Barrington resident brings Ponies to life in new book

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Iridescent colors and fantastical scenes seem to float off the pages of Mary Jane Begin’s newest book, and the author/illustrator said she has some weird digital music created by a German composer to thank for it.

The longtime Barrington resident and accomplished artist said she fueled her paintings for “My Little Pony: Under the Sparkling Sea” with a heavy dose of the digital tunes.

“It got my head into a dreamy place,” she said.

Ms. Begin, who teaches courses at Rhode Island School of Design, said she found that listening to music with lyrics did not allow her the same freedom as the digital sounds. She said her paintings, which combine watercolors, pastels and colored pencils, required the unique musical approach.

“If I thought about it too long, it would be too clinical, boring,” Ms. Begin said.

After viewing copies of her book, she appeared pleased with the results.

“I had a blast doing this,” she said. “I thought it would have been more commercial, but it wasn’t. I really loved it, and the people at Hasbro were great.”

The well-known toy company with roots in Rhode Island approached Ms. Begin about the book, which features the same My Little Pony characters many children are familiar with. Hasbro actually sent her figurines of the characters, which she kept on her desk while painting. She also created a few new faces, including the “manta hawk” and “crabbit.”

Ms. Begin also created the entire story. She said she was on a camping trip and was grabbing a cat-nap when the sound of nearby water and thought of ponies merged inside her head. Before long she was working on a storyline and drafting sketches of characters.

Upcoming events

On Saturday, April 27, Ms. Begin will visit Barrington Books for the premier launch event for “My Little Pony: Under the Sparkling Sea.” The event, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m., will include an opportunity for readers to have copies of the book signed by Ms. Begin, face-painting for youngsters, and My Little Pony prizes and giveaways throughout the afternoon.

Ms. Begin said her paintings will also be featured in an exhibit at the National Museum of American Illustration in Newport in late June.

In addition, the local resident also recently created two book apps — “Before I Go To Sleep” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” — that are available on the iPad.

Some of Ms. Begin’s prior work includes the picture books “The Wind in the Willows,” “A Mouse Told His Mother,” and “The Porcupine’s Mouse.”

Book signing

• What: Premier launch for “My Little Pony: Under the Sparkling Sea”

• Where: Barrington Books

• When: Saturday, April 27, from 1 to 4 p.m.

• What to expect: Book signings by author, face-painting, prizes and giveaways

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.