A beautifully poetic exploration of being both a new mother and an artist, told using her own unique graphic novel and fine art approach. When Alice was born her mother only found time to draw her while she napped. Gradually Alice is multiplied in a tapestry of selves, both large and small, while an overarching narrative whispers through the pages, musing on the meeting of former and future selves. At its core, Alice at Naptime tells a universal story, of a parent pining for past freedoms, while simultaneously descending down a rabbit hole of all-encompassing maternal love.
A graphic novel in the truest sense of the medium, one that embodies what it means to be a parent, adjusting to the new realities of unconditional love coupled with the all consuming nature of being a new mother. Shea’s unique art style draws you into a kaleidoscopic collage of overlapping layers of art objects. Hypnotic, deeply moving, and a book that not only strikes a cord with parents, but also with anyone who has ever deeply loved.
Watch: Shea Proulx Reading Alice at Naptime
Shea Proulx is a Calgary artist with a BFA from Emily Carr and an MFA from the University of British Columbia. Rather than ’emerging’ as an artist after graduating, Shea cocooned somewhat and started a family. In 2013, after ten stimulating years in Vancouver, Shea, her husband, and their two daughters returned to Calgary, the city she grew up in and the one her willing-to-babysit mother has lived in all her life. With that influx of childcare assistance, Shea started a publishing company called Hillgrove Books whose fledgling projects are an embryology themed adult colouring book called Alice In The Womb, followed by ABC Monstrosity, a book for both preschoolers and their off-beat parents to enjoy. She is currently working on a full-colour version of ABC Monstrosity and a new book called Alice at Naptime.
On managing her artwork/life balance, Shea says: ‘I work around caring for my kids, and cram it in wherever I can; standing up between unloading dishes, waiting through swimming lessons, stolen hours when I should be sleeping, blissful but limited set hours when they’re both in school/preschool or are being taken care of by their maternal grandma. It’s very chaotic. I have a studio in my home in Calgary, but it’s usually just a loading zone because of the way I work at this point in my crazy life. There are very tidy looking pictures of the studio on my website. Those are a lie…’
“I found myself constantly getting lost in these pages because of all the hidden details, but the real way to experience Alice at Naptime? Read it with your little ones at bedtime – or just read it to yourself whenever you’re feeling nostalgic about the days when your kids were this small and fragile. It’s truly a fascinating work of art and if you are open to literal poetry in motion, then Alice at Naptime is that graphic novel experience for you.”
– Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This
“Equal parts poetry and artistic expressionism – Alice at Naptime is a one-sitting read where you’ll find yourself getting lost in Proulx’ one-of-a-kind art style which blends dreamscapes with reality, resulting in an ever-changing ebb and flow of quiet moments frozen in time by her drawings and yet always fluctuating with every turn of the page.”
– Keven Skinner, Fox Force Five
“A meditation on parenthood – the joys, the fears, the questions and the realities – built around surreal sketches of a napping Alice. But the story is more than just images of a napping baby, the accompanying text, poetic and thoughtful, delves into the extraordinary joy and fascination new parents find in their infants.”
– Rob Alexander, Rocky Mountain Outlook
“Like Baby Alice, this book is gorgeous and, like her naps, a little dreamlike…It is universal, but also intimate. And it is poetic, through the images as well as the words. The flow of feelings gives an insight into a mother’s love that, like this book, is to be treasured.”
– Mike Donachie, Toronto Star
“I relished in those quiet moments when they dreamed, especially when a little smile would twinge the corner of their lips, erasing all the struggles of the day that had come before those moments of blissful peace. Alice at Naptime takes me back to those days of exhausted, nervous, joyful wonder.”
– Wendy Browne, Women Write About Comics