Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Been a little busy...

I'm very visual. See this pile of name tags? I've been a little busy. I keep meaning to post to my blog, but by the time I sit down to put up something new it always feels like my thought is old news...caught in my tailing wake.

For once, however, I am ahead of my calendar! If you're in the central Florida area on March 31, 2012, come to the UCF Orlando Book Festival. The list of authors is exciting, and at 2 pm I'll be on a panel with Margaret Ross Tolbert and Mary Whyte. The session is titled "Stories Through Art". Google them and you"ll find gifted, accomplished, and VERY interesting artists. Florida Alliance of Arts Educators (FAAE) just sent out their newsletter with information on the festival and a nice little interview with moi. Got a minute? Hope you enjoy it:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Drawn to the Story" @ Pensacola Museum of Art

81 Pieces of my original picture book illustrations are on
exhibit at the historic Pensacola Museum of Art from
September 16 to November 6, 2011.

Pensacola Museum of Art is a dynamic organization with
exciting exhibits, interesting events, and an engaging staff.

I've never seen an old jail put to better use.

It was a cool, clear Friday night, with a 3/4 moon. The
scheduled Gallery Stroll in downtown was back after a
hot summer break, and art lovers were keen to enjoy the

One minute the museum galleries were quiet and the next
minute they were filled with music and laughter and light.
Whole families strolled through Drawn to the Story. It was
the most fun I've ever had at one of my exhibit openings.

Meet David and Cindi Bear. Mr. Bear and I both served on
the Florida Arts Council, but his term ended when mine
began, so this was the first time we came face to face. I've
always heard his name mentioned with respect. No
wonder. They are kind and generous patrons of the arts
and Pensacola is lucky to have them.

I spoke at the Creative Learning Academy that morning,
where the headmaster made sure her students knew they
could find me at the museum for the opening reception. That
night we chuckled over and over again as parents (dragged
in by the hand) reported their students wouldn't even let them
finish dinner, so excited they were to rush to the Museum for

I signed piles and piles of books and by the time we turned
off the lights over 300 people visited the exhibit in it's first
few hours.

I LOVE Pensacola!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Welcome to my studio!

Welcome to my studio! This is my dog, Bing. Her job is to keep me company, she works for treats, which makes for a good partnership. See the stack of books in my arms? I have fourteen titles now. Some are books that I have written AND illustrated, some of them are books I've ILLUSTRATED that were written by others. Not so long ago I used to stand in line at the post office with my manuscripts and sketches carefully wrapped and addressed to editors - I longed for the day one of my stories would find a home with a publisher. Now those postal clerks are my friends. They come to my booksignings and while they wait in line to have their book(s) signed for their children or grandchildren I've overheard them tell others, "I remember the days when she kissed the back of her envelopes before handing them over to mail."
You've come to visit at a good time! I'm always excited when a new book is released and FISH FACTS is my latest. It landed on the shelves about two weeks ago. It was written by Geoff Swinney, the curator of fish at the National Museum of Scotland, and published by Pelican Publising Company. I've loved fish ever since I first learned to dive in 1972. Imagine how thrilled I was to illustrate this book. I spent months sketching and painting these creatures I hold so dear. If you have been snorkeling or scuba diving, then you'll know what I mean when I say to those who haven't, "It is like flying over an alien landscape...the colors...the creatures...the perfection in it all...ahhh." Even though I've studied fish all this time I still learned a lot from this book.

Dr. Al Dove, the Sr. Scientist from The Georgia Aquarium (the world's largest aquarium) says, "Well researched and brimming with unique and beautiful illustrations, FISH FACTS is essential reading for all budding young icthyologists, and some older ones, too!"
I created this art with markers, color pencils, and touches of acrylic gouache. Each page features individual studies of the various creatures, and these kept me engaged throughout the project. It takes a long time to create the art for a book, and make no mistake, it is work. I love what I do, yet still, I have to find ways to keep myself enthusiastic, so..... I buy new supplies, brushes, papers, soft pencils, and I work in different media. (I make my living with books, my royalties pay my overhead, and like everyone else, the money comes in, the money goes out. But spectacular color combinations? The perfect brush strokes? The exact turn of a line? These are the discoveries I deposit in my own personal artist's account where I make withdrawals as needed.) The feeling I had as a little girl - when I couldn't wait to break open a new box of crayons - that feeling never left me. FISH FACTS treated me to the jumbo set of Chartpak markers, and the thrill of those colors carried me through the illustrations for this entire book.

When I write, any audio distraction completely destroys my concentration. But when I paint, I turn on an audio book, don my headset, and I'm off. A lot of illustrators I know can multi task like this. Here's a tip: audible.com - I download two audio books per month for a fee, and over the years it's developed into quite a collection. With a good book, read well, playing directly into my ear, I will stay at my drafting table for long lovely periods of uninterrupted time. I "come to" when my husband calls me in for dinner, or when Bing must be let out.
Here you see the original art for the FISH FACTS. When I'm working on a book, I keep all of the art pinned on this big cork board in front of my drafting table so I can see everything at a glance. Each one begins as a wall of white paper with very light line drawings on every page and I watch as it fills in with color little by little, day by day.

FISH FACTS has 48 pages of art, while my other picture books have 32. Multiply that by fourteen (the number of books I've published so far), subtract some of the paintings which were sold to collectors, and that's how much original art I have. A few years ago we framed 100 pieces and created a solo exhibit that has traveled to many cultural venues around Florida. Last year the exhibit hung in the 22nd floor gallery of the capitol building in Tallahassee for three months. Right now it is at the Dante Fascall Visitors Center in Biscayne National Park where it has been up for the summer and will come down on September 11, 2011. We are changing the title to "Drawn to the Story", adding some more art, and shipping it to Pensacola, Florida. This new exhibit will open at the Pensacola Museum of Art on September 16, 2011, and remain until November 6, 2011. The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville will host it in 2012.

And finally, I speak at schools around the state. Talking to kids is among my most favorite of things to do - right up there with buying new art supplies, finishing the art for a new book, and playing with Bing.
Here is a peek at the thumbnail sketches for my next book, OCEAN COMMOTION; CAUGHT IN THE CURRENTS (third in this award winning series.)

(I still kiss the envelopes before I hand them over to be mailed.)

For more information on the traveling exhibit, or to schedule a school visit, go to: www.JaneenMason.com or email: Janeen@JaneenMason.com / Follow my blog at www.JaneenMason.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A project between projects

This is a paravent, according to my Swiss friend. I would have called it a room divider, or a great giant art toy. Paravent, however has an elegant ring to it.

It is piece of art commissioned by a collector of mine. Overall it measures
about 7' tall x 7' wide. The art is mixed media on maple laminate. The big tarpon is silver leafed. Look closely and you'll see glass eyes on those fish.

The colors, the depth, the play of light, the reflection on the underside surface of the water all make me smile. The fact that you
can slide it around the house and create new spaces with it makes me laugh. It is like a giant art toy. A great big gorgeous art toy for an adult.

Would you like to look at the back? Two pieces of art for the price of one, actually. The back is gold leafed with a school of threadfin herring in silver leaf. As it happens the tarpon and the threadfin herring are related (evidenced by the long streamers on the dorsal fins of both species).

It has taken up residence in my living room while waiting for delivery arrangements to be made. I love this piece, and will be sad to see it leave...

Going from working to scale on children's picture book illustrations (17" x 11") to working at 84" x 84" feels luxurious. Although, my next book project is underway, and even if it is small in scale, it's still a delight to ready my materials for "Ocean Commotion: Caught in the Currents". More on that as it progresses.

Thanks for reading my blog, and If you know anyone interested in owning a paravent, send them my way. I'd be delighted to create another - unique, elegant and functional. What's not to love!

Monday, July 25, 2011

FISH FACTS is released and Dad of Divas likes it....(but he didn't use my name...ah well.)


Book Review - Fish Facts

About the Book

A brilliantly illustrated guide to aquatic life.This vibrant guide is saturated with information on fish of all shapes, sizes, and habitats. In-depth research dives into the different classes, orders, and genera of aquatic creatures, making this book a resource for both children and adults.

About the Author

GEOFF SWINNEY is research curator of lower vertebrates and mollusca for the National Museums of Scotland. He has contributed scientific articles to the Journal of Fish Biology, Journal of the History of Collections, and Journal of Zoology.

My Take on the Book

Bursting with brilliant illustrations and interesting trivia about fish, this book provides a fun way for children to learn about marine life.

The book begins with this quote by David Attenborough: Three quarters of the world's surface is covered by water. Three quarters of the world belongs to the fish.

As I read the book I was captivated with the facts about the various fish species in our world. I would like to share a few surprises I found:
  • A large female ling can lay nearly 30 million eggs a year. However the ocean sunfish lays the most eggs at one time: 300 million.
  • Hagfish are blind elongated creatures that look like worms. They are predators and scavengers. They eat dead or dying fish from the inside.
  • Adult lampreys are vampires. Their sucker like mouth armed with horny teeth clamps onto a victim to drink the blood and tissue that flows from the wound.

The author did an excellent job of organizing the book so you could see the various fish in each specific class. He described the characteristics which were similar or different and the illustrations displayed the text beautifully. The short sections of text made for not only easy reading of the information, but also kept the flow of each page smooth.

I would recommend this book to anyone. I see this book as a valuable resource for children as they learn about the animals who share the Earth with us.

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Disclaimer for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.
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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Janeen Mason's DRAWN TO THE SEA exhibition opens at Biscayne National Park Gallery

Date: May 31, 2011
Contact: Gary Bremen, 305-230-1144, x007

Janeen Mason writes and illustrates award-winning children’s picture books, including Ocean Commotion: Life on the Reef and Ocean Commotion: Sea Turtles! Original art from her many books forms the core of a new exhibit in Biscayne National Park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center Gallery. Drawn to the Sea opens on Friday, June 10 and runs through Sunday, September 11, with two “Meet the Artist” opportunities: a reception with refreshments, a silent auction, readings and book signings from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, and children’s art activities, readings and book signings coinciding with the park’s celebration of the National Park Service’s 95th birthday from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, August 21. The Gallery, located at 9700 SW 328 Street, near Homestead, Florida, is open seven days a week from 9-5. Admission is free.

"Children's picture books are a primary source of inspiration which have enormous consequence in our culture,” says Mason. “They provide the introduction to a lifetime of creative imagination and appreciation for the arts. This is powerful juju in a landscape of ever accelerating technology."

Mason’s books have won numerous awards, including the Ben Franklin Award (silver), the U.S. Maritime Literature Award (gold), the Moonbeam Children's Book Award (gold), the Mom's Choice Award, the iParenting Award. Mason has received a Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from the Arts Council of Stuart and Martin County. Her large scale fine art hangs in the collections of Burt Reynolds, Reba McEntire, Evan Lloyd and S. Kent Rockwell. Ms. Mason was recently featured with the MacArthur Award Winner, Dr. Edith Widder, on NOVA Science Now.

Mason is active in the arts, recently finishing her second term as a member of the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, as the Vice Chairman. In April, She was appointed by Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning to the Board of Directors of Citizens for Florida Arts. Memberships include the Board of Directors for the Arts Council of Stuart and Martin County, the Board of Directors of The Friends of the Blake Library of Stuart, Inc., the International Reading Association, the Florida Reading Association, and the Children's Book Council. As the Illustrator Coordinator for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators in Florida for five years, she created and produced annual "Illustrator Intensives" for nationally known contemporary children's book illustrators working as guest instructors in small workshops.

Drawn to the Sea is part of the park’s Community Artists Program, started in 1997 as an outlet for the works of both established and emerging artists who are inspired by the beauty of Biscayne National Park. The program is made possible by the South Florida National Parks Trust through the generosity of Sedano’s Supermarkets and the Miami-Dade County Division of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.

For more details about the exhibit, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/bisc or contact park ranger Gary Bremen at 305-230-1144, x007. For regular updates from the park, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BiscayneNPS.