Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Floyd Book Sneak Preview

Thought I'd post a tiny excerpt from my upcoming book, Floyd and the Mysterious Night Time Noise. I start working on the preliminary sketches this week-- wish me luck!

...One night, after the dogs went to bed, something strange happened. Floyd was dreaming about bacon and eggs, when suddenly he was awakened by a strange noise. Floyd was startled and looked around the kitchen. He noticed Tiny and Larue were still asleep. They hadn’t heard the sound.

Floyd wondered what the mysterious noise was. He listened, thinking he might hear it again. Floyd woke Tiny and Larue and convinced them to help him stay awake. For a very long time, there was no mysterious noise, only silence.

The dogs drifted off to sleep once more; but in the middle of a wonderful dream about steak, Floyd was again awakened by the strange noise. This time, Tiny and Larue heard it too...

© Kristine Daniels 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer Family Outings: My Art Museum Picks

Rain or shine, visiting an art museum can be a great summer family activity for all ages... A few tips for your visit:

• You DON’T have to tour an entire museum at once. It’s perfectly fine to pick a gallery or two and spend an hour taking in a small part of a museum. That leaves something to see on your next visit!

• Consider taking a guided tour. Many can be geared to younger kids and can be really interesting whether you know a little or a lot about art already. The audio-tours can be fun for a few extra dollars, and teens especially like those since they can tune out the grown ups even when we’re right nearby!

• Prepare the kids about how to behave at a museum: Only touch the art if it says you can. Wait your turn to stand in front of the art. Talk softly. No running. No taking pictures of the art even with a cel phone.

Here’s a list of art museums that are family friendly and an hour or less from Southcoast MA. I have personally been to and highly recommend every museum on this list. Many museums have free admission days (check their web sites) or you can get a pass from your local library. Have fun!!

RISD Museum - Providence, RI: Small, welcoming, awesome giant Buddha!

Whaling Museum - New Bedford, MA: In addition to Kobo the whale skeleton and other cool stuff, it has some great maritime art pieces on display.

De Cordova Museum and Sculpture Park - Lincoln, MA: Great for kids since it’s a park and a museum at the same time! Bring a picnic lunch. It also has one of the best art museum gift shops ever.

Heritage Plantation - Sandwich, MA: If you get past the working antique carousel, the art collection has some great pieces of American folk art. An antique gravestone exhibit runs though October 2010 which might be a cool thing for the teens who are into all the current spooky vampire lit.

Fuller Craft Museum - Brockton, MA: A small gem on a pretty lake, the exhibits feature the amazing works of seriously high craft artists.

Museum of Fine Arts - Boston, MA: A mondo museum with world-class permanent and special exhibits. One of the most outstanding collections in the country, and only an hour away.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - Boston, MA:
Suitable for tweens and teens, one of the most gorgeous museums I’ve even been in, it’s like traveling to Venice for the afternoon. Famous for its art theft of 1990, that bit of museum history is just part of the incredible Gardner experience.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Seeking Private Studio Instructors!

I'm compiling a list of private art teachers in Southeastern MA. If you or someone you know has a teaching studio, please share name, age level, contact info by comment post or email! Thanks for your help!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cheerios Story Writing Contest

Attention writers!! The 4th Annual Cheerios New Author Contest is open. "Spoonful of Stories" entries are due July 15, 2010. It is a free contest open to any author (18+) who has never been published. Submitted stories should have 500-word max, and target age is 3-8.

The grand prize is $5,000 from Cheerios and the winner's book gets published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. There are also runner-up prizes. Be sure to read the rules, especially eligibility requirements.

This contest is a great opportunity for aspiring writers since there is no designated theme, so we can be super creative!! I found out about this contest through my SCBWI newsletter. Good luck, writers!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hooray for Summer!

My summer officially begins at the end of the school day on Monday, June 21! It is beautiful weather, but I have lots of art projects to work on in addition to some major pool time. My studio is set up, I have most of my supplies ready, my new Floyd story draft has been edited and re-edited, and I am even taking a drawing class in July which I’ll post more about later.

So here are my art plans for the summer:
• Create about 20 illustrations for my new book, Floyd and the Mysterious Night Time Noise
• Update my studio logo and blog design
• Redesign my web page
• Set up a Cafe Press store
• Take a fabulous drawing class
• Work on some other miscellaneous illustrations for fun...

I am SO looking forward to this summer!! Work doesn't feel like work when you love what you are creating!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Interview with Floyd Music Composer Matt Richard

Recently, jazz pianist Matt Richard went into the studio to record his original compositions for the Floyd and the Irresistible Cookie DVD project (still in progress, produced by Wendy Macdonald and the Somerled Arts Foundation). Here’s an interview with Matt about his experiences creating and recording the music.

Q. How is composing music for a soundtrack different than composing an individual song?
A. With a soundtrack you have so many more parameters to follow, such as the theme of the story, the exact length of time needed, and the narration. For most of the instrumental songs I write for myself,  I use fairly simple forms and they are designed to be expanded with improvisation. This soundtrack was not improvised.  It has some elements of the jazz style; but most of it would not really be considered jazz.  Although I didn't consciously try to follow a certain style, the influence of Vince Guaraldi (Peanuts) and Johnny Costa (Mister Rogers Neighborhood) is probably there.  

Q. Do you write out the music on the computer or by hand on paper?  Why do you use that method?
A. All of the original melodies were hand written first, one by one.  Then I entered them into the music writing program I use which is Sibelius.  I did actually read a printed music score when I did the recording and I followed it pretty much as written.

Q. You are a pianist, but did you imagine different sounds or instruments as you wrote the music?

A. Early on, I had considered a few different instruments but when I found out from the producer that the soundtrack would only use piano, I just stayed with that.  Adding other instruments and players gets a lot more complicated and obviously costs a lot more.

Q. How did the story, narration, and/or illustrations influence you when you were composing?
A. I pretty much followed the story and set up different themes for each section.  I tried to reflect the mood as it went along, and I made sure that none of the music would get in the way of or distract from the narration.  You just try to enhance the story as it unfolds.  Because this video is not animated, the narration is going on throughout with very little down time to expand the music.

Q. What parts of Floyd have different themes?
A. There are some loose themes but they are more related to the scenes as they play out in the story. Surprisingly, Floyd did not end up with a theme even though he is the central character.  I think there are fourteen or fifteen different sections and some themes are repeated. The music runs underneath the entire video which lasts about nine and a half minutes.

Q. Where was the music recorded?
A. I recorded at Peter Kontrimas' Studio in Westwood, MA. I have done five or six different recordings there so I'm comfortable.  Peter is a tremendous sound engineer and the fact that he is an accomplished acoustic bass player adds to his ability understand the recording process.  

Q. Describe the experience of recording this soundtrack in the studio.
A. Peter has a beautiful seven foot Yamaha grand piano at his studio and he used two microphones inside the open piano quite close to the sound board.  I wore a set of headphones which allowed me to hear both the soundtrack and the piano together. We recorded the entire soundtrack straight through without stopping and fixed a few things that I didn't like.  Then I did a second take which did not need any edits.  The second take will be the one that will be heard on the video.
To hear some of Matt’s original jazz music, check out his web page at

Matt’s CDs are available through