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One Year of Slowpoke
Welcome and/or thanks for sticking around.
Today marks one year of Slowpoke. A lot of you are new here. Welcome! It seems like a good time to reintroduce myself and the framework for this newsletter.
I’m Carson Ellis, an artist who lives on a historic farmstead in Oregon, near Portland. I’m not a farmer, just the steward of a 5 acre property that was formerly a big hay farm. (My friend Alix Ryan and I dedicated a short-lived podcast called Old Bright to exploring the history of this farm, if you’d like to know more about that.) I’m a gardener and I keep some animals: currently three llamas, two goats, three cats, fourteen hens, and a rooster.
I’m the mother of two boys: Milo, 10, and Hank, 17. Hank is autistic and neurodiversity is a guiding principal in our house. In a nutshell, we believe that different ways of thinking and behaving (i.e. autism) should be embraced and supported, and are natural variations of being human. My husband wrote beautifully about this philosophy and about Hank recently on his own substack, Colin Meloy’s Machine Shop.
I’m a musician’s wife. Colin is the singer/songwriter for The Decemberists. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be married to a touring musician, I get into some of the highs and lows of it right here on Slowpoke, for better or worse. If you are also married to a touring musician, welcome comrade.
I’m a writer’s wife too. In addition to the Machine Shop, Colin is the author of a number books for kids, including The Wildwood Chronicles, which we collaborated on. Historically, when people have introduced me as the wife of writer and musician Colin Meloy, it has made me a little prickly. Apparently I don’t mind when I do it to myself. I do not want to be first-and-foremost a wife, though I do love being one.
I’m an artist. I generally describe myself as an illustrator because it’s my bread and butter, though my practice is a multidisciplinary one. I have illustrated a lot of books for kids and I have written some too, including Home and Du Iz Tak? I have been the “artist-in-residence” for The Decemberists since their inception in 2001. I work as an editorial illustrator, lately for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and The New York Times (all the New Yorks). I also paint and exhibit, mostly at Nationale in Portland with my brilliant gallerist May Barruel, who is one of my oldest friends. Two different therapists posited recently that I have ADHD, which seems about right, especially considering what I understand about hyperfixation. I am a hyperfixated person who is always in the grips of a project. I draw, paint, embroider, knit, garden, build (shoddy) furniture, sew, and carve things out of wood, often with feverish urgency. There are not enough hours in the day, especially because I am also a slow-moving person. And that is why this newsletter is called Slowpoke.
Slowpoke Nitty Gritty
A year ago, I wasn’t sure what I would do with Slowpoke, but I was determined not to make any big plans and to let it evolve on its own. I like the shape it’s taken.
I’ve been writing a lot of newsletters lately, but I generally don’t adhere to a schedule. I write when I have something I want to write about, which makes Slowpoke a happy, healthy creative outlet for me. I do try to post a monthly newsletter for paid subscribers though. These tend to be more process or education oriented. There have been a number of painting and lettering tutorials, a video about typography, and the first part of a two part newsletter about the making of Wildwood. When it comes to paid newsletters, I’m always open to suggestions so lay ‘em on me.
The rest of the newsletters are free and explore a wide-range of stuff: illustration, picture books, travel, “farm” life, quilting projects, etc. I also host a podcast with Colin called Houseguest. We’ve interviewed such luminaries as author and illustrator Jon Klassen, graphic novelist Kate Beaton, and audiobook reader Simon Vance. (And that’s it actually. There are only three episodes.)
If you’re a paid subscriber to Slowpoke, THANK YOU! You are powering this newsletter. The fact that it makes some money allows me to prioritize it in a way that I couldn’t otherwise.
If you’d like to become a paid subscriber, please do! It costs $6/month or $50/year and will entitle you to extra posts and first dibs on limited edition prints, posters, etc. April’s paid post will be a Wildwood Q&A with Colin and me.
There’s also a Founding Member option. The recommend fee for this is $150/year and it comes with presents. Founding Members receive a limited edition risograph-printed Thank You card and a handmade Slowpoke button. In the spirit of Slowpoke, I made all the buttons myself, they are all different, and it took forever.
You can subscribe or upgrade to a paid subscription right here.
Thanks for reading! Here’s a photo of me in 8th grade because it’s not all looking cool and exuberant on top of Mount Hood, you guys. I’m glad you’re all here. Feel free to say hi and introduce yourselves in the comments.
P.S. Did you know you can gift a subscription to Slowpoke? It’s true!