Monday, December 28, 2009

The Art of Winter

Ahh- winter. We midwesterners embrace it, snow and all. We have no choice! But most of us have a fondness for the deep dark months anyway. Time to gather in, take stock, refresh lungs in the frozen air, then settle in for the long evenings by a blazing fire...

I'm purging reluctantly, the richness of the holiday season for the purity of the New Year. Here is how the art of others- all Iowa City Eastside Artists- currently lights up our home.

Have a creative 2010!

Artist's work, from top to bottom: Kashaul Jain's painted gourd ornaments; Melissa Arp's doll ornament; Paul Maxwell's wooden bowl; Nancy Romalov's wooden candy cane; Susan Shimmeck's textile table runner; Melissa Arp's doll ornament; Kashual Jain's decorative gourd.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


If you are in the Iowa City Area, please join us at our downtown annual art show and sale! Let me know if you didn't see something you were looking for!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Small Wear

Trying something new to sell at the Eastside Artist show this year- baby onesies and T-shirts. I have 4 nature inspired, hand screen printed designs from my collection available; Prairie Boy, Prairie Girl, Night Owl and Early Bird. They're also on my Etsy site. Nice, 100% organic cotton fabric, too.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Still autumn out there, still time to enjoy tea outside. Still life of an autumn tea...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Harvest Farm and Preserve

This is a small piece I did last month when I was a visiting artist at a nature preserve located not that far from my house (Harvest Farm and Nature Preserve). There were other artists there, working en plein air- outdoors! I set up in a leafy, wooded area called "Whitman's Glade" and commenced to create a little botanical from leaves and things I found around me. Then people walked through and talked with me as I worked. At least that was the plan. I've never worked in public liked this, so scratching and talking at the same time was challenging! In fact, I talked much more than I scratched! So, the piece is quite small, but representative of the essence of that lovely October day.

More on the nature preserve here:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One of my favorite children's book authors is English-born Katherine Hale. She wrote and illustrated a number of books in the 1950's/60's about Orlando, the marmalade cat. Quirky stories and gorgeous illustrations, Orlando had all sorts of adventures with his family. He always wore a wristwatch on his tail. I was fascinated with the photo of Hale on the jacket cover, pictured with her "real" Orlando perched on her lap as she drew. Now have my own studio, and one of the great perks is having our cats around for company. One of them, Fauve, has been a shoulder-sitter since she was a kitten. Lots of times, this is how I work, with a cat draped around my head!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Final scratch of eastside birdie- next color

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Visit to Wilson's Apple Orchard

Wilson's Orchard is located on a gently rolling acreage just a little north of Iowa City. It is one of the first places in Iowa that felt like "home" to me. Many great memories come from afternoon trips out to pick our favorite varieties. Beside picking apples, we've seen people married there, watched turtles bathe in the creek, enjoyed numerous wagon rides and picnics. We even consoled ourselves the afternoon of 9/11 with its peace and beauty.

It is also a source of creative inspiration. It's a business that works so closely with nature, it was bound to captivate me, as it does others. I'm happy to report that my books, cards and prints are available there this year. And, if you come out next Saturday October 17th, at 1:30pm, I'll be there to color and draw with kids. What will we illustrate? Apples for sure!

Please visit Wilson's Orchard website for directions:

( PS- the apple sketch is in colored pencil)

Step 2...

Most of the outlying scratching is done...

Friday, October 2, 2009

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

Argggh!!! Already time to gear up for the Eastside Artist Show, this year December 11, 12 and 13. I will post more details soon. I always do a holiday cardinal card to advertise the show. Here's the first step of the postcard illustration- the outline of the design.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

To Autumn

Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness...These lovely old lines from John Keats come to mind this morning. The trees are starting to flame up, the air is heavy and earthy.

And to mark the turn of season, I have a clean studio! Thanks to hosting an art studio tour and workshop for a group of 15 women yesterday. It was crazy hearing 15 scratchboard tools all working at once! It is usually so quiet with just me scratching away. It was fun to share my space.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fall Back

It has been stunning weather these past summer months, more than midwesterners ever hope for. But signs of change are floating down from my birch tree. The garden looks tired. The geese are honking goodbye. And nothing's lonelier than a firefly in September. The cats are also becoming more cuddly and making nests in the blankets indoors for late afternoon naps. I captured one in this little spot yesterday.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Acorn Trilogy

Looks like a "mast" year for oaks this year. Acorns are littering our lawn. Little harbingers of autumn. Snacks for squirrels (deer eat them like popcorn, too!) Here's a threesome that I colored digitally. Scratchboard line art.

Monday, August 24, 2009

School started last Thursday, Oh Bittersweet day! Bitter, as she is growing up so fast...sweet, as I enjoy seeing her become the person she is.

It's also nice to be back in the studio again, with more time to loose myself in new projects.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A site called "Wordle" let's you create "word clouds," stunning little graphic representations from a text sample you provide. It's an interesting visual exercise for writers and illustrators alike! The words appear larger the more frequently they were used in the text. Here's the one I created from my birds book manuscript. Somewhat tree-like, don't you think? Appropriately so! Wordle is free, too.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How nice it is to paint the elegant shape of the season's first eggplant. And a couple pear tomato thrown in as well. I love curves.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Abstract Thoughts

Cleaning up my studio, I was looking at all my scrap paper paint palettes I used to blot my brushes while painting the final illustrations for the birds book. I labeled each palette as I finished the illustration. I was struck by how every "scrap" palette was in spirit like the tight detailed scratchboard piece I was working on at the time. Only abstracted. Hmm- maybe I should loosen up a little more often! Here's a couple I'll share.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I let a volunteer sunflower grow right where the sliding glass door opens to my studio. It got to be tall and a bother to get around, but worth the hassle when a little goldfinch couple came daily to feed on the seed... Pretty cool and inspiring to one working on a picture book about birds.

Monday, July 20, 2009

From Board to Blog, give or take a couple months!

I'll pretend the last two months have not gone swiftly by! Summer is tough on freelancing blogging moms, especially with a book deadline.

The bird book is nearly, nearly, done- here's the promised final of the Black Oystercatcher, resident of the Pacific coastline, and more to come when the book is published in the spring next year. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to thinking about new projects and reflecting here on how the work of this current project progressed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Birds on my mind and on my board...

I am starting the final art for the bird picture book I am working on. It will be celebrating bird habitats all across the US. Here's a sketch for the Black Oystercatcher, the profiled bird in our "Pacific Coastline" section.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

If you are in the area...Iowa City Landscaping is located at 520 Hwy 1 W, Iowa City (319) 337-8351

Monday, May 11, 2009


It's Children's Book Week! Go read a book to your favorite child (even if that's you!) To read more about the history of this week long celebration, go to the Children's Book Council site:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bee a scratchboarder!

To those who are interested in the materials I use:

British made Essdee brand scratchboard is the best- it's thicker than the student grade stuff out there and more responsive to scratching.

I color my work with Windsor and Newton watercolors, and Dr. Marten dyes.

There are specific tools for scratchboard, but I prefer Exacto blades #16; they keep sharp a long time.

Happy scratching!

Friday, May 1, 2009


Happy May day! We got a couple of baskets delivered today by the sweet little girls up the lane. Complete with popcorn and candy. I think I will go pick some violets at break time.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Back from a SCBWI- Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators- conference and am bursting with new ideas. I am reminded it is a field of passionate people which I am glad to be part of.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yes, go hug one today!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A couple weeks ago, our neigborhood hosted a passing fox. I saw him just for an instance crossing our main road. The sun shone on his lovely red coat and I thrilled to see his black "gloves". Neighbor Sarah was priviledged to see him napping under her deck! Neighbor Michelle saw him in her garden later on that afternoon.

I did a little scratchboard of our fox. I scanned my black and white work, then colored the print as usual (bottom fox). But then I decided to watercolor right on the actual scratchboard (something I seldom do) and was happy with being able to "lift" highlights by scratching through to the white chalk layer (top fox, with eye closed). I may do this method more in the future.

Friday, April 10, 2009

..and passover and spring! The above print was made from actual peeps candies- no peeps were harmed (or eaten) during the process, only immortalized forever!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring fawn

Will there be baby deer in the neighborhood woodland draw this spring? There were two sets of twins last year!

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