NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Hopkin’s Rose Nudibranch

In preparation for NUDI GILL, my debut picture book release in September 2022, I will be blogging about nudibranchs monthly. My hope is that you, too, will fall in love with these colorful little critters. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to July’s supermodel:

Hopkin’s Rose Nudibranch

Photograph by Jerry Kirkhart, Los Osos, CA

Bubble-gum pink papillae cover this beauty from head to toe. And now you are probably scratching your head and wondering, where’s the head and where’s the toe? Look closely for the two rhinophores poking out on the right end.

BINGO! That’s the head. A nudibranch’s toe (or foot) typically spans the length of its belly, but Rose’s mantle, head, and foot are kind of all merged together in one flattish base. Below is a cool shot of the edge of Rose’s foot/body/mantle. And in case you were wondering again which end you are looking at, well… those feathery bits are anal gills. So basically, she’s showing off her bodacious bum here.

Photograph by Robin Agarwal

Another unique thing about Rose is her extra-large middle tooth. Give us a smile, Rose!

Hubba Bubba!

You can find more of these cool creatures lurking in tidal pools all along the Pacific Coastline from Baja California to Oregon.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the Hopkin’s Rose Nudibranch. Stay tuned for August’s NUDI GILL Pin-Up!

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. Her debut picture book, NUDI GILL, will be released in September, 2022. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Monterey Sea Lemon

In preparation for NUDI GILL, my debut picture book release in September 2022, I will be blogging about nudibranchs monthly. My hope is that you, too, will fall in love with these colorful little critters. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to June’s supermodel:

The Monterey Sea Lemon

This little cutie may look like a sweet meyer, but you wouldn’t want to squeeze one over your shrimp cocktail. Nudibranchs have the ability to store toxins in their flesh from the food they eat (mostly sea sponges). The Sea Lemon’s bright yellow color is a warning to predators that they’d better think twice before messing with them.

Though they start out very small, this species can grow to be a whopping 15 cm long! Maybe they should be called Sea Bananas.

You can find these cool creatures lurking in tidal pools and up to depths of 50 meters all along the Pacific Coastline from San Diego, California to Kachemak Bay, Alaska.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the Monterey Sea Lemon. Stay tuned for July’s Nudi Gill Pin-Up!

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. Her debut picture book, NUDI GILL, will be released in September, 2022. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

Finished Art! (Part 4)

My “Songbirds Of Hope” project is complete! Wheeee! As promised, here is the final product. In case you missed the first three parts of the process, here they are: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. The workshops went really smoothly and were well-received by the children. They were all really engaged in the activity and took their work seriously. They had a blast finding ways to put their own personalities into their birds. Some even created multiple birds for me. Over two days I worked with twenty-six children to create the final piece. Then I installed the canvases, vinyl lettering, and sound recorder. Yes, our birds chirp when you walk by them.

Here I am with some of my creative crew!

The Clark County Public Arts office was a pleasure to work from beginning to end and I give special thanks to the talented Arturo Cecena, who shepherded over a dozen projects like this one. The installation was accepted permanently by the Desert Breeze Community Center, so if you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to check it out.

Check out my interview on Clark County TV!

Photograph by Arturo Cecena.
Photograph by Arturo Cecena.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all.” 
– Emily Dickinson

Wishing you the best, always!

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

Publishers, Contracts, and Sea Slugs, OH MY!

A lot has been happening over here behind the scenes. I’m preparing one of my babies to be launched into the world. Not a human one, thank goodness, because I’m so not ready for that milestone. I’m referring to a personal career milestone: One of my picture book’s has been acquired by Gnome Road Publishing, an Independent Publisher that is destined to make a big splash in the children’s book industry.

I couldn’t be more pleased to make this announcement. Sandra Sutter, the award winning author of Stan’s Frightful Halloween and The Real Farmer In The Dell, has dived into her passion for children’s literature by publishing a diverse list of picture books that beg to be read over and over again.

If you know me at all, you will remember that I am a lover of all things ocean, but especially the ittty-bitty nuidbranch, otherwise know as the sea slug. My debut picture book, NUDI GILL, will be coming out in the Fall of 2022. I’m so excited to share information about these fascinating creatures through the voice of a funny and fierce character like Gill.

Gill’s a little slug with big personality, but even he can be shy sometimes. Say “hi” to your future fans, Gill.

It’s been so much fun pouring over the photographs, websites, and books as I prepared my story and images. Special thanks to David W. Behrens, who wrote NUDIBRANCH BEHAVIOR, my favorite reference book of all time.

Of course, I also live in a house filled with my own paintings of nudibranchs. Yes, it’s been a long-time obsession, really, so it’s no surprise to me that NUDI GILL would be my breakthrough story.

It’s okay, Gill, you can come out now…

Wishing you all the best,

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

April and May

It’s Spring, and the kids and I have been rejuvenating our garden by planting vegetables and dusting off the fairy garden. I was also inspired to write an entry for the Spring Fling Kidlit Writing Contest hosted by Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez and Ciara O’Neal. It had to be 150 words or less inspired by a spring themed Gif. I hope you enjoy it!

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay.

(150 words)

April and May

by Bonnie Kelso

Being older, April knew things…

Things May wanted to know.

“April, how can I be smart like you?”

April twisted her hair around her finger.

“Drink rainwater from Tulip, May.”

Tulip was empty.

“April, what’s Spring?”

April rubbed her chin.

“Spring is what makes a bed good for jumping on.”

“April, why do early birds get the worms?”

April chewed a twig.

“Because worms don’t have eyes to see early birds hunting them.”

Thunder rumbled.

“April, what’s that?”

They gazed into the clouds.

“A giant is hungry! Hurry, let’s hide!”

Raindrops splink-splunked.

“April, what would happen if our wings got wet?”

“They’d melt like sugar drops, May.”

May stretched out her hand

and scooped up a drop of rainwater from Tulip.

“April, I’m ready to know things, too.”

Slurp!

“April, ask me a question, anything.”

“Who’s your favorite sister, May?”

“You!”

“See, May, I told you it would work!”

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

Art In Progress (Part 3)

I’ve been working as a Teaching Artist for five years now. Wow! I can’t believe it’s been that long! I started out applying for grants through the Nevada Arts Council. I designed creative exploration workshops for adults and children. Then last summer I applied for a Youth Collaborative Art Workshop and Temporary Installation project through Clark County Public Arts. “Songbirds Of Hope” was born! I created a design and wrote a detailed proposal and lesson plan for the project. I was interviewed a few weeks after the submission period ended by a selection committee who eventually chose me and a dozen other artists to facilitate workshops throughout the county. I didn’t know where my project would land, but luckily it ended up at the Desert Breeze Community Center which is only a few miles from my home.

A few months ago, I attended a meeting with the program coordinators at the community center, and we discussed the location of the artwork, the schedule for the workshops, and how to prepare according to their COVID safety guidelines.

Then I got to work preparing the background canvases, vinyl lettering, sound recorder, and of course, 50 cut-out birds to be painted by the children.

After 50, I’m getting the hang of drawing birds.
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Art In Progress (Part 2)

I’ve been preparing for my Youth Public Art Project for Clark County. The project itself will take place over Spring Break at the Desert Breeze Community Center. I will be facilitating the creation of fifty little birds with the help of fifty children. I call this project “Songbirds Of Hope,” because it is inspired by all the birds I heard singing after lockdown. That’s right… FIFTY unique birds cut out from mat board! I’ve been cutting a few each day and currently have 19 finished.

As I showed in my last post, the background layer was brushed in loosely. Here are my seasonal canvases after adding in the “happy” trees. I used my palette knife to create the textured tree trunks.

Then I painted in the leaves. Now my little world just needs some birds to live in it. Back to cutting out those little guys!

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

Puff and Groop

This year I’m trying to enter all the picture book writing contests I can. I’m determined to stretch myself creatively and besides, who can resist a chance at winning a prize? Here is my entry for Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words contest, and as you might guess, my story had to be 50 words or less. Not as easy as it sounds when you also have to include a compelling story arc. So, without further ado, here is my uber-short fish tale.

Puff & Groop

by Bonnie Kelso

Puff is a small fish.

Groop is a BIG fish,
gobbling everything in his path,
never asking questions.

When Groop gulps down Puff,
Puff goes…

POOF!!!

“Oooooooh,” moans Groop.

Puff closes his mouth,
holding his water as long as he can.

Groop opens his mouth wide.

BELCH!

Out pops Puff!

###

There were a whopping 759 entries for this contest! To read them all go to Vivian Kirkfield’s website.

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

Art In Progress

I thought I would share a little behind-the-scenes today. I am in the middle of preparing a Youth Public Art Project for Clark County. The project itself will take place over Spring Break at the Desert Breeze Community Center. I will be facilitating the creation of fifty little birds with the help of fifty children. I call this project “Songbirds Of Hope,” because it is inspired by all the birds I heard singing after lockdown. Did anyone else noticed how quiet the streets were for a while? There was little to drown out the sounds of nature. It was the highlight of my day, listening to those little birds. It brought me small moments of hope during a frightening and unsettling time. One year later, the pandemic is far from over, but I continue to commune with my bird neighbors on a daily basis.

Photograph by Jill Wellington.

This weekend I have been prepping my canvases which will soon become home for fifty bird cut-outs. I have a canvas to represent each of the seasons. It has felt so good to paint large again after a few years of focusing on picture books. The act of spreading these canvases out in my living room and pulling out the big brushes and paints has brought a new sense of hope and optimism into my own heart.

I have limited space, so I’m using my walls to hang the canvases up. I pull them down one at a time and work on them in my living room. I started with a dark green base layer.

Next, I put down my background layer. I tried to keep it loose with broad brush strokes. I wanted each canvas to speak to the season. Can you guess which season is represented on each canvas?

Now comes the fun part! TREES! I’m using my palette knife and working them in, Bob Ross style. Soooo much fun! Awwww, what happy little trees! Here’s winter. I’ll post the others later. Until then, I encourage you to take a walk outside if you can and listen for messages of hope and optimism from your bird neighbors.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.