Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A heartwarming way to share my book

A couple of nights ago I read my book to a group of children living at Transition House, a shelter and resources for the homeless.  The entrance has beautiful stained glass doors, immediately welcoming and familiar!

The questions and comments during story time were priceless. My favorite comment, however, came from a boy who, after I told them my family was in the book, looked at the page where my husband gets a new guitar and said excitedly, “Your husband met SANTA?!” After I read the story, I met each one and put their name in a book for them to keep. The 25 books were donated by a very generous coworker of my husband’s.  Thank you Andrew!!

What I love to now imagine is them going to bed with their books and believing in the magic of Santa.  I hope all of you have a magical Christmas, too!!

Transition House is dedicated to the solution of family homelessness in the Santa Barbara community.  Capable and motivated families with children are offered respectful, non-sectarian residential services and the life skills needed to alleviate their poverty, and to restore self-sufficiency and dignity.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Goodreads Review

On my dear friend's piano (my son painted
the Santa when he was five)
Just wanted to share this review I received on Goodreads this week.  I had a book giveaway and one of the recipients posted this review:
This new 2013 edition is illustrated with talented Christine Brallier’s absolutely stunning stained glass mosaics. The accomplished artwork gives the familiar Christmas poem a warm and antique look. I know nothing about making stained glass mosaics, so was delightfully surprised to discover that this medium can portray movement so convincingly (unlike the frozen-stiff figures so often seen on church windows.) The pages are full of details that invite the reader to linger, such as the patterns on Santa’s hood and on the reindeer blankets, the long white strips of glass that make up Santa’s beard and the reindeers’ manes, and the stripes in the cat’s tail. 

The cats are a particular delight, especially the grey and white cat modeled on the artist’s cat Raymi. For a story-within-a-story, follow this feline through the pages of the poem for the cat’s perspective on the Christmas Eve happenings. Note her realistic poses and behavior: curled up on her owner’s bed and completely oblivious to the mouse sleeping in the living room wreath; peering out the window to check on the clatter on the lawn; diving to hide under an armchair as Santa appears in the fireplace; peeking out curiously from under the chair; cautiously considering Santa’s outstretched hand; batting the side of Santa’s chair as Santa strums the guitar; clawing Santa’s beard; and finally curled up again on the bed, purring and kneading and dreaming about those perfect cat toys Santa just delivered. There are also other wonderful cats shown in the framed photos on the wall of the house. 

On the shelves at Chaucer's Bookstore
Recommended for children of all ages including pre-readers, for art lovers, for cat lovers, and for just about everyone else except Grinch and Scrooge. I’m sure our copy will become a treasured family Christmas book, brought out every year along with the holiday decorations. 
Thank you so much, Alexandra!

My book is available here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review!

Hooray!  My first book review, how wonderful.  Much gratitude to Tasha Saecker at the blog, Waking Brain Cells, where she reviews books for children and teens.  Head over there to read her review of my book and if you're a fan of children's books, there's plenty to explore there!  Her review of my book is here.

About Tasha from her blog:  My name is Tasha Saecker, and I am the Assistant Director of the Appleton Public Library in Appleton, WI. I started my library career over 20 years ago as a children’s librarian, and continue to be connected to books for children and young adults.
I hope in Waking Brain Cells, you find a warm, friendly place where books for children and teens are celebrated.

Thanks, Tasha!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Priority Shipping Now Available

Want to get your copy of my book delivered by Christmas?  Priority shipping now available on my web site.  Order soon, Christmas is nearly here!

My book is available here.  Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Goleta Family School Holiday Marketplace

Last night I signed and sold my book at the Goleta Family School Holiday Marketplace.  I had a table in one of the two classrooms next to these wonderful self portraits (love the one with the fangs!)

Not only did I sell a lot of books, but I did some holiday shopping of my own and came home with many hand made ornaments and magnets made by children (my favorite kind of art!!)

I felt right at home the moment I walked up and saw this mosaic-covered boulder.  :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

GVAA Holiday Show

Another fun event, the annual Goleta Valley Art Association's holiday show, Picassos for Peanuts, was this week where the GVAA members exhibit and sell their art at the Goleta Library.  It is an opportunity to purchase beautiful art for under $300, making it the perfect place for holiday shoppers!  There were also notecards, silk screened cloths, handmade jewelry, and in my case, my book

I haven't exhibited much with GVAA over the past four years since I've been working on the book, so it was really fun to be able to show the other members what I had been creating all that time.  Plus, the cat mosaic I was exhibiting sold, yay me (though I will miss that particular one, a pink version of my cat, Raymi).

How can viewing art, chatting with interesting people, and snacking on peppermint bark not be a good time?! 

If you missed the opening reception, you can still purchase the art until January 4, 2014, when it will be taken down.  I even got to put up another mosaic in place of pink Raymi if you want another opportunity to buy one of my mosaics for under $300!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mosaic Exhibition and Book Signing at Granada Books

Thank you everyone who came to see my art and book at Granada Books last week!  I enjoyed seeing many friends and family as well as meeting new people enthusiastic about my art.  I read the book to a group of children (and adults!) and it was really fun to see their reaction to the story.  My mosaics will be on exhibit for the rest of December, so please stop by to see them.  Granada Books is located at 1224 State Street in Santa Barbara, CA.  Thanks, Granada Books, for hosting me! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Featured in Santa Barbara News-Press

Family Portrait
Artist illustrates "The Night Before Christmas" with mosaics featuring her loved ones

December 8, 2013 12:22 AM

Christine Brallier wanted to create a children's book unlike any other.
So she worked painstakingly for four and a half years creating 15 mosaics, made mostly of stained glass pieces, to illustrate Clement C. Moore's "The Night Before Christmas" (Brownian Bee Press, $16.99). What's more, she put her family in her first children's book — and had Santa play the guitar!

The Goleta artist added a modern touch to the 1823 poem with images of husband Greg Brallier, their son, Jack, and their cat, Raymi, a domestic short-hair mix, along with their own decorations and ornaments.

"TheNight Before Christmas" was released recently and is being sold on State Street at Granada Books, where the mosaics are on the walls (but not for sale) through December in Mrs. Brallier's first major solo art show. Her books also are at Chaucer's Books, as well as Curious Cup in Carpinteria.

She will also sell and sign copies during the Winter Sing and Marketplace, 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Goleta Family School in Goleta, where some of the proceeds will go to the school's PTA.

All but one of the mosaics are 15-by-24-inch, and they appear at two-thirds of their actual size in the book.

"I always wanted to do a children's book before I was doing mosaics, but my painting skills were not that great, so I never felt confident enough to do one," the 45-year-old self-taught artist told the News-Press at her home. But she felt inspired when creating a mosaic of a mouse and a skunk, and people said that would make a great children's book.

"I had never seen a children's book done with mosaics before, and I thought that would be really cool. So I was writing down ideas, thinking about it, nothing was coming," said the Bellflower native, who wasn't interested in a tale about the mouse and skunk. "On Christmas Eve, we were reading the story ('The Night Before Christmas'), as we always do, and I was thinking about how cool it would be to do it with my family in it and make it more personal."

"I tried not to look at other 'Night Before Christmas' books as much as possible because I didn't want to be influenced by them and didn't want to feel like I was copying any elements," Mrs. Brallier said. "I did want to look at other Santas (on the Internet) and make sure mine was unique."

Instead of the traditional American version, Mrs. Brallier went with a more classic European look: robe and hood instead of suit and cap.

"It's not what I grew up with. Anything that's different from what I'm used to is interesting to me."

Having never seen Santa play a guitar, the artist thought it would be another way to make her version unique.

In another scene, Santa gives her husband, a guitarist for the longtime Santa Barbara band Tearaways, an electric guitar for the verse, "He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf."

"My husband wanted a guitar like that," Mrs. Brallier said. "I thought it would be fun to give it to him in the book because I couldn't afford it in real life." She laughed.

Their son, who's now 15, is shown as a young boy sleeping for "all snug in their bed."

"He said, 'How come I'm not in it more? My dad's in a bunch of pictures; I'm only in one,'" Mrs. Brallier said with a grin. "I said, 'Well, I'm only in one.'" The mosaic of her is based on a photo her husband shot while she slept, Raymi the cat lying on top of her.

Throughout the book, Raymi watches Santa in the house and eventually warms up to him. (When Santa comes down the chimney, the surprised cat leaps behind a chair!)

Photos on the Internet inspired Mrs. Brallier's depiction of reindeer. She saw how their tongues stick out to the side as they run. So she had a reindeer do that as it flew in her book.

"I was going for something realistic, but at the same time, a more stylized look: playful, colorful, whimsical," Mrs. Brallier said about the entire book.

The illustrations, she added, reflect herself: "Happy, joyful, fun, playful, silly, colorful. I love life. I see the world like a kid in a way."

Since childhood, Mrs. Brallier loved to draw, paint and play the piano. She decided to work with kids in art or music therapy. After graduating in 1986 from JohnMarshall High School in Los Angeles, she worked in preschools in Los Angeles and attended Los Angeles City College. In 1989, she moved to Santa Barbara, which she preferred over smoggy L.A., and went to Santa Barbara City College. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1994 at Antioch UniversitySanta Barbara and a master's in the same field there in 1996. She married Mr. Brallier in 1998 and worked as a masseuse.

Mrs. Brallier said her desire to help kids was fulfilled by becoming a mother, but she still wanted to create art. She said she struggled with her painting and drawing skills, but found a do-it-yourself mosaic kit in 2005 at the Michaels craft store near her home. "I made this box, and I was totally hooked. The process was so fun and meditative. I get to go into my own world."

She joined the Goleta Valley Arts Association and participated in its group shows at the Goleta Branch Library and the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center on Cabrillo Boulevard.

To learn more about mosaics, she traveled around the U.S. for conferences of the Societyof American Mosaic Artists. In Lexington, Ky., she was the lead artist for the society's project in that city and created a large mosaic of a nest and birds for The Nest — Center for Women, Children & Families .

Mrs. Brallier dedicated "The Night Before Christmas" to her husband, son, cat, and her mother, Robin Nichols, a Los Angeles resident who recently died from pancreatic cancer at age 67. "She was a big animal lover and loved the book, especially the cat."

For her next project, Mrs. Brallier has received approval to create a mosaic of trees and plants that her mother loved for a chapel at newly renovated Goleta ValleyCottage Hospital. She's waiting for fundraising to be completed.

The News-Press met with Mrs. Brallier again after the mosaics went up at Granada Books, where co-owner Sharon Hoshida, 66, said the art immediately made customers interested in the new interpretation of a classic.

Mrs. Brallier couldn't stop smiling as she stood surrounded by her mosaics. "This is the first time I've seen them all up. It's exciting! More people can see them."

Mom would be proud.


Christine Brallier will sell and sign copies of "The Night Before Christmas" (Brownian Bee Press, $16.99), the 1823 Clement C. Moore poem that she illustrated with her mosaics, during the Winter Sing and Marketplace from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Goleta Family School, 711 Ribera Drive, Goleta. Part of the proceeds will go to the school's PTA.

Her book also is being sold at Granada Books, 1224 State St., where her mosaics are displayed; Chaucer's Books, 3321 State St., 682-6787; and Curious Cup, 929 Linden Ave., Carpinteria, 220-6608.

"The Night Before Christmas" is available here.

Photo of reindeer by Mehosh Dziadzio
All the rest of the photos by Thomas Kelsey, News-Press
*Links added by me :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Mosaic Exhibit Starts Tonight!

Tonight is the opening reception for my exhibition of the stained glass mosaics featured in my children's book, The Night Before Christmas.  I'm so excited!!  A lot has happened with the book since its debut and lots more to come.  Read all about it in my special edition newsletter that I just sent out.  Click here.

The mosaics will be on exhibit for the month of December at Granada Books, 1224 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Local Newspaper Doing Feature Story!

I was just interviewed and had my picture taken at Granada Books with my art for an upcoming Santa Barbara News Press article. I will see about posting it here when it comes out, or at least a link.  For all you locals, check out this Sunday's paper in the Life section.  It's gonna be big!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mosaic Art Exhibit for Book Illustrations This Week!

Three and a half hours later, two exhausted and hungry art-hanger-uppers have finished hanging my fifteen mosaics for my art exhibit, book signing, and book reading, this coming Thursday. Can't wait! Thanks Sharon!!

Opening Reception:
When: Thurs, Dec. 5, 2013, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Granada Books, 1224 State St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Who: Me!!

If you can't make it to the reception, the mosaics will be on exhibit for the month of December so come on by and check them out!!