#TBT Anna’s Art

As you might have guessed from my Twitter handle (@annawritedraw) and license plate, writing and drawing have always been a large part of my life. Recently, portfolios full of my old artwork came home to me. Here are a few for #TBT. These are from the early 2000s:

“Bakery Babies:” I ended up transferring this pencil sketch to a board and painting it with gouache but the children got stiff and the palette didn’t work.
“Sun Salutation:” This was a trial for an illustration job. I still like this piece.
“Kitty Transformation:” This was one of four images that showed an orange cat and ball of yarn transforming into a pumpkin. The four were scanned, colored in photoshop, and became my fall illustration promo piece.
Concept illustration for a short story about a boy and his mother who get on a bus that is packed with human-like animals. Mom never notices because the news is way more interesting.
“The Phoenix Towers:” After 9/11, I sketched this concept for my idea of a replacement for the twin towers. These wing-like buildings curved around a marble pool with an eternal flame. I still like the idea of the glass elevator shaft on the outside edge of the building (but I’d be too scared to ride in it.)

Summer Reading Rocks!

I’ve tried all summer to pull away from the lure of the screen: lap top, desk top, and iPhone. Instead, I spent July teaching horseback riding, taking kids on creek hikes, picking berries, singing and more as a camp counselor at Eagle’s Nest Camp (a camp that I went to as a child and counseled at during my 20’s). June and August were dedicated to my client MaineShare as I helped them coordinate the MaineShare Fair an event that will take place next week (September 9th) in Portland, Maine.

I’ve spent a fair bit of time out on the Androscoggin River rowing and coaching others. Eagles, herons and leaping fish were a gift as I glided over some amazingly smooth water. I slipped my middle grade work in progress into sunny summer slivers of time thinking deeply and working on a revision that amplifies desire, conflict and tension.

Even with all this incredible activity I made time to read. I embraced audio books with the amazing FREE audio book summer reading program at SYNC. These books filled the time on the long drive from Maine to North Carolina and back. And without Facebook, I had plenty of time to sink into a book at night. At the beginning of the year, I’d challenged myself to read 26 books thinking that one every other week would be great, but I’ve already exceeded that goal. Now I’ve increased that goal to 40 (but really I’m hoping for 52).

I have a number of adult and poetry books on my list for fall but I’m super excited about Melanie Crowder’s next (her 3rd) novel A Nearer Moon that launches next week, and Meg Wiviott’s debut novel Paper Hearts that launches TODAY!


Congrats to Meg and Melanie!

Now on with my summer reading list! (Books are listed in the order I read them starting in June.)

MONSTER, Walter Dean Myers (audio book). This is an amazing full cast presentation with an extra from the author explaining his research process and his interviews with numerous incarcerated young men. Highly recommended.

BUDDHA BOY, Kathe Koja (audio book). Bullying and acceptance.

MATERIAL GIRLS, Elaine Dimopoulos (eGalley from Net Galley). More on this in a later post. Highly recommended.

CIRCUS MIRANDUS, Cassie Beasley. Gentle, loving, and magical to its core, this book is the one you want to read aloud to your students this school year. It will draw your too-big-for-read-aloud-books back to your embrace. (Evidence: my 6 foot 2 inch high school sophomore beside me nightly.) Highly recommended.


EL DEAFO, Cece Bell. Newbery Honor. I was especially interested in this because my major was ASL in college. I wanted to see how Bell handled the Deaf community. The book is about the main character’s struggles to fit in with her Hearing family and mainstream life even though her mother is eager to have her learn ASL. By the end of the book, her interest is piqued and I got the feeling that had the book gone on the girl may have explored the Deaf Community more. There is an excellent author’s note about the spectrum of culture and language in the Deaf Community. Highly recommended.

BROWN GIRL DREAMING, Jacqueline Woodson. What can I say about this memoir in verse that hasn’t already been said? The book won the National Book Award Winner, Coretta Scott King Award, Newbery Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and is featured on many many lists. Highly recommended.

CROWS & CARDS, Joseph Helgerson (audio book). A fun recording that harkens back to pre-Civil War days, river boat scoundrels, and Mark Twain language and humor.

THE CROSSOVER, Alexander Kwame. Newbery Winner 2015.

THE SKIN I’M IN, Sharon Flake. I picked this middle grade up at a library book sale and so glad I did. First pubbed in 1998, if you loved JUMPED by Rita Williams-Garcia you’ll be engaged by Maleeka’s struggle to love herself. Highly Recommended.

STORY OF A GIRL, Sara Zarr. A quiet YA novel that digs deeply into self acceptance, family and forgiveness.

1.I’m pleased to say that we are safe and sound in Pennsylvania with my parents. We spent most of the last month, and all of last week boxing up our things, sweating in the heat and humidity, packing the trailer and moving from St. Mary’s County, Maryland. This stop at my parent’s home is for the month of July and then we are back to our home in Maine. After reading the blogs of other New England friends it is obvious that they are saturated with rain. I hope things dry out a bit by the time we get back… but even if it doesn’t, we know what we’re getting into. 

2. I’m getting very excited about the Vermont College residency that is coming up quickly. I’m doing all my required reading and workshop notes. My bag is packed (as long as I wear the same clothes for the next 10 days) and the financial aid stuff is moving forward. I still have to look at the workshop choices and try to make make some decisions. Even though this seems like a solid step forward in my development as a writer, I still have a little bit of a lost feeling. Is this what I should be doing? Should I just be giving up instead of investing this time and money in something so subjective and unstable? 

3. If you didn’t get to see the images from my Art Show and Sale they are up on my facebook page. Here is the link. If it doesn’t work… you may need to have a facebook account.

4. I’m working (pretty much pro bono) on an illustration assignment. The manuscript is a collaboration of two high school students for a Portland non-profit. The experience should be interesting as includes some cultural research.  have you heard about an African dish called Fufu?

5. Grandma and Grandpa get to have us for a whole month and are even taking the kids for one week on their own. Unending thanks and gratitude! (I’m really looking forward to a break.)

The Working Artist Show

 If you are in the Kennebunk area during the month of July… Please Come.

The WORKING ARTISTS SHOW, organized by some of the artists in the Maine Illustrators' Collective (MEIC),  is  being held in a gallery space, at the Kennebunk Free Library in Kennebunk, ME. Show runs July 2nd-July 31st Artist's Reception is in Hank's Room, Kennebunk Free Library July 8th 4:30-7:30pm The public is welcome. Come to a totally different kind of art show featuring commercial artists and  their art!

Art Show and Sale

Two days until the show… Everyone is invited.
Email me for the specifics. annajboll at gmail dot com 

Anna J. Boll

Fine Art & Illustration

Summer Show and Sale


Saturday, June 20th

4 pm to 8 pm

Leonardtown, Maryland


Hors d’oeuvres will be served.


Please come!

Children Welcomed!


Contact Anna at: annajboll at gmail dot com


Five on Friday

Locked so that my prof doesn’t see this. 

1. Thanks to those of you who gave me a little kick in the rear yesterday. While the art history paper is still on my list of things to do, the research is drawing to an end. I’ll work on it next week in the mornings and then turn it in by Wednesday if I’m lucky. The good thing is that because I am who I am, the research is exciting. I love to find out new things, and you never know, perhaps this could be a book or at least an article, some day.

2. Part of the reason it has been so difficult to complete (read: care about doing it) is because the class actually ended last Thursday. For the class, we completed a 3 page essay, a 10 minute class presentation w/power point, a mid-term take home test (with numerous lengthy essays), an in-class midterm (short answers), and a final test (with numerous lengthy (3 page) essays. Which begs the question: How may pieces (and what kind of) assessment does an educator need to have a good understanding of what you know and who you are as a student? Considering there were only six people in this class, and it was an entire semester compressed into three weeks, I’d say that was enough. Never the less, I will prevail and complete the paper.

3. When I’m procrastinating, I’m busy packing our house into boxes for our move back to Maine. We are really excited to go back to OUR home. I’m also excited to sketch and paint the view from my windows. There is so much texture in the Maine landscape.

4. I’ve been applying for what seems like a kagillion jobs and hope to get interview calls any day now. If I’m lucky, I’ll end up with tons of offers, but I think the reality is that luck would be AN interview or A job. 

5. My show invitation…



We just cannot get a break from the rain down here in Maryland. It was rainy all weekend and the beginning of the week. Yesterday we had dramatic thunderstorms and tornado warnings. All we saw were high winds in the early hours though. On the bad side, my sons have not been able to play in their scheduled baseball games and are generally bouncing off the walls from staying inside for recess. The good side is that I’ve not been tempted to stray from my final projects and papers to go outside. (Don’t worry procrastinators, there’s always the internet.) My drawing project process is below and the final critique went really well yesterday. I’m thinking of having a small art show in my house for friends, "A Semester of Art." I’ll photograph it and put it on my Facebook page too so that you all can enjoy it. BYOW&C. (That’s wine and cheese.)

Here are my past paintings torn to bits.

Here are the pieces reassembled in a blue gradient.

Here is the final drawing. "The Mythology of Epiphanies."

For the background (the mythology) behind the artwork see this previous post.

Now I am onto the next thing in my to do list: writing the critical essay for my Vermont application!

The Mythology of Epiphanies

 I’m working on my final project for my drawing class. Last Tuesday we picked pieces of paper from two cups: a phrase and a word. I ended up with "The mythology of…" and "epiphanies." 

The funny thing is that this phrase is very meaningful to me.  and I have been corresponding about "doing the work" necessary to create a book that is honest, and authentic from its dialogue to theme, to emotions. A work of fiction or art is never born fully formed as Athena from Zeus’s head. It is built little by little, year after year upon the backs of the previous drafts and thumbnails, research and revision. 

My journey to this realization has taken a while. I’m still thrilled when I learn a new trick of the trade, or an interesting bit of wisdom on revision but the fact is that nothing creative comes easy. Even for those who are wonderfully talented. 

I was unsure of the image I would create for this final project. I’ve been drafting thoughts and listing words that come to me. Birth of ideas, the story behind the story, tales of success, fish stories, tales, eureka, lightbulbs… Using words in the image seemed like a cop out, using a symbol or iconic image seemed too cliche’. Then I got to thinking of the work I’ve done. The images for portfolios that got ripped apart by well-meaning art directors. I decided to rip them apart myself.

I took out my old work and portfolios and started tearing. It felt great. I made piles of color and created a mosaic type, collage, background of blue gradient from all the skies I’ve tried to do in my paintings. Then I started to think of these as the scaffolding, the girders that allow me to climb higher in my understanding of illustration and design. I immediately thought of the photos by Hine in the ’30’s of the workers building the Empire State Building. 

Look at those amazing lines! What an epiphany! I immediately started sketching thumbnails. Tomorrow, I’ll draw on top of my mosaic sky to recreate an abstract version of the girders in the building. It is due on Wednesday. Hopefully I’ll have a picture to post by then. 

HI ART! Who’s Art?

 It is a sun, sun, sunny day and pretty warm here in Southern Maryland. This in combination with a day away from my house, in class and creating art boosted my spirits. I’m excited to post a new image here. 

Moscow nights. We have been looking at framing in my drawing class and the professor created a great assignment. She split the class in two and we created and wrote down one of those silly stories when one person starts and then passes it around the group. Then we had to create a 5 frame comic to show the story. Here is mine. I can’t figure out how to get a bigger image when you click it, sorry. Any help would be appreciated.

I’d hoped to scan in a collage I’m working on too but that will have to wait. Maybe tomorrow. Suffice it to say that I’m happy doing my art and working on many projects (all be it for free) that I enjoy.

More later.

Still alive

Yes folks, Anna is still alive and well. Better than well actually. Conference registration is charging full steam ahead. After one week we have over 250 people. Last year (with 575 people) it was pretty obvious that we had outgrown the space and we are looking for a bigger spot for 2010. In the mean time, we’ve limited the conference to 400 people so that means that things are filling up.

Some people have been disappointed by the limits but I’m confident that there are enough wonderful offerings to fill your weekend. (I would suggest for instance, that if you think you do not write "about race" or for the "gay community" that you may be surprised how much we all include racial, sexual, and gender baggage in our writing.) We have moved around some of the workshops due to demand and raised their limits. If you were closed out of something you really wanted, check in with Shirley Pearson (conference registrar) about changing your schedule. (shirleydpearson at yahoo dot com)

I am taking two college art classes (Drawing and Color Theory) from an enthusiastic, and approachable professor. On the first day of class, many of the young adult students in the class set themselves up facing me. I quickly realized they thought I was the professor.  I was flattered (since that is my goal) but explained I was also a student. Since then, I’ve just been the one who is very willing to share my life experiences, ideas and thoughts. I actually find myself hanging back, pausing and trying to allow some wait time for my younger classmates to give their opinions. I’ve told my professor not call on me if my hand is up and she wants to get others in on the discussion. I’d love to hear from these other students too but they seem afraid to volunteer their thoughts. The professor has been using some teaching techniques to get everyone involved which is great. 

One thing I love about taking classes is that I start to see my learning all around me. I’m noticing how color works and doesn’t work. What color is "local" color what color is "perceived" or "vibrating." What are the darkest darks, the lightest lights. How is a space constructed "atmospheric perspective." Many things that I’m learning are review, some I know but don’t have a name for it, other information is entirely new. When I’m taking a class, the art I produce, because of the structure and intensity of the course, is usually more accomplished. I’m able to use what I’m learning to make the image better in a variety of ways. 

Sharing is good:
Check out this lovely Lego artwork…