Guest Blogger Karen Scarlett, Artist & Calgary Reads Champion
Have you heard about Calgary Reads? If you haven’t, then today is your lucky day!
A number of years ago, I had my work set up at a farmers’ market and the Executive Director of Calgary Reads came by and purchased some of my wares. What a lucky day that was. Since then, I have been involved with a number of Calgary Reads projects and it continues to be fun and inspiring to work with them.
I have always enjoyed reading and as you can guess, Calgary Reads is all about inspiring reading and creating avid readers in our community.
There are all kinds of reasons why reading is important.
I love to read books that take me on a journey without leaving my chair and I feel reading makes me more creative and it also helps with my mental health.
I can’t imagine a day without reading.
How I’ve Been Involved in Calgary Reads
Little Free Library
I have painted a number of Little Free Libraries, both for Calgary Reads and for others too. The image at the top of the newsletter is a Little Library I did a couple of years ago, you will recognise it covered in my Alberta Bouquet that I love to paint.
Calgary Reads is the hub for Little Free Libraries in Canada and actively inspires the community to engage in building and feeding them while creating community around them.
On the left, I am standing with a Little Free Library I freshly painted and founder of Little Free Libraries, Todd Bol when he visited Calgary.
On the right is a shadow of my boyfriend Doug Symington beside a pile of Little Free Libraries we built, just loaded into the truck and headed to Calgary Reads to be painted and sent out to the community.
For more on Little Free Libraries and to get free plans for building your own take a look at littlefreelibrary.org
YES, I will paint your favourite scene onto your new Little Free Library!
The Children’s Reading Place
I was thrilled to be part of transforming a cute little house in Inglewood into a magical space.
When you book your appointment to visit The Children’s Reading Place with your family or school class, you are in for a treat!
The first room I started painting was the “Canada Reads” room. A design team of students from Bow Valley College asked if I could create rolling hills in varied shades of green to feel like you were in the foothills.
The second image is a bit tough to understand. It is a picture taken while laying on my back looking up under the stairwell where there was a tiny spot for kids to read…. I loved the idea to paint on the ceiling when I saw it, but turns out, it is tough to paint in a spot where you do not fit! Yikes!
The picture on the left shows the little Forest Nap painting from its regular vantage point. On the right is a photo of the free coloring book Calgary Reads produced for Canada’s 150 celebrations.
Every child who came to the Reading Place in 2017 received one of these while supplies lasted. Yes, I was one of the 12 artists included in this book.
I drew a picture of a castle floating in the sky inspired by my Dad (He regularly told me, “Practice building castles in the sky so when you get the chance to build one on the ground, you will know how”) and inside the book, I recommend that kids should, without a doubt, read Anne of Green Gables.
My grandma Scarlett’s big sister was best of friends with Lucy Maude Montgomery when she lived with my grandma’s family in PEI.
Next area on the list to paint was the main stairwell leading to more reading rooms. I am sure you recognise my spruce trees. I love all the wonderful colours that make up the stair forest. This area was inspired by the book, Where The Wild Things Are.
Luckily, our neighbour had a pile of unwanted branches and Doug and I attached them to the walls turning the hall into a secret forest. A number of leaves were hand made with sponsors names written on each one, when you go there, see if you can find my name.
This house is absolute magic!
Every room is painted with a theme and is so inspiring to be inside . You must go!
Just recently I painted some inspiration into the Reader in Residence room there. Here are some process shots.
Some light pencil lines and the start of shaded painting begins…
Details get added…
A photo before I added titles to some spines and before furniture goes back into place.
My parents were avid readers and as a child we were read to at bed time. I had never considered that there are many children who do not get read to. It is one of many indicators of children becoming readers and becoming life long learners.
The other surprising detail I have learned from Calgary Reads is that many children NEVER own their own book. Once again, as a child, my siblings and I had book shelves FULL of books and I had never stopped to think that it wasn’t the norm. Another indicator of children becoming regular readers is if they own their own books. Each child that comes to the Reading Place gets to take a book home TO KEEP.
I hope you got a kick out of reading and seeing the wonderful experience I am having with Calgary Reads. I think they provide such an important opportunity for many kids that could fall through the cracks in our city.
Karen Scarlett, Artist & Calgary Reads Champion