August 30, 2007



Even the hummingbirds are back in abundance.
I suppose one ought to enjoy it while it lasts... since it's not going to last.

I always marvel at how when the trees are full of green leaves, it always seems by now that the leaves have been green forever. A bare twiggy tree seems unthinkable.

And contrarily, when the trees are all bare-twigged and bereft of leaves it seems like they've always been that way.

I must be missing some fundamental truth here about life or nature or time or something or other...


Notice how gigantic the eucalyptus has grown in 6 years! A magic tree! And the vines on the trellis have accomplished their annual feat of leaping into the adjacent trees... which will require a good hour of ladder climbing and pruning come November!

August 25, 2007

The Essence of Painting

Now here's some guaranteed painting satisfaction!

Painting steps... the act of painting reduced to it's most basic, purest & satisfying form. No meddlesome artistic content to get in the way!

There are few wrong ways to paint steps. The brush cannot make a mistake... the paint glides on perfectly every time. The act of painting assumes an additional role of renewal and magical transformation... which Art often fails to achieve.

The poor weather-beaten steps are given new life by the act of painting. They are renewed to last out another season against time & the weather.

I have a special feeling about these steps anyhow, since I built them from scratch years ago. They've held up well over the 10 years since that hot summer when I cut them out on the front lawn.

Now it looks like the south side of the house needs a little painting satisfaction of its own. Yet I search, and easily find dozens of reasons to delay such satisfaction. Truly amazing how quickly the reasons spring to mind!

I think I'll just rest on my laurels for awhile yet... and admire the steps.

August 23, 2007

Photoshop... How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways...

* I love thine dependablity, as trustworthy as an ancient oak.
* I love thine intuitive & logical Interface which alloweth varied solutions to any puzzle.
* I love thine Quickitude that speedeth every project... amazing all art directors forthwith.
* I love thine flawless interface, as smooth as the cheek of a maiden.
* I love thine ability to render forth the quickest imaginings of yon fevered artist...
* I love how thou setteth aglow every Color and render all changes in an instant.
* I love thine Keyboard shortcuts... to hasten every task wondrously.
* I love thine Image Browser, to gather forth all sundry artworks into seemly folders forthwith.
* I love thine Clone tool which maketh magical feats at the flick of a Wacom.
* I love thine Magic Wand tool, which doth indeed render forth great Magic.
* I love thine Undo command... which renders all mistaking a thing of the past.
* I love thine Transform command, which transformeth imperfect art into perfection.

And I love thine Cousins... InDesign & Illustrator & Acrobat, all of which toil together seamlessly.

August 19, 2007


First I got an electrical gremlin in my formerly trusty Volvo 940 T. I spend days fiddling with ground wires. I got all twisted up down by the fuse box. I got my hands covered in grease wiggling all the wires looking for a short.

No luck... the gremlin persists.

Then my printer decided it needed a gremlin too. The black won't print. I spent the whole morning taking the cover off, taking the print head out... spraying it with Windex. I searched online help forums... nothin'.

No luck... the printer gremlin persists.

Sometimes it seems modern life is just too complicated and has too many job openings for gremlins to sign on and mess things up!

Yet somehow we all persist despite the gremlins...

Be-GONE Evil Gremlins!!!!
Be-GONE Evil Gremlins!!!!
Be-GONE Evil Gremlins!!!!

August 15, 2007


Of course we illustrators make excellent pet owners. And we have the added benefit of being able to immortalize our pets in print. I've snuck my kitty into lots of books and illustrations over the years.

AND I've sacrificed my good night's sleep more or less every night for 10 years by getting out of bed to let her out when she starts wailing to go out!!

At 3 am I am usually awoken by a "Mee--ooooo-uuuu-wwwww!!!"


And there goes another hour of tossing & turning trying to get back to sleep!
AND I've opened probably 10,000 doors for this demanding little fluffball over the
years... running up and down stairs.

In other words, I've been her stay at home, round the clock butler!!

The things I go through for this cat!

Here she is in a recent starring role... (she appears on almost every page in this book! 'The Grandma Cure' Dutton Books)


August 12, 2007

Owls in the Woods!

We saw two owls today!!! Right here in Seattle... in the woods in the Arboretum.

This might not seem like much... except that my spouse, the birder, has been obsessed with seeing an owl for years.... without ever seeing one.

So imagine the wonder of walking through a city park, on a bright summer morning and having a giant owl come swooping past overhead, mobbed by a dozen cawing crows. And even odder, I was just at that moment talking about owls.

And then another owl swooped past!

All in all it was an incredible rarity to see two owls in the daytime, at a low perch near a trail!
And even luckier, I brought the camera along...

They just sat there for about 20 minutes... once the crows finally left them alone. It was wonderful... and totally unexpected. That's the weird thing about birding... you never know what might happen.

Owls are such mysterious gorgeous birds....

We went back to look for the owls again today... and they were right back on the same branch again! They have no fear of people... as we stood there watching them for 30 minutes just 15 feet away.

Owls are so much like cats! They even do the grooming and stretching of legs and cleaning up their ruffs... just like cats. By the way... these are Barred Owls.

August 11, 2007

Summer Morning

William James was incorrect when he declared that the two most beautiful words in the english language were 'summer afternoon'. In fact those two words are really 'summer morning'.

Here we have the tools of the trade... a fresh palette squeezed out and unsullied, more or less. I've discovered some new colors that came along with a new brand of paints. That's like discovering a new kind of fruit almost... a new flavor.

A rare sunbeam finds it way through the early morning to land upon the drawing desk... with the trusty fan and air conditioner standing by for afternoon duty... (when required).

It is summer after all... Let there be light!

August 10, 2007

Silly Scenes

Here's a fun little puzzle page I did for a children's magazine. It's fun to try out some new techniques of mixing real & digital mediums... and I thought it printed up very well... which you can't always count on.

Very quick & fun to do. I like switching from real to digital... so I can fix all the mistakes I made
with real paint. And then it's fun to watch the extra things that Photoshop adds in...

Brrr.... it's actually COLD this morning!
I'm thinking it's almost time to bring the electric heater up from the basement...

August 5, 2007

Lillies of Summer

Lillies are the Vegas Showgirls of flowers... at least thats what I think. And these showgals also come with a strong perfume... so move over Rose & Tulip, Lilly is in town!!!

Don't worry Tulip... no one ever wants to marry a Lilly. They're too hard to live with! They're mostly just for show... and they can't hold up to the weather.

August 3, 2007

Blueberry Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes

One reason I like summer is the abundance of blueberries... which some nutritionists consider to be the world's most perfect food. I concur.
My weekend pancake recipe follows... all measurements are approximate, of course.

Blueberry Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes

Dry ingredients:
1 1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
6 tablespoons powdered buttermilk
1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar
a sprinkle or two of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of baking powder

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil (or some sort of oil)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 to 3/4 cup water... but add last and very slowly... and only as much as required


Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl... (starting the griddle to heat on a low setting in the meantime)
Mix all the wet ingredients together and add to the bowl... holding back the water.
Carefully mix in the water starting with 1/2 cup and very, very slowly add more until the batter is like a runny pudding. It's easy to add too much, so be careful here!

By now the griddle ought to be just right. Add a dollop of butter and pour out the pancakes in small circles (since they spread out a bit). Add blueberries to the top, (or you could add them to the batter also).

Unlike most pancakes, these don't exactly signal they're done by the popped opened air bubbles on top. So check them for that golden patina by lifting up an edge.
But because of the oatmeal, these pancakes fry up to a lovely golden brown and are much easier than regular pancakes to cook, usually. But being pancakes, they can be temperamental....

Warm plates in the oven to hold the first batch of pancakes while cooking up the rest. Serve with more blueberries and yogurt.... or whatever.

One possible side effect of these pancakes is that you will have very little ambition for anything short of napping for the rest of the morning. So weekend morning are best...

August 1, 2007

A Return Home #3

Alas! Perfection is fleeting...

Amazements must be remembered for another day...

But at least there are still elk herds to see!

And fields of lavender to behold... (and get bees in the car!)

And there's always good old Mt. Rainier to top it all off... my 3 days of vacation are done!