Photo by Angie Quantrell
The Butchart Gardens, Brentwood Bay (near Victoria), BC
spring began, stuttered
winter rushed back, hanging on
dumped a cold white gift
my hat! it’s heavy
my neck bends low, ground view
where did the sun go?
we wait, hope for warmth
wrap our coat-leaves tight, shiver
dreaming of sunbeams
snow hats by Angie Quantrell
photos by Angie Quantrell, Yakima Valley
The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup
Written by Hunter Liguore
Illustrated by Vikki Zhang
Yeehoo Press, 2021
Today I am delighted to introduce Vikki Zhang, the talented illustrator of The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup. Vikki joins us from China. Vikki has generously shared some of her works-in-progress and completed spreads, but you really need to read this picture book in person to see the details and feel the wonder of this lovely book. The partnership between Hunter and Vikki comes to life in each page!
Welcome, Vikki! Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! My name is Vikki Zhang, I came from China, Jiangsu. I received my MFA of illustration at School of Visual Arts in 2018. Then I began my career as a freelance illustrator in New York. I created art for children’s books, editorials, book covers, brands, and product surface, etc.
I am also the founder and art director of Nianyi(年衣), a kids fashion brand, based in Beijing.
Wow, I see plenty of creative opportunities for you! Congratulations on your work!
Congratulations on your new book The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup! Once you read the manuscript from Hunter, how did you get your inspiration for the illustrations you created for the book?
Thank you, Angie. I am so pleased you enjoy the reading.
Hunter’s writhing is full of love and benevolence, like the yellow lamplight emitted from the deep woods. For the protagonists are a little girl and her grandmother, I am thinking of the objects and details appeared from my experience living in the grandparents’ home. The clock, the tablecloth, the pot, the outfits and so on are directly taken from the real life.
I am a nostalgia. I also got inspiration for this book from Victorian-Edwardian era’s picture books, antique cross stitch, decor and interior design of William Morris style, Carl Larsson’s watercolor depicting family, home and farm, poem about country life, delight rhythm in guitar, etc.
Oh, that’s what your illustrations remind me of-Carl Larsson! I love his work. And I love watercolors!
Where do you do your illustrating work? What process do you use as you create illustrations?
I am now work at the studio in Shanghai. While this book was finished in my parents’ home during the quarantine. The process begins with sketching on iPad. Then I printed them out, traced them on light box with pencil, and colored layer by layer with watercolor. There are some pages drew directly from iPad.
How did you celebrate the book birthday of The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup when it came out last August?
I called my dad and mom sharing this good news. It’s very exciting to publish it simultaneously in US and China.
I love the heart in The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup. The family relationships and the connections between ingredients and their sources is fascinating. It takes making soup to a deeper level. How do imagination and your childhood experiences impact your creativity as you illustrate?
My childhood experience had a profound impact on my art career. I am very grateful for each of my family member who gave me lots of love and care during my growth. They gave me a soft heart full of imagination. I read a line which says imagination is good memory. I can’t agree more with that. Those who can create fantasy and marvel are ones who are deeper engaged in the daily life than others.
I love reading how your family gave you a soft heart filled with imagination!
What are you working on now?
I am working on packaging designs, brand collaborations, series book art for young adults about Peking opera, and a picture book I wrote. As for Nianyi, we are preparing the 22aw collection.
You are very busy!
What tip would you give to a new picture book author or illustrator?
Don’t overthinking, let it flow, simply create things you are truly passionate about.
Be honest, be patient, focus, work hard
Thank you for the tips!
Surprise us! What else would you like to share?
The designers from Nianyi made the little girl’s red polka dress into the real product. The dress will be released in our 22ss collection!
When I drawing the little girl, her hair style is difficult to depict in specific angles. So I tie up my hair into the same style and took selfies modeling for myself.
I think that dress will be adorable!
I love this selfie Vikki took to help her see how to illustrate the little girl’s hairstyle!
Thank you so much, Vikki, for sharing your beautiful work!
Readers, you will want to find your own copy of The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup to enjoy! And don’t forget to swing over to the Author Interview post to read more about this delicious picture book and get your name in the hat to win a copy. Thanks for stopping by!
bees and bumbles buzz
searching, sipping, slurping feast
nectar and pollen
oh, let me smell you
be still big thing, are you food?
no. you’re flowerless
get out of my way!
true flowers wait; gotta get
work to do, to do
true flowers by Angie Quantrell
photos by Angie Quantrell
Purple Robe Lavender Farm, Arlington, WA
Today’s post is a far cry from yesterday. Lavender to onions and garlic. Oh my. Cry if you will over chopped onions . . .
Let’s take a little diversion from fragrant to pungent.
Due to earwigs and extreme heat, most of the garden is struggling. But for alliums. The onions, garlic, and leeks are doing great! Not only producing, but surviving all of the above. Let’s hear it for alliums. And don’t forget the chives, a favorite snack food of a certain young onion/chive lover. The chives are marching along in perfect order.
This is the first year I’ve tried spring onions. Wow, did they love the garden bed! Since I’ve never grown them before, I tested a few before they were ready. Now they are all harvested and drying. I’m not sure if that’s the correct procedure, but it’s what I’ve done and it seems to be working.
The garlic was a surprise from last year. I think. I’m forever popping sprouted garlic cloves in a garden bed or patch of ground. Usually, they are eaten before I get anything useful. This spring, for the longest time, the middle bed had only this big bouquet of garlic greens. Finally, after the complimentary squash plants over grew it and scapes started growing, I could tell they were done. I pulled them out and we actually have garlic! Also drying with the onions.
I pretty much leave the leeks alone, letting the bees enjoy the flowers (and earwigs-isn’t that odd?). Sometimes I will harvest a leek, but most are left alone to reseed. And they do that very well.
How about you? Any tips for growing alliums? Or better yet, a favorite recipe?
Looking forward to next year and a fresh crop.
I had the best time last week visiting college friends, eating good meals, catching up, making rubber stamped cards, and exploring a bit of the Pacific Northwest. July is a a great month, because it’s lavender time, friends. Lavender Time.
Three of us (waves at Alyson and Renee) traveled to Arlington, Washington, to visit the Purple Robe Lavender Farm. It was such a delight! The bees were humming and buzzing over the lavender-covered hillside, making me want to grab a book and a nice cup of tea and find a spot to plop down. Or a notebook and my purple pen, so I could dream and write. Or spread a blanket on the ground beneath the lavender plants so I could enjoy the activity.
Alas, we were too busy chatting, smelling, and clicking photos. The fragrance was fantastic! We nearly had the place to ourselves. We did swap photo taking tasks with two other women, and I saw a family or two wandering the grounds. But mostly. Us.
White lavender (which I read later was a pink and white lavender named Melissa) and purple lavender created a white-edged purple carpet. I crept carefully between the rows several times, or scooted close to heavy heads, only to be calmly buzzed by bees and bumblebees. They paused, acted like they wondered what great flowers I had to offer, and then toddled back off to their work after they realized I was of the boring flowerless sort.
People in the area: Go now! Take a picnic and camera. The grounds are open for wandering, there is a small shop (of course, with lavender-smelling things-including lavender plants), and I noticed several picnic tables spread about. The lavender is peaking right now. This is the time. You-cut is available if you want to take home a bouquet, and comes complete with a photo-ready basket. A small selection of drinks and snacks are on hand.
Ahhh, lavender. It’s always been one of my favorite flowers. Enjoy.
Plus. Take some friends. It’s the best.