Friday, January 9, 2015

A new book warms the winter...

 It may be an Iowa winter howling outside my studio door, but it's sweet and gentle summer in the Upper Midwest North Woods on my drawing board! I've been steadily working on illustrations fora  new book project since the fall and am currently tackling the cover. The title is North Woods Girl, a forth-coming publication of Minnesota Historical Society Press/Borealis Books. Written by a very talented Minnesota writer- more details on her later!- I know readers will love this story of how the love of nature can pass from generation to generation.

I love drawing all the new animals to me, as I did my in my last project set in Alaska. Bunchberry, birch, sweet scarlet tanagers, red fox, shy hare, sleek merganser...all and more will have cameos along side the two plucky human characters as they walk their way through the North Woods seasons.

Now back to the drawing board as they say.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A New Year takes root

Happy Holidays! A green Christmas has given way to a greener New Year, which is rare in these parts. Kind of nice though, as it gives an opportunity to see nature in winter in different light and form. Especially some trees, bare of their leaves and poised against dramatic January twilight.

We saw a film over the break where one of the characters explains to his daughter his life-long search for a 'Soul Tree', a tree that reflects how he views himself interiorally. The character's tree ends up being a giant oak, with a massive double trunk, split while quite young. It fits. The character hints of a dark event that happened when he was a child but he grew up strong and productive in spite of this. The daughter we learn struggles with demons of addiction. She searches for her tree and also succeeds in finding hers, a twisted loner on a barren scrubby hilltop, but beautiful and "wabi-sabi" in complexity and shape.

This year, I will start my look for my tree. "You'll know it when you see it" is the only advice the film characters give. I've found contenders already, but I think I'm still in the search.

Do you have a soul tree? Perhaps you will find it in 2015!

This tree spied while on a walk this past Christmas Day at Squire Point, outside of Iowa City. It's a young burr oak, holding fast to the limestone at its roots. It seems to be looking out onto the water in observation. I was drawn to it; is this my tree?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thoughtful Scribe in the Sky

I was running errands downtown Iowa City and noticed this perfect silhouette of a man studying in our Biology skywalk- such a peaceful site, person and book, cloudy later fall day leading up to finals.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's beginning to feel a lot like...

..being an artist in the holiday season... I neglect my blog when I'm busy in the studio. A million details go into preparations for the show, from framing small pieces to pricing tags. It's keeping my fingers flying.

This year, one of my new projects was creating a calendar. I had so many long format pieces roughly the same size I designed out a small desk top sized one. My printer Bob Goodfellow printed and collated the 14 pages, punched the die holes on top, and then loaned me an old manual wire binder machine to put it all together. Not an easy start, but once I got the hang of it, progress was made. I'm just now getting feeling back into my finger tips! But they look nice. Here's some pictures of it. I have it for sale on my Etsy site. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Growing on me

An annual local holiday art show- the Eastside Artists- is right around the corner and the usual blitz of creativity happening in my studio. One new item I'll have ready for market is this 45" long children's growth chart. Just wanted to see how it would produce on the! It is long!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Jaeger Kitty

Katt Pa Fageljakt (1883), Brono Liljefors
Gothenburg, the lovely Swedish port city, has a great art museum. The Kontsmuseum, housed in an austere looking building at the very end of the city's vibrant main Boulevard, Avenyn, holds a delightful collection of Northern European art; there's modern and classic, and all in between. I spent a memorable afternoon last fall getting a taste of their collection.

Not surprisingly, many Swedish painters are represented. One painting caught my eye. Bruno Liljefors (1860–1939) was an influential wildlife painter of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. His work focused on animal hunters and their prey, and has been described as being very unsentimental in tone. I agree. The painting I viewed was of a domestic cat (can a tuxedo cat- black and white ever be wild?!) after a bird kill, tromping through a late fall landscape with his spoils. Familiar with this look of satsifaction from my own cat (who occasionally does get a backyard offering, to my angst), something moved me about it and I thought a lot about this painting afterward. I bought the card reproduction of it and recently it surfaced in my studio. I put a light little poem together. Let' s just say I dedicate it to those birds out there not so lucky to cross the path of a jaeger kitty. Note- Jaeger is German for hunter. I liked how it sounded with Kitty.

Jaeger Kitty

Jaeger Kitty in the wood,
Stepping soft
Then fixed, she stood.

Heard a rustle
through the leaves,
something tiny
scents the breeze.

Eyes wide open,
whiskers quivered;
One mighty leap
and pounce delivered.

Jaeger Kitty,
With muffled mew,
brought her spoils
home to you.

“Would you share a mouse with me?”
“Thanks”, you said, “I’ve had my tea”.

Jaeger Kitty,
Now she sleeps,
She cleaned her fur then
slumbered deep.

Contented by her hunting day,
dreams of one that got away.

Friday, November 7, 2014

No proper time of day...

Part of one of my favorite poems of the season, illustrated.