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Friday, August 15, 2014

the intimacy of simplicity

I have found a simple outlet for my sketching energy....little folded sketch books. Each one has a theme and involves basic design techniques, including simple sketches and contour drawing to more design fun. They fold easily and fit nicely into any pocket....from pants to pocket sleeve of a larger journal. It is easy to fill one up at a concert or sitting with a single plant species....small, intimate and specific....

I have included some of the little sketches from my Blueberry Art Book

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Mount Healy 
watercolor sketch

The trip to town: 

The drive to Fairbanks starts at our home in the Boreal Forest, ascending to the subalpine of Broad Pass with its sweeping vistas and Denali looming in the distance. We stop to pick up mail at the Cantwell post office, a small, intimate and social environment where the events of the day are shared and passed along. From there the road follows the Nenana River as it courses ever northward challenging the breadth of the Alaska Range with its towering glaciated mountains and valleys, serrated ridgelines and peaks still caught in winter's snowy grasp.

The north side of the range becomes a cacophony of rugged volcanic and metamorphic rocks creating striking shapes with steep drainages.

The rolling hills beyond the Alaska Range are beginning to show signs of early Spring. Crimsons of the anthocyanin pigments awaiting the coming of Spring weather, create a backdrop of warmth against lighter cottonwood and white stands of birch that cover the interior landscape.

In Fairbanks birch limbs awaiting a few more days of warmer temps create intricate negative spaces against the blue sky.

On the return trip Mount Healy was clear and stunning in the afternoon light. This is from a quick stop at one of the pull outs south of Healy, Alaska.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

August 2012 Denali National Park


Mountain lines fall dramatically into the broad alluvial plain of Highway Pass, a place of gradual ascent into deeply incised canyons, steep scree slopes and rock abutments, and where the slightest sound from above, a rock tumbling, material softened by rains and drawn down by gravity, sends the heart pounding. 

I stood above this sloping landscape to do a quick contour sketch, allowing my pen to follow the rugged shape and line back and forth, up and down across the page.  These are visual connections that will help me to define my relationship with the land. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

June 2012 Denali National Park


My husband Steve and I have been going into Denali National Park for many years, photographing and painting the dynamic landscape of the Alaska Range. During the summer of 2012 I was fortunate to be accepted into the National Park permit system as an artist. These sketches and notes are taken from my art journal. They become visual reminders of time and place, line, shape and color and simple moments of inspiration brought to life through the process of art. 


The first day on permit found me sitting next to Igloo Creek during a rare hiatus in the rain. I set up a camp chair on a slab of candle ice at the edge of the creek; the same candle ice we harvest to place in our camp cooler. Igloo Creek had my full attention that day. It was magnificent throughout its course. 

Clouds created endless shapes across the landscape. This was a fast sketch before rain clouds darkened the landscape completely as the storm raged on.

Tatler Creek was a mass of waves popping and rushing over rocks and roots. Within a few days the creek would wash out the exact spot where I had been sketching. Makes one rethink there choice of "sketching spots." Whew.

Day number two.....torrential rain and floods. The park road was closed several times as culverts filled and streams threatened to overflow their banks. 

Glacially and rain charged water filled the space under the East Fork bridge. A deep rumbling echo rushing water and rock upon rock is not to be soon forgotten.

Much further west as the rain paused for a moment, a grizzly fed along the road. I had the time to sketch as he meandered up the slope slowly browsing.

It is difficult to express the charged atmosphere of a glacial river filling its banks to overflowing. This situation left me with a desire to work on all the intense grays that overwhelm the senses.


Highway Pass became my constant...the sinuosity of shape that draws you into steep-sided canyons wandering endlessly into the mountain front.

 Stoney Creek, a perfect mountain and valley composition from any point.....

Following the shapes of deeply incised drainages with a pen is pure joy.  I finished off several of these valley sketches as nearly complete contour drawings. I only occasionally lifted my pen off the page as I followed contours and shapes of ridge lines and canyons.

Stoney Creek....I could sit and sketch this view all day.

The variety of animals one sees in a single day is inspiring. 

Construction on the park road can be an invaluable bit of time to sketch a mountain scene.

In June tundra colors are constantly turning as the flowers reach up through skree and gravel, tundra and brush. Birds sing constantly, and bears that browse along the slopes of Stoney Hill seem to disappear in the landscape. 

Steve dropped me off at the Teklanika River bridge on the way back to camp. From the bridge a small trail worn by hikers and wildlife followed sloughs filled with gray glacial water. The river still high from earlier flooding, burbled and tumbled through multiple narrow channels. I found a place close to the water to sketch as the sound of the Teklanika River roared on in the distance. 

The earth tones of Cathedral Mountain lay boldly in contrast to distant mountains of the upper Teklanika drainage. The simple addition of watercolors to contour sketches defines distance and shape in this rugged terrain. 

Contour drawing of the mountain ridge lines to the south of Polychrome Pass and the Murie Plains. Once again using variations of gray to create a sense of distance.  

The glacial landscape of Polychrome.

In the landscape of Denali you can chose just about any starting point along a ridge and find an aesthetic line to chase.

Monday, January 16, 2012

January 16, 2012 Windy winter ski trails

A blast of warmth blew through today, tempered by a constant bite of north wind. A wonderful day for a ski with friends. By 1:00 pm the sun rose above the mountains, and a plus four degree temperature followed us out onto the trail. We skied across open bogs, into winter's breif but bright sunlight, with the brunt of the wind at our backs. Fine pieces of crystalline snow carried us along with the flowing sinuous dance, back and forth, filling in and carving out, across a surface hardened by winters breath. Upon the surface small drifted edges of snow changed the entire context of light and color. And as the treeline pinched the last bit of sun into its shadow, colors fell through dramatic contrasts in blues, purple and mauves and we returned home toward the first stars of the north sky.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 14, 2012 Waning Gibbous Moon

10:00 am: Nearly three-quarters of the moon is left in the morning sky. This 'bulging convex' floats through back-lit, shadowed forest at the end of the pond. It hovers in bare limbs shredding beams of moonlight, climbs slowly upon winter's snow-fattened spruce, then shuffles westward toward the stillness of broad peaks.

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 23, 2011 Old Edison Inn

Dan Duggin 

....and on accordion, Dan again

shore as I'm sittin here...Orville Johnson

Not a square inch of dance floor left once the music begins

Swingin'  to music

A day full of music is never a day lost. The Old Edison Inn, Edison, Washington, is a local music tradition. Folks from all around the county and beyond make a habit of coming to Edison on Sunday nights to savor the oyster tacos and bend the floorboards.