For the dignity of a species, we should protect the Arctic - preserving the vast wild sanctity of the 1002 and the Coastal Plain - and I'm not talking about polar bears.
Having our first real thaw of the winter this last week or so. Great (finally!) for packing some snow together and building stuff, but a little melty when it hits the upper 30's and a LOT heavier for shoveling - plus messier for waxing those classic skis with klister. So it goes :) All in a good winter!
73 post cards complete and I finally set up a proper landing page on my website. So click the logo in the upper right hand corner or check things out at www.polarbearpostcardproject.com. Nothing that I haven't posted before, but if you're new to the project or you'd like to make a post card of your own, then this is the best "one-stop-shopping" that you can do. Thanks for your support thus far, and let's send even more polar bear post cards the President's way. Jump on in, the water's fine!
As large and impressive as they might be, polar bears pale in certain comparison to the vastness of the Arctic. The bowhead whale, pictured here in relatively correct scale (with a larger whale and a smaller bear) is one of the main reasons for the polar bear population that we witnessed in Kaktovik, Alaska on the edge of the 1002 and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Subsistence hunting allows the native population in Kaktovik to take three whales each year as a part of their annual whale hunt. The remaining bone pile -- on the outskirts of town beyond the airstrip -- becomes a draw for polar bears that are stranded closer to the mainland by receding pack ice. In the photo below you can see my daughter Keeley standing in front of a bowhead whale skull - one of the only times that we didn't see bears picking through the bones!
Up in Salmon Arm, B.C. this past weekend for some xc ski racing/coaching/parenting... and thinking about polar bears and Canadian winter sports :)
19 distinct populations of polar bears in the world including those in the U.S., Russia, Greenland, Norway, and Canada. Of those five countries, Canada is home to most of the world's bears at a whopping 60%.
That being said, thoughtful policies to address climate change around the world are a necessary part of keeping this unique and fragile arctic environment in tact enough to sustain both polar bears and many other species.
I talked about the process of creating new Dog Diaries cover art back in May, but I finally have a super nice comp from the publisher and I'm excited to see how smart these two look side by side :) Not officially available until April 16th, but add 'em to your list for spring!
What I love about today's bear -- as opposed to yesterday's more subdued and somber version of a similar pose -- is that this is a bear of hope! It may indeed be a bit more naive - and yesterday's "delayed gestation" a bit more realistic - but holding on to that shred of hope and relishing in a bit of joy is sometimes the only thing that keeps us moving forward. Cap that methane leak in California. Up those CAFE standards. Set some lofty goals for zero carbon emissions. Keep on keepin' on!
It's still January of course, and not yet Valentine's Day, but it feels like time for a little comic series on love it its many varied forms. Enjoy!
PS This is what our house looks like as of Tuesday morning, and I DO have a certain affinity for shoveling the driveway!
Delayed gestation or delayed implantation is a natural adaptation of the polar bear to its harsh arctic environment. This assures that the cub is born during the best time of the year for survival and allows the female to achieve optimal physical condition and to use her energy for nursing her newborn cubs.
In a metaphorical stretch of sorts, I can imagine unsuitable conditions due to global warming that basically put all future developments into a state of permanent delay. Not my most uplifting post, but there you go...let's not let that happen!
Finally catching up with the last of my Austin, TX Polar Bear Postcard posts :) I still have a summary of the school visit days to do, plus some continued info about Laura's Iditarod Teacher on the Trail, but here you go with my Austin City Limits bear! I didn't quite make it out for music in the evenings, but hopefully next time!
When the school visits were done, the bears in Austin spent some time with Jeff Paine, a friend of mine who (with his wife Melanie) started a recycling and composting business in 2009 -- before the city of Austin had any such service available for local businesses. Seven years later Break it Down is going strong -- and it's pretty sweet to see someone doing some good and making it work as a viable business. Tons on new ideas on the horizon as well, so thumbs up and keep in coming! GRRRattitude as well to Jeff for sharing a few hours at the end of a long work day - and to his awesome kids for getting me up to speed on all of the new transformer reticulations!
The illustrator copies of Beluga Whale, Grizzy Tales, and More Alaska Kidsnacks arrived from Sasquatch! It's ALWAYS fun to see the finished product for the first time, and these babies'll be cooking up a storm at a bookstore near you in March :)
Excited about lots of the images and the Alaska-themed patterns and borders in this one, but I've included two of my favorite page combinations below... plus a little "hidden Mickey" in honor of my dog Max.
Thanks to Alice for the great things to illustrate and to Tegan and Christy and the whole team at Sasquatch/Little Bigfoot for brining it all together!
LOTS of drawing this week for the traveling Post Card Project! Bears drawing gators here, and the students at Eanes Elementary did a pretty great job as well!
Wild things in unexpected places! Austin's Barton Spring Salamander is an endangered lungless salamander that lives only in this unique Barton Springs habitat. A special find for a traveling bear.(An OK scan... and this is what I'll have for posterity sake. One more of these subpar scans to post but will scan/upload the last two for the week I get home. Sorry to keep the President waiting, but so it goes.)
Deep in the Heart of Texas, the Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project visits Eanes Elementary in Austin! Rock on 'y'all :)
I kicked off three days of school assemblies and art workshops at Eanes Elementary (Go Mustangs!) here in Austin, TX today! Such a great group of students, staff and teachers -- including (with the husky) the current Iditarod Teacher on the Trail, Laura Wright. Laura's posts about curriculum connections to the Iditarod are AMAZING and you should definitely check it out and stay closely tuned as she makes her final preparations to head to Alaska! Thanks much to all and I will see you tomorrow morning :)
Excited for the 2016 publications of Beluga Whales, Grizzy Tales (March) and Later, Gator! (July), but I've got a a few new stories to send out this year and I'm hoping that one of them and/or my 16 years of illustrating 20+ books might help me out in finding a respectable agent. Not a lot of this one under my control... but I do have to make the submissions. Onward and upward! Just a few more polar bear resolutions and then I'll get back to other random inspirations :)
Indeed. Even with a notorious sweet tooth and the occasional need to keep myself awake in the wee hours, I should hopefully be able to avoid those major sugar/caffine/supplement drinks in 2016. Abide by Resolution #1 and it isn't even an issue :)
We get better at the things we do. To be practiced liberally throughout the year with everything from instruments and drawing/writing, to open-minded conversations and patience :)
Ringing in the New Year by sending off my art for Later, Gator! -- HOORAY! It required a little extra push out the door (and 4 additional hours of driving) as a snow storm shut down the nearest airport for UPS/FED EX deliveries -- but Gator and friends have officially flown the coop.
In addition to assorted other festivities, the last two weeks have been a process of final tweaking and considerations for the final art. As you can see below, the studio does get a little messy at this stage of the game, but cleaning up seems like a good New Year's activity as well :)
Front and center, the original Gator concept art was my steadfast little guide, and he still warms my heart -- even after months of staring into his earnest little eyes. Arriving in bookstore or library near you as early as July 2016, Later, Gator!
I decided to start the New Year with a few illustrated resolutions - in polar bear form, of course! This one will be really hard to keep... but perhaps by sharing with the President I'll hold myself a little more to task :)
Some production delays during this last week of 2015, but all is good and we're kicking off January first in style by posting TWO in a row for the first day of 2016! Happy Happy New Year to all!
PS The second post will go live 15 minutes after this one -- for all of you who watch for these things like the ball dropping in NYC :)