Alaska is having super hot temperatures this summer. Everyone keeps commenting about how hot it is and there is a big concern about possible wildfires. As you can imagine, sled dogs would much rather have it be cold than hot…. so how do sled dogs cool off when it’s hot? Well, in addition to their natural adaptions, some have swimming pools!
The teachers and I were blessed to be able to visit Jon and Jona Van Zyle’s kennel, home, and art studio last evening. In addition to being an Iditarod finisher, Jon is the official Iditarod Artist, a painter, and book illustrator. Jona is an artist as well, specializing in amazing textile and beaded items. We were fortunate enough to see some of the projects Jon has in progress including a new painting and a series of illustrations for a new picture book.
This is the third picture book he has done this year! I asked him to explain that process a bit. He says that a publisher will send him a manuscript. He reads it over and if, while he is reading, he sees pictures in his mind, he will agree to do the project. He prints out the manuscript and starts thinking about where the pages should be divided based on the pictures he is visualizing. He divides the pages and then, perhaps, makes a note or two at that point. The next step is to create a mock up of the way the book will look. He makes rough sketches of the pictures and decides if the paintings will take up one page or two and where the text will be. These sketches are really rough, with very little detail. Jon explained that he does it this way because he really only wants to do each of his paintings one time, as he needs the ideas to be fresh as he paints. The final paintings are then shipped off to the publisher. I also tried to get a sneak peek or insight into what this year’s Iditarod poster and print will be… but I was not successful!
The Van Zyle’s home is essentially a work of art itself… Jon built it himself, and every nook and cranny is filled with keepsakes and treasures, each of which comes with its own story as you can imagine!
The kennel is essentially heaven on earth for the ten huskies living in the kennel. They have a multilevel play area, beach umbrellas for shade, swimming pools to frolic in, and a large exercise wheel for when they feel like doing some training! Not a bad place to try to beat the heat!