December 26, 2008

A Winter's Tale

To say it has been snowy would be a once in a decade understatement.

It has been an historical bout of snow, a legendary siege of snow.

Each new morning seemed to break the record from the day before. I have never seen so much snow in Seattle before.

The snow piled up and up, like a scene out of the novel 'Winter's Tale' by Mark Helprin... one of my favorite books.

What a Christmas! A time to remember...
It was fun to capture it all in pixels with my trusty Panasonic FZ18.

December 21, 2008

Cabin-fever for freelancers?

The world is surrendered to winter.

It would seem illogical that a freelancer should suffer from cabin-fever. We live and work at home, after all. We're not used to going out every day.

But I find that cabin-fever happens. It's not that we actually go anyplace really, since we work at home. It's just the freedom to do so is made more difficult.

I think it's because this blanket of snowfall has covered over everything. Skylights are muffled shut, the grass is buried, sounds are muffled. Almost no one even goes out.

Or something...

December 19, 2008

Snowed in for the holidays...

This global warming is really something. All it's lacking is the 'warming' part, as our town sets a new record in low temperatures. It's snowing all across the nation I understand. And it's not even winter yet!

Here's my new studio chair. My drafting chair broke. It needs to be welded, so I had to improvise. But in the meantime I have painting that needs to be done! This solution looks a little perilous... but actually it's just fine, as long as I move very carefully.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

A few cold weather facts:

* Wearing long johns underneath corduroys takes some getting used to. I keep feeling like I'm in a Shakespeare play or something.

* Reindeer have fur on their noses! Imagine that! I saw a reindeer at the xmas tree farm. They are magical looking animals.

* Masking tape attached to Polartec is almost impossible to remove.

December 15, 2008

Long-Johns & Corduroys

1 pair long-johns,
1 pair corduroy pants,
1 long sleeved turtleneck,
1 heavy wool shirt,
1 polartec sweater...
1 pair heavy wool socks
1 pair ancient slippers

but it's still too cold!

listening: 1944 radio dramas online... just right, but usually the plots are so predictable.

eating: Oatmeal, raisins, cinnamon sugar & bananas... avec coffee

drinking: Ovaltine

feeding: My hummingbirds lots of sugar... I'm their life support system.

painting: Page 15 of the new book... nothing like a deadline that is exactly due during xmas & new years.

noticed: the full moon... but it was too blinkity cold to mind if it was any bigger than usual or not!

In a moment of weakness I spent 10 minutes rummaging through the cupboards looking for a bag of chocolate chips, to satisfy my cravings for chocolate. I failed.
This is entirely due to the freezing weather, that makes me want to revert to my grizzly bear essence and basically just eat and sleep.

No doubt hibernation is all Nature really expects of me. But un-naturally, the responsibilities of professionalism demand that I wake in the dark of night and drag out to meet deadlines.

December 14, 2008



Yes, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. That's all very nice, except for the cold, I think.

I suppose there's no real counterpart to the cold in thinking about the summer heat. But today it seems like a paradise lost . I find myself watching movies set in Australia, PBS shows about the pyramids... anything hot, sunny, sandy and dry.

Well at least the Holiday cards are printed and mailed. 

We saw two eagles by the lake today. I captured both of them in one photo.  What luck!

I don't know how the hummingbirds manage to survive this cold. But they do. I worry a lot about them, and take their feeders in late at night and get up at 5 am to put them back out. 

Meanwhile, the relentless Xmas deadline ticks away... tick, tock, tick, tock. I think it's hard to have a holiday deadline coincide with a picture-book deadline. Yuck. Thank GOSH for internet shopping!

December 6, 2008

Mysterious Skies

The skies seemed heavy with portent... as the light faded, the colors changed...

Strange clouds appeared above the mountains. What might it all mean? Are there UFOs hiding in those clouds?

December 3, 2008

Dreams & mice & the middle of the night...

It was the middle of the night.

I was in the middle of a very odd dream.

I dreamed I was on the rooftop somewhere in Italy. It was an ancient building made of stone with ornate ironwork and a cobbled sort of roof. I was successfully climbing down from the great height of the roof and had just managed to barely make it to the street by climbing down a lattice of ironwork... and finally stepping onto the hat of some character below.

Then suddenly (in real life) I hear a scurrying somewhere in the house. It must have been a mouse. It had to be a mouse. Maybe it was a roof rat! Gulp.

My brain changed gear... making the painful transition from the weird dream to the scurrying noise. My mind began clicking over all the possibilities. A whole new set of problems presented itself. Such is life... filled with problems. The transition from one mind to another is always a shock.

Eventually I fell back asleep. Dreaming is preferable to being half awake in the middle of the night and thinking about a mouse.

I do have the family mouse-catcher. But one can't count on my cat to catch any mouse.

Being deaf, she couldn't hear it. Being elderly, she's too bored to think about it. A mouse would have to run directly over her nose to get her attention.

November 27, 2008

An inexpensive trip to NYC

What's my favorite part of Thanksgiving?

The Macy's parade, of course! I realize it sounds tacky... and most people wouldn't spend 2 minutes watching it. But I find it's fascinating in every way.

For some unknown reason I find this annual TV event to be mesmerizing. It's largely nostalgia, no doubt, for my years in Manhattan. I used to live just down the street from the where the parade begins, up by the Museum of Natural History. So every year when I watch the parade, it's like a trip back. Only luckily, it's a trip back where I don't have to stand in a freezing wind for hours on end (like in real life).

I suppose the New Yorker in me luvs every snapshot of a real-time broadcast live from Manhattan. I relish each location shot... thinking back: "I know just where that street corner is... I used to walk past that building... I see they've torn that building down and put up a new one". It brings it all back in a way that just thinking about the past doesn't.

And it's inexpensive... which is crucial when you're on an illustrator's budget. It's my freebie 2 hour trip back to my old home town... the highlight of my illustrator's life past. So I can't help myself if I indulge a little now and then.

I also think the parade itself is fascinating somehow. The TV version is worlds better than real life, in that you get broadway hit tunes, the Rockettes, dancing, parades and live pictures from half a dozen locations. In real life you're just stuck in one spot for 3 freezing hours. The sight of all those amazing Manhattan buildings as the backdrop to the amazing balloons is a sight I rarely tire of. Odd, I know.

New York, New York... there's nothing quite like it, especially in the warm reminiscence of a new Thanksgiving morning with the gravy, cranberry & stuffing yet to come.

November 22, 2008

Clearing skies & basking birds

The sky had been foggy, but as it burned off, an odd shadow was left behind.

The sky cleared and transformed the lake to a dazzling blue.

Imagine my surprise to capture a basking eagle. I've never seen an eagle sunbathing like this before.

Even the blue heron was out taking advantage of the views. That's Mt. Rainier in the distance.

November 21, 2008

Brush Pens

I bought a Pentel brush pen to try out the other day. It's fun to use. It has a squeezable soft body, to squeeze the ink out when it gets dry.

My only complaint is that I wish it was smaller, since it seems like one can only do
large illustrations. It's very difficult to get smaller details without messing things up.

But I can see it'd be great for adding bold strokes to smaller inklines. And it's ideal for doing computery things with... (as in my sample).

I still haven't got quite the hang of it though.

November 18, 2008

The Magic Lantern...

As a child, perhaps my favorite toy ever was a magic glow in the dark lantern that was for viewing pictures.

What Proustian transports of joy were mine as I'd close off all the hallway doors to create the darkest space in the house, and then gaze for hours into the glowing magic of this toy! I can't recall any of the actual slides... I think they were cartoons of some sort. But I do recall the colors. The glowing blues that shimmered beside the golden yellows and the deep rich reds.

It was sheer magic, looking into this plastic toy. I see now why I turned out an artist instead of an investment banker.

There was a depth to the colors that was enchanting... it took me to a place I never knew existed. Just looking was like being a traveler invited over the bridge to another world.

Of course I had other favorite places to hide. The snuggest and most comforting was beside the kitchen oven, tucked like a little kitty down in between the stove and the kitchen wall, where a heat vent warmed me from the other side. I imagine cookies might have been baking there too in the perfection of memories past.

The other secret hideaway was the attic. It was full of that same mystery. Timeless and secret. Only the attic was always hot and insanely dark and treacherous to get to... but I'd go there because it seemed so far away and mysterious. I'd carry along a little battery operated fan to cool my face. It didn't work at all, of course.

Ah... the the mysteries of childhood. As a child I always believed that at the zoo there must surely be magic too behind the polar bear's and lion's enclosures. There was a sort of castle built up out of a rockery. It was only up to me to get beyond the fence to unlock the secret details for getting inside... none of which were ever revealed by real life.

November 13, 2008

Polar Bear Art

This public artwork made for a very fun discovery last weekend in a nearby park.

It certainly captured my imagination.

I thought the artist's use of exterior form played against the interior detailing was fascinating. It gave me some ideas for paintings and books done in a new format.

I wondered who the artist might be, so I could see some more of their work. A starving artist, no doubt. And since it's 15 feet up a building, they had to do some climbing to apply the artwork... (which is completely removable).

November 11, 2008

A Foggy Halloween Farm

I was so carried away by all the political dramas that I forgot all about Halloween.

Halloween arrived exactly on schedule... at first it was foggy. But it soon became a brilliant day.

The usual suspects all lined up as always...

This pathway stretched on to forever... with no one else in sight.

It's hard to decide which leaf is the most perfect. They all qualify.

October 30, 2008


It's Christmas already... at least it is in the world of illustration.
I always thought it's fun to be able to do seasonal illustrations off season.

So logically, there ought to be a run on springtime artwork coming up before too long. Though now that I think about it, I have already received half a dozen Holiday catalogs. And they have a lot of the Holiday stuff up in the stores too.

The weather is certainly cooperating, as I see it's snowing out East already.

October 16, 2008

Summertime is over...

It's easy to wax nostalgic over the passing of summer... as brief as it was. The buzzing of bees in the morning glories.

No more morning glories... or hot afternoons.

The cold of winter is going to take some getting used to. In fact it was only the middle of June when gloves, hats, scarves and coats were required.

Luckily my polartec is never far from reach...

October 11, 2008

Blogger's Block

It would seem that i have been preoccupied... and otherwise can't really think straight.

I think I've lost touch with my inner blogger. I've got blogger's block. It can be detrimental when one's mental state succumbs to indifference. I suspect it's all just a deep rooted biological need to hibernate.

Busy drawing, drawing and painting illustrations though... so maybe there's hope for me yet.

October 3, 2008

Drawing, Eating, Listening

Drawing : Working on the roughs to a new book. It's really more like puzzle solving than drawing, it's equally satisfying when all the puzzle pieces fall into place.

Eating: Just finished my standard lunchtime repast... vanilla yogurt with ground walnuts and strawberries and whole wheat toast with peanut butter. And a cup of tea.

Listening: To the pitter patter of raindrops...

Thinking: I ought to start hibernating...

September 28, 2008

Printed to perfection...

Here we have it... the entire set of proofs, printed to perfection!

It was an unexpected pleasure to receive this package the other afternoon, with all the interior pages. The color was perfect... which is often almost impossible to achieve. But this time the printing all came out exactly as I had hoped it might.

So now I've had my moment of publishing perfection. It was a wonderful experience.


September 17, 2008

Nature is the best getaway...

The mysterious woods... makes one want to leave the city almost.

It looks stormier than it was... it was actually just foggy and warm. But the drama looks good.

The deep, dark, foggy woods... what better place to get away to?

But the sunshine did peek out on occasion... opening windows to marvels of Nature.

I think movie makers use fog for effects... it's easy to see why.

Roots, trees, people... they all intertwine.

A mist enshrouded shore echoes the shapes of the forest.

A staircase hewn out of rock and cedar. It all felt like it was straight out of Tolkein...

As the elusive islands drift in and out of the fog...

Camping is my kind of getaway. And not a bug in sight the entire trip too!