Saturday, November 03, 2007

Robert's Snow Illustrator profile - Susan Miller

I'm in my backyard right now, sitting on the green grass, surrounded by what should be a late-summer garden: green tomatos, zinnias, nasturtiums, clematis, and I think that's another pumpkin turning orange over there near the fence. I'm keeping one eye on the squad of kids swarming over the stump and under the pine trees, playing some amalgam of George of the Jungle and Ponce de Leon (what's worse? brainless or bloody? they choose both.).

Right this second, such topics as snow - and cancer - seem very far away.

But bad news is never far away. In fact, here's Mr. Four with a thorn in his shirt. And earlier someone got a jumprope to the face. It's a dangerous world, no doubt about it.

Sometimes it only takes a mom to fix something, sometimes you need to go to the doctor, and then there are some things - the things you don't think about, or try not to think about, or think about obsessively - that can't be fixed, not by battalions of doctors and generations of researchers.

Cancer is one of those things, of course. It feels odd to think that generations of dedicated people have lived their lives through and died and been replaced by the next cohort of grad students - without finding a cure. Not to say that work has been in vain: fighting cancer is exactly like fighting war, and these generations of scientists and doctors have come up with ever-better weapons, intelligence strategies, and defensive postures, all of which have made this war a lot less bloody.

But I would like this war to end. Just like the war that the United States has been fighting since ten days after my oldest child was born. I don't want to see any of these screaming backyard urchins grow up to wear a uniform, whether that uniform be camouflage or whether it be a white hospital gown.

So. Go to the website of Robert's Snow: For Cancer's Cure. Bookmark it, and go back on November 19. Buy a snowflake. Also, you might want to read more about the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the work that they've been doing. There are other ways to help.

In fact, see that snowflake up at the top? It was created and donated by the talented Susan Miller. Click on it - look at it big. There are terrific details in the two lovely little scenes she painted. Susan Miller has illustrated a bunch of Rookie Reader titles, including Nana's Hog and Nana's Fiddle, which we have on our 1st grader's book stack at this very minute. The work on her web site is even nicer, I think - charming humans and great colors.

I "interviewed" her for this feature. I'm totally a crap interviewer, but she did her best with what she had to work with.

Do you listen to music while you're working? If so, what?
No I don't . I listen to my favorite Pod-casts, I like the speaking.

What distracts you from working?
Phone calls.

Whose art changed your life?
Elise Primavera. I think she is amazing, I love her work. I would love to have her talent.

Did you go to art school?
Yes, Butera School of Art in Boston

Did you start in illustration? and if not what turned you toward it?
Yes, fashion illustration, which turned into a dying market due to great photography, so I switched over to childrens educational/ book illustration.

Favorite candy?
I suppose M&Ms with peanuts. I figure the peanuts are good for you right?

What would be really cool to see built from Lego?
The stuff they build in Lego in Florida at Downtown Disney. Fun stuff down there.

What do you like to read?
Biographies and books on art and my computer, a Mac that I call Max.

How long have you lived in Connecticut?
51 years, and with a move planned to Florida in 2008 I will dearly miss it, its a beautiful state.

See, and now there's another thing to worry about. It's 70 degrees out here in the back yard, and it's November. Susan Miller's moving to Florida, which is apparently going to be under water within the century... I'm at a loss here. Ok, go support cancer research, and I'll be back next month with what we can do to keep the glaciers where they're supposed to be and not floating up the East River.