An amazing children’s book recently crossed my path – “The Magic Blanket”, by artist/author Judy Mastrangelo. Here we see fantasy and imagination at their finest. Mastrangelo has a background in multiple genres, including Realism, Impressionism, Abstractionism, and Fantasy, and loves to see nature come alive. Thank you, Judy, for being willing to chat with us.
Turning the page over to Judy!
Question: I have long admired the images that you share on Facebook. How did you come to choose this style of artistry?
Judy: Actually, my painting style came very naturally. It has developed over the years. I’ve gone through various phases during my life, being influenced by several schools of art. When I was younger, my style was darker and more morose, being under the influence of German Expressionism. My paintings brightened more when I discovered Monet’s vibrant Impressionistic colors, which have remained a favorite color palette of mine. I love the great school of Artists of the Italian Renaissance, such as Leonardo da Vinci, and look to them as teachers. I’ve studied their paintings and techniques, and feel that it’s very worthwhile for artists to have a good basic knowledge of this classical art, in categories such as anatomy, perspective, etc. When I discovered the talented Artists of the wonderful “Golden Age of Illustration”, I knew that was a genre and style I would love to have and attempt to continue in their tradition. I’m always striving to be a better artist, and probably will never reach the high level of these great Artists. But their Art will always inspire me.
Question: What was the process behind choosing to do a children’s book, and specifically one that so directly connects parent and child?
Judy: I have always enjoyed beautiful children’s books, and have fond memories of my parents reading them to me as a child. Creating paintings has been a delight throughout my life. And describing my art images with words seems to be part of my creative process. I think that the “illustrated word” is another wonderful art form.
I feel that children have a natural bond in their early years with their parents, looking up to them with respect as inspirational teachers, as well as delightful companions. It’s wonderful to see a family that is loving and close throughout their lives. I think that experiencing activities together that they enjoy, such as the love for literature and other art forms, can really enhance this family affection. The fun of sharing such activities with relatives can be a very heartwarming experience, that can be passed on from generation to generation.
Question: I was fascinated by the Elf that jumped off of the blanket and led Amy on her journey. How did you come to decide who would lead Amy on her journey, and on how the Elf would “enter” Amy’s life?
Judy: I’ve always enjoyed the world of the “wee folk”, such as Elves and Fairies. Often, ideas will pop out of my imagination, and this little Elf seemed to be the perfect tiny enchanted being to take Amy on her exciting adventure. I have a process that I call “Mind Painting” which is another term I use for “Imagination”, that Artists often use for inspiration. For example, I visualized this story in my head, along with the images. And out of these “Paintings in my Mind”, little “Greeny Elf” came into being, to take Amy on her adventure to his magical “Enchanted Land”.
Question: You have included several different activities in this book – some of which a child can do on their own and some of which they would do with a parent or other adult. Why did you decide to do this, and how did you go about choosing the different activities?
Judy: I felt that including activities could add enjoyment to my story, by making it an “interactive” type of adventure, so that children could actually get involved as a part of the book. I know that when one reads a book or watches a film etc., you really become “part of” the story, and empathize with various characters. That is a wonderful experience. My bonus activities were meant to add additional fun creative things to learn and do, that families could enjoy together, which reflect and continue the storyline, characters, etc.
For instance, I know it’s fun for children to learn cooking from their parents. So I took some of the little animals in the Mushroom Tea Party and had them share a delicious cookie recipe that parents could bake along with their children. For Creative writing and painting, I encouraged the readers to write and illustrate their own original Fairy Tales, similar to my Magic Blanket. And I also added an activity where readers could learn about the magical beauty of Colors: Since as part of my story, Amy and little Greeny Elf have fun sliding down a beautiful Rainbow, I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to describe the “Color Wheel” in simple terms, and how to mix primary colors together to make secondary colors for a painting.
I have taught Creative Drama, Dance, and Painting, and had my own Community Theater Group with children and adults. We performed many kinds of plays, with themes of Fairy Tales, etc. These experiences of combining several art forms, of Drama, Dance, Music, and Painting, with all ages of people, inspired me to create a series of interactive books entitled “Come Play With Me”. This book is included in that group. One of the activities in my book encourages readers to write and perform Plays for family and friends. In it, I suggest they create their own costumes and scenery and pretend that they really are the characters in their own Fantasy Drama.
Question: I absolutely love that you have created real-life blankets using the imagery from this book. They would be a lovely addition to any child’s life. How did this come about?
Judy: From the very beginning of creating this story, I felt it would be wonderful for readers to have a real “Magic Blanket” that they could sleep with at night, and dream of their own “Enchanted Land”, like in my tale. So I found an online store called “Red Bubble”, where I could create and sell products with my artwork on them, with this specific book idea in mind. I then put together several images from the artwork in this book, which are made into Bedding Products (in the Home and Living section), such as Throw Blankets, and Duvet Covers, as well as other products, like Wall Art, Clothing, etc. They can be purchased in my Red Bubble online store: https://www.redbubble.com/people/judymastra/shop?artistUserName=judymastra&asc=u&collections=1250415&iaCode=u-bedding
Question: What is the importance to you of engaging a child’s imagination? (Because that is what this book is all about, after all!)
Judy: Imagination is the stuff that awakens one’s creativity and gives you happiness. Without Imagination, life can be somewhat humdrum, lackluster, and could lead to depression. Imagination stimulates the excitement for living, learning, and appreciating Nature, and our beautiful planet Earth. It is one of the greatest stimuli for creating all kinds of Artwork. Many endeavors that you enjoy doing are a form of Artwork, such as the “Art” of Cooking, Carpentry, Gardening, etc. By using and developing your Imagination you can develop your talents to become the best kind of person you really want to be!
Question: You address both Dreamtime (dreaming when sleeping), and daydreaming (dreaming when awake). How important is this to a child (or an adult, for that matter)?
Judy: These methods of “Dreaming” are very good ways to develop one’s Imagination. If you close your eyes you can see a “Mind Painting” that can inspire you to create many art forms, such as Painting, Literature, Dance, etc. This method, which has often been used throughout time by creative people, has developed into beautiful works of Art. For instance, when you “Day Dream” during the day, you can just gaze into space, and many images may appear to you. Or you can “Dream” on clouds, or on a pond of water, to see imaginary pictures. It’s like meditating, or “scrying” on a crystal ball, where “visions” and ideas can “appear” and develop. And for “Night Dreaming”, before you go to bed when your eyes are closed, you may see wonderful and amazing “visions” pass through your head. Try to remember them in the morning, and sketch or write them down. Tap into your own rich imagination. It’s a very exciting and uplifting experience.
Question: Making use of cards that a child can cut out and either use for themselves or give to others is a fantastic concept. Why did you decide to do this?
Judy: It’s fun for me to share my artwork with others, and I enjoy receiving pictures from other artists of their wonderful paintings. I also collect small cards which are reproductions of artwork from Artists of the past whose work that I love, and who give me inspiration in my own work. My hope is that people who read my book would also appreciate having some reproductions of my artwork to decorate their homes and to share with others.
Question: The decorations that are available for download are exceptional and bring the Land of Enchantment into the child’s real world. How did this come about?
Judy: I love to see pictures around me, hanging up on the wall. They give me a good feeling and inspiration. I thought that hanging up some of the artwork from this book, in the form of decorations, would be an enjoyable way to hold on to the message of my story. It’s wonderful for a child to have their room decorated like their own “Enchanted Land”, with pictures cut out from the book, and artwork that they can create themselves. It will surround them, and give them uplifting and spiritual feelings.
Question: Is there anything that you would like to say about the process of creating this book, or how it can be used?
Judy: My Fairy Tale book was created as a labor of love. It was really fun for me to do. I am somewhat of a perfectionist in the way I paint, and I often feel that I could do better. But I know I’ve done the best I can, and I hope that others will enjoy it. My intent was to create a fantasy that would be inspiring for all ages. I wanted to show how one could go to a “Special Enchanted Land” through the help of your Imagination, at any time you want to.
Some of my favorite artwork has themes of Fantasy, Magic, Elves, and Fairies. For example, my favorite Shakespeare play is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. So I wanted to create my own original Fairy Tale using these types of fanciful creatures. I use beings in my story who practice “Good Magic”, such as Little Greeny Elf, the King and Queen of Enchanted Land, Flying Pegasus, and the lovely Lullaby Lady, who watches over little Children sleeping in the Clouds.
In a way, this mystical Lullaby Lady in the Clouds echoes the spirituality of Amy’s sweet Mother who gave her the Magic Blanket. Her dear Mother’s gift that she made for Amy, was an entrance to this “Enchanted Land”, with pictures on it of the beautiful Fairy Tale Kingdom the little girl would travel to in her adventure. It is a Realm where Goodness Reigns and all who are kindhearted are welcome to enter. As so my message is to attempt to be Compassionate and Loving, and you will have a joyful life full of Inspiration and Beauty.
Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to do this interview with you, Bonnie. I really appreciate it very much.
If people would like to learn more about my artwork and projects, they can visit me at: www.judymastrangelo.com
Bonnie: Judy, thank you so much for spending time with my readers and I, and for sharing the links to where your work can be found.
(c) March 2022 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction is prohibited without written permission from the author.