Sunday, September 25, 2011

National Book Festival

Evelyn and I headed to Washington, D.C. this afternoon to check out the National Book Festival. The festival, hosted by the Library of Congress, took up most of the green space in front of the Smithsonian museums. Several author talks were going on at the same time, one tent held a mini-bookstore, there were book signing tents and still other tents housed children's activities. While we enjoyed many aspects of the book festival, our main focus was Jon J. Muth, a children's book author and illustrator. Muth drew the poster for this year's festival, which made him even more of a celebrity. We got to the book festival in time to hear Muth speak about writing and illustrating children's books. He even read a few pages from his most recent book, Zen Ghosts.
Muth has studied art all over the world, but the biggest influence for his style comes from Japan. He prefers to use sumi brushes, and he makes his own sumi ink by grinding stones together and mixing the stone powder with water. We were so excited that we got to watch him paint two pictures with a sumi brush and ink. Here is his finished picture of Stillwater the panda bear sledding in an inner tube. Watching Muth paint was magical...he started off with what looked like random shapes and transformed them into beautiful pictures of animals.
After listening to Muth speak, Evelyn and I bought Zen Ghosts (I wanted to buy ALL of his books, but I didn't), and then we ate lunch on a bench. Next we headed over to the book signing area, where we waited for an hour before we met Jon J. Muth. We asked him to sign two posters (one for Julia and one for Evelyn) and two books (one for the girls and one for Evelyn's 2nd-grade teacher). It was while Muth was signing that Evelyn asked him two questions: (1) Do you paint with water colors? (2) Where did you learn to draw? He replied that yes, he paints with water colors; he also asked Evelyn if she paints with water colors, to which she enthusiastically replied, "Yes!" His other answer was rather vague in that he learned to draw when he was young. After reading more about him, we found out that his mother encouraged Muth to pursue art at a young age. Sounds like what we do with Evelyn...we'll just have to wait and see where Evelyn goes with her artistic talents!


k. said...

I'll have to check the library for his books. I'm sure Ross would enjoy the art.