Lauren is a Minnesota author/illustrator who’s participating in Robert’s Snow this year! Two of my favorite books that she illustrated are Our Family Tree (by Lisa Westberg Peters) and Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs (by Linda Ashman). The beautiful Winter Is the Warmest Season, which came out in 2006, was her first book that she’s both wrote and illustrated.
Q&A about Lauren’s snowflake:
How did you (honestly) feel when you were approached to participate in Robert’s Snow?
This was my second time to paint a snowflake, so I was surprised and honored to be asked again. I was just finishing the illustrations for Snow, so it felt very natural to be painting another snowflake. I have never met Grace and Robert in person, but Grace Lin’s correspondence with me has been so warm and full of a vision and hope. I was so sad to read of Robert’s death. More than ever, I am honored to be a part of this project.
Which of your books is your snowflake most ?like??
Winter is the Warmest Season is the theme of the snowflake. I even wrote it on the snowflake because it is such a wonderful sentiment and a little joke too. We all know winter is the coldest season (at least in Minnesota!), so when you look at the cold outside of the snowflake you wonder, what could possibly be warm about winter? And then you turn it over and there is a huge cup of hot cocoa!
How did you come up with the idea for your snowflake?
I wanted to paint a snowflake with two opposing sides that were equally strong?using images from Winter is the Warmest Season was a natural choice.
Here’s Lauren’s (maybe yours?) gorgeous snowflake!
What did you think about while you were working on it?
I was thinking It is so hot and dry this August, I wonder if this is due to global warming? I sure hope winter doesn’t really become the warmest season!
What medium is your snowflake?
Acrylic and gesso
Can you share a little about your artistic process on your snowflake?
It was interesting composing on a six-pointed shape. I loved painting the warm-side. I loved painting the color yellow. Lots of yellow.
Anything you’d like to say directly to the people who might be inspired to bid on your snowflake?
Hang this snowflake somewhere to remind you of the warmth of winter for whenever the cold winter blues hit. It works. Really.
Growing up in Florida made me someone who really appreciates all of the seasons, including winter! Lauren’s lovely snowflake got me thinking about all of the wondrous warm moments of January. I got so carried away, I wrote three different poems. But here’s my favorite:
More about Lauren:
Ever since she could hold a crayon, Lauren Stringer wanted to be an artist. (Although when she was in the second grade she wanted to be a deep-sea diver.) She received her BA in Art and Art History from the University of California, Santa Cruz and continued her art education with the Whitney Museum of American Art, Independent Study Program in NYC. She exhibited her paintings and sculptures in museums and galleries until 1994 when she painted her first children’s book, Mud, written by Mary Lyn Ray, which won the Minnesota Book Award, the IRA Children’s Choice Award, and Crayola Kids Best Book of the Year Award. Since Mud, she has painted many award-winning picture books including Our Family Tree, written by Lisa Westberg Peters and Fold Me A Poem, written by Kristine O?Connell George. Winter is the Warmest Season, the first book both authored and illustrated by Stringer was a Booklist Editor’s Choice for 2006. Snow, written by Cynthia Rylant, will be published fall 2008. She is currently illustrating One Night, written by Wendy Orr. Lauren Stringer lives and paints in a huge old Victorian house in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband, their two children, and three cats.
6 highlights in my illustration and writing journey (to echo the 6 points of the snowflake):
1. When I was an au pair in Paris at the age of 20, I went to the Centre Pompidou to see ’real art?. In the lower level there was a magical exhibition of children’s book illustration with lots of originals and books in cases that in a jungle environment like Where the Wild Things Are. I was enchanted.
2. Years ago, I was driving with Debra Frasier to work in a school together and she let me read her yet to be published manuscript, On the Day You Were Born. After reading it I cried, it was so beautiful. I had been a grown up for so long that I had forgotten how beautiful children’s books could be.
3. Receiving the manuscript for Mud, by Mary Lyn Ray, in the mail. I had never seen a children’s book manuscript before and I thought it would be big and thick ?but it was merely 2 pages long and this made me laugh. The day it arrived in May when I was digging in the garden with my daughter?we were covered in mud. It was a story with a destiny for me.
4. When Mud was published, I was going to return to my life as a ’real artist? (painting and sculpture.), when my editor called and read the entire manuscript of Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant on the phone. Once again I cried. I remembered how beautiful a children’s book could be.
5. Doing the research for Our Family Tree by Lisa Westberg Peters, was life-changing for me. Reading about and understanding 4.5 billion years of the history of life on earth and then trying to illustrate it (and Lisa’s beautiful text) became a spiritual journey I still have not recovered from, thankfully.
6. Several years ago, I met for coffee with two writer friends. We decided to start a writer’s group. It would be my first. We would call ourselves the ?Inkslingers.? I was so excited to have my first writer’s group that I went home and wrote for three days. I loved what I wrote so much that I sent it to my editor and she loved it enough to say right away, let’s publish it. At the second meeting of Inkslingers, we had champagne to celebrate the publishing of Winter is the Warmest Season!
6 words that describe my art and/or artistic process?
6 things you don’t know about me and can’t learn from my site:
1. I love doing yoga.
2. I wish my studio were in a big old barn in the country.
3. I have lived in many places, but I still feel like a California-girl, even though I was born in Montana.
4. Honeycrisp apples are my favorite kind of apples.
5. My favorite color is green. My favorite color to paint is yellow. My least favorite color to paint is blue.
6. My favorite poet is Gerard Manley Hopkins.
I hope you’ve liked learning about Lauren and her passion for art and children’s literature. If you have any questions or comments for her, you can email her here.