||Brown, Craig. (2009) Mule Train Mail. Charlesbridge.
For more information about this book and curriculum connections, locate
the October 2009 issue of Library Sparks for the "In the
Spotlight" column featuring Mule Train Mail.
Details about the art in this book (step-by-step).
Craig Brown begins his illustrative work with a high grade of
Strathmore paper, which he coats with gesso—a preparation of plaster of
Paris and glue, and establishes a texture for the painting. Once the
gesso is dried, Brown sands the surface to reduce the roughness enough
to allow the application of color layers. In place of the dots
which he once used to create the illustration’s shapes and forms, he
now used lines—lines transferred from a detailed pencil drawing onto
the gessoed paper using custom made transfer paper. For Mule Train Mail, Brown created a brown transfer paper using brown chalk and tissue paper.
Once the brown lines of the sketch are transferred, Brown proceeds to
add the colors using pastels and colored pencil. He builds the layers
of color from light to dark and then back again to create the
highlights and purple shadows. Erasers are used to take away or lighten
the color in strategic places. The pastel sticks do not ever touch the
illustration, instead, the artist holds the pastels in one hand and
rubs his finger across the pastel to put the color on his finger tip
which he then uses to layer the color onto the drawing. His fingers
become his brushes, allowing the artist finite control of the
application. Color is applied on top of color until just the right
combination of shading and intensity is achieved. Colored pencils are
used to add details.
About the Havasupai Indian Tribe and the Village of Supai
The Havasupai Tribe has lived in the Grand Canyon area since the
beginning of their history. However, as cattlemen moved into the
southwest and invaded the area, the Havasupai were restricted to
smaller and smaller areas. In 1882, the United States Government
restricted tribal members to 518 acres. In 1906, the tribe had suffered
epidemics and there were only 106 members.
The small village of Supai is the capitol of the reservation. For
hundreds of years the village, which sits on the western edge of the
national park, deep into the valley, has been very isolated and remote.
In the past, members of the Havasupai tribe were hunters and gatherers.
As their land area decreased, they became more dependent on other
income. The Havasupai turned to tourism in the 1960s, and gradually
became more and more successful until in this decade, during the
summers, over 500 tourists visit each day—25,000 per year.
And, in 1973, the Federal government agreed to restore 250,000 acres of land to the tribe. The tribe had grown to 406 members.
It took almost a century for the tribe to achieve restoration of their
land. The life style in the village is still very traditional in other
ways but modern amenities are enjoyed: air-conditioning, satellite
dishes for communication, computers. Children play on swing sets and go
to school much like other children in the United States.