I can remember the day I finally harnessed my tears. "Stop crying. Boys don't cry." I was, maybe eight years old and I'd cut my knee. It felt so good to be able to choke down those tears, like a man. Stop crying. Stop feeling. That's what men do. My Dad and Mom would be so proud of me. For me, this is a concrete reality of boyhood. It was true when I was a kid. And it's true today. Depending on his make-up and his environment, a boy may start to develop his "man mask" between the age of 8 and 12. Now, it may be true that developing a mask could be a natural process of masculine puberty- to develop a group of behaviors, postures, expressions in order to protect our true, sensitive selves. However, our culture, our advertising, our video games, our movies, ourselves etc., all encourage and profit from this. We teach our boys that expressing certain emotions, such as grief or fear, is something that is more a feminine way of being and therefor negative. A boy who cries may be told to "Man up. Stop acting like a girl. Cowboy up. Take it like a man. Stop being a pussy." A boy who has been treated to this litany of shame might start to believe that acting like a man or a cowboy and sucking up those tears is good while acting like a girl and freely expressing grief is bad. Further, the derogative names we've taught our kids to call each other are very telling- for instance being called a "pussy" is something no boy wants. It implies weakness, a lack of power, lack of direction and lack of drive. However, being called a "dick", while not desired, certainly doesn't imply a weakness as it does a tendency to being unkind, insensitive, unfair and overly aggressive. How did our culture come to this tragic place in our gender relations? How do we help our boys and girls and ourselves get free of this? http://www.upworthy.com/theres-something-absolutely-wrong-with-what-we-do-to-boys-before-they-grow-into-men?g=4
Just got access to this interview I did with Rebecca Thiele of NPR radio WMUK.org. In it I talk about important stuff like the courage of kids, imagination, my new book from Disney/Hyperion- "Gaijin: American Prisoner of War", honoring our inner world, my fluttery heart and appreciating Mr. Sendak and other masters of illustration. Give it a listen and tell me whatcha think.
Final art for "The Giving Season", a book I put together many years ago which became the core of the holiday presentation by a swanky Michigan mall. Here we see a crowd reaction to the Jester's antics. Pencil, water color, gouache, 1996.
"1 out of 3 teens who are gay or bisexual will try to kill themselves. And a lot of times they succeed... We are past the time for debate. We no longer have the luxury to consider the original meaning of Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. We are now faced with the reality that there are lives at stake. So whatever you believe about homosexuality, keep it to yourself. Instead, try telling a gay kid that you love him and you don’t want him to die. Try inviting her into your church and into your home and into your life. Anything other than that simply doesn’t matter."
A double page spread illustration for "Black Belt", written and illus.d by me, edited by Andrea Cascardi and publ.d by Knopf. Did my best to illustrate night time scenes in this book and not allow the imagery to become dark and dreary. What dya think, did it work?
Couple more sketches of Elizabeth Cady Stanton for "Elizabeth Started All the Trouble", by Doreen Rappaport, illus.d by me and to be publ.d by Disney/Hyperion, 2016. The sketch on the left was made early in the process. While I think it's not a bad drawing, I do see that it's a little generic. In other words, it has all the requirements to look like Elizabeth, just doesn't have her character. For me, achieving character in a drawing requires lots of sketching and re-sketching the subject. Sometimes it happens early on in the process, but most of the time it's just the simple process of looking, application and repetition. This is the most difficult thing for me to get across to students. Somehow, somewhere, somebody developed a really powerful ad campaign that promoted the idea that developing skill in the visual arts is primarily a magical endeavor. It just happens. That has not been my experience of the process.
So, after being released from the hospital following my tutorial on heart maintenance, I had to review the foods I'd been eating- in particular the various "healthy" teas I've been drinking. Now, much of what is in these teas appears to me to be pretty darn healthy… for the most part. But, as one of the nurses whispered to me during my heart adventure "These days, it's important to be your own doctor." So, if you're like me, you start noticing the stuff that can make a heart beat skip, literally. For instance, "stevia" for those who can tolerate it, is a great, sweet plant which can be used as a wonderful sugar alternative. Those who can't tolerate it learn soon enough that stevia acts as a "vasodilator", meaning that it has the propensity to cause heart palpitations, heart arrhythmia, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), chest pain, etc.. My first reaction to news like this regarding something like stevia that has been very helpful to me is "No way! Not stevia! It's natural! And I like it!". After I calm down, I get busy getting educated. What I found in doing some online searches of the various organic teas that listed "natural flavors" in their ingredients is that stevia is often part of this list. I also found that many of these companies don't want us to know what's in their "natural flavors". I think it's fascinating that companies that seem to espouse a "healthy life style" would list something as mysterious as "natural flavors" in its ingredients and then make it difficult to find out what those natural flavors actually are. One company posted that they would only share the contents of their natural flavors to a doctor who sent them a letter requesting such. Ah well. So where does a tea drinker go from here? Back to the beginning. I found a great tea recipe back in the 1980's. It's simply called "Yogi Tea" and I found it in a Kundilini yoga center. It has very low amounts of caffeine, great nutritional value and, to me, it tastes great. Also, it makes the house smell like Christmas or maybe Bilbo's pantry. Whatever. The only down side is it requires some work. If you like the sound of the recipe below, you'll need to find a place that sells bulk herbs and then go buy some. That's the hard part, I guess. Then you have to boil some water and steep the herbs in it for a while. For a guy who is used to grabbing a teabag and getting busy drinking my tea, this can be tedious. But it's so rewarding. I'm drinking some right now and it's great! Good luck with your Yogi Tea! "Yogi Tea" from the 3HO Kundalini Center in Brooklyn, NY. • Black pepper: blood purifier • Cardamom pods: digestive aid • Cloves: beneficial to the nervous system • Cinnamon: strengthens the bones • Ginger root: healing for colds and flu, increases energy • Anise seed: a very good source of Iron and Manganese • Fennel: very good source Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and Manganese • Bancha tea: Bancha- a Japanese green tea that provides antioxidant benefits. Antioxidants help reduce cell-damage caused by free radicals. Bad free radicals, bad! The National Institutes of Health says that Bancha may help in reducing risk for Parkinson’s disease, low blood pressure and decreasing blood cholesterol levels. Milk in the tea helps in the easy assimilation of spices. Ingredients: For each cup: 10 ounces of water (about 1 1/3 cups) 3 whole cloves 4 whole green cardamom pods, cracked 4 whole black peppercorns ½ t-spoon anise seed ½ t-spoon fennel ½ stick cinnamon ¼ teaspoon black tea ½ cup milk 2 slices fresh ginger root Cooking Instructions: Bring water to a boil and add spices. Cover and boil 15 to 20 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes, then add the milk and return to a boil. Don’t let it boil over. When it reaches a boil, remove immediately from heat, strain, and sweeten with honey, if desired.
A sketch of Susan B. Anthony for "Elizabeth Started All the Trouble", by Doreen Rappaport, illus.d by me and to be publ.d by Disney/Hyperion. Wanted to give Ms. Anthony this spirited look on her face rather than the docile or bored look I've seen in so many photos and renderings of her during her day. While I certainly don't want her image to scream "I got attitude!", I do want to show that this is a person who, for the 45 yrs. she was active in the suffrage movement, made at least 75 national, public speeches annually. And that's using the 1850 through 1890 mode of travel.
Laying down the underlying water color washes for an Elizabeth Cady Stanton portrait for a book on the American Suffrage movement for Disney/Hyperion. Just about to start to apply opaque gouache layers. Now things are really gonna start popping! Water color, pencil, 2013.
"Tuesday, December 18, 2012 Dear Friends, 28 of my tribe were gunned down last week- 20 of them first graders. I'm a picture book author and illustrator and as such I've spent a good share of my professional life- the last 30 years- hanging out with first graders and I've got to admit- they fascinate me. I see them behaving beatifically sometimes, their eyes alight with joy or their faces calm in sleep and I wonder, "Are these Angels?". However, when I find them laughing at one of my silly jokes or playing a trick on me I know that I'm in the company of rascals. Other times, the haiku-like wisdom that comes tumbling from theirs mouths will floor me, and I'll think "I'm in the presence of an Elder- so wise. What happened to the 6 year old I was talking to?". And then, when I am sad and I feel the unfettered understanding in their embrace, its then that I'm quite sure that I am in the care of a Saint. I include in the number of those counted dead the sick young man who did the shooting, because he, and all our troubled children, are in my tribe too. As painful as it is, I can not push him out. I will not. He and his family, along with all the slain and their loved ones, are in my prayers. I very much wish to honor their passing in some way that attempts to match the loss of these innocents, an unfathomable loss for their families and for our country. I know that an effort to change things in the future- fix our mental health care system, better regulate access to these horrific weapons- is planned and I support that. Those efforts may help and that will be good. But right now, deep down, I just want to turn off the nation. I want us all to shut it down for a week in honor of the passing of these sweet children. I regret if this post has brought you down. If you bump into me on the street and I don't quickly reply with a smile to your holiday greeting, please know that I very much appreciate your friendship, but right now, the passing of these Angel/Rascal/Elder/Saint children is on my mind. Sincerely, Matt Faulkner"
End paper art for "The Giving Season", a book I put together many years ago which became the core of the holiday presentation by a swanky Michigan mall. Tis the Season! Pencil, water color, gouache, 1996.
An illustration that will be given to the grand prize winner of a contest put on by the Mardigian Library at the Univ. of Michigan/Dearborn. I'll be giving a presentation on Saturday morning at the university for their Young Author's Conference. I was asked to illustrate the winning story and here tis. In her essay the young author shared a difficult true story about her family life and also her desire to create books for kids who, like her, have felt the pain of loving someone who can't or won't love back. A noble desire. She has some serious writing skills. I wish her courage, fortitude and hope that she continues to believe in her dream, in the near and far future.
Underlying pencil sketch and preliminary wash for a piece that will be given to the grand prize winner of a contest put on by the Mardigian Library at the Univ. of Michigan/Dearborn. I'll be giving a presentation on Saturday morning at the university for their Young Author's Conference. I was asked to illustrate the winning story and here tis. In her essay the young author shared a difficult true story about her family life and also her desire to create books for kids who, like her, have felt the pain of loving someone who can't or won't love back. A noble desire. She has some serious writing skills. I wish her courage, fortitude and hope that she continues to believe in her dream, in the near and far future.
A single page illustration from "Thank You Sarah, The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving" written by Laurie Halse Anderson, illus.d by me, publ.d by Simon and Schuster. Text for this page reads: "She argued against spanking,
pie for breakfast, dull stories,
forests and bloomers and bustles,
and very serious things like slavery."
So easy to illustrate Laurie's fun, informative and way-cool writing style!
Thumbnail sketches for the dedication and title page of "Scatterbrain Sam", written by Ellen Jackson, illus.d by me, edited by Yolanda Scott and publ.d by Charlesbridge Publ.. Just noticed that I must've renamed the book in the title page
Final art from "The Pirate Meets the Queen" written & illus.d by me and publ.d by Phylomel. In this spread, Granny O'Malley has made the trip to London with a plan to gain an audience with Red Liz, Queen of England. That's her red galleon rowing under the London bridge and up the Thames. At this time, this was a phenomenal feat for her to make- journeying from the wild west coast of Ireland and demanding an
Sketch of Lucy Burns for a book on American Suffrage to be publ.d by Disney/Hyperion, 2016. On this day of remembrance I'd like to honor a courageous American patriot- Lucy Burns. She didn't wear a uniform- unless a prison smock qualifies- nor did she carry a weapon, excepting the truth. Lucy Burns was a leader in the "Women's Rights" movement during the decade just prior to it's passage in 1920. Often maligned and abused by the male political power structure of the time, she spent months in prison all because she believed in the right of women to vote. As a prisoner at Occoquan Workhouse, Lucy Burns suffered at the hands of the prison administration and it's guard during what is remembered as the “Night of Terror.”. Lucy, along with several other women suffragists were beaten, bound and refused medical attention. In an effort to unite her sisters, several times Lucy called a roll call that evening, despite threats from the guards. Eventually they handcuffed Lucy's hands to the bar above the door, allowing her to hang there all night. In support and sympathy, her sisters placed their hands above their cell doors and remained that way until she was released. Eventually, in an effort to squash her influence, Burns was moved away from the other suffragists. When she went on a hunger strike she was force fed. Held down by five guards, they forced a tube up her nose and poured raw egg into her nasal passages.
Many believe that this horrendous treatment was condoned by President Wilson because Burns and the other suffragists embarrassed him one evening prior to their arrests when, during a visit from a Russian delegation, the women held up signs in from of the White House which read "We women of America tell you that America is not a democracy, twenty million women are denied the right to vote. President Wilson is the chief opponent of their national enfranchisement".
In honor of all the American women who have, do and will serve in our armed forces. God bless them, every one. "Independent Dames- What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution" written by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by me & publ.d by Simon&Schuster.
So, last night, me and my Honey were hanging at a way cool café- The Dessert Oasis in Rochester, Mi., so good- listening to some fine live music and sipping on our tasty beverages. While she was working on her cool picture book manuscript, I was reading "Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling" by Ross King. Great book. Anyway, I'm sitting there and I suddenly realize that I just had to draw a picture of Il Maestro Michelangelo. Wasn't easy. He kept hopping up and down, tools in his hands, telling me "Affrettatevi! Ho da fare!" I was like "Okay. Don't know what that means but I'm almost done." When I was done, he gave the drawing a look, gave it one of his notorious grunts and took off. I think he liked it. Who can say? Regardless, he is one of the best teachers I've ever known, living or dead. Molte grazie, Maestro.