Sunday, February 8, 2009

What I did on Superbowl Sunday

"Smaerd" Illustrator Visits Village Books

by Dave Wheeler2/3/2009 11:15:12 AM
Something curious is afoot, and Bryn Barnard wants to show you what it can look like. Each night you sleep, whether you realize it or not, you are visited by the inhabitants of a land called “Smaerd.” Regional sister-act Andrea von Botefuhr and Angela Russell have created a literary world beyond their own Bainbridge Island that stretches to the furthest corners of your imagination. Partnered with Know Wonder Publishing, who commissioned Bryn Barnard as illustrator, Smaerd has become a reality you can take home and explore.
On Sunday, February 1, 2009, Village Books hosted Barnard to promote The Land of Smaerd, an inspirational picture book for all ages about dreams and the power of positive thinking. Geared toward younger audiences, Smaerd uses fantastical art and bright verses to show children how they might shift their perspective to manifest a new, positive reality around them. The collective creators of Smaerd hope to empower children to face their unique nightmares and bad dreams, and to actively engage them through art.
"The Land of Smaerd"
The Land of Smaerd, illustrated by Bryn Barnard.

The tricky part, said Barnard, is to “take the author’s verbal ideas and manifest them as images.” With his experience primarily centered around illustrating his own books on catastrophes, Dangerous Planet and Outbreak, Barnard was elated to discover the myriad fantasies and word pictures in Smaerd. This is his first project in the realm of metaphysical ideas. He worked closely with von Botefuhr and Russell to develop illustrations that resembled the pictures floating in the ether of their heads.

He pointed out a depiction of a girl standing below a whale soaring on butterfly wings. “This is one that they were very specific about.” While initially Barnard had conceptualized five different protagonists for his illustrations, all of different ethnic backgrounds, the writers encouraged him to compress all the features into a single character, one in which all children might recognize themselves.
Bryn Barnard
Bryn Barnard read from The Land of Smaerd at Village Books. 
Photograph by Dave Wheeler

The book is a veritable wonderland of enchanting landscapes, and, as one looks closer, one might agree with poor Alice, who found herself in a different Wonderland, thinking, “Curiouser and curiouser!” In the artwork, Barnard embedded dragons hiding in hillsides and emphasized the natural complexities of spiraling Fibonacci sequences. The intricately designed mandalas featured in the book were created by Russell, one of which she created shortly after her original conception of Smaerd in the fifth grade!

After reading the story, Barnard sat to paint an image from the book. He described his layering technique using acrylic and oil paints while intermittently narrating a sneak peak at his forthcoming book for fall 2010, of which he is both writer and illustrator, The Genius of Islam: How Muslims Made the Modern World, from Knopf Publishing. The new book will describe the magnificent innovations Muslims have made throughout history, from crank-shafts to sandpaper.

Bryn Barnard
Barnard demonstrated his technique in creating the illustrations. 
Photograph by Dave Wheeler

Visit Bryn Barnard Studio to learn more about Barnard, his art, and his books. For information about upcoming author events, visit Village Books or Activities.