If, to you, those words ring out like a magic incantation, then you’re quite right! Lapis lazuli is the name of a blue rock found in parts of Afghanistan, which is responsible for a very electrifying, and very coveted shade of blue.
The Venetians called it “ultramarine” (Italian for ‘a place beyond the sea’). During the Renaissance, Lapis lazuli was used only to paint the cloak of the Virgin Mary, and at the time it cost more than its weight in gold.
Ever since I started painting, I have been mind-boggled by this color. I see it used around the world – on Frida Kahlo’s house in Coyoacán, Mexico, in Majorelle Gardens in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Yves Klein’s blue abstracts, Matisse’s friendly nudes, and in my absolute favorite painting of all time, Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne (above), which hangs in the National Gallery in London.
Frida Kahlo’s House. Coyoacán, Mexico.
Majorelle Gardens. Marrakesh, Morocco.
I have decided to kick up my heels and plan a research journey to chase this lapis lazuli around the world. I’m heading to Venice in October– to the city where it was first processed and traded its way into Europe.
There’s a pigment shop on Calle delle Rasse, where I hope to find out more about it! If anything, I should make some new friends and hopefully have a bit of gelato!
Thanks to the wonderful generosity of the folks at Child’s Play International (Ltd), we recently had a book signing for The Great Googly Moogly at the BEA Book Expo in New York. The whole experience left me awestruck. I am so thankful to get the chance to work with such dedicated, passionate, creative and downright wonderful folks! I still can’t believe I get to make a living from drawing in my jammies!
When it comes time to begin a new project, there’s always a tingly feeling of being off the beaten track. I have no idea what the book is going to be about, who is going to be in it, or what it’s going to look like page to page. Other illustrators I know call this “First Page Fear”.
Everyone copes with first page fear differently – I like to geek out and sharpen things.
Here are my pencils, arranged in spectacular OCD order from which I like to use least to most. Cerulean blue is clearly the winner (far right) by it’s tiny nubbiness.
For some unknown reason, I developed a terrifying fear of flying a few years ago. The only way I manage during take-off and landing is to doodle on the helpful, friendly barf bags they leave in your front seat pocket. I leave behind my maniacally-detailed doodle bags as a sort of “Hang In There” gift for whoever finds and needs it next. This one I kept, though, as a momento of my recent trip to the BEA Book Expo in New York – which I will write about soon!