Monday, December 7, 2009

Little Lost Squirrels: Safe at Home

This painting brings the "Little Lost Squirrels" series to a happy conclusion with all the little squirrels sleeping soundly after their troubling adventures away from home and Mother Squirrel.
I was a little concerned that I might end up using to much brown in painting the interior of the squirrels' tree home, so I made a solid effort to bring a lot of color - pinks and purples - into the wood walls and floors and I think it worked out pretty well. Given the chilly weather we've been having as of late, I think the Mother Squirrel's got the right idea having a warm cup of tea after a long day.

On a personal note, I just took a short break from another project while my parents were in town visiting. We all had a good visit and in continuation of our occasional hobby of staying in supposedly "haunted" hotels, we took a couple days to drive down to San Antonio for an overnight stay at the reputedly haunted Menger Hotel. We also took the opportunity while we were in town to visit the Witte Museum and the McNay Art Museum. Sometimes I find that I like the architecture and design of the buildings of art museums as much as (or sometimes better) than the art collections housed within. I found this was somewhat the case with the McNay where a portion of the collection was housed within an old mansion. The mansion encircled a lush courtyard full of decorations and interesting architectural details. Patterns similar to those on the stairs in these pictures were repeated on ceilings in a couple rooms of the mansion - a nice reward just for looking up!

It was nice to recharge for a couple days, but now I have to get back to work. But just maybe I'll put on some Christmas music and wrap a few presents before I dive back into painting.....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Little Lost Squirrels II

I suppose this piece would be more appropriately titled Little Lost Squirrels 0 as it's actually a prequel to Little Lost Squirrels:

It may be hard to see in the picture, but the two little lost squirrels can be seen in the distant landscape as two tiny silhouetted shapes traversing an open field. It's always challenging for me to maintain a good level of color saturation in twilight and night-time paintings. I think using a lot of purple in the shadows helps keep some color in areas that might otherwise fall into grays and blacks - it's a subtle thing, but I think it helps.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I hope all my readers have a very relaxing holiday today with friends, family, and lots of turkey and stuffing..... followed by a nap perhaps...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

McKinney Falls

The rains finally came to quench our parched land here in Texas. The air cooled, and by the time the weekend rolled around I thought how wonderful that it's finally cool enough to go outside and do a little hiking. So on Saturday, which was quite cloudy in the morning, we drove down to McKinney State Park to finish up the trails we hadn't yet hiked. After about ten minutes on the trail, the sun came out from behind the clouds and that nice cool hike I'd been looking forward to for so long became a hot, sweaty hike. Even so, it was good to get outside for a while.

The longer trails were a bit ho-hum, walking through the same landscape for a long time without many points of interest aside from the remnants of an old homestead and grist mill. But the trails around the water were quite picturesque.

It seems that the butterfly migrations are beginning again. There were so many butterflies fluttering along the trails, especially this kind. I'm not sure what type it is, but they were everywhere.

Friday, September 18, 2009

In the Woods at Christmas Time

I've noticed in the last couple weeks the grocery stores have been putting out pumpkin displays and I couldn't help but think that it's a bit early to be decorating for Halloween. If it's too early for Halloween, then it's probably way too early for Christmas, but that didn't stop me from painting this Christmas scene during the dog days of late summer. Some wishful thinking during the sweltering heat perhaps...

This piece was another private commission. I took special inspiration from Susan Wheeler's beautiful greeting card art for this painting. Her website seems to have disappeared, so a link to one of her books will have to suffice. I love the warm, inviting woodland world she's created and populated with happy rabbits and mice.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Squirrels in Autumn

Well, I was able to come back and finish up this painting (see entry Squirrels & Stick Insects) much sooner than expected:The butterfly in the painting is very loosely modeled on an American Painted Lady. When I was growing up, I had the opportunity to raise a painted lady from caterpillar to butterfly. It was so exciting as a child to watch the caterpillar spin its chrysalis and then emerge as a beautiful butterfly. I named him Pillarpoofer in a nod to my uncle who I was told in his early childhood years referred to caterpillars as "pillarpoofers."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Little Lost Squirrels

It's been a while since I've posted anything, much less a new piece of art, but I'm finally back with a new illustration. This painting was a private commission. As I worked on it, I was reminded of one of my old favorite picture books, Owl Babies in which three baby owls await nervously for their mother to return home. I love the simplicity of the characters in the book and am amazed at how much expression the illustrator was able to convey almost entirely through the eyes and subtle gestures. I'm hoping I was able to similarly capture some of the sense of relief and recent distress the two little lost squirrels are feeling as they run toward their mother's outstretched arms:

On a personal note, a dear art school friend came to visit last week and we took a few days to explore Austin and get in a dose of adventure, trying out some new activities, among them river tubing and ziplining through the trees. Following are a few pictures of our hike around Hamilton Pool - we first hiked along a trail that followed a creek all the way to the Pedernales river:
Due to drought conditions, the river was quite low. I'm quite tempted to go back and hike along the dry parts of the riverbed to see what there is to see before the rains come and fill the river back up.

We then took the short trail to the pool itself which is partially sheltered in a large grotto. According to, "The preserve's pool and grotto were formed when the dome of an
underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago." It was such a striking and unusual setting, that it almost looked like a man-made resort. The water looked so inviting on such a hot day, but sadly, we didn't have time to go for a swim. Perhaps another day...

More art soon...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lilies in St. Louis

I just came back from a short trip to St. Louis to visit my parents. Much to the surprise of our family, my Mom had decided to participate in the Ms. Senior Missouri pageant, so I joined her cheering section for the show. Did she ever wow the audience with her dancing and amazing baton-twirling skills!

While Mom was busy with day-long rehearsals, my Dad and I went on a long bike-ride around Creve Coeur Lake. He took me to some wetlands along one portion of the trail. The water lilies were in full bloom and blanketed a huge portion of the water. I'd so love to take a little boat out on the water and paddle my way gently through the lilies:

Tall grass prevented me from getting closer to the water's edge, so this was the best 'close-up' I could take:

I've had an idea for a painting nagging at me for some time that just so happens to feature water-lilies. I'm not sure when I'll get around to actually painting it, but at least I'll have handy reference when I do.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Squirrels & Stick Insects

They say everything's bigger in Texas - and when it comes to the local bugs, they weren't kidding. This little (or not so little) guy was hanging out in front of my neighbor's front door for about a day:He's a giant stick insect. It's probably hard to tell from the picture, but he was about 5-6 inches long. Seems he wandered a little too far away from his forest home where I'm sure he's most excellently camouflaged. Hopefully he's since found his way safely back to the trees following his little adventure amongst the man-made.

Realizing I hadn't posted anything in such a long time, I scrounged around a bit for something and came up with this drawing:
This was an unused drawing for a private commission. We opted for something larger and with more characters, which I'll post in the near-future. I still like this drawing and I've got the color well-visualized in my mind for it, so maybe I'll come back to it some day...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mexican Hats & Indian Blankets

The wildflowers are still exploding here and the blues and pinks seem to have given way to yellows and reds. I don't remember them being quite so spectacular last year. Perhaps the weather conditions are more favorable this year? Or maybe I just wasn't getting out much around the same time last year. On a morning walk, I stumbled across a steeply sloping field of Mexican Hats:
Indian Blankets quite literally blanket the ground along my husband's drive to work. He also located another large field of the flowers on a different road much to my delight:

I can't think that I've ever lived somewhere where I could walk through such a picture postcard flower-scape until we moved here to Texas. Scattered throughout the dominant Indian Blankets are various other flowers. I think these are coreopsis:

Sadly, my very amateur photography skills fail to do the landscape justice. But flowers always brighten my day, so maybe they'll brighten yours too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

All Finished!

Well, I've finally finished my most recent book project and just shipped the art off to my publisher this week. The book is due out Spring 2010 from Charlesbridge Publishing. Here are a couple pieces from Pythagoras and the Ratios - the first one will be the title page and the second is an interior page:I'm really looking forward to seeing it in print!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Field of Flowers

I'm just wrapping up on the tail-end of my book project, so hopefully I'll have some art to post soon. In the meantime, more photos...

It's wildflower season here again in central Texas and although I really haven't had much time to get outside lately, we did take a quick jaunt a couple of weeks ago to shoot a field of pink evening primrose. Chris happened to spot this distant field as we were driving on the elevated highway you can see in the background and figured out how we could reach it using back-streets.

The ground was a bit marshy, but well-worth the mud to take some good reference photos.

Hopefully we'll get outside for a bit this weekend before the summer heat sets in. We've already had some uncomfortably warm days this spring - just a prelude to what's coming...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


It's been a long time since I posted anything. Between work being very busy for both my husband and myself and the dreaded cedar allergy season from which Chris suffers, we've not had a spare moment for hiking or anything else of the sort, so I still haven't much to post. I'd been holding off posting pictures of my studio for just such a lack of blog content, so now seems like a good time to go ahead and post them.

I love seeing other artist's studios and work spaces. I'm always fascinated at seeing how other people decorate their homes. I guess it's just a small glimpse into another life or way of living and that's always interesting to me. I picked up a book some time ago off a Barnes & Noble clearance shelf called Where Women Create which showcases beautiful workspaces of women in a range of creative professions. My studio is much more functional than beautiful, but hopefully some day I'll dress it up a bit.

Here's a before and after picture -"After" being the after the bomb of a large project explodes in my studio and order gives way.... It feels like a mess when I'm there working, but I think it probably doesn't look so bad in the photo:

I'm crazy-particular about my lighting. I always keep the natural light to the left of my desk so that my painting hand won't cast a shadow across my work. And I always have a swing-arm lamp directly over head - "working in a spotlight" as my husband would say.

And, I've a bit of good news to share - I received a "Letter of Merit" this past weekend in the SCBWI Magazine Merit contest for an illustration completed for Highlights last year. It was quite a nice surprise!

Monday, January 12, 2009


I realize I'm a bit late in wishing everybody a Happy New Year, but I do hope 2009 is off to a good start for everyone! It never occurred to me in the past to make resolutions, but this year I have a few, pretty ordinary ones:

- Get up in the morning at a reasonable time. I'm not at all a morning person and my hours tend to become more and more bizarre over the course of large projects. So I'm going to attempt to drag myself out of bed earlier than usual and get on a more 'normal' schedule.

- Get some regular exercise every day. I was doing pretty well with this until the holidays and then fell off the wagon and have yet to jump back on...

- Gain about seven pounds or so. That's right. I said gain.

- Art-wise, I'm still trying not to over-work paintings, painting too thickly and what-not. And trying to loosen up a bit.

So far, the first twelve days of 2009 find me failing miserably at the first three resolutions and showing spotty results with the fourth. But it's early still, plenty of time to right myself...

And I'm really late posting these pictures. These were taken on the side of the highway on my husband's drive to work:

Decorating this particular copse of trees along the 360 appears to be an annual tradition here in Austin.

Well, it's back to work for me now. A belated Happy Holidays to all!