Thursday, December 13, 2007

All Settled... Finally!

It's been such a long time since I've updated that I'm just not sure where to start... So, we're finally all settled here in Austin after our big move from LA. It's hard to believe we've been here for about a month and a half. The time just flew by and now it's nearly Christmas! I had forgotten how all-consuming long distance moves can be. During the move there are these long stretches where we're just waiting around, but at the same time there are so many little loose ends to take care of. It seems like I've done everything but art lately, although I did manage to scribble down a first draft of a very simple early reader that's been swimming around in my head for a while.

We spent our first two weeks here in an Extended Stay on the east side of the city which was . . . okay. We managed to find an apartment within our first four days here which I thought was very efficient of us! So I was able to call in for delivery of our possessions pretty quickly. Unfortunately, the mover scheduled the delivery for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving which was the same day we were supposed to fly out to visit my parents. Try as I might to reschedule, I couldn't reach the moving coordinator, who, as it turns out was sick with the flu for an entire week, so we had to cancel our trip lest our things be left on the curb or shipped around the country for a while before they made their way back to us again. Needless to say, none of us were to happy about any of this.

One of my big concerns regarding the move was not knowing how the cat would handle it. I've never traveled with a cat before so it was uncharted territory for all of us. He actually did surprisingly well on the flight over and in the hotel. There was a bit of growling and slinking around, but he took it all really well. Where I made my mistake was when I took him with me to the empty apartment one day to do some cleaning. He was fine all day - really interested in checking the place out and then in the very late afternoon something in his little brain snapped and he started dashing around madly and frantically washing, twitching his fur and shaking his head as though there was something on him that he was trying to shake off. It was very disturbing to watch him in this state. We took him to the vet to see if what was bothering him was something environmental. The vet seemed rather baffled by our description of his behavior and suggested we just keep an eye on him for a while. He did gradually get over the problem, so we can assume it some kind of bizarre stress response. Thankfully, he's all back to normal now.

So far, I'm really liking Austin. It's very pretty - very green - not at all the stereotype of the dry, dusty Texas I'd always imagined. And I am so happy to have forest the reaches right up to our back balcony. It's quite an improvement over our last view of the building next door - the typical LA 'view.' We have a nice big picture window in the master bedroom which makes for really great bird-watching. The cat and I are both loving it. There seem to be a couple pairs of cardinals that frequent the juniper nearby. They are just so pretty to watch flitting around, nipping berries off the branches. Must paint a cardinal... The wildlife is just great around here and we haven't even started hiking the local wilderness yet either. The forests must be teeming with deer since we see them all the time. They are pretty brave. They come right up onto the lawns and you can get pretty close to them without spooking them at all. I know a lot of people have deer in their backyard, but I never did so it is pretty novel to me. Oh - and I saw a little owl the other day! It was just so cute! Must paint an owl...

And here I was worried that I wouldn't have any pictures to post since we all know pictures are the best part, right? I went outside, thinking maybe I'll see something interesting to shoot. Shot a couple pictures of berries for future reference and on my way back to my apartment I spot three deer grazing on the lawn just like I was saying:
Well, most important of all, my husband is very happy with his new job which is a very good thing since we did move all the way here for it after all. He's working on a next-gen game called Darksiders. It's set in a fantastical post-apocalyptic future with angels, demons, etc. and you play as one of the four horsemen. It's still in it's early stages, but what they have so far looks really great. There are some trailers here (yes, you have to sit through a commercial if you want to watch them) :
This one's an interview/trailer:

Well, I think I've yammered on long enough today. It's almost time for dinner anyway. Since I probably won't update again until after the holidays (we'll be in Arizona!), I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See ya in 2008...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


So it's official - we're moving to Texas. My husband accepted a job in Austin and just put in his two weeks this past Monday. It's such a strange feeling. We had a few weeks of anticipation and mild uncertainty and now, suddenly we're in the thick of preparations. We're out of LA in exactly two weeks, so it's going to be quite a whirlwind. I'm really excited to be moving - trying out a new city in a different part of the country, but the moving itself can be such a dreaded experience. We had a pretty horrid experience six years ago when we relocated from NY to LA and I'm not at all eager to repeat it. Fortunately, I have a bit more time to do better research on moving companies and the like this time around, so hopefully it will be a somewhat better situation. We shall see...

I've never been to Austin myself, but every one we've spoken to seems to really like it, so I have high hopes that we will too. The cost of living is very attractive and I hear it's quite green and boasts spectacular thunderstorms. I so miss thunderstorms...

Here's a sketch a did last week:
I've had a thumbnail of this idea waiting around in my sketchbook for years, so I'm glad to finally have a chance to tackle it. I'm not sure where the idea for it came from - instruments as boats just seems like a neat idea to me. I've got a color study finished for it, but I have a feeling I'm not going to get to touch it again for a while, since my current job is now 'moving coordinator.'

So as we're preparing to move, going through our possessions and trying to figure out what we can do without, we managed to gather up a few stacks of books that we were willing to part with - a lot of them duplicates that we both had before we got married. I remembered a small used bookstore right around the corner from us, that I'd walked past many times, but never really ventured into before. So I headed over there, arms full of books. It's one of these places I wish I'd discovered sooner - a really nice store with good selection and the owner's just nice as can be. They even had a copy of Castles by Alan Lee - quite a find! I love the big bookstores, Borders, B&N as much as anybody, but there's something to be said for the charm of the smaller independent bookstore. So, if you happen to be passing through Canoga Park, stop in and see what you can find - address is on their website:

Also, I mentioned sculptor Vicki Banks' beautiful animal sculptures in a previous post - seems she does indeed have a website:

It's time for me to dive back into the madness of moving - many phone calls to make. Anybody know a good pet-friendly hotel in Austin by chance?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Deer Season?

I know some time ago I mentioned that I could probably do a blog just about hiking and I guess I really wasn't kidding. So, because a good half of my blog focuses on hiking, I thought I'd add the word "hiking" to the subtitle. Anyway, my husband had the last week off work and I got absolutely no work done, but, naturally, we did do quite a bit of hiking . On Monday, we went to Topanga State Park and hiked the Santa Ynez Canyon Trail. The trail starts out high up in the hills and gradually winds down into a heavily wooded canyon. Taking a left at a fork in the trail, the path leads to a waterfall. We strayed off the beaten path a bit and followed the stream, boulder-hopping to reach the waterfall. At one point in the creek, the boulders are just high enough that we needed to use some knotted ropes that had been left there to help pull ourselves up to higher ground. The waterfall was no more than a trickle just like every waterfall we've encountered this summer, but unlike the many creek-beds we've seen, this one did run with water.
Taking the same trail, we made our way back to the car. As we came over the crest of the last hill, the land opened out into dry, grassy meadows. We spotted a lone deer grazing not too far away. I tried to get as close to it as I could without alarming it, shooting pictures along the way. When that deer disappeared from view, we continued on our way, but stopped again shortly when we heard something sizeable crashing through the brush. Another deer came into view! And another and another - a herd of eight deer in all wandered out from the cover of forest into the open meadow. We shot many photos, but the deer were so well camouflaged that they are difficult to see in the photos. When they finally slipped out of view, we made our way through a live oak grove back to the car. We'd been so tired from the long hike, but after we paused and watched the deer for a while we felt energized all over again. It's so exhilarating to see wildlife in their natural habitat.

Malibu Creek
On Friday we went hiking again, this time we started out at the parking lot for Piuma Ridge. There seemed to be endless little side-trails that led to who-knows-where. We made our way north, entered into a smallish live oak grove, and got a glimpse of a water reclamation facility. After nosing around for a bit, we decided to try to find our way through Tapia Park and into Malibu Creek State Park, intending our final destination to be the Mott Adobe Ruins. We took a trail that seemed logical, but turned into a dead-end at a locked gate. So we had to double back, find a trail not marked on the map and carefully pick our way across a narrow strip of the creek. We had made it into Tapia and ended up hiking right next to a long road/parking lot which then ended abruptly at a camp. According to the map we had, the camp appeared to have been plunked down right in the middle of the road we wanted to take and of course it was gated, so the desirable road was completely off-limits. We were so lost we even asked for help. Unfortunately the person we asked wasn't all that familiar with the trails, so we took a guess at which trail to take. And we guessed right! We took a segment of the Backbone Trail that traversed up the side and over a mountain right into Malibu Creek State Park. Not too far into the park, we spotted six deer grazing on a patch of green grass. We were as close as we'd ever been to the creatures and shot a lot of photos. The buck seemed to become a bit unnerved by us and bounded gracefully away across the road. It was as if he was telling his herd that he wasn't terrified, but thought it best to move on. The rest of them seemed unperturbed, but gradually followed him. We did finally come across the Mott Ruins. There wasn't much left of them, save the chimney. It seemed a bit of a disappointment after spending much of the day being lost in trying to find it. On the way back we crossed a broad meadow were a whopping fifteen deer were grazing. This sight alone made the trek well worth while!

Temescal Canyon
So then yesterday we went back to Topanga State Park and hiked Temescal Canyon Trail which is on the southern side of the park in Malibu. It was a really beautiful location, but it was just full of people - probably the most we've ever encountered during a hike. With all the people there was no chance of encountering wildlife. The trail leads out to a meager California waterfall and then loops back to the parking lot switch-backing along a mountainside. At the top of the mountain, there's a path that traverses the ridge and ends at Skull Rock. Usually look-out points in these various parks offer sweeping views of the ocean or more mountains, but this trail featured views of the city. Very pretty, but a bit too busy.

On a more artistic note, last night we watched the anime movie Tekkonkinkrete. Even if you're not really into anime it's definitely worth a watch for the backgrounds alone. They are just stunning. I would never in a million years have the patience to paint such amazingly detailed backgrounds. Wish we'd caught it on the big screen...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Woodland Post

A mysterious thing happened the other day - drops of water starting falling from the sky, soaking into the ground and forming puddles on the streets. I thought - I remember something like this from long, long ago. I think it's called "rain." And rain it did - for the first time in I can't remember how long. I had to walk to pick up my take-out dinner from a nearby restaurant and in order to get there had to cross a section of the LA River. Usually the water meanders slowly, finding its course around patches of mud and plant life, but Friday evening the water was rushing like I'd never seen. It was a strange sensation standing on the bridge, watching the water rushing out from under. And later that evening I even heard some thunder, which clapped loudly enough to set off several car alarms. I think I've only heard thunder maybe three times in these six years that we've lived in LA. Being a California native himself and very much unaccustomed to any weather other than sunny, the cat did not like any of this at all...

So after setting it aside in great frustration sometime ago, I picked up "The Woodland Post" again and finished it off:
This one was a bitter battle to the end - a good deal of repainting elements that just weren't working. I think part of the problem I had initially was that I fell in love with the color of the sloppy digital color-study I painted for it, knowing full well that I can't possibly reproduce the exact color from the study in a traditional medium. I'm pretty content with the color overall, but there are all kinds of other problems with it. For example, the rather ambiguous lighting and I've never been happy with the leaves on the trees. Regardless, it's a personal piece that I'm ready to be done with - I need to move on to something else! Well, for those that are interested, there are prints at my Shop.

Update 5/13/11: This painting is now available for purchase here in my Etsy shop.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Point Mugu

I know I just wrote in my last post that we weren't going to go to Point Mugu until October so we could catch the sycamores in their full glory, but we've sort of run out of coastal parks to visit, so this past weekend we caved in hiked part of Point Mugu. It's gradually getting cooler, but it's still just warm enough to prevent us from doing some of the more inland hiking. Fortunately, Point Mugu is a huge park, so we'll likely come back to hike more of the trails and maybe we'll get another glimpse of the sycamores.

So we started up Big Sycamore Canyon Trail, thinking we'd try to keep to the shade that canyon trails usually offer and then we took a right a a fork in the path onto the Serrano Canyon Trail. It was a good choice as the trail was heavily wooded for a long way and offered much shade. Eventually, the trail winds up out of the canyon and opens onto a vast, grassy meadow surrounded by mountains on all sides.

I generally think that I prefer hiking through woods, but I always find myself so contented trekking through open grassland listening to the wind rustle through the dry grass - it's one of my favorite sounds.

The trail began to climb up out of the valley, back into the mountains. We took a left at another fork in the road, thinking this narrow path would take us back to the main fire road. As it turned out, we were very much off-the-beaten-path on what resembled a deer path cut through dense short, woody trees. My bare arms took quite a lashing from those dry branches. A machete would have been very handy at this point! We continued on the trail despite misgivings just to see where it would take us and ended up on a promontory with a great view, but no way down to the fire road. So we had to make our way back through the brush to the more well-worn trail. After quite a bit more trekking we made it back to the fire road. We still had another two or three miles to go to get back to the parking lot and we were pretty tired already. But, at least the fire road was pretty flat - no major hills to climb. I think this was our longest hike yet. I'm estimating it at seven or eight miles. We were really feeling it by the end! I really liked this park - maybe we'll come back and hike a little more of it next weekend!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Corral Canyon

I got a new camera - yay! It's my early Christmas present - I just couldn't wait that long to have a working camera, so we broke down and bought a new Canon PowerShot A570IS. And I was able to try it out a bit this weekend. We went to Corral Canyon in Malibu. For us, the hike was kind of 'been there, done that' - almost indistinguishable from some of the other coastal trails we've hiked before. It was a 2.5 mile loop with great ocean views for a good half or more of the hike. The coolest part of the trail, to me, was toward the finish, down in the canyon where there's a chimney standing alone, jutting out of the ground. I love stumbling across remnants of civilization past both ancient and modern.

I'm looking forward to a cooler fall and winter so we can tackle some of the non-coastal parks. I've been saving Point Mugu (which is partially coastal) until the fall since I hear it has beautiful sycamores come October. Autumn's my favorite season and I plan on making an effort to seek out the little pockets of Fall where they can be found in this arid climate that is LA.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Spot Illustration

I just finished up a spot illustration for the newsletter Daughters: for Parents of Girls. I can't show the finished piece, so I'll post the unused sketches:

The accompanying article is about celebrating girls' coming of age. I think this might be the first piece I've ever painted for an adult publication. It was very interesting to do a piece that was a bit more conceptual as opposed to narrative. I drew on the mother-daughter aspects of the article and symbolic imagery to come up with the designs. The finished art is scheduled to appear in the Nov-Dec. issue, so watch for it if you receive the newsletter!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Blackberry Princess

I guess I'm fairly content with this piece, although my humans always seem to look a bit off. It's a bit on the monochromatic side which is somewhat unusual for me. I was going for a kind of barren yet wild feeling with this piece. If she's the princess of blackberries her dress would be stained and torn after all that running around through the brambles, right? I think I probably should have made the figure a bit more angular in her features to emphasize her other-worldliness. She's a bit too soft and round, but then again she is a "princess."

5x5" and 8x8" prints are available through my DeviantArt account here.
Greeting cards, note cards, and decorative boxes are available at my Cafepress shop.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Injured Sparrow

So after reading through several other artists' tutorials, I've been wanting to try out some techniques in Photoshop. Here's the final result:

I really didn't know where to go with the color on this one. I just couldn't visualize it very well. The only thing I was sure of was that her hair needed to be blond. Then I started thinking about John Bauer's work and figured a dark, earthy background with a pale, glowy figure might work out all right.

I'm not so sure about this piece... it's not quite there. Maybe it's just the bright, isolated figure and/or the fact that there's not much color pushed around throughout the background that's bothering me... I was kind of going for a faux watercolor look, but I don't think it really worked out that way at all - it looks pretty digital to me. Either way it was primarily a learning experience for me, considering how seldom I produce art digitally.

Every element (hair, trees, etc.) except her skin has a different texture overlay with painting done underneath. Some of the textures came from Mayang's Free Textures and some came from other free online libraries.

I've got my other painting, The Blackberry Princess, in progress and that's probably what I ought to go and do now, but all I want to do is sit down and finish reading The Golden Compass. I'd been told it's a really great read and when we were at the Comic-Con, I noticed a lot of promotion for the upcoming movie and thought I really should read the book before the movie comes out. So with gift-card in hand, I picked up the book at Borders last week. I just started reading it on Saturday and I've barely been able to put it down since. It seems like it's been a while since I've really gotten hooked on any books (haven't read the new Harry Potter yet) and this one's got me thinking about my next fix already. I still have credit on my gift-card... looks like I'll be walking down to Borders sometime later this week to pick up The Subtle Knife....

Monday, August 13, 2007

On the Theme of Tangled Hair...

So, we got some hiking in this weekend and since the camera seems to only work for my husband nowadays, I had him shoot all the pictures this time. And it worked - well, sort of. A good number of the pictures turned out, but several just turned out black. Fortunately, I don't feel like we're missing too much though. We went to Zuma Canyon this weekend and I'd say it was one of the more ordinary hikes - nothing really unusual about this place. I suppose the defining feature was a broad, dry creek-bed that criss-crossed with the path several times.

We really wore ourselves out on the "Ocean View Trail," not realizing that it would be straight uphill for a long time with no shade. It was pleasant as always, but I think we probably won't go back to this one to finish up the other trails. I'd really like to go back to Malibu Creek and finish the rest of the trails there, but it's just been too hot to do more inland hiking recently.

On the art side of things, I have a couple of pieces in progress right now:
This one is The Blackberry Princess. Some time ago, Chris read a fairy-tale to me titled "The Blackberry Princess," and although I can't recall at all what took place in the story, the title stuck with me and I've wanted to illustrate it ever since. I've only just recently came up with the visual to go with the title.

And this one just popped into my head while I was working on The Blackberry Princess. I have no idea what's going on in this one. I guess I just really wanted to draw more tangled hair. I've tentatively titled it The Injured Sparrow, but who knows if that sparrow is really injured or if he's just a diversion so his buddies can make off with strands of her hair for their nests. Or maybe they're the ones who tangled it up in the first place. Either way, she'd better not pull...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Playing with Photoshop

I've been pretty frustrated working on my "Woodland Post" painting, so I decided to set it aside and work on some other things for a while - preferably less time consuming things. So I pulled up a photo we shot at Descanso Gardens here in LA and did a quick, sloppy painting in Photoshop:

While I use reference in my work where needed, I normally don't like to work so directly from photos. But, since I'm just trying to get more comfortable with digital media, I thought it might be a little less involved to just work straight from a photo. Anyway, the texture on the path is from a photo my husband shot somewhere else. I'm thinking I probably should have added textures to some of the greenery as well for the sake of consistency...

I enjoyed painting this in Photoshop because it was so much faster than traditional painting, but I think it will be a while before I'm really comfortable with pen and tablet. I just feel a little less in control with digital as opposed to traditional - except for that lovely undo button! Gotta love the undo button.

I know I really should start developing a digital portfolio since a lot of publishers seem to favor digital art these days, but so many of my ideas just look like traditional paintings to me. Not to mention, it's also kind of nice to have an original painting after all that work!

I've got a couple sketches for fantasy paintings in the works too, so hopefully I'll be posting those next week.

Monday, July 30, 2007

San Diego Comic-Con 2007

We're back from the Comic-Con and just as I thought, my camera is definitely broken. I just off-loaded the few salvageable shots. Strangely, the only pictures that turned out were shots my husband took from the ninth floor balcony of our hotel. I shot only a few at the convention so, I didn't actually lose very much. I had a feeling this would happen, so I didn't bother to take may since I was pretty sure they wouldn't turn out anyway. So, sadly, no pictures of men in colorful spandex to post. Based on our very critical assessment of cosplayers, what's hot this year seems to be Naruto, Bleach, pirates, and Star Wars, (well, Star Wars is always hot with this crowd). There will probably be some photos at the official website though, and elsewhere online.

The convention was fun as usual. After attending four prior years, we've gotten pretty efficient when it comes to scouring the exhibit hall. We kind of know what we're looking for and more or less where to find what we want. I bought a couple Charles Vess illustrated books which are very cool, but I have to say my purchasing highlight this year was three French import books that we found at Stuart Ng's booth: A La Recherche de Feerie, Tomes 1 & 2 by Jean-Baptiste Monge and Erle Ferronniere and Carnet de Croquis (more of a sketchbook) by Jean-Baptiste Monge.

They are absolutely beautiful books. The two Feerie books are essentially the French answer to Faeries by Brian Froud & Alan Lee - very similar. Import books = $$! I think they may be the most expensive books I've ever bought for myself. I wouldn't normally do something like this, but I thought it's possible that I'd never find these books again and if/when I do they could be even more expensive. So, I broke down and bought them and I'm so happy I did! They're arguably one of my best Comic-con finds so far - like uncovering buried treasure! After this purchase though, I forbade myself to buy anything else. I saw a very tempting copy of Golem by Trina Schart Hyman and an old unicorn picture book by Michael Hague, but I resisted.

The art and used booksellers are definitely my favorite stops in the exhibit hall. I usually send Chris off on his own while I'm browsing because I meticulously comb through the shelves and this can take some time. My favorites sellers - Stuart Ng, Anne Hutchison who appears to sell through, Bud Plant Comic Art (a lot more than just comics), and Margaret Mannatt Fine Books to whose website I can't seem to find any working links. I always strike gold at one or more of these booths every year.

Comic-con has grown so much and so quickly over the last couple years that it seems like the massive convention center in downtown San Diego can barely manage it any more - although I can't imagine a facility any larger than this convention center. I heard last year there were 100,000 attendees. So I would guess that this year was similar especially since tickets were sold out so quickly. With such huge attendance come problems - namely, lines. Last year was the first year we ever had to wait in a line to see a panel, but we did manage to get in. This year was all about waiting in lines for panels we never got to see (and we were in line an hour before the panels were set to start!). I had really wanted to see the panels for Heroes, Joss Whedon, and Supernatural, but we couldn't get in - very disappointing. We did get to go to some panels featuring various comic artists and those are always interesting, so that was good. I'm hoping the good people who put together the Comic-con can come up with some sort of solution to all of the line issues - perhaps a ticket system... I'm not the sort to wait in a long line just to buy or watch something. It just seems a shame to sit around for an hour or two for nothing when there are so many other things to do. Frustrating...

Frustration aside, we did learn our lesson from past experience and now we make dinner reservations in advance and we've had some truly memorable meals in San Diego. They have really great restaurants in the Gas Lamp Quarter right near the convention center. This year the highlight was Confidential which had kind of a Vegas atmosphere - way over-the-top dramatic setting. Sometimes the atmosphere of these kinds of places overpowers the food or serves to disguise that it's not really that great, but the food was really good. Small plates. Very eclectic. Just a really good experience all around. Last year, it was Chopahn which serves Afghani cuisine which, of course, I'd never had before. It was quiet, kind of off-the-beaten-path with really good food too.

I should get paid for all the advertising I just did! Or at least a store discount or something, don't you think?!

So now, we're back in the real world and back to work. I love taking this little mini-vacation. Seeing all of these working artists really helps to energize and motivate me. They make me want to work faster and be more productive. Hope to have some art to post later this week...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Autumn Chickadee ACEO

Chris has to work this weekend and last weekend he was sick, so we haven't been able to get outside and do any hiking or much else for a while. I did manage to finish up my commercial work this week, so yesterday, I sat down and painted up my little chickadee ACEO. I know I haven't posted any art in a while so here you go - it's not much, but better than nothing - I hope!

I'm not sure how I feel about this one. Looking at it now, I think I should have made the leaves larger. I could not decide for quite a while what to make the color scheme. I knew I wanted an autumn theme, but I couldn't picture the background colors very well. I finally remembered a beautiful orange-green color scheme from an illustration in Helen Cooper's Pumpkin Soup and drew my inspiration from there. I'll probably put it up for sale/auction eventually, but not for a while. If/when I do, I'll probably re-post it here.

Next weekend = San Diego Comic-Con! I'm so looking forward to it! I think this will be our fifth consecutive year attending it. Oddly enough, in the past, it's never occurred to me to take the camera with us. So I'm going to try to remember it this year and actually use it while we're there. Although, I'm a little worried because I was just off-loading pictures a few minutes ago and it looks like the camera may be broken. Several pictures showed up black and the LCD display shows nothing but static. How can I get it to work by next weekend? I guess I'll have to have Chris take a look at it...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Solstice Canyon

Well, a belated Happy 4th of July to all those celebrating. Hope everyone had a relaxing day off. We lazed about the house, watched neighborhood fireworks from our balcony, and finished the evening off watching "Miss Potter" which I very much enjoyed. As a children's illustrator, I'm somewhat mortified to admit that I think I've only read one or two of Beatrix Potter's books, although I adore the illustrations. We have a book that's a collection of a few stories, but I think I'd like to get the entire collection in the small format in which they were originally printed. I think I'll add it to my Amazon wishlist...

Still no new art to show - hope to be back with some soon. So I'll post some pictures of this past weekend's hike. The beginning of the trail in Solstice Canyon (Malibu) was paved and followed a spring-fed stream. The scenery was nice, but kind of ho-hum - nothing we hadn't seen before. After a while we came upon the ruins of the Roberts' house and things started getting interesting. The house was just about completely gone, but patios and portions of walls and a ridiculous number of fireplaces dotted the landscape:

Just beyond the ruins, and upstream, the creek consists of a series of multi-level rock-pools and small waterfalls decorated with maidenhair fern. We decided to boulder-hop our way upstream to see what we could see.

After a long walk along the creek took a couple different side trails both of which traveled up out of the canyon and along the mountainsides into dryer terrain and sweeping views of the land and ocean.

We traveled back down into the canyon, boulder-hopped a portion of the stream that we hadn't seen yet and then, exhausted, took the next opportunity we had to get back onto a level trail to head back to the car. I'd love to go back after some rainfall - some people we ran into said the water level of the stream used to be significantly higher in the past and that there used to be really great swimming holes all along the creek. There's also supposed to be a 150' waterfall at the end of a different trail - maybe we'll come back some day for that one!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Castro Crest

I'm busy working on illustrations for a magazine assignment right now, so I don't have any art to post this week, but as usual, we did go hiking this week and I have a few pictures. We tried to go to Solstice Canyon in Malibu. I figured a park along the coast would be cooler than inland and a canyon would be shady, so we could avoid the heat that we've been experiencing here in the valley. When we got there, the parking was completely full so we left, unsure of what to do. We remembered that the trail head for Castro Crest was at the end of the road we were currently driving. So after a long, winding, and slightly harrowing drive high up into the mountains, we ended up at Castro Crest.

So much for avoiding the heat. Just a little ways inland from the coast and it's significantly hotter. We arrived around 2 pm, so the sun was pretty brutal for a good part of the hike. I think the trail we hiked was a segment of the Backbone Trail which runs through Ventura County and Los Angeles - really long! The first portion of the trail which is a slow decent to a canyon appeared to have burned within the last year or two. The undergrowth was growing back, but the trees were blackened. From certain angles, you could see the bark peeling off the trees and the white wood underneath looked almost like silver in the sunlight.

The trail crossed a dry meandering creek-bed several times. We noticed a lack of wildlife. We didn't see as many lizards as usual at this park. We did see three small rabbits on our way out, though. Perhaps they become more active late in the day when the sun is going down.

If the sign-posts were accurate, I think we did about six miles all in all. Exhausting! We went and got some Jamba Juice and kicked back at home for the rest of the evening.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Escondido Canyon & Two Quick Sketches

After fighting with mediocre photo-importing software, we broke down a got a card-reader so I could finally post some pictures. These are from last week when we went hiking at Escondido Canyon in Malibu:
Escondido Canyon in two words: poison oak. A lot of the parks around here have quite a bit of poison oak, but Escondido seemed to have the mother-load. That aside, the scenery was very pretty and chock full of wildlife! We saw two California Mountain King Snakes (the red, black, and yellow ones that look similar to the deadly coral snake, but are actually harmless!), another type of snake, and two deer. We were only a few feet away from one deer as it made it's way across the side of a hill.

The trail repeatedly crosses a meandering creek and ends up at the 150' Escondido Falls which is the highest in the Santa Monica Mountains. There wasn't much by way of water at this waterfall perhaps because of the severe drought we've been experiencing... It was more of a trickle.

This last picture is of the falls, but it's probably hard to tell since there was so little water. It'd be nice to go back just after some rain to see how the falls might look during a more typical year.

Now for the sketches - these are just a couple of real quickies drawn up from some old thumbnails in my sketchbook:

A little ACEO and a simple Christmas card. I'm not so sure about the card, though. I think "Santa Moon" looksa bit creepy...