Sunday, December 5, 2010

Eastside Artist Show- this week!

Always a good show- lots of made from the heart art! I have new cards and small framed pieces and new baby onesies and, of course, books!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Effigy Mounds

We recently got in a late autumn hike at the Effigy Mounds National Monument in north-eastern Iowa. I've wanted to visit for 17 years and the timing was right last Sunday. This 2,000 acre site sits right on the Mississippi, where river and delta seem as wide as the world. Early American Indians incorporated mound-building into their culture for almost 2000 years. Thousands have been lost to history, but this particular area features 31. The earthen mounds rise up from the woodland floor, some conical, some linear in shape, like dots and dashes. Some shaped like bears or birds. Many were used for burial, created one earth-filled basket at a time by a community of long ago Iowans.

As we made our way up the medium grade to the mounds, only the creaking of hickories, red oaks and basswood could be heard. That and the occasional call of a red-headed woodpecker. A carpet of leaves, golden brown, had fallen evenly on the ground. The entire woodland was dressed in a mellow light. The mounds themselves stood out from soft grassy areas. Beyond them, spectacular drops from the limestone ridges to the river valley below forced your mind to take in this sacred space.

I've been reading about reverence to nature lately, and how one practices it in small and big ways. You can't help but feel reverent in a place like this. I can't wait to see the mounds again in the other seasons. Go visit if you can.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Emily's words

I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven.

--Emily Dickinson

Friday, November 19, 2010

The cycle of nature, reflected in library art activities

I did a presentation at the Iowa City Public Library last week. I shared a bit about the new book, and then the library had arranged some simple art projects for the kids to do afterward. One was making an owl mask. One was a cardinal bird magnet. One smart child really listened to my talk. His owl mask was portrayed eating his cardinal magnet!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Here's a favorite poem for this month. I've always wanted to illustrate it. I love the repetition. The poem was used as lyrics to a track on an Art of Noise album from the 1980's.

by Thomas Hood

No sun--no moon!
No morn--no noon!
No dawn--no dusk--
no proper time of day--
No sky--
no earthly view--
No distance looking blue--

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member--
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Haunted Happening

Thank you all who attended our triple Tallgrass author's book event Sunday at the Haunted Bookshop in Iowa City. We had a cozy crowd with a smattering of very engaged children. Cool! Nialle the owner has made this Indie book shop a wonderful place, complete with resident cats. It smells like Powells in Portland, so I feel at home!

Our three books can all be found online or in your local bookshops:

The Chiru of High Tibet by Jackie Briggs Martin
The Hanukkah Trike by Michelle Edwards
Where Do Birds Live? by Claudia McGehee

and if you are burning for a signature in any one of these titles, please let me know and I can make it happen!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Just as the goldfinches shred the last of our dried sunflower heads- it's on to the finch sack feeders now- I post an image of summer. Something to remind us of warmer days as we look out to a couple months of white ahead. This will be a new print on my Etsy site soon. I have a whole flock of new birds coming out. Tweet.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Haunted Bookshop Signing

Please join me and two of my picture book
author friends
Jackie Briggs Martin and
Michelle Edwards for a reading
& author signing at

The Haunted
203 North Linn Street
Iowa City, Iowa
(319) 337-2996

November 14th

We'll have a little talk, then refreshments-
-frosted cakes, and other treats- including Lucy's sugar cookies (oh yeah)
will be available after.

Getting closer...

Finished the black and white image- now to paint tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Goldfinches in the making

Working on a new goldfinch print for the annual Eastside Artist Show (December 10th, 11th and 12th in Iowa City- more details coming later). Many people request illustrations of these lovely little birds. This is the line-work near completion.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


A personal philosophy and bumper sticker

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thank you!

Thank you all who stopped by and said hi at Wilson's Orchard yesterday. From my book-signing table perch in the gift shop, I watched so many people enjoy the place on a stunning October day. And if I had an apple for every time a person said "It smells amazing in here!"... The aroma of the famous Wilson's Orchard turnovers is quite intoxicating. I spent a nice afternoon demonstrating scratchboard, and had lots of kids try their hand at it. Books and cards were sold, too!

A Shout-out to my friend Patti Z who snapped a few photos of the event and brought a visitor from Germany to the orchard as well. And thanks to Paul and Sara Rasch, owners of the orchard, and their staff, for having me!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book Signing at Wilson's Orchard

This Sunday, October 17th, swing by Wilson's Orchard, pick some apples, have a wagon ride and say hi to me in the main gift shop area. I'll be there from 1:30pm to 3pm, signing the new book and demonstrating scratchboard. I created a new birdie print for the orchard entitled "Indigo Buntings at Wilson's Orchard", which will be available, too. And if you haven't had one of their apple turnovers yet this year, the orchard closes for the season at the end of the month, so hurry up!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Cricket's Song

In Iowa, the cricket sings a harbinger's song of autumn. The fireflies have already packed their bags and left (there isn't a lonelier sight than a solo firefly in September). The next generation of cicada are deep in the ground. Box elder bugs gather in sunny patches for one last BIG family reunion before dispersing to their buggy netherlands. Only the crickets remain to play, like the quartet of musicians on the Titanic's deck, until the first hard frost signals the silence of a new season.

Listen tonight for the sound of the cricket. Hear the approach of fall.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It starts with a line

Today while shopping at our Iowa City Co-Op, I was unexpectedly confronted with my own artwork in the dairy aisle! Earlier this year, I worked with two very talented friends, writer Melinda Pradarelli and Designer Shannon Heiman, on a whole series of new labels for dairy products from Kalona Organics (a company of great integrity based in Kalona, Iowa, not far from Iowa City). Shannon and Melinda had a concept of loose line illustrations that would serve as a simple accompaniment to KO's quality products. Foregoing my scratchboard for a technical pen, I drew with abandon lively drawings of spoons, bowls, drink glasses, fruits and leaves...the labels were to look fresh, with a bit of retro in feeling. A lovely choice of nostaligic bottle shapes and Shannon's keen sense of design and color went into each look. Melinda's word-magic steered the whole campaign. The results can be found NATIONALLY in the dairy section of your favorite grocery store soon. And when you go to buy their yummy yogurt, you can say, "Hey, I know who drew that peach!"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Puss in Uggs

Recently, our cat Fauve had a "procedure" which left her with one shaved front upper leg (from "kneecap" to chest). For a while, she looked like she was wearing a single furry boot! Lucy thought it looked like Fauve had an Ugg on. So I sketched her as if she was wearing a double pair of those pricey, trendy items.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Something's in the Air!

The book has landed! I'm happy to announce my third picture book "Where Do Birds Live" is now flying into book stores (and hopefully off of shelves!). Always a humbling experience, to know how a project starts from a pile of sketches and papers, and grows to a lovely bound book. I hope readers enjoy it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In the groove

Just finishing up a project deadline. Some of the pieces had lots of detail that I had not factored in, and took longer to complete. Physical side effects (that I can share!) of sitting at a drawing board for hours sometimes include swollen hands and feet. I must remember to take more breaks! But once I start painting, the illustrations start talking to me....and it's hard to leave. So this morning, I pumped my blood around with a good long bike ride and enjoyed the smells of early fall, bakery smells, street sounds, kids on their way to school...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back to School

This was my part-time studio this summer. I'm back in my "real" one today, pencils sharpened. Feels good to get into routine, but I miss the sand between my toes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Waiting Tree

A lovely old white oak was removed from our daughter’s school today. It was an ancient beauty with a full canopy and a heavy mast of acorns most years. It grew next to the kindergarten rooms and at one point, someone had built a seat encircling the trunk. Many pleasant afternoons, I waited under its peaceful green-ness for Lucy. She’d bound out of her classroom, that new excitement of learning still traced on her face. And we’d collect and gather every day from this point. The tree had suffered some lightning damage in the past few years, some branches bare of leaves. Alas, it’s ideal meeting location also sealed its fate. It was deemed “unsafe” and cut down and hauled away, limb by limb. The tree service men went about their work a little too gleefully. But the deed is done, with only the magnificent stump to remind us. Today, I salute the “Waiting Tree” and thank it for it’s gifts.

Ode to the Waiting Tree

It was there
Among others,
Long before the wagons breached the grassy hills.
It witnessed, as savanna gave way to prairie, and prairie to farm field, then neighborhood.
Spared once by a few feet, adding natural grace beside angled structure, it became shade-giver, place of meeting, place of waiting.
And it was. For over 200 years.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wicker nap

Our cats are done with these dog days of summer. They lounge around under hosta leaves in the garden, or find a cool, shaded corner on the porch. The wicker chair is popular. Oh, to be a cat. Here's my watercolor of one in-house cat nap.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Honey Fest

Will be involved in the Indian Creek Nature Center's (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Honey Fest September 19th. Working on the art for possible poster. Will post more details closer to the date. Sounds like a sweet event!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sphinx moth in the Yard!

Ever seen a sphinx moth? Maybe you have and thought it was a hummingbird. They are about the size of humming birds, move fairly fast and feed from flowers in the same fashion. BUT, they are distinct little guys from the insect world! I caught a couple photos of one yesterday in the same territory that I usually see hummers, right outside my studio window. Last summer, when I was finishing my bird book, a late afternoon sighting of a ruby throat would give me much needed inspiration. Although I didn't see any sphinx moths last year, I knew of their coolness. There is information in the book comparing the two creatures. Check out the moth's stripey backside!

Find the moth and the hummingbird in each photo if you can.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Running fox

A little doodle today. Running Fox Studio? I've always thought it might be cool to have a real studio name sometime. Some illustrators do this. Running Fox? Thistle and Finch? They would be good English pub names!

School is out for the summer. This mamma/illustrator/writer will indeed be running erratically for awhile.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mr.Toad lives under our porch

An American toad has taken up residence under our back door. He's a hardy guy, and hangs out under the Heuchera leaves. I have a cheesy ceramic decorative toad house in the same garden bed which Toad actually uses sometimes! I looked up his diet- worms mostly. So last night Lucy found a juicy earthworm and we located Toad and put the worm close to him. In no more than 5 seconds, he had oriented his body to the worm, gave it the "stink eye" and gobbled it up. The end of the worm- still sqirmming- dangled out of his mouth for a bit, thrilling Lucy! After singing "American Toad" to him a couple times (sung to the melody of "American Woman") we let him be. Nature at its finest. Right outside the back door.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pelicans in trouble again

My heart is sinking with the news of the oil-covered brown pelicans, residents of the Gulf barrier islands. It just keeps getting worse.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

An illustrator's Images of York

Spent a few days in York, England recently. So much history to draw on! Not to mention cream teas...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Prairie blooms

Working on a story I've been growing for some time. I always come back to the prairie.

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