Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bartholomew and Geraldine - Art by Mary Esch

The story Bartholomew and Geraldine will be published on Friday, November 2, 2012.  This story is illustrated by Mary Esch.

Mary Esch is a two-time winner of the Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, a Jerome Fellow, and a Bush Fellow. She is known for her incisive drawing style, large-scale limited edition wallpaper installations, and portraiture.

Ms. Esch cut her teeth in the Twin Cities at Speedboat Gallery and Gallery Rebollosso in the early 90’s, had a blast showing at the Walker Art Center and New York City in the late 90’s, and has enjoyed the use of one of her paintings as an experimental jumping off point for three plays that premiered in 2001 in New York City. That was a perfect flip of experience because she often uses literature as inspiration for her own work.

For The Book of Bartholomew, Mary has created a wonderful interpretation of a very chaotic moment in the story Bartholomew and Geraldine.   The aggressive pose of Geraldine and the passive pose of Bartholomew captures the energy of the relationship.  All the while, Oliver the cat, is pouncing from on high.  The pandemonium is high.  The figures capture the moment, but Mary's technique of vertical lines contrasted with the roiling smoke-lines also captures the chaos that is ensuing.  The "hot"colors also pull in this sensibility. The roiliing lines of smoke are used throughout the pages of the story as borders. Overall, it is a wonderful illustration.
Currently, Mary is working on miniature portraits in watercolor of her favorite authors, painters, and spiritual leaders. She teaches, "Wake up Your Right Brain!", an observational drawing class and "Botanical Drawing" to teens and adults.

To read stories from The Book of Bartholomew, click here

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bartholomew and Geraldine - Story

The next story to be published from The Book of Bartholomew on November 2, 2012 is Bartholomew and Geraldine. This is a classic love story - not. 

Oh, Oliver, why do I feel like something bad is about to happen, like I am going to do something wrong – screw everything up? I wish this feeling would go away.”
Maybe it is because you are trying to cook—not one of your more successful skills,” answered Oliver with a purr.
I wish I knew better how to cook. Well, I can’t burn beet and bean sprout sandwiches and salad. And I just have to warm up the organic roasted parsnip soup. As long as I watch that closely I should be okay,” said Bartholomew.
Oliver purred, “Well, it is not the most difficult, or the tastiest, but it should be sufficient.”
Bartholomew put the soup on the stove over a low flame and set the table. He walked into the living room, grabbed newspapers, magazines and some books that were lying on the furniture. He picked up some socks from the floor and threw everything in the closet. He turned on some Dionne Warwick music. Oliver followed Bartholomew around the house.

“Oh, Oliver, I haven’t told you, but I have been seeing someone for the last two weeks. Her name is Geraldine. She is a very nice woman who really likes me. She will be here for dinner in about ten minutes.”

Oliver froze mid-step. Bartholomew sat down on the sofa.

“Come here, Oliver,” Bartholomew said as he patted the sofa cushion. Oliver jumped up on the back of the sofa and buried his head against Bartholomew’s.

“How come you didn’t tell me earlier? You know I like to know what is going on with you. You know I am responsible for you – purrrrrrrrr.”

“I wish my parents were here,” said Bartholomew. He sank further back into the sofa.
Oliver said nothing and climbed down into Bartholomew’s lap. He let Bartholomew rub his back, which made them both feel better. Oliver was settling in for a long back rub when suddenly all of his senses went on alert. He stood up in Bartholomew’s lap, his back arched. He looked at the door and let out a low growl and a hiss.

Oliver, Bartholomew's cat, cannot understand why Bartholomew would fall in love with Geraldine and invite her over to the house for dinner.  He considers her a monster.  And thus begins an evening of romance(?) for Bartholomew and Geraldine.

To read the story of Bartholomew meeting Geraldine:

Visit The Book of Bartholomew at

Friday, October 26, 2012

Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist - PUBLISHED TODAY

The fourth story in The Book of Bartholomew is published today.  The story Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist recounts a story Bartholomew once heard about his uncle.  When Uncle Jeffrey was young, he was a very good violin player under the tutelage of Master Czoza.  Master Czoza was a stearn instructor who would push Uncle Jeffrey to play his best.  One day, Master Czoza gave Uncle Jeffrey the challenge of his life -- to play a simple sonatina well enough to make Master Czoza cry.  Can Uncle Jeffrey pull it off?  Does he have what it takes to move Master Czoza's heart?

At it's heart, the story Uncle Jeffrey and the Violin is a story about being an artist, about the role a father can play in a child's life and it is about grief.  Artists are given a task in society to make people feel, to ground them in their emotions, to shed a light upon this life that reveals something more.  A father can push a child through a life-task.  He can be the force behind coming-of-age, when a child is revealed as something more than a child.  And grief... for some men there is a great grief in the loss of childhood.  We get to experience it so briefly in its truest form.  There is grief when the time comes when we know our fathers will no longer take care of us, look out for us and guide us.  Either it is because our father is not there in some manner or because we are no longer a "follower." We become the ones that must lead and care for others.  Along with that responsibility can come great sadness.

These are the thoughts and feelings I have put into this story.  It is one of two "ghost" stories I have written for The Book of Bartholomew.  The other "ghost" story is, fittingly, Aunt Josephine and Her Long Ride.  This is one of my favorite serious stories so far from the book.  I hope you enjoy it.  

Written by Mark Granlund, Illustrated by Martha Iserman and music by Emily Samsel.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist - The Music

The music for this story was a special treat.  My next door neighbor happens to be a violinist.  We started talking about The Book of Bartholomew, and in particular this story about a violinist.  I know nothing about classical music.  Any references in the story that make it seem like I know anything about classical music were hurriedly researched or made up.  But Emily was wonderful at helping with the music, which is integral to the story. 

A sonatina, a short sonata, is a major character in the story.  As far as I know, I had never heard a sonatina before.  Emily did some research and found two wonderful short sonatas for violin that would fit the story.  I narrowed it down to the one featured here.  She also found the other song that Uncle Jeffrey plays for Master Czoza half way through the story.  I originally had this as a Mozart composition.  But with Emily's help, it became a Brahm's piece which is a happy contrast to the sonatina and fits the mood of the scene.

Emily plays classical music for weddings and plays with orchestras and in bands. She is often accompanied in these activities by her husband.  They are quite talented and ever so nice people and neighbors. 

I am pleased to have songs especially recorded for The Book of Bartholomew and I think you will like these songs very much, also.  Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist, with Emily's songs, will be published on October 26 at The Book of Bartholomew.

Here is Emily, who is part of this week's Bartholomew Asks... video, talking briefly about her natural talent.  Do you think it will be:
- Music (like Uncle Jeffrey)
- Making Friends (like Topping)
- Cooking (like Charlotte, NOT!)
- Being Snooty (like Oliver)

Watch and find out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist - Art

The fourth story in The Book of Bartholomew is Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist.  This story is illustrated by the amazingly talented artist and illustrator Martha Iserman.   I met Martha when I was teaching a botanical art class at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.  She was a student and we became friends.  Martha has created a series of work of monsters from the deep, as she has a great fear of water.  I should probably say "fear of bodies of water", because I don't think she minds taking showers, drinking water or watering her garden (if she had one).  She recently graduated from a very competitive scientific illustration certification program at California State University, Monteray Bay and has been doing amazing work. To see more of Martha's artwork go to:

Here is a brief interview with Martha about her work for Uncle Jeffrey and what she is up to now.

To see Martha's work incorporated into the story Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist stay tuned to The Book of Bartholomew ( for an October 26 publishing date.

And checkout previews to the next story at The Book of Bartholomew Facebook Page.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist - Story

As the years went by Uncle Jeffrey became a young impresario giving concerts at more and more impressive venues. Yet, Master Czoza was never satisfied with Uncle Jeffrey’s playing. One day, Master Czoza addressed Uncle Jeffrey.
Uncle Jeffrey, you have been studying violin with me for twelve years now. Have I taught you to love your violin?”
Yes,” Uncle Jeffrey answered.
No, you cannot love your violin. It is your tool; it is your slave. It is there for you to shape into beauty, for you to mold it into an expression of love. Do not love your violin. Make your violin into something you love.”
Uncle Jeffrey stared at him.
Do you understand?”
No,” said Uncle Jeffrey.
My son, you are a great talent. You can play a violin like few your age. You are even better than I was at your age,” Master Czoza said looking into Uncle Jeffrey’s eyes. He then turned away and said, “Your future could be unlimited if you begin to play from deep within yourself. Technically, you can master anything-- given enough time.”
Master Czoza turned back toward Uncle Jeffrey.
Are you ready for the challenge of your life?” he asked in his calm but strong voice.

The story of Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist is the story of all artists.  We have a challenge set before us.  It can seem easy -- we get to play around with clay, paint, music and words.  We get to do something we love.  We get to share our creations with others.  But to do it well, to go beyond ourselves, to be able to reach inside of others to share more than thoughts, to share more than feelings, to give others an experience that in some small way changes their life for the better, is the hardest challenge of all.  Is Uncle Jeffrey up to this challenge?  Are any of us?  Or do we do our best and let the chips fall where they may?  Sometimes they fall into ecstasy.  Sometimes they fall into the toilet.  Most of the times they fall somewhere in between.

While writing this story I cried quite a bit.  I hadn't realized how much I had been struggling over the years to reach -- something -- to reach a point with my art where it flows, where people appreciate it, where it actually begins to express what I want it to.  There is a point in any artist's life when a watershed appears.  Is the enjoyment and satisfaction of making art pleasing enough to continue?  Or are the struggles too much?  With all of life's struggles, many talented people decide "no, I cannot continue." 

Uncle Jeffrey is an amazing talent and he has gotten to his position through grief and sadness.  Can one continue playing year after year if one's motivation is founded in sadness, in the need to overcome a hurt or flaw or obstacle?  Does one need a sense of enjoyment and lightness to carry a tune throughout one's life?  These are hard questions that cannot be answered quickly, but once an artist knows the answer, there is no changing their course.  They will continue or they will stop.  They may not even speak it out loud.

For myself, I am desperate.  I have enjoyed almost every minute of this whole project.  I have enjoyed making art, learning web-design techniques, meeting talented compatriots and have especially enjoyed the writing of the stories.  But I want to get to a place in my life where it all flows.  Lately, I have been discovering that many non-art related situations in my life are creating barriers to achieving a "flow."  I am not set-up to continue into the next phase of my making.  I have a fear that I will not get there, I will not be able to make the changes necessary.  This next year of Bartholomew will be a launching pad, or possibly a last gasp.  When it is time for me to stand and play at my master's funeral, I wonder what will come out.   

Come and read Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist at The Book of Bartholomew 
Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist will be published next week Friday, October 26.
In the meantime, enjoy the other stories in The Book of Bartholomew, then come back here and comment.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Geraldine - The Music by Barbara McAfee

This week, the two songs that accompany the story Geraldine, are by Barbara McAfee.  Barbara is an amazing person who I met briefly several years ago and then spent much more time with recently. In the intervening years, it seemed like we were two sumo wrestlers circling around the ring, not engaging but preparing.  Sizing each other up.  Stomping here, crouching there. Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  And then BLAM! - we talked alot.

Barbara is a singer, musician, inspirational speaker, organizational consultant and voice coach.  She recently published a book titled Full Voice: the art and practice of vocal presence.  She has also recorded 5 cd's of her own.  Two songs off of Barbara's most recent cd, Yes!, appear here at The Book of Bartholomew

Barbara has a great ability to see value in people.  We went for a walk along the Mississippi River the other day.  It was a beautiful evening.  The sun was setting and as we walked she shared stories about all these crazy-amazing people in her life; people she had worked with, played with, coached, and lived with.  If she had a negative thought or concern about any of these people, it wasn't expressed.  All I heard was admiration and fascinating descriptions of people who were considered valuable and loved.  That is what I also admire about Barbara's music and the songs that I chose for this story.

Geraldine is not a lovely person.  But Bartholomew sees value in her.  I think Barbara would see value in Geraldine, too, if she wasn't fictional.  Geraldine that is.  Barbara is non-fictional.  I think of Barbara's song Such as These, when I think of Geraldine in these early stories.   Your average person really is doing the best they can just to live.  Sometimes we all need encouragement to remember how good we are in the midst of this crazy life. 

One of my favorite quotes from Barbara's book, Full Voice, is:
"When did we start to believe that becoming less of ourselves would keep us safe?"

That is a powerful line in which I am still immersed.  I might be there for quite sometime before being able to get some distance and "know" it.  Geraldine doesn't understand the concept of safety.  She is fierce in presenting herself to others.  Some might say she is unaware.  But that is two sides of the same coin.  I think Bartholomew likes Geraldine's lack of concern for safety.  He has been protecting himself for so long that Geraldine is a breath of fresh air, a different perspective, a different model of being.  He knows he needs to change in order to have the life he wants, and Geraldine just might be his catalyst.  Although no one else will see her as valuable and worthy of their attention, affection, and time, by the end of this story Bartholomew is taken - hook, line and sinker.

Thank you Barbara for such wonderful heart-felt songs. 

Bartholomew Asks... What Do You Look for in a Partner?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Geraldine - Art Work


The next story in The Book of Bartholomew, to be published on October 19, is Geraldine. This is the cover image for the short story, painted by myself, Mark Granlund. Yes, this is a painting of a frog being boiled in water. There is an old idea that a frog, because it is cold-blooded and its body temperature is dependent on the temperature around them, could slowly be brought to a boil and cooked without recognizing it.  That is what this painting represents - something terrible happening to someone without their knowledge.

I have painted and drawn frogs over the years so it was fun to revisit this motif.  The boiling water was different.  I have never depicted boiling water and set to watching a pot of water boil.  Funny, time seemed to move slowly, as if it  would never get there.
Here is a drawing of a leopard frog that is included inside the story.  In the cover illustration, the frog represents an unaware character.  This drawing represents a hideous character.  In the printed version, the reverse image is also included.

I hope you enjoy this next story, the music and the illustration.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Geraldine - Story

           “You really are nice looking. I mean you are attractive, but you also look like someone who is nice to people,” said Geraldine.

             Bartholomew blushed a little. He was not used to young women telling him he was attractive. But he had to agree that he was kind to people. It was one of Bartholomew’s strengths that he always tried to be polite and kind.
“Thank you,” he said, “you are so kind to say so.”

“Well,” responded Geraldine, “I am as kind as I am pretty.” 

Gather round for the introduction of Geraldine, soon to be Bartholomew's girlfriend.  Is she delovely?  Is she delightlful?  Is she de-devil?  Some people will find Geraldine repulsive.  Some will find her rude.  Some will find her to be an animal.  Bartholomew sees the good in her.  Geraldine is the daughter of Gerald, so right there you know things will not be normal.

I have greatly enjoyed writing about Geraldine.  She is an unlovely character who has major issues around relationships.  But there is a side of her that appeals to Bartholomew.  I have taken to the challenge of writing sympathetically about a rude and unattractive individual. My first notes about Geraldine were that she is incontinent, in the old sense.  She is unable to control her body and its functions.  Her body is unattractive and unkempt.  Her physical desires are out of control.  As far as I know, she is not incontinent in the contemporary sense of the word.  There is also an aspect of her incontinence that I do not write about, but secretly informs my writing about her.  As her story unfolds over the next 45 stories, I hope you come to understand who she is and why she is - and see her in a sympathetic light - like Bartholomew.  But I must say that I see each character in these stories as a different aspect of my own personality.  Geraldine is the one aspect of my personality I am least likely to confess publicly.

During the course of a long term relationship, partners come to see aspects of each other that they love and admire.  But, they also see behaviors and attitudes that are not as lovely, not as welcomed.  What is the balance?  Bartholomew is very unpracticed at making these kinds of decisions.  What happens when the negatives start to outweigh the positives?  What happens when one BIG negative outweighs many positives?  Bartholomew does not know his "deal-breakers," do you?

High school and college relationships are one thing.  Once you are both out on your own, not under the surveillance of an authority, what you really need in a partner changes.  In fact, it is then when you really start to understand what it is you need on an independent personal level.  Because of some tragic events in his life, Bartholomew is a little behind others in this arena.  Perhaps I was, too, at his age.

Geraldine, will be published this Friday, at The Book of Bartholomew.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bartholomew Asks...What Have You Learned From Your Parents?

This week's Bartholomew Asks... is about what we have learned from our parents.  This week's story is about Gerald trying to teach his boys a lesson.  It's not a lesson most of us would try to teach, but that's Gerald.  Of course, there is much we have learned from our parents that we are not even aware of; a tick, a sneer, a laugh, a smile when we are reading, an attitude toward country music, an attitude toward anyone who is different in some manner or another, etc.  But, we are aware of what they tried to teach us through advice, good or bad.  We also know that we are just like them in some ways, whether good or bad.

What have you learned from your parents?  Here is this week's video question.

Interview with artist Matt Wells

Matt Wells and I, Mark Granlund, sat down one Sunday afternoon at the Black Forest Inn to talk about his illustrations for Gerald Teaches A Life Lesson.  This is what resulted.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gerald Teaches a Life Lesson - Art Work

The second story in The Book of Bartholomew, Gerald Teaches a Life Lesson, will be published Friday, October 12. The images for this second story are provided by Matt Wells, artist, illustrator and mural painter.  In the story, Gerald gives his sons advice about what to do if they are ever stranded on a deserted island with a stranger.  Matt has done a wonderful job of capturing this incident, and the variations mentioned in the story.

His rendering of the beach as the setting for the variations on the theme is perfect. The manner in which the horizon line of the beach separates the characters from the "stranger" and from one and other is masterful.  The simple representation of palm trees, surf and sky is pleasing and sets back for the characters to take center stage.  Then he adds the humorous fish skeleton, the crawling jungle roots and the simple surf-lines to create the expressive place for the action.

The characters of Xavier, Khua and Mo, a mother and the "stranger" are comical yet expressive of each characters personality. There are two things I love about these pieces.  The cover image of a young man holding a knife and approaching a stranger has such an attitude.  The angling of the hips and shoulders and the raising of the foot completely captures the action and intent behind the young man.  The other thing I love is the use of color.  I chose the knife image for the cover because of the color. It is strong and the red shirt foreshadows the blood that is to come.  The day, his shirt and the lines around his figure are bright and strong, as if your senses are heightened.  As they should be if you are about to witness a knife fight.  Then, in the last image, the color is muted to express the loneliness found in the Xavier character at the end of the story as he walks off pondering his father's instruction.


Matt is a very active artist on the Twin Cities scene, making his own art while also working with a group of artists called Rogue Citizen.  Together they perform live paintings at concerts and paint murals.  To find out more about Matt and his art, check out

To read the first story, Bartholomew Makes a Decision, go to The Book of Bartholomew. And check out Matt's illustrations in Gerald Teaches a Life Lesson this Friday, October 12, 2012.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gerald Teaches a Life Lesson - the Music

The music for the story Gerald Teaches a Life Lesson is by Yata.

With part of the story taking place on an island, I chose two of Yata's island songs, Cocoabutter and Del Mar.  The songs are story appropriate, but I also met Yata for the first time on Mallard Island on Rainy Lake near International Falls, Minnesota.  Yata was leading a creative collaborators workshop and I was a caretaker of the island.  He was gracious enough to let me be a part of the workshop as well.  I soon found that Yata's energy and repertoire are immense, perhaps verging on legendary.  He had gathered an amazing group of people who were ripe for collaborating and, under his fun leadership, it became a magical week.

One participant had read a Walt Whitman poem early in the week. Well, in no time, Yata had written an amazing song that captured the poem, the week and the island.  Here is a snippet of its unveiling.  Yata was as excited as a six year old to share it with us.

Yata is a singer, guitarist and prolific songwriter performing and recording folk music which incorporates the influences of jazz, rockabilly, gospel,country, blues and ballads into his songs.  I'm honored to have Yata providing the music for this story.  He will be back in story #11.  Please check out his website:

The Book of Bartholomew provides two songs from Twin City area musicians with each story published.  To listen to the songs, go to that weeks story at and click on a story cover.  When the story opens, to listen to the first song or second song, click on the symbols:

To stop the songs, click on the symbols:
You can listen while you read or afterward.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Gerald Teaches a Life Lesson - Story

"It’s not easy, in this world, to be successful like me. It takes a certain attitude, a certain resolve,” said Gerald.

The boys leaned in closer.

Gerald adjusted his sea foam colored tie and continued.

“I have worked hard my whole life to get where I am. I’m not proud of everything I have done, but I haven’t ever really done anything wrong. I want to share with you something my father, your grandfather, (rest his soul) told me when I was your age. He shared this with me just before he died and it has been one of the keys to my success.”
The boys leaned in even closer.

“Xavier, Khua, Mo, if you ever find yourselves on a deserted island with one other person and there is only enough food for one of you, you will have to kill that other person.”
And thus Xavier's, Khua's and Mo's life lesson begins.  But will they learn anything from it? 

This story originated when a friend informed me that a father, for whom she worked as a nanny, actually shared this advice with his son.  Yes, this is real!  Can you believe it?  Of course, in the world of Bartholomew, things never turn out as people intend.  Xavier, Khua and Mo have many questions and concerns about this advice.  The Nanny also chimes in with her two-bits.  And what about grandpa?  How was it that he died?  You'll have to read a back story to find out.

Discover answers to these questions and more when Gerald Teaches a Life Lesson is published this Friday, October 12, 2012 at, the home for the online book The Book of Bartholomew.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bartholomew Kickstarter Campaign

On Friday, October 12, 2012, The Book of Bartholomew will begin a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to print a box set of stories.  The Book of Bartholomew, Bartholomew Makes a Garden, Volume 1 consists of the first twelve illustrated stories in The Book of Bartholomew.  Most of the stories are fun accordion fold books.  The longer stories are cd-booklets.  All stories are printed in full color highlighting the wonderful illustrations of the artists Mark Granlund, Matt Wells, Martha Iserman, Mary Esch, and Tim Jennen .  The twelve stories come in a handsome box with a printed cover.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $5,000 to print 250 box sets.  There will be original artwork and fine art prints available as well.  The Book of Bartholomew oil paintings, watercolor illustrations, framed prints and production artwork will all be made available to reach the goal.

 Campaign begins Friday!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bartholomew Makes a Decision - Published TODAY!!

The first story in The Book of Bartholomew, Bartholomew Makes a Decision, is now published at  Enjoy this short story, Bartholomew Makes a Decision, which introduces Bartholomew and Gerald. 

Bartholomew sits down to eat his favorite dinner and listen to Dionne Warwick songs when he is interrupted by a phone call.  By the end of the story, Bartholomew makes a decision that will change his life forever.

The story features illustrations by artist Mark Granlund and songs by Dalia.  The story also includes animations, video, back stories, recipes, and audio clips.  

The Book of Bartholomew is an online book of short stories/tales about a group of young friends learning about life as adults.  Every two weeks another illustrated story will be published at  Each story is written by Mark Granlund and illustrated by Mr. Granlund or other Twin City artists, including: Mary Esch, Martha Iserman, Matt Wells and Tim Jennen.


Bartholomew Makes a Decision - Music

Two songs by Dalia, Abandoned Routine and  Tiny Footprints, accompany this first story in The Book of Bartholomew, Bartholomew Makes a Decision. Dalia is the first musician featured at The Book of Bartholomew and comes through a connection with Last Triumph Collective.

Dalia is an independent singer-songwriter from Minneapolis, MN. Determined to not be pinned to any one genre or stereotype, her songs bridge musical gaps from folk to hip hop to ambient. She has been actively performing around the Twin Cities since 2005, and released her debut album, Treetops and Telephone Wires, in late 2007. A true DIY artist, she writes and records all of her music, designs all of her own artwork, and does all of her own booking and promotion. For her second album, Abstract Habitat, which was released earlier this year, she personally hand-screenprinted 250 limited edition copies on recycled packaging. Keeping an arms length from the commercial music scene at all times, she is committed to making music that is real, organic, inspiring and fresh.

Dalia's websites:

The Book of Bartholomew provides two songs from Twin City area musicians with each story published.  To listen to the songs, go to that weeks story at and click on a story cover.  When the story opens, click on the symbols:

To listen to the first song or second song.  Click on the symbols:
to stop the songs.  You can listen while you read or afterward.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bartholomew Makes a Decision - Art Work

Here are images showing the progression for creating the cover for the first story of The Book of  Bartholomew.  The first two sketches are my first ideas of what I wanted to paint: a plate of corn, green beans and kale.  The first is very rough and was only about 1.25" square.  The second image represents another plate of food with the words "KNOCK, KNOCK" on the cover.  This is because Bartholomew is interrupted during his meal by a knock at the door. All Bartholomew wants to do is find some decent food but once he sits down to eat he is interrupted by the phone and the door.

Then it was time to do some research. This meant enjoying a few meals of corn, green beans and kale.  I cooked the kale once and the other time my girlfriend cooked it.  Hers was much better.  We cooked the food and then I went to work rearranging it on the plate to somehow match what I wanted to do.  I did not find my final composition, but it was fun and informative for the final painting.  The food was good.  I wish the green beans were from my garden. But I didn't grow any this year. 

I used these images to layout the composition of the painting and made the first layer of paint on canvas. From there I built up the surfaces and colors to create a finished painting of a plate of kale, corn and green beans.  The cooked kale was the hardest to paint.  It was hard to get a focused picture of it as its edges are rather soft and difficult to pick out.  In case you were wondering, yes, those are pine nuts on the kale in the final painting.

After completing the painting, I took the image to Photoshop and added the words KNOCK KNOCK and the title. This was a fun stage - turning a painting into a book cover

The next step was to create a background for the inside text pages of the story. Continuing with a food theme, I created drawings of forks and spoons. These images line the text pages and are faded behind the text. This was a very fun story to illustrate.  I like the idea of not showing Bartholomew or Gerald, but letting the reader develop their own physical image of the characters.

As mentioned, Bartholomew Makes a Decision, the first story of The Book of Bartholomew, will be published on Friday, October 5, 2012 at

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Friends, Friends, Friends

This first story in The Book of Bartholomew is about Bartholomew discovering he needs friends.  Do people really need friends?  Do you need your friends?  Yes, people do become more capable as they get older and do not need as much assistance with life.  And some people are introverts and like being alone.  But everybody has and needs friends.

I am introducing a feature of The Book of Bartholomew: Bartholomew Asks...   Each week, a short video is presented with a question for that week's story.  In the video, people give short answers to the question.  This week, Bartholomew Asks: What is it you appreciate about your friends?  What do you look for in a friend?

You can write an answer here at the blog or share a text or video response at The Book of Bartholomew Facebook Page.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bartholomew Makes a Decision - Story

"There once was a young man named Bartholomew who was far too young to be on his own, but there he was. Being a little unsure of himself, he could not always tell when people were being sincere or when people were trying to take advantage of him. But when he knew what he wanted to do, that was what he did.

One evening, while enjoying Dionne Warwick songs and his favorite evening meal of fresh hot corn on the cob, apple red onion marmalade, beans and some kale, one of his twelve telephones rang.

“Hello,” said Bartholomew.

“Hello sir, how are you this evening?” asked the voice on Bartholomew’s cellular telephone.

“I am well. Who am I talking to?” asked Bartholomew in return.

“My name is Gerald. Can I ask you how the siding is on your house?”

And with that, Bartholomew's story begins to be told. It is a simple story of a not so simple life. But isn't that the way life is? Our lives are full of complications and nuances, yet to tell it, it comes out so simple. "I was born in Minnesota, spent most of my early childhood in New Jersey, grew up outside Chicago in the Western suburbs. I went to Bethel College in Saint Paul, MN..."  The whole story is not known by anyone but me.  Sometimes, I'm not even sure I know the whole story.  The other day someone shared the story of the first time they had met me.  It was at an event I attended with two of my friends.  I do not remember the event and didn't remember one of my supposed friends (my apologies Darren).  There are few people who have a context for my life - and that is the way for most of us.

Throughout history, people have used story to give children context for the life to come, to give them a way to understand situations they might find themselves in so they can make good decisions. The Book of Bartholomew stories function in a similar fashion, they are stories about situations. Perhaps they are situations you have been, or will be, in.  There are not morals at the end, as with many children's stories.  I do not presume to know what is right for most other people, although I suggest you stop killing people if that is what you are about.  But, I have had some fun and interesting experiences (some scary) and I am sharing them here through the characters of Bartholomew's world.  And I would love to hear your experiences and situations.

I have enjoyed exploring while writing these stories. I can only hope that you will enjoy them, and in turn, think well of me and come take care of me instead of me having to do everything for myself.  Perhaps you will bring ice cream and chocolate and let me watch football until I am fat with digital overload.  Then you will draw me a bath (with a 2h pencil) and massage the digital fat out of me with your powerful soothing fingers and feed me sweet potatoes and kale.  Perhaps you will take me to France?  Perhaps that is too much to ask.

- Mark Granlund