DECEMBER

Oh my, how I've failed The Fireside. That's because I started two other blogs. I mean, what's a girl to do? But I need to keep this up because this is the only blog that has absolutely no point to it. I just post random pictures and say random things that are on my mind. So what's on my mind right now? The traffic filled drive to RI. I need to leave! What am I doing instead? Writing on this thing. Making coloring pages. Watering my plants. Basically whenever I need to go somewhere I start doing other things and these things feel ABSOLUTELY IMPORTANT TO DO. It's like I can't leave until I do them. And then once I'm in the car I think, "Why did I need to do all of those things?" Hmmm.

Anyway, my dad said all excitedly today that I needed to check out google maps and type in their address so I did. Lo and behold, there is my dad on the roof! Ha ha ha!

Being the narcissist that I am, I put in my address, fully expecting to see myself hanging out the window...

Man, I'm not in there! I'm not even walking down the street. Bummer.

And now to another thought on my mind. Behold! The yellow car! Here we have it during Christmas time.

But here's my issue: I photograph this thing a lot...

Here it is at the shop.

And resting in the shade...

And looking all stealthy at night...

Have no fear, there are many more photos, but I'll spare you. But I think I have an obsession here. No? Yes? Maybe? The funny thing is that I see other people photographing the car too. I'm not the only one! Perhaps there can be a Yellow Monster Car Anonymous - YMCA - We can meet and talk about our problem - our problem that we like to look and giggle at the car. I was SO hoping I'd find a Christmas tree on top of it one day so that I could take a photo and make holiday cards out of it... but no such luck. Perhaps I could buy a tree and quickly lay the tree across before anyone noticed. That could work, right? How about a hat?

Happy holidays!

 

MARCH

It's been a while. I've been busy posting on my new blog, which is all about children's books. What does that mean for this blog? Well... I think that means that I'll post LESS about children's books here. Or maybe none? I'll just post about STUFF. My life. Nonsense. This is your opportunity to get to know me! A little too well! So beware.

To start this new and improved FIRESIDE CHAT "With Meghan," I thought I'd show you some photos. Well these are scans... but same thing really. I was organizing the other day and I realized that I save some weird stuff. I mean WEIRD. Like...why on earth do I save this stuff? Behold:

Here we have a "Frothing Blood Capsules" packet from about 1988. Hmm. I think I was a vampire one year. Two left! I can still use them!

How about a bug Pez dispenser? Lovely.

And on the topic of candy!!! Guess how I got this one? Okay, okay, you'll never guess. My dad gave this to me as a present last year for Christmas! YES. CHRISTMAS. It was a JobLot special. Joblot is a discount store that gets stuff cheap. Um... probably because no one wants Halloween candy for CHRISTMAS! And why do I still have it? Maybe because it's a "Lollipop Mas" and looks like it was rolled over by a car.

Yay, Garbage Pail Kids stickers!!!! 50 cents.

A drawing of a bird done with a sharpie and white-out created in college while bored. "Tweet tweet."

Ah, the stuffed frog. Yes, stuffed. My dad came back from a trip to Costa Rica and he brought me this. I thought it was super cool until I realized it was real. I shrieked and dropped it on the floor. I kept it ever since.

Um....I hate Spielburg.

This is a map. I made it when I was little and stapled plastic wrap onto it, which is still adhered to the cardboard to this day. I will cherish it FOREVER.

My dad forwards me mail that goes to their address. He ALWAYS draws a portrait of himself on the back of the envelopes. He does the same thing with my sister's mail. Neither of us can bring ourselves to throw away any of the envelopes! As my sister said--"I don't want to throw Dad away."

 

NOVEMBER

composition - analysis of my art... or my best attempt

Dan Santat got me thinking about how I work (see his blog posting about composition here). My art is a lot simpler. I've done some pieces that have foregrounds and backgrounds but a lot of times my characters are all in the foreground. What I work a lot with is shapes. I know this sounds weird but in my head there are invisible shapes that i uses to help move your eye from point A to point B.

Take my cover of POP! for example. I deliberately use certain colors to move your eye around the page. Here I use maroon. I had a triangle in mind -- The boy's bowtie at the bottom, the other bowtie, and the stripe on the right. The triangle "lifts" the bubble. When you look at the cover I want your eye to bounce from the two characters in the middle -- their eyes, then using the "triangle" bounce back and fourth, and then go to the bubble. Well, that's sort of the theory anyway. The other maroon colors and dark blues and bright whites of the eyes and the pink bubbles are spread throughout to balance the picture to sort of "hold" the bubble in place. Your eye will bounce back and forth but keep going to the center. I use this technique to turn something seemingly chaotic into something even, smooth, and ultimately what I hope is a good composition! I also use the light blue around the big pink bubble to give your eye a place to rest. There's so much going on that an area of negative space is always important.

Here's another example:

Here I use the triangle effect again. There are 4 people in this image but the first person I want you to look at is Walter. You do because he is making an opposite triangle with his arms. There is also a triangle followed by his eyes connected to the other dancers' eyes. His eyes are the biggest so you look at him first. His also in the foreground and you can follow the perspective line as it goes back...

What Dan says is true. I'm not sitting around thinking about these things all the time. Sometimes I do. I usually think about it when something isn't working. I remember repainting the above page a lot. The dancers' arms were moved around a lot, the perspective was changed, and Walter's arms were pointed up. You know when something doesn't work but you don't always know why it does until you sit down and think about it. All of this is practice, practice, practice!

Here are some simpler examples:

Here I want your eye to move from left to right, to move your eye to go to the next page turn. This is simple! Just follow the big round white eyes and leave plenty of negative space above and below. You will also notice that the white coats mirror the white door. This further pulls your eye further. You want to follow those figures into the mysterious door.

And here's this one. I left plenty of negative space behind each figure to give the piece tension. Each big eye is connected... and each hand is as well. You know they are about to hand each other something, but it hasn't happened yet, so the negative space adds more tension. Each part is equal and balanced, which helps balance the composition and helps make it pleasing to look at.

You may also notice that negative space is also very important to me. What you don't put in a picture is as important as what you do. This is why I really appreciate the designers I work with. They don't go overboard with the type and help leave those negative spaces negative and don't fill them up with big, bold colored type. I look at some books and cringe. I just can't believe how beautiful art can be ruined. It's all about balance! Your eye needs to a place to REST.

So that's more over analysis of my art. I hope you've enjoyed it.

 

OCTOBER 25

So I guess if I"m going to make several posts in the same month I need to date them instead of writing "middle of October" and "near the end of October" and "More close to the end of October..."

I have a group shot from the Society of Illustrators. Behold (thanks to Lauren for this):

Brian Floca, Lauren Castillo, Laurent Linn, Selina Alko, Sean Qualls, Chad Beckerman, Meghan McCarthy (why am I looking off into the distance? I'm such a space cadet.)First row --Paul Hoppe, Julia Denos

This is a great group of people and I'm I was honored to be in the show with them!

 

END OF OCTOBER 2010

This is a cool video I recorded in the subway:

 

They're called the Alex Lo Dico Ensemble. They really jammed out. I was on my way to the 4,5, 6 train and just had to stop.

Anyway, on to the topic of children's books. My book Pop! got into the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show and last night was the gala event. Below is a washed out photo of me (using my new iPod filter thingy) in front of my piece and blocking Keven Henkes art (his was really good... and that's why I had to block it. Just kidding.).

And below we have Julia Sarcone Roach looking left, followed by Brian Floca and Sean Qualls. I swear I said "group shot" and this is what happened.

This was at the end of the show when everyone had pretty much cleared out but us folks who wanted to party on. I had left my camera in my jacket pocket, which was at the coat check. Grrr. Next time, maybe, I will have good photos. One of these shows I swear... you know, the nice group shots with everyone lined up all nice like.

On to the topic of studios... I wanted to collect photographs of artists' studios and post them on my website. Here are some shots of mine:

On to other photo topics. I was walking to work the other day and saw this:

Um... what exactly would this be??? People were filming the inside. And, of course, the outside is a bunh of duct taped boxes. I will let you draw your on conclusions. I still haven't made mine.

Lastly, my faith in humanity is restored! First I lost my phone. This was literally from my car to the restaurant my friends and I were eating at. I had parked outside the door. I'm not kidding. I said "Where's my phone? I think I lost it! Oh no!" My friend said "No you didn't, I saw you with it in the car. It's in the car. We'll find it later." So we were just about done with dinner when my sister got a phone call. She said 'Meghan, your phone is calling me..." Huh? I didn't even comprehend. Apparently I'd dropped it on the street! Eek! Some nice guy went through my phone book and called people until he got someone to answer and told them he had my phone. THEN days later I was walking down the street and a girl tapped me on the shoulder and said "Is this yours?" and handed me my ipod!" I said "Where did you find it?" "On the street, " she said.

Conclusion: There ARE nice people out there who don't steal. Also, I am a MESS.

Stay tuned for some young artist drawings from the lastest school in NJ that I just visited. The kids were great!

OCTOBER 2010

I've been working on my graphic novel idea about Edison (don't want to say too much about it quite yet)... but I came across this video while trying to find images on early trolley cars. Coincidently, Edison made this film. Beautiful. It's super boring at first but if you can withstand the first part the last part is a real winner.

 

On a completely different topic, I purchased a new iPod, because my old one was stolen/left at the gym. I say stolen because I was one of the last people out and I called the next day and I know where I left it so I didn't LOSE it was stolen. I don't know why so many people want to argue with me about this! Anyway, who really cares. I now own a better ipod... i stronger ipod, a superior ipod. This one has a camera on it with the ability to add all sorts of fun little filters and things. Oh joy! So here are some photos I've done with it:

And these are part of a series I call "places that you can get food at but wouldn't want to."

MMMM-MMMM, good eatin'!

And, ahem, someone posted a "satanic" version of Mary Kate and Ashley Olson's "Gimme Pizza" - OH, MY, GOSH! This brought back the memories! No, no, not to my childhood, I'm not that young. This brought me back to when I first moved to NYC and didn't know many people yet and bumped into fellow co-worker J.P on the subway. We later went to lots of parties together. On one particular party J.P blasted this Mary Kate & Ashley song he got out of the garbage. I thought it was the best/funniest thing ever. Sadly, I still do.

 

Here's the "satanic" version. Oh, this one's funny.

 

So apparently there are many versions. Here's the sloooow one. Rock out ya'll.

 

Eat some pizza. Until later....

 

 

I have neglected "the chat" for sooo long! Geez. I want to catch up on some stuff. I had put some stuff on here and not posted it! The topic was school visits... from last year! At this point they are really old news and I had already posted this stuff on the Blue Rose Girls, but I still want to post them here because the visits were a good experience and I have some good drawings from the kids and some nice photos to share. So, here we go:

These are some letters I've gotten from kids:

This one is pretty normal until you get to the bottom!

There was a great picture attached. This kid is an artist!

And then there are these drawings from Holly from Alabama... (I posted 2 but there are a whole bunch - it's an alien epic story!)

Third, I was in Alabama last week (aka "last year")

It was exhausting, and, of course, I got sick. I'm going to become known as the girl who pukes or almost pukes in people's cars! How embarrassing!

The Librarian's daughter Ellie wrote me such a cute letter:

I'm afraid I didn't life up to her expectations! Almost throwing up in their car was probably not what she was expecting.

All the kids in this class in the front row wore alien hats made out of construction paper. How clever! I wish I had a closer shot of it.

 

OMES school had a contest based on my upcoming book POP! They had a jar of bubble gum and all the kids guessed how much gum was in it. The closet guess got to win all the gum and a copy of my new book. This 3rd grader won! He was so funny. He said he'd be able to chew it all within several hours. (I hate this photo of me - bad steroid puffy face day - but it's worth it for the picture of him)

All the classes decorated the halls. It was great to see all the artwork inspired from my books! I had no time to take photos but one of the librarians kindly took some and made copies for me on the spot! Amazing.

Below is a kindergartner who read her story for me. She is a really accomplished writer.

Even though I didn't feel well, had a bad headache and almost threw up several times, I think it was worth it.

 

Back from Evanston, IL

I just got back from Evanston, which is near Chicago. It was a short trip and I almost missed the plane to get there! I got stuck in traffic on the way there, couldn't figure out where to park the car and kept driving around in circles, then waited in the wrong line to get my ticket (couldn't print it out because my printer was out of ink) and I waited and waited for soooo long because the two customers at the desk were all-demanding. One was arguing about some odd looking thing that she wanted to take on the plane and the other was a foreigner who was all involved in some discussion about currency or some such... so I got all huffy and started pacing and then when I FINALLY got to the counter she said "You're at the wrong counter. This is Jet Blue. You want South West." "Oh my god," I said. "Oh my god..." And no wonder I didn't go to the right line--there was no counter! There was so zig-zag maze to a guy at a desk who said "Can I help you?" and I said "Yes, I need a boarding pass..." and he said "Can you give me some space please? Please back up and let me deal with this customer," and he pointed at a hippie looking woman bent over, digging through a dozen looking bags and odd packages. Why the heck did he say "Can I help you?" then??? I only stepped forward for that reason! Anyway, the guy spent forever with her because none of her packages met regulation and they all had to be duct taped and so forth. So by the time he said "next," and I said "I'm going to Chicago," he said "Good luck, you've got 7 minutes." I RAN to security and threw off my clothing and belt, etc. I managed to get through with not one but two pocket knives! Lovely. I also did that on the way back. I didn't do that on purpose, mind you, I just forgot to take them off my keychain.

anyway, when I got to the plane the guy said "Are you Meghan McCarhthy?" I huffed, "Yes." He said "You're one lucky lady." As soon as I sat down the plane took off. I"m not kidding.

So I got to Chicago and the car drove for an hour before I got to the hotel. The water went on and on forever. At first I thought--oh my god, the ocean! How nice! Uh, stupid, It's Illinois. There is no ocean. Yeah, lake Michigan. It was almost 90 degrees on the day I left and I'd come with a winter jacket that I had to lug around. It was really pretty-- there were runners and cyclists going along the water and there were people sitting on the beach. And the city sat behind. There were ferries and I even spotted a ferris wheel.

When I got to the hotel I took a walk to the water.

 

I noticed that I was in a college town--Northwestern University. There were a lot of pretty buildings.

The day arrived after a restless night of not getting any sleep. I got up at the crack of dawn. I gave my first speech in the auditorium to the little kids and then we did our first rotation of activities. The librarian had come up with a real cool bunch of activities for the kids. In the first room kids made rockets out of tubes and paper and cardboard pieces. This was based on my book Astronaut Handbook and on my webpage where I show how to make your own rocket. In the second room kids did exercises based on Strong Man and the back page that shows how to do exercises. In the third room kids got to make bubble gum based on my book Pop! which is coming out in a month. I heard it was a big mess, but how cool is that? I tried a piece--it tasted like sour lemonade.

 

 

I slept until noon today. It was short and fun but exhausting. These things always are!

 

Some cool projects from Orrington Elementary

The librarian sent me some photos from my day at their school (I managed not to take any photos, which I'm annoyed by since I took not one but two cameras! I guess I was just too distracted or something...). Anyway, all the kids drew self portraits of themselves but with BIG eyes, just like I do my characters, and they put them on their lockers. How cute is that? They also made ones for all the teachers! There was also an "alien room" where a bunch of kids drew aliens and their drawings hung from the ceiling. Another fun project was to demystify the puzzling Mona Lisa (based on Steal Back the Mona Lisa!) by drawing new clothes on her.

 

 

It's just so cool to see these things. I have to keep reminding myself that these things are based on MY books! I'd love to go back in time and tell my teachers in school that this would happen. They'd never believe it. I don't think I would have either!



 

MAY 2010

I saw these videos and wondered something: I can't seem to get any publicity for my books and this crazy yo-yo guy who can't actually yo-yo AT ALL (you'll see!) managed to get on multiple TV channels. There are MORE, but I'm just posting a few for your viewing pleasure. Not only does this guy not yo-yo, but he made up a fake organization! It's all so crazy. And he admits that he is a failure when it comes to speaking to school children! It's all such a laugh. Why can't I get on TV? Is it because my publisher doesn't bother? Should I try myself? Do I need to wear a crazy hat and use yo-yo's? Okay, my talking is taking away from the viewing. Enjoy!

Lastly, this is why I love Youtube!

 

I've done some school visits latel and I want to share some photos so stay tuned!

 

 

MARCH...I think

Hello all It's a new year and I haven't posted! I have lots to post about. I mean, lots. But, there's no time. I must go to bed so that I can wake up early (yeah right). I just had, had, had to put this up now because I couldn't stop laughing when I found it. Now, perhaps this is because I have a very juvenile sense of humor and clearly I did then as well - although then I was a juvenile so I think we can conclude that I was just plain deranged. So, without further adieu, I bring you my first "newspaper article." Or is that "Newspaper Magazine"?

 

Happy 2010!

Yes, yes, I’ve neglected the blog. Shame on me. I promise I’ll write more unimportant and meaningless remarks more frequently this year. I swear it! And I’ll give more visuals with my new tiny camera. (I have a big, expensive camera but I want to always carry around around a smaller one so that I can always get “the shot.” What does “the shot” mean? Well, you’ll just have to stay tuned. My sister bending over and showing some of the sun that don’t shine anyone?)

So, what happened this year? Where was I? What was I doing? The answer is: not a heck of a lot. My car got broken into AGAIN:

And my horn broke. I’ve been driving around with transportation laryngitis. This is a shame because I was becoming a true irritable New Yorker, with repetitive and meaningless angry horn honking and all.

 

I was enjoying myself. Look at me the wrong way? Oh yeah, I hit the horn. Taxi blocking up the road with slow wealthy manhattanites removing their expensive brand-name luggage at a snail’s pace? Oh yes, yes, a big long horn honk to you! But no more. Now I just chew on my gum really hard and grit my teeth and hope that no one hits me and that the slow people remove themselves from the road. Lots of times an angry driver behind me will honk for me. Thank goodness for that.

I’m proud to say that I purchased my very first wallet. It’s a bacon wallet.

 

Isn’t it cute? Okay, perhaps cute isn't the word. Now I can be organized with my money! No more losing it. No more not having it with me and having to have my sister cover my share of the bill. Oh joy 2010!

Okay, so what else? As I mentioned in the Blue Rose Girls blog, I figure I can’t get much sicker than I’ve been.

This is an example of what my life has been life. (If you don’t like reading about certain medical things then skip this!) I don’t think I ever mentioned the spinal tap that I got here. Ever had one? If you haven’t then don’t get one! What’s worse for me was that the person doing the procedure was clearly a student. The other doctor was instructing her – “When you hear a pop you’ll know you’re into the spinal column.”

I was one of the unfortunate who victims who leaked spinal fluid… for days, and days. 5 days to be exact. “Spinal headaches are caused by leakage of spinal fluid through a puncture hole in the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord. This leakage decreases the pressure exerted by the spinal fluid on the brain and spinal cord, which leads to a headache.” It’s good fun, folks! Every time I lifted my head off the bed (no pillow allowed) I would get a searing pain. I couldn’t get up to get food or go to the bathroom because it felt like an axe was chopping my head in half and I’d start immediately vomiting. When I didn’t show up for thanksgiving my parents got concerned and drove down from RI to come to my rescue. Thank goodness they did! I was not getting better and could go anywhere to get food or drink. They called the hospital and was told to bring me to the emergency room. Unfortunately emergency rooms aren’t equipped to do what’s
called “spinal patches” where blood is taken from the arm and injected back into the spine—the epidural space--to fill the hole. So my parents drove me to NYU (while I vomited) to get the procedure done. What dove me nuts was that standing caused the onset of symptoms. I NEEDED to lie down! But of course my mom is claustrophobic and wouldn’t get on the elevator because there were too many people on it. She insisted on waiting until an empty one showed up… meanwhile I was going to hurl all over the lobby! When we arrived on the 5th floor, I vomited several times in the bathroom. I had to keep asking for the bathroom key, which made the whole thing worse. I found that if I sat with my head between my legs that I could get some relief. When we were finally called in I put a gown on and the assistant took blood from my arm. I didn’t see what happened next but I could feel the needle going into my spine. It’s not a pleasant feeling. When it was
all done I was left to lay flat for 20 minutes. My mom came in to see me. “Mom, I can’t stop shaking,” I said. “Why is she shaking like that?” she asked the doctor. I was in shock, apparently.

So that's that story. I could have made it more graphic and detailed, but I thought I'd spare you. Anyway, I was much better after that and was able to walk out the door like a normal person! But the above story is an example of how hard I’ve had it. I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m just illustrating that things have to be better. My body has gone through a heck of a lot. In my planner for 2009 I wrote down my symptoms each time they were debilitating

June 9 - Headache, queasy, nauseous, fatigue, slept. Flare-up? Virus? Prednisone?”

June 10 – sick until past 4 -queasy, fatigue

June 11 – vomited – migraine?

June 12 - Called out sick. Woke up nauseous. No headache. Vomiting.

June 13 - Chest pain breathing

June 14 - chest pain breathing

June 16 - Slept all day

June 17 - Itching, queasy, slept

June 18 - Itching in morning. Queasy upon waking

June 20 - All over body itching- morning bad – out of it. Fatigue until past 6

And that’s how my planner looked on and off for all of 2009. I have been doing better these past few months and the planner has been blank! I went from 20 mg of prednisone (as the doctor put – the med ages you) to 5. Finally I think I’ve found a medication that will help me. After about 6 months of Imuran much of my symptoms have gone away. So hopefully I can soon say I AM BACK!

What does this mean for you, my loyal reader? Well, more blogging. More meaningless blather. More whining about rotten milk and stale bread purchased across the street. Back to the simple things, you know?

Since I need to play catch up, here are some good things I did this summer:

I enjoyed my parents' house and did a lot of canoeing...

I forced myself to go running up some very high hills...

 

I went to the fair...

(sugar from good ol' dough boys)

(looking inside the "arts and crafts" barn that had neither art nor good crafts. It was a joke worth visiting ONCE. After that it hurts the head.)

And I did rock climbing for the first time! I made it all the way to the top (my mom didn't get a good picture of that - figures). The only problem was that I didn't know how to get down! My arms really hurt from hanging on and yelling for help for so long. Finally I let go and let myself drop. It's not such a big deal once you make yourself do it!

 

Also, I’ll show you what new book things I’m working on. I made a new little video for my book POP! Watch it here.

I also made a music video for Halloween. View here.

So happy 2010! Rock on with your big bad selves.

 

 

I'm sorry that I haven't written in a while... but here's something to keep you entertained (or not). I was visiting the Blue Rose Girls (a group of picture book authors and artists who have a blog and get together for...)nnoy

(I moved the video because it kept playing everytime the page loaded, whether you wanted it to play or not, which was loud and a

ing! - so I moved it)

CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO

Yup, crazy Meghan made the video. This is only the intro. Stay tuned to see who will win!

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