Economy of Shape

In response to Martha Pfanschmidt’s blog/Georgia:

I am also a fan of Georgia O’Keefe and strive for an economy of shape in my own work. I believe that to appreciate a shape is to reduce its form, not to oversimplify but to seek its essence. But with Georgia and another painter of her day, Emily Carr, there is more than a love of form and shape that they share.

They both study nature, but something most compelling in their work is the sense of volume, a sensual energy that inhabits the shapes.img_1310


Georgia’s palette is clean and filled with New Mexican sunlight where Emily’s colors are muted, painted with mists of the BC rain forests. When I moved from Colorado, my sun-filled palette of primary color was immediately influenced by the saturated cloudy hues of the Pacific Northwest. It took awhile for me to embrace subtle tones that seemed almost void of color. I took a watercolor class in Seattle where we painted color value squares from one to ten. The most intriguing were the first two in the series with almost zero pigment. How to make a color with as little pigment as possible? It was a good study.

 Georgia and Emily were both pioneers of their day, and moved toward the abstract as they matured as painters.



Here are two contemporary painters that I admire that work in a similar style, lovers of nature and masters of energetic volume – also an American and a Canadian.


Lisa Gilley


Gillian Gandossi


Martha Pfanschmidt says, “I aspire over the next years to work towards that economy of form and shape, and to convey through my art, as Georgia did, how to fill a space in a beautiful way.” I will also strive for this in hopes of achieving my own energetic sense of volume. May we all heed the words of Emily Carr, “be careful that you do not write or paint anything that is not your own, that you don’t know in your own soul.”


Illustrating with Fabric

I’ve taught workshops for children and adults on how to make illustrated collage books from hand-painted papers. The stories were invented from the process.collageHere is one I worked on in Sitka, AK with students at the library. Click on the image below to see the whole book.

collage workshop

I also used this collage technique of hand-painted watercolor papers to illustrate a book called Northern Lights A-Z.swan page A-ZMy latest art project is making Crankies with fabric using a collage technique. Here is a section from the Farewell Angelina Crankie.on the rooftops Please check back for Crankie videos –coming soon!

Meanwhile, the gears are turning…I’m thinking about what it might be like to illustrate a book using fabric!


Love These Books!

Second Wind, Kind of a Trippy Love Story by Matt McConville, sequel to It’s Just the Wind, Kind of a Sailing Story is available!

I designed both covers using watercolor and digital painting. See back cover below, read about my friend Matt, click the link to buy and please, let me know what you think.

Buy them here.


In this sequel only Jacks and Frank—owner and captain of the good boat Valkyrie—continue the voyage. Through sun and storms and visits with dolphins and sneaky, insistent apparitions, Jacks slips and slides as he continues on his improbable journey. They enter the dreamscape world of the Bahamas, where old bathtubs and tires are guideposts to a small island where Jacks finds that—although he’s never been there before—he’s clearly been expected. And he’s either running late for his own surprise party . . . or he’s right on time. Second Wind, Kind of a Trippy Love Story holds a promise of magic, not the rabbits-in-hats stuff, but the kind that allows a peek through the veil. The kind that is a flash of recognition in the corner of your eye or a shiver up your spine. The kind where love lives. In that place where the heart and soul intersect, the shimmering realm between dreams and reason. And that place? Its name? Some call it hope—some call it home.


Crankie Paint Job

img_1130The unfinished wooden crankie box made its first debut but it needed a paint job.


I had an idea…crankie-design-sketch

First I painted the box with random patterns of color.first-layer

Then began to paint black over the colors to reveal my design.img_1388img_1391

Here is the finished paint job with curtain up.img_1454

Curtain down.img_1455

The new box made an appearance at the Chimacum Farmer’s Market featuring The Fox in the Henhouse (by Jack Dwyer), Wind and Rain, and Farewell Angelina (by Bob Dylan).fullsizerender2

img_1103 fullsizerender2-copy



A Crankie?

Crankie TheatreYou are in for a real treat if you do not know about Crankies. I ordered a traveling Crankie from Louis Leger and took it to Alaska City Folk Arts Camp in Anchorage to make Crankies with young artists and musicians.

They are a type of moving panorama, a story put to song, an old homespun folk art made with paper or fabric that delights all ages.
As a book illustrator, I couldn’t wait to draw a story in one long continuous picture instead of individual pages.

Crankie in progress

Check out thecrankiefactory, a website by Sue Truman for a full description, history and gallery of Crankies!!


Crankie The End
Photos and video of Crankies are coming soon!


Happy Mother’s Day!

My mom with me in California

My mom with me  1960

Grandma with Jack

My mom (Grandma) with her grandson 1990

All moms should instill a sense of magic and wonder in their children generation after generation!
I know what magic looks like. Thanks, Mom!

“I know what magic looks like. You see that magic and you want to be part of it again and again,” comes from our friend, Bill Dentzel, fifth generation carousel maker.  Dentzel Carousel Company



Book Cover Illustration

This is the original watercolor for a brand new novel written by Matt McConville, a friend of mine, titled …It’s Just The Wind, Kind Of A Sailing Story. It takes a village to make a book, ask any author. I’m compiling a visual narrative of the evolution of this book’s cover design.

wind cover artIn the meantime…jump ahead to the Kindle cover.


The print version is just around the corner. Here’s a sneak preview.

IJTW 2016 covers print final

Free Painting Class

Painting Class


Meet “Shy Dragon” from Julie Read‘s painting class at Northwinds Gallery.

The class was first come first served, free, and art supplies were provided with two hours of instruction! The assignment was fun and unexpected. We drew names from a hat to determine our subject matter – all based on Julie’s love of animals and sense of fun. The palette was limited making even more of a challenge. It was a lovely surprise to see the varied results produced with the same limits!

Our three colors were red, purple and white. Hmmm…I had already painted my canvas purple, so I was left with just red and white to paint a dragon. I began by painting in the red background to find the shape of the dragon – I wanted to fill the 10″ x 10″ plywood canvas. The painting of the dragon was a discovery each step of the way. His white spikes reminded me of sharp teeth, the red background was for his fire that he did not have as he hid behind his wing with only a puff of smoke.

Thank you Northwinds for this great program and thank you Julie for sharing your talents with acrylic paint. I learned a new technique in surface preparation that I can’t wait to try.

Read more about the summer series and see the next artist featured June 16 –


Northern Lights A-Z



Aurora, A Tale of the Northern LightsThe first time I tried to illustrate the elusive northern lights, I used chalk pastel. I thought I could duplicate the ethereal softness by smearing and blending colors across a dark blue paper sky. I was looking for magic. I found it when I began experimenting with ordinary salt tossed into wet watercolor. I used that technique for Aurora, A Tale of the Northern Lights. Read more about the writing of Aurora.






Learn about the northern lights!For Northern Lights A-Z, I collaged hand painted papers. To create an inventory of colors for my palette, I used a variety of painting techniques including French Marbled paper, straw blowing, bubbles, saran wrap texture, plexiglass monotypes, splatter, wet on wet and of course the salt!  See It Looks Like Rain, from a workshop taught at the public library in Sitka, Alaska.





a-z.dragon copy

The paintings in Northern Lights A-Z are special to me because of the times they represent in their making. Our family had just moved to Port Townsend, WA. We traveled cross country with all that we could stuff into two vehicles and one van towed behind with extension ladders tied to the top. We needed tools after all, we were going to build a house in the City of Dreams. Our first month was spent in a tent while we searched for a place to live. That first year we bought four lots and began to build our house. But before the dream house went up, two little buildings, (the sheds) were built which we promptly set up as studio, tool storage, cook house, and sleeping quarters. Yes, all of those things. The hand painted watercolor papers hung from clothes lines inside the studio shed amidst the hammock ropes. Swaying sheets of colors and sleeping children carefully intertwined as I made papers of every color for my palette.





Uranus page A-ZI cut shapes and glued pieces together to build pictures and mounds of color coded scrap piles replaced the clotheslines. Here is a page for “U” in the book.