.  Oh, he can fool you.”

No. 30: “Using their paws as though they are surgical instruments, the cats extract from the grilles every feathery particle.”

No. 31: “He looked at his fingers, which were stained with ink and paint, for he’d spent his final three years on Death Row painting self-portraits and pictures of children, usually the children of inmates who supplied him with photographs of their seldom-seen progeny.”

© 2018 Katarina Thorsen

Digging deeper, the secrets become aviatic.

 

Working on Molly, and I remain fascinated that I find it easier to dig deeper into the story by using the image of birds.  

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Somehow, the layers that obscure the truth are scraped away a little easier.  

Are the birds metaphors?  My guides?

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The Jackdaw as metaphor for Molly and her Irish family

I robbed your grave.  I revealed you.  I showed you in shameful moments.  I learned things about you.  Everything I learned made me love you more dearly.  I’ll learn more.  I’ll follow your tracks and invade your hidden time.  I’ll uncover your lies.  I’ll rewrite history and revise my judgment as your old secrets explode.  I will justify it all in the name of the obsessive life you gave me.

– James Ellroy, My Dark Places

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Digging down deeper, the secrets become aviatic.

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In many myths and legends, birds link the human world to the divine or supernatural realms that lie beyond ordinary experience... They are often associated with the journey of the human soul after death. [source]

 

Embroidered drawings and forensic taphonomy

My passion project, Molly- a true crime analysis, centres around a 63 year old Vancouver cold case.

On January 15, 1953, the skeletal remains of two children were found in the forest of Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  The victims became known as the Babes in the Wood.  The physical evidence indicated that the children were killed using a hatchet and confidently pointed to the involvement of a woman, likely the children’s mother.  Unsolved for over 63 years, the double homicide still haunts the city and fuels the imaginations of Vancouverites.  Several theories have been explored and many leads and tips have been followed; yet the identities of the two victims remain unknown.

Molly- a true crime analysis illustrates my research into this heartbreaking mystery.

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Sparrow feet, a gift from Hannah Ackeral

My involvement initially began as a volunteer researcher on the Babes in the Wood task force from 2003 to 2004.

This passion project- an illustrated book- is as much about the PROCESS and my deep involvement as it is about the cold case and the ultimate “end” product.  And yes- that process.  The creative process is incredibly magical and rewarding.  The project is directing itself in a sense, and I am following and trusting.

The book will include text (facts and interpretation), illustrations (including magic realism), photographs, primary sources, physical evidence, circumstantial evidence and artifacts.

I am currently reworking the text and illustrating.  I am experimenting with embroidered drawings.

Why embroidered drawings?

Certain drawings (in particular chapter headings) are embroidered as a means to reflect the act of connecting the dots and weaving together timelines, evidence and research.  The stitches are footsteps on a map.  It reflects deep thought and the passage of time.  It is historical.  Traditional.  Sacred.  It is about strengthening the fragile.  It fascinates me that a medium so cheap and easily torn such as newsprint becomes strong and hardy when layered and sewn together.  It can be manipulated and folded, handled, and only gains a lovelier patina.   There is something magical in that.

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… And when they were dead
The robins so red
Brought strawberry leaves
And over them spread;
And all the day long,
The green branches among,
They’d prettily whistle
And this was their song-
‘Poor babes in the wood!
Sweet babes in the wood!
Oh the sad fate of
The babes in the wood!’

“The Babes in the Wood,” Anonymous (ca 1595). Public domain.

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The Babes in the Wood, in progress

For serious inquiries, contact: Peter Breeze

MOLLY TERESA O’DWYER APRIL 25, 1924

Molly Teresa O’Dwyer (April 25, 1924 Costel, Ireland- November 6, 1947; suicide, age 23 in Vancouver, BC, Canada (Mountainview Cemetery, Vancouver)

My passion project, Molly- a true crime analysis, continues.  Stay tuned.

On January 15, 1953, the skeletal remains of two children were found in the forest of Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  The victims became known as the Babes in the Wood.  The physical evidence indicated that the children were killed using a hatchet and confidently pointed to the involvement of a woman, likely the children’s mother.  Unsolved for over 63 years, the double homicide still haunts the city as the identities of the two victims remain unknown.

My involvement began when I was a volunteer researcher on the Babes in the Wood task force from 2003 to 2004.  My work interpreted the cold case within the historical context of a Post War city, folding in theory as to the psychological behavior of the offender or offenders.

To enrich the profile of the unknown woman involved, I searched for comparison cases regarding troubled women in post war Vancouver and came across a story about the suicide of Molly O’Dwyer, a young immigrant woman who had relocated to the city from Alberta in July 1947.  I printed out the article for my files.

In one glorious 3 AM AHA! moment, I recalled an obscure lead regarding a woman named Molly from Alberta who headed west in 1947 with her two children and was never heard from again.

13 years later, I have taken that initial headline about a suicide and, through extensive research, mapped out Molly’s entire life and the incredible parallels to the Babes in the Wood.

My thesis dares to ask, “What if?”  – Katarina Thorsen

“Crime Scene” creative process #graphicnovel

Spending more and more time alone these days.  Craving and receiving great moments of solitude to work. To figure shit out. To surrender.

  

“CRIME SCENE”

Testing chapter heading visuals for:

Molly, my graphic novel.

Creating on nickels and dimes.

“… even if I had to paint my pictures with my wet tongue on the dusty floor of my cell.” – Pablo Picasso‬

I can’t stop despite money worries and fatigue-inducing insecurities…

Can I pull this off?  Am I good enough?

But the process carries on anyway.  Despite myself.

If I just keep the pen to paper… that’s the ticket.

Trust.

Surrender.

Allow the creative process.

                          

 WANT TO HELP?

You can support this project via PAYPAL here:

DONATE

Donors will be listed in acknowledgements

THANK YOU

“Samson found it hard to wonder about the war.” 2084- a novel.

Author Matt Roy and his main character, Samson.
Author Matt Roy and his main character, Samson.

Indiegogo campaign:

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From the campaign page:

This campaign funds two very important things.

[One] While I’m confident my novel is publishable, any writing greatly benefits from (nay : requires) professional editing. I’m raising funds to participate in an editing program in which I’m paired with an established (re : published) Canadian author, who will provide detailed editing notes geared toward publication. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to improve my craft. Oh, and get published!

[Two] Illustrations! I want to commission graphic artist Kat Thorsen to illustrate my novel. I don’t know about you, but I really miss illustrations in adult fiction, and I’d like to see it make a comeback! Kat is a talented Canadian artist and her illustrations will complement my novel perfectly.

– Matt Roy

Read more

PLEASE SUPPORT!  SHARE!

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The author and his main character. 2084- a novel in need of editing and illustration

Author Matt Roy and his main character, Samson.
Author Matt Roy and his main character, Samson.

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Recommended reading:

BRING BACK THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK!

“What is the use of a book without pictures?” wondered Lewis Carroll’s Alice, and anyone raised on illustrated classics like “Charlotte’s Web” or “The Phantom Tollbooth” might secretly feel that she has a point. Writers may still demur, reasonably concluding that they are only accountable for, in Henry James’ words, their “would-be-delicate and to-be-read-on-its-own-account prose.” But the interplay between art and text is rich with possibilities that few fiction writers have even begun to explore. Illustrations are fun. Giving up on them sacrifices real pleasures for a needlessly narrow conception of literary purity.

Matt’s Indiegogo campaign:

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From the campaign page:

This campaign funds two very important things.

[One] While I’m confident my novel is publishable, any writing greatly benefits from (nay : requires) professional editing. I’m raising funds to participate in an editing program in which I’m paired with an established (re : published) Canadian author, who will provide detailed editing notes geared toward publication. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to improve my craft. Oh, and get published!

[Two] Illustrations! I want to commission graphic artist Kat Thorsen to illustrate my novel. I don’t know about you, but I really miss illustrations in adult fiction, and I’d like to see it make a comeback! Kat is a talented Canadian artist and her illustrations will complement my novel perfectly.

– Matt Roy

Read more

PLEASE SUPPORT!  SHARE!

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Samson 

“… its alarm will sound.” 2084- a novel in need of editing and illustration

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Matt’s Indiegogo campaign:

20130929113003-indiegogo_image

From the campaign page:

This campaign funds two very important things.

[One] While I’m confident my novel is publishable, any writing greatly benefits from (nay : requires) professional editing. I’m raising funds to participate in an editing program in which I’m paired with an established (re : published) Canadian author, who will provide detailed editing notes geared toward publication. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to improve my craft. Oh, and get published!

[Two] Illustrations! I want to commission graphic artist Kat Thorsen to illustrate my novel. I don’t know about you, but I really miss illustrations in adult fiction, and I’d like to see it make a comeback! Kat is a talented Canadian artist and her illustrations will complement my novel perfectly.

Read more

PLEASE SUPPORT!  SHARE!

20130929164935-image_8 

“He is one feeling.” 2084- a novel in need of editing and illustration

On Dec 4, 2010, Matthew Roy asked me to read part 1 of his manuscript and requested some feedback…

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I was so impressed, moved, wowed by Matt’s writing…

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We have since become very close friends and colleagues- united in our love for literature, art, street art, food, family, china markers etc.

Cut to today.  I am honored to announce Matt’s Indiegogo campaign:

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From the campaign page:

This campaign funds two very important things.

[One] While I’m confident my novel is publishable, any writing greatly benefits from (nay : requires) professional editing. I’m raising funds to participate in an editing program in which I’m paired with an established (re : published) Canadian author, who will provide detailed editing notes geared toward publication. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to improve my craft. Oh, and get published!

[Two] Illustrations! I want to commission graphic artist Kat Thorsen to illustrate my novel. I don’t know about you, but I really miss illustrations in adult fiction, and I’d like to see it make a comeback! Kat is a talented Canadian artist and her illustrations will complement my novel perfectly.

Read more

WE WELCOME YOUR SUPPORT!  STAY TUNED FOR SAMPLE ILLUSTRATIONS AND UPDATES!

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He is one feeling.  He is one feeling his fingers.  He is one feeling a familiar feeling…

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[Preserving is also the embryo’s existence, as it converts safely from from an embryo into a fetalbeing. The eight centimetre mass consisting of one third head and two thirds body, fingertips with fingertips, beating heart, functioning kidneys, lanugo, and not a care in the world, floats languidly inside yet anonymous womb.] – Matt Roy
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It doesn’t stop him. My death stops him. #graphicnovel study

Recall March 7, 2013, photoshoot at Salmagundi West for my graphic novel.

I am struck by the ability of my model, Jocelyn Louise, to convey, in a simple glance, the pain of my main character as she tries to escape the memories of childhood trauma.

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Sins of the father.

Asexual.

Living in church,

reading about God all the time,

getting callouses on my knees.

It doesn’t stop him. 

My death stops him.

– Maire MacLachlan

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China marker on newsprint.

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Jocelyn Louise as Molly.  Styled by Jay Fisher. Photo by Anna Thorsen.
Styled by Jay Fisher. Photo by Anna Thorsen.

COVER TEST

GRABLINE:

He brushed the leaves aside and uncovered the most baffling double murder Vancouver has ever had.

– The Vancouver Province April 15, 1953

Jocelyn Louise as Molly. Styled by Jay Fisher.

MOLLY- the graphic novel

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With a faery, hand in hand… photo shoot for the #graphicnovel at Salmagundi West!

On March 7, 2013, I was humbled at the generosity of Salmagundi West owner Anna Banner who allowed us to use her store as a back drop for our latest photoshoot!

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I was joined by Jocelyn Louise (who portrays Molly) and stylist Jay Fisher…

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Jay, Jocelyn, Anne

… and my daughter Anna Thorsen who took the main shots (to be shared in the book).

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Anna, Jocelyn

Here are some moments I captured.  The focus for me was to emulate Molly’s restless travels.

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Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s morefull of weeping than you
can understand.

The Stolen Child, WB Yeats

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Screen shot 2013-03-16 at 9.57.52 PM

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MOLLY- A TRUE CRIME ANALYSIS

WEEKLY SERIAL

AT MOLLYGRAPHICNOVEL.COM

He brushed the leaves aside and uncovered the most baffling double murder Vancouver has ever had.

– The Vancouver Province April 15, 1953

Jocelyn Louise as Molly. Styled by Jay Fisher.

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MOLLY- the graphic novel

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“Where white is black and black is white, I won.” #graphicnovel study #crowskull

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When Crow was white he decided the sun was too white.

He decided it glared much too whitely.

He decided to attack it and defeat it.

He got his strength up flush and in full glitter.

He clawed and fluffed his rage up.

He aimed his beak direct at the sun’s centre.

He laughed himself to the centre of himself

And attacked.

At his battle cry trees grew suddenly old,

Shadows flattened.

But the sun brightened—

It brightened, and Crow returned charred black.

He opened his mouth but what came out was charred black.

“Up there,” he managed,

“Where white is black and black is white, I won.”

– Charles Bukowski

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Crow’s skull purchased at Salmagundi West:

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Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick
Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick
Jocelyn Louise as Molly. Styled by Jay Fisher.

MOLLY- the graphic novel

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Regarding Molly- importance of working titles and “acting as if…”

As I experiment with marrying text to illustration in my graphic novel, I am working from the end backwards, creating a working title and promotional mockup. Acting as if the book is completed, the project feels organized and allows me to create a skeletal framework on which to flesh out ideas. This framework can then be dismantled, contorted and altered as needed. It is not the final result by any means, but it is a great way to MOVE FORWARD. And I’m moving forward fast!

I have some exciting ideas as to how to present the finished work (format, paper etc) but first I will marry image to page and and image and pages to chapters and I am loving the creative process. Next up is ensuring all the permissions are in place for using primary sources, news articles, photographs and names within the work. And more photoshoots!

COVER TEST

GRABLINE:

He brushed the leaves aside and uncovered the most baffling double murder Vancouver has ever had.

– The Vancouver Province April 15, 1953

SYNOPSIS:

Who killed the Babes in the Wood? Artist, art therapist and researcher, Katarina Thorsen, makes her case as to the resolution of this historical Vancouver mystery through crime scene reconstruction, forensic taphonomy, historical archives, genealogical records, behavior evidence analysis, circumstantial connections and artistic interpretation. Katarina first immersed herself in the investigation in 2003 when she volunteered as a criminal profiler and researcher with the Babes in the Wood Task Force. She has remained dedicated to the case ever since.

Using a combination of text, primary sources, illustrations and photographs, Katarina now presents her research journey, equivocal findings and creative process to the reader. The goal is to identify the children whose skeletal remains were found in Stanley Park on January 15, 1953. Through rich and insightful imagery, Regarding Molly reveals a portrait of a troubled young woman in post war Vancouver. The reader is encouraged to draw their own conclusion as to the identity of the Babes in the Wood, their mother and killer.

TEST nurturant

Following Katarina’s lead, readers will be inspired to search out their own stories using intensive genealogical research.

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AUTHOR’S BIO:

Artist/ art therapist Katarina Thorsen is passionate about the power of research and collaborative approaches to create solutions. She specializes in providing therapeutic art to at-risk youth and young offenders. Her own art work includes drawing, painting, crafting, journaling and street art and can be found in private international collections and on the streets of North America and Europe. She believes wholeheartedly in the healing power of art and its ability to build connections. Katarina resides in Vancouver, BC.

Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick
Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick
Jocelyn Louise as Molly. Styled by Jay Fisher.

MOLLY- the graphic novel

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My new obsession: artist Lisa Cinar of “Draw Me A Lion”

I had the pleasure of finally meeting Lisa Cinar at her Draw Me A Lion booth at the Strathcona Winter Craft Fair yesterday.  What a beautiful person!

Lisa Cinar is an illustrator, writer and overall enthusiast of picture books and all things related. She grew up in Germany, then moved to Boston Massachusetts, and then to Vancouver BC where she attended the Emily Carr University of Art & Design.  She has written and illustrated two Picture books: ‘The Day it all blew Away’ which was nominated for the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize in 2008, and ‘Paulina P. for Petersen’.

I am a huge fan of Lisa’s work.  Her art brings up such immensely pleasurable memories of my childhood in Sweden, artist Lisa Larson and my favorite children’s books.  I was lucky to purchase a sampling of goodies.  I am tempted to color them, yet also want to just leave them untouched!  But no, I plan to color the masks and the cards as her pieces simply invite interaction!

LISA’s BLOG!

LISA’s SHOP!

LISA’s FREE DOWNLOADS!

LISA’s SKETCH BLOG!

LISA’s FREE PDF COMIC!

LISA’s BOOK!

LISA’s PORTFOLIO!

LISA’s VIDEO!

LISA on TWITTER!

DRAW ME A LION ON FACEBOOK!