Peaks Island Press

News on Peaks Island Authors

Archive for Scott Nash

Do Islands Foster Creative Minds?

Scott Nash at the TEIA Clubhouse “Being an artist is about doing absurdly creative things and then feeling somewhat bad about it later.”

Do islands foster creative minds? Although I can’t say
if all islands offer literary and artistic magic, I can say that I have never lived in a community as drenched with creativity as Peaks Island. Certainly Scott Nash is among those with buckets of creativity, as he demonstrated this evening.

The crazy-famous illustrator-author-exhibit-curator spoke to a large crowd who were enjoying the sea breeze at the TEIA clubhouse. His talk, “Changing Things Up: Embracing the Mess of a Creative Mind” shared his ‘philosophy of creating.’ He used a dryer metaphor to explain,

My brain has things tumbling about-like in a spin cycle-things that haven’t come out yet, but need to. I have to find things to do with them. Artists like change. Without change, I get bored.

A lot has popped out of that spin cycle already. Scott has published nearly 50 books, including a series of Flat Stanley, The High Skies Adventure of Blue Jay the Pirate, and Shrunken Treasures. His studio has designed logos from Nickelodeon, Jr to Comedy Central to Bernie [Sanders] emojis.

But it’s not all books and logos; he and his wife, Nancy Gibson Nash, design and install creative environments-whether it’s turning their home into a Halloween performance art installation (which they did for 19 years) or transforming Henry Bear’s Park toy stores into a child’s wonderland.

But Scott plans to take “changing things up” to another level. He confessed to his audience,

My mother used to call me an instigator. I enjoy making large projects, bigger than myself.

What does that mean he’s doing next? Launching a 501c3 called The Illustration Institute. Citing how illustration has lost the rightful place it once had as a popular genre of American art (think Norman Rockwell), Scott described the year-long series of workshops that he’s organizing at the Portland Public Library, taught by a who’s who of illustrators from around the country. Scott appealed to the audience, looking for collaborators to get this off the ground. As if that wasn’t ambitious enough, he then wants to take The Illustration Institute on the road to other host libraries around the country.

Scott’s pitch looked to me like a 21st century illustrators’ takeover of the spirit of the atheneum of yore. That sounds pretty creative to me.

The enticing porch at TEIA.

Written by Patricia Erikson, Peaks Island Press offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, you may subscribe in the upper right corner at http://www.peaksislandpress.com.

Iterative Writing: How Scott Nash Put Shrunken Treasures into Our Hands

When you’re reading a book, have you ever wondered: how do writers translate their imagination onto a page? I a

shrunkentreasures

Cover of Scott Nash’s Shrunken Treasures

lways assumed that other writers work like I do by first conjuring, inhabiting, and experiencing a three-dimensional model of a scene in the mind before writing it onto the page. Peaks Island author and illustrator Scott Nash; however, does this iterative draw-write-draw magic that looks to me like a channeling of the subconscious through the hand. That was what I discovered sitting in his living room, asking him about his children’s book that Candlewick Press releases this month-Shrunken Treasures.

The origin story of Shrunken Treasures goes like this: while on a long car ride from Belfast, Maine, Scott and his wife, artist Nancy Gibson Nash, entertained themselves through long hours by condensing Moby Dick into children’s verse. Scott recounts,

“I’ve always loved doing mashups, even before it was trendy. So this was a challenge to mash up classics like Moby Dick and The Odyssey into a children’s poem. When I got home, I sketched out the Ulysses and Captain Ahab characters (see below) and sent off the idea to my editor. My editor is like the benefactor of my nutty ideas. I show up with a pile of sketches and a draft of a novel about bird pirates [referring to his High Flying Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate] and they see the possibilities. This time I presented two sample poems and in iPad full of clunky sketches of the characters in the book. They’re risk takers. It’s lovely.”

That children’s book pitch became the beautiful picture book that I now hold in my hands. Short verses. Lean, yet rich and playful illustrations. I recognize Scott’s

goldenbook

An inspiration for Shrunken Treasures

nostalgic nod to one of his inspirations, the Big Golden Book of Poetry. My own dog-eared copy of this childhood treasure was cherished for decades and was one of the items that I kept when I had to clean out my parents’ house.

Lucky for us, Scott moved on from sketching Ulysses and Captain Ahab to Mary Shelley (yes, of Frankenstein).

“I draw to inspire the writing and then write to inspire the drawing. When I get stuck with a character or a plot, I stop writing and draw.”

In Scott’s verse, Mary “first made one monster and then that monster made another one [Frankenstein].” Scott comments that, “the book would never have worked if the verse was more free. The classic stories are complex so that keeping the structure familiar helps to simplify the story.”

IMG_1547

A character sketch of Mary Shelley, on Scott Nash’s iPad.

I predict this book will become a new classic and prove popular with multiple generations at once. Two upcoming events will allow you to hold Shrunken Treasures in your hands and seek the author’s autograph:

  • The Cape Author Fest on April 9 at the Cape Elizabeth High School and
  • a book launch event at Longfellow Books on April 14th at 7 PM.

Prepare yourself for literary frolic.

Written by Patricia Erikson, Peaks Island Press offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, you may subscribe in the upper right corner at http://www.peaksislandpress.com.

 

 

Scott Nash takes Blue Jay the Pirate to South China, Maine

Blue Jay the Pirate

Blue Jay the Pirate, Scott Nash

Scott Nash is preparing for the next book event with his usual genius. Nash’s rendition of a Blue Willow transferware plate – with his protagonist of The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate at the center – took my breath away. The daughter of an antiques fanatic, I grew up surrounded by things like Blue Willow plates, pewter tankards, and spinning wheels. The detailed setting and character of these plates, inspired by 18th century Chinese ceramics, is a perfect choice for getting us to think about ships, pirates, and South China, Maine, of course!

The South China Public Library, the oldest continuously operating library in Maine, is hosting this author-illustrator whose interactive talks are always a big hit. Here are the details:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

10:30-11:30 AM

South China Public Library, South China, Maine

According to the National Park Service, "The Blue Willow pattern was introduced in England by the Spode factory in the late 1790s. During the 18th century Europe was fascinated by all things Chinese and especially their beautifully hand-painted china with scenes of Chinese landscapes. The Blue Willow pattern is not an exact copy of a Chinese pattern but rather based on several traditional Chinese designs."

According to the National Park Service, “The Blue Willow pattern was introduced in England by the Spode factory in the late 1790s. During the 18th century Europe was fascinated by all things Chinese and especially their beautifully hand-painted china with scenes of Chinese landscapes. The Blue Willow pattern is not an exact copy of a Chinese pattern but rather based on several traditional Chinese designs.”

Double event day for island authors Nash and Morse

It may be a BlueJay on Stagesmall island and small literary community, but authors on Peaks Island make up for it with a flurry of activity. Tomorrow, April 8, 2013, two island authors will be involved in events – one on island and one off.

As published earlier, Scott Nash’s wildly popular The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate will be on stage at 7 p.m. on the mainland at Portland Stage Company. Come meet some dramatic renderings of Nash’s beloved avian characters. For more information see Affiliate Artists Events.Leslea Newman on Peaks Island

At the same time, island author Eleanor Morse will introduce award-winning writer, Lesléa Newman, at an event sponsored by the Peaks Island Branch of the Portland Public Library. Lesléa has written over 60 books, many of them for children and adolescents, including the children’s classic, Heather Has Two Mommies, the young adult novel, Jailbait, the middle grade novel, Hachiko Waits, and the adult poetry collection, Still Life with Buddy. Her latest book, October Mourning, is a cycle of poems about the death of Matthew Shepard, the gay twenty-one-year old University of Wyoming student who was lured from a bar by two young men, savagely beaten, tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, and left to die. The book, a searing and beautiful tribute to Shepard, has recently been named an American Library Association 2013 Stonewall Honor Book. This event will be 7.00 p.m. at the Doug MacVane Community Center, Peaks Island. The book will be on sale after the reading and talk. Refreshments will be served.

Peaks Island author Scott Nash offers event at Portland Stage Co.

LongfellowShortsNashPortlandStageJoin The Affiliate Artists and Author/illustrator Scott Nash for a night of readings from his new book, The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay The Pirate, as well as other works by Nash.

An open discussion and book signing will follow the actors’ readings.

April 8th 7 p.m. at Portland Stage Co., Forest Avenue, Portland.

For the “big, bloody, beating heart”: Love from the Rock Benefit

LovefromtheRockIn Peaks Island Press’ last article, I described the benefit for Longfellow Books, our beloved indie bookstore that Joshua Bodwell calls the “big, bloody, beating heart” of this city’s literary community. Peaks Islanders love Portland. They love their independent bookstore. And they love their independence out here on “the Rock.” Roll that all together, along with Scott and Nancy Nash‘s brilliant event logo artwork, and you have a benefit designed to help Longfellow Books recover from Nemo blizzard damage. Thanks to Eleanor Morse‘s inspiration to organize this event, you can come and bid for a 90 minute origami lesson, two piano tunings, or a bisque ware painting party for four, and much, much more! Just two days away, don’t miss it!

Love from the Rock

Brackett Memorial United Church

Sunday March 10th, 2:00 p.m.

  • 2.00: Children’s book (ages 8 and up) readings begin–including authors Jamie Hogan, Scott Nash and Annie O’Brien;
  • 2.30: Silent auction browsing and bidding.
  • 2.45: Adult fiction reading from authors Nicole d’Entremont, James Hayman, and Eleanor Morse
  • Coffee, tea, amazing baked goods, books for sale.

Valente and Nash Soar in Best Books of 2012 Amazon List

A little over a month ago, I crowed that two island authors launched books in the same week – Scott Nash with his High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate and Catherynne Valente with her The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. Now, to my amazement (and yet, why should I be surprised?), both of them have soared to Amazon’s top 2012 Best Books of the Year list for Children’s Middle Grade readers.

With much love and awe, I applaud them both and invite you to do the same. I already have my copies, do you?

%d bloggers like this: