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.






Coyote is Back

He’s in love and he has met his match.

Coyote In Love now available in paperback with a free Teacher’s resource. Learn about coyotes, tracking, hear a real coyote sing, make stars to spin or to hang in your window and much more.

We saw this coyote sneaking across the field at dusk out on a 1,000 acre farm in Ellensburg, WA. As I tucked my kids into bed, I told them that the coyote had magical powers.

He did not pose a threat, he felt more like a mysterious visitor, an elusive presence. We made a game of trying to spot the mischievous trickster of legends.

Children’s Book Council is a nonprofit association dedicated to supporting and informing the industry and fostering literacy. Coyote in Love was chosen for their seasonal showcase of mystery and magic!

Book Dummies

Coyote sketch  The Smartest Part of a Picture Book is the dummy! From the Storyboard where you explore and imagine, the dummy is where you really see the book. You problem-solve, you work things out, smartly. Holes in the story will appear as you turn pages and see the text next to the art. This is the place to resolve what you set out to do in the storyboard. I like to work small in this phase. In fact the book dummy for Coyote In Love was sewn together just like a miniature book. The editor was delighted, “Can we publish it as a tiny book?!” Luckily not, it became a high quality hard cover book.

The book dummy will help you think of the following tips each time you turn a page:

1) remember you are moving ahead in time

2) there is always a change of scene

3) change of pace (action gets more exciting toward the end)

4) a new character is introduced

5.) be sure tiny details or faces go into the gutter (the crease in the middle of a double spread)

To illustrate and write your own story is very, very rewarding. There is always a point in the process where your creative energies flow back and forth between the words and pictures. You have the freedom to change the pictures to match your words and vice-verse, not so when you illustrate someone’s manuscript. Then, your job is to bring something fresh to the story through your illustrations. You will end up creating a whole that is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

I always try to remember this great advice by a seasoned professional.

“The images in a picture book are the driving forces that tell the story. The words tell only what the pictures can’t.”-Dan Yaccarino/author/illustrator

read more about him:


click to download the book dummy for Coyote In Love

Revised cover for paperback edition

Coyote In Love original hardback

Coyote In Love original hardback