Caulanthus inflatus (Herbarium Series) (2018, 24″ x 10″, linocut)
The Monvero Dunes at Monocline Ridge are a series of hilltop sand dunes topped by a discontiguous community of plant refugees from the Mojave Desert, 165 miles North and West of their typical range. One of the these is the improbable, Seuss-like Desert Candle, or Caulanthus inflatus, commonly growing over two foot tall, with a thick, swollen stem that glows like a yellow candle. Its curling, long wavey leaves stay near the base, while the very top is adorned with new, vibrant red-purple blossoms, that fade as they march down the yellow stem into subtle pinkish-purple flowers. This lovely leftover habitat from a different age is a Central Valley hidden gem!
Southern Red Oak (2018, 9″ x 6″, linocut)
A trip to the Southern Appalachians brought me to the Blue Ridge Mountains near Roanoke, VA. These largely deciduous mountains are so very different from the high, granite strewn peaks and pine forests of my Sierra home. There were very few green or flowering trees at the time, but the vast and varied carpet of leaves surrounding the trail held endless fascination for me. My poor hiking companion grew weary of my gathering, but, as this print shows, the beauty of nature cannot be denied.
Forecast: Rain, Locally Heavy at Times (2018, 10″ x 24″, linocut)
* First Place Winner: Santa Barbara Juried Summer Exhibition.
There is nothing quite like venturing down Highway 41 in Springtime. The wide expanse of verdant open space, with the occasional vernal pool and mile upon mile of achingly lush green is enchanting. But true magic happens when the drama and beauty of a brewing storm is added, with its angry energy sending strangely lit, roiling balls of clouds high into the heavens. As stray shafts of sun dot the landscape, the color magnifies, becomes alive, as these ragged beams move across the empty fields. Horse tail sheets of rain hang from the sky in the distance, and tell you this is no time to linger in awe, but to hurry back home.
McKenzie Table Mountain (2018, 15″ x 11″, linocut)
One of my first outings after moving to the Sierra was an Oak Woodland hike at the Ruth McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve with the Sierra Foothill Conservancy. The experience changed my perspective on managed grazing and helped propel me towards my artistic focus. This beautiful property is primarily grassland and oak woodland that slopes upward toward the basalt lava table lands that give the preserve its name. Its unique qualities include vernal pools, a mix of pine forest, oak woodlands and chaparral, and plenty of creekside beauty. This unique property will always be maintained as open space, carefully managed ranchland. Visit Sierra Foothill Conservancy for more about their fabulous and important work at: sierrafoothill.org
Blackbirds in the Corn (Nest Series) (2018, 15″ x 11″, linocut)
Tri-colored Blackbirds are endemic to California (with just a few crossing the border into Oregon). These birds flock together en masse in vase numbers, sometimes hundreds of thousands. As their habitat shrinks, they are often found in the Central Valley, nesting in silage crops near dairies. This has become a problem – entire flocks can lose their breeding season in a matter of hours, if the farmers decide to plow. Programs to help offset the lost silage are now helping to save this species. By working together, we can make a difference. A good story. Let’s keep it up, humans.
Olive Spring (2018, 6″ x 3″, linocut)
This sweet little Olive tree sprig began life in my sketchbook. I noticed the trees of an orchard off the roadway were starting to bloom and the lovely silver / green of the leaves seemed to shimmer as I drove along. It’s still quite rural off of Highway 41, near Fresno, and I was able to just pull over, sit for a few minutes and draw out a quick study. It had never occurred to me what the blooming habits of olives were! The sketch made it onto lino with the intention of a single color line-type print, but I was so happy with the design, that I decided it would make an excellent demonstration of a 3-color reduction method, which it has.
“Well, Hello There!” (2018, 9″ x 6″, linocut)
The Taft Point / Sentinel Dome loop in Yosemite National Park is one of my favorite day hikes. The views are spectacular, varied and the walk is fairly moderate, with lots of time to look around at the details of this beautiful spot. Strangely, I have never been there without seeing a Dusty Grouse! This particular young female was part of a large bevy, intent on hunting for food at the base of Sentinel Dome. She kept hiding behind large rocks and then popping up with a surprised / curious look on her face! With that expression and intricate, yet bold pattern of feathers, I could not help but remember her in ink.
Red Tail (Feather) (2017, 11″ x 4″, linocut)
Mature Red Tail Hawk tail feathers have that signature soft red hue with a downy base. This striking color is what makes identifying the big raptor so easy from the ground, as you look up and see the graceful predator scanning for prey in flight, its tail flaring red in the sun. A pair of nesting Red Tails accompanied the building of our studio over many years, which inspired the name. This ‘open edition varie’ may or may not be colored, and will be adaptable, like the Red Tail itself. A limited few, some 10, have been run as a reduction print, and given a lovely raw umber hue.
Anna’s (Nest Series) (September 2017, 9″ x 10″, linocut)
This hummer nest is one of the most aesthetically pleasing feats of engineering genius possible in nature! Spun of spider silk intermingled with moss, lichen, leaves, bits and pieces of nature, it’s one of the most adorable, yet hard to find nest there is. Of course, it’s tiny, a mere doll’s teacup and usually well hidden. I very luckily spotted this one in a Black Walnut outside my studio window on my very last year in my Bay Area home. I also witnessed the wonderful courtship flights of the many males around my house, vying for sections of my lovely garden of sages and fuchsias to attract the ladies. These magical creatures still provide me entertainment and wonder in my Sierra home, too!
Eschscholzia californica (September 2017, 11″ x 12″, linocut)
California Poppies are involved in my earliest memories of growing things and hold a special place in my heart. In the Sierra Foothills where I live and work, they are found in such profusion in some years, the bloom draws people from around the globe to see the spectacle. The California State flower, Poppies present the obvious choice as the premier subject in a collection based on California flora. The Herbarium Series will consist of endangered, rare, endemic, or just plain spectacular flora from every county in the state. I hope to draw attention to the importance of our environment’s diversity and the rich and varied life within California’s borders.
Autumn Aspens – Inyo (August 2017, 18″ x 24″, linocut)
The East side of the Sierra Nevada gets overlooked much of the time. It is less flashy, but very beautiful in its own way. In Fall, the Aspens stand in sharp contrast to the soft hues of the leafless stems of willow and cottonwood. The shrubby plants and grasslands have hues of purple, pink, yellow and gold, which deliver a magical contrast to the whites of the Aspens.
Yellowthroat (July 2017, 9″ x 6″, linocut) – SOLD OUT
The best thing about going to an unfamiliar habitat is finding new species to be enchanted by! This little Yellowthroat, my first ever, was moving so fast from branch to reed to waterline and back again, I had a hard time keeping him in sight! I discovered this water loving pip at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge. Better known for it’s cranes and geese, I found him utterly adorable! Yellowthroat also served as inspiration for the first “AVIAN, Birds in a Changing World” Exhibit logo. To find out more: http://www.sierraarttrails.org/sat-audubon.htm
First Snow Under the Giant (June 2017, 26″ x 18″, linocut)
Wonder. Awe. Time made tangible; the feelings and thoughts inspired by standing under this 1,000 year old youngster, rising 250 feet to the sky. After the first snow of the season, I was one of about two dozen aspiring California Naturalists who slid our way down the frozen trail, still decorated in fall colors, to stand in reverence under the giants in Tuolumne Grove. The experience cultivated a deep awareness and appreciation of our fragile natural ecosystems and their inhabitants.
This print was used as the 2017, 15th Anniversary Edition of the Sierra Art Trails Open Studio Tour Catalog, which describes the galleries and art studios of over 100 artists in and around the Sierra Foothills of Yosemite National Park. A video showing some of the process can be seen here:
Raising Swallows (July 2016, 9″ x 11″, linocut)
After hearing about my local Yosemite Area Audubon Society Chapter’s Nest Box Program, I decided to go out with the Conservation crew and try monitoring nest boxes for a day. Absolutely delightful to see Kestrels, Barn Owls, Bluebirds, Flycatchers, and especially Tree Swallows, raising their families. It’s hard work, visiting and cataloging over 100 boxes a day, but what a worthy cause. I am delighted that this print will be the face of the program for a number of years to come. Part of the ongoing Nest Series.
I have also offered 3 prints to the Yosemite Audubon chapter to help with their nestbox funding. Anyone donating $1000 USD or more to YA, will receive a hand delivered (within 150 miles of me), framed print – in person. This program is worth it. Go ahead. Contact them to arrange it: http://www.yosemiteaudubon.org/
YOSEMITE SERIES: On October 1, 2015, the ‘park’ in my backyard had its 125th anniversary. I’m also having a big birthday this year, which shall, for now, remain numberless. Part challenge, part celebration, part ‘I can STILL kick butt!’, I decided to honor us both by creating my own 12-prints-in-12-months commitment. Not just any old print, mind you. Major stuff, getting detailed and rather on the large side (For me, anyway!)! Each will feature a special bit of what I love about Yosemite; places, flora, fauna that speak to my heart. Enjoy, and if you can, we would both appreciate a visit if you are in the neighborhood!
Lembert & Tuolumne – Yosemite (August 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
This unique landscape of tidy meadows, bisected by the meandering Tuolumne River and surrounded by granite peaks and domes reputedly inspired conservationist John Muir’s call for the creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890. In the relative cool alpine heights, the greenery and flowers stay long into Summer, the Tuolumne’s clear waters flow gently through the grasses, enticing visitors to soak their feet or dive in headlong for a refreshing end to the strenuous hiking of the High Country. Here, the river-rock beaches near the bridge leading to Parsons Lodge on the edge of the Meadow form a beautiful foreground to Lembert Dome in the distance.
El Cap – Yosemite (July 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
The first time you see El Capitan from the Valley floor is unforgettable. It rises suddenly, towering out of a flat expanse of meadow to greet the sky so far overhead, it seems impossible. The largest known granite monolith in the world, it is formed from a single chunk of granite, with its two ‘faces’ separated by The Nose. This vertical slab dominates the imaginations of all its visitors and is a Mecca for climbers from around the world. El Cap sprang to mind when I read this quote from John Muir, “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.”
Process of Success(ion) – Yosemite (June 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
This print was carved while hearing news of more than a half dozen fires in California. I just have to close my eyes and remember how beautiful the lupine, rabbitbrush, mountain lilac and poppies were this Spring, especially in areas that saw fire. Anyone who lives in the Western US, knows about wildfire and how devastating it can be. Lately, I’ve been reading about the surprising benefits that fire brings; even an extreme event can rejuvenate a forest and actually increase biodiversity. There is hope and Foresta, an area that lies within the boundaries of the Park itself, is proof! The small community has seen three major fires in the last 20 years. It’s practically a study guide for Ecological Succession – the observed process of change in the species structure of an ecological community over time.
Dogwoods – Yosemite (May 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
I love the Western Dogwoods of our Sierra Nevada and especially love them set against the splendor of Yosemite Valley’s meadows, granite faces and the fast flowing Merced River. Dogwoods are my most loved flowering tree and I eagerly look forward to their show each year. They are hard to time perfectly, so one must venture repeatedly to the Valley to insure seeing them at their peak! (Oh, how terrible! Ha!) Impossibly neat, tidy, perfect blossoms on mostly bare stems. This magical spring show is represented in this bold, macro style print, giving you a detailed look at the flower’s form!
Spring Runoff – Yosemite (April 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
This print features the memorizing Yosemite Falls, as seen from along the Merced River at Sentinel Bridge. One of my favorite places to relax and contemplate in the Valley, I was able to spend 3 days working on this 24″ X 18″ linocut on the spot! Plein Aire Printmaking at its best! It’s bewildering how different each rock face appears completely different depending on time of day and weather; new every time! Spring runoff time is a magical moment in the lifecycle of this World Heritage site. This year, we had a fair snowpack, so the water was really moving and the roar of the Falls could be heard even that far away! And since this is an icon view, the bridge is a well-visited and loved spot, and very entertaining for people and wildlife watching! I happened to share my carving plot within 15 feet of a mule deer group, though they expressed little interest in the medium once it was clear it was not edible.
Black Oak – Yosemite (March 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
This faintly Japanesque print is another departure from my usual style. This close-up representation of the iconic and beloved Black Oak that blankets the Valley floor uses a bold, white-line technique, which I’ve rarely used. I mixed up more ink than I’ve ever dared at one time – a giant, scary pool of it! I wasn’t sure it was really going to work until I pulled the first print… But work it does. Is it one of my favorite prints to date because I still mourn the loss of my own giant, twin Black Oak that went down in a snowstorm 5 years ago? Or, perhaps the graceful arching branches speak to me of cool, shaded afternoons on the banks of the Merced, where the gently playing leaves seem to brush away anxieties and replace them with soft sighs of contentment.
The Trickster – Yosemite (February 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
Coyotes are socially complex, intelligent, opportunists who deserve more respect than they receive. These cleanup and vector control specialists are essential parts of the food web. Their adaptability brings them into contact with human population centers frequently, bringing these survivors under increasing attack. I find their beauty and tenacity alluring and love seeing them – from a distance. These wild creatures, who I hear nearly every night, have my admiration & respect. Here’s a link to a video showing how ‘The Trickster – Yosemite’ was made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92xDSXaKflg
Sequoiadendron gianteum – Yosemite (January 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
The famous Mariposa Grove is closed for rejuvenation, so I visited the lesser known, but equally inspiring, Tuolumne Grove in Yosemite for my next muse gathering outing. Giant Sequoias never fail to induce awe; I hope I’ve captured some of their majesty. Please go visit if you can! Sequoiadendron giganteum is the scientific name for this living fossil. I almost called this one the Youthful Ancient , as it’s only a a baby in terms of age – older than the discovery of the Americas!
Swinging Bridge at Wawona – Yosemite (December 2015, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
A short walk from the Chilnualna Falls Trailhead along the not-so-famous South Fork of the Merced River, one can find the Swinging Bridge of Wawona. This bridge brings back Indiana Jones-like fantasies of adventure and daring – for a second anyway. It’s a lovely area to picnic and hang out. I’ve seen a Cooper’s Hawk land on its cables and an American Dipper swimming and bobbing along the waterways below it. It’s also a favorite swimming hole for Yosemite ‘insiders’! My California Naturalist course spent the day on and near this spot, engaging our senses, enriching our souls and learning to experience Nature through the lenses of both science and personal observation.
Elemental – Yosemite (November 2015, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
November’s print focuses on two essential elements of Yosemite’s landscape: Trees and Rocks. Often in the high country, wizened trees magically grow straight out of the domes and mountainsides in the seemingly endless granite-dominated vista. Each one is interesting and uniquely beautiful, characterizing strength and tenacity, acceptance and timelessness.
Half Dome from Glacier Point – Yosemite (October 2015, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
Glacier Point offers majestic views of the Valley’s East side and its surrounding wonders, including the Clark Range, Cloud’s Rest, the Valley floor,Yosemite Falls and, of course, Half Dome. One can get quite close to the edge of the South Rim and gain unobstructed vistas that take the breath away or give it back – depending on your state! This icon is the very face of Yosemite National Park and no series featuring the park would be complete without it.
Taft Point Fissures – Yosemite (September 2015, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
A short walk from Glacier Point Road is my favorite hidden gem in the Park, sporting the best views of the Valley and its surrounding wonders – Taft Point. One can get exceedingly close to the edge of the South Rim, an almost straight drop to the Valley below. Views of El Cap, Cathedral Rocks, Yosemite Falls, the Merced River, etc. are the reward for venturing just off the beaten path. This is the print that started it all; Number one in the series of 12.
More from 2015:
Field of Poppies (September 2015, 4.25″ x 5.75″, copperplate etching)
California poppies were one of the first flowers I cultivated in my ‘patch’ of garden at my childhood home. They have followed me throughout my moves and now I live in an area renowned for these iconic symbols of Spring, renewal and the rolling hills of California. Though I worked this etching up a couple of years ago, I only editioned a black & white for an exchange at the time. I knew that I wanted it in color at some point and here we are. I used the 2014 Sierra Art Trails to demo this, though I was not happy with the results. Oh, they were fine for demo purposes, but not what I wanted! In the end, the only way I was happy with the print was by adding a mask and using a relief method to ‘roll’ the ink over the flowers after using an a la poupée method to color the plate traditionally.
Lady Vanessa (September 2015, 4″ x 4″, linocut)
When I first moved to the Sierra, I wanted to clear out an oily, rangy looking bush that seemed unattractive to my citified sensibilities. Then, one day I realized that these bushes were attracting dozens of butterflies each! It turns out that Yerba Santa is a favorite of the butterfly, Vanessa Cardui or Painted Lady. The working title, though deemed too long, was Painted Lady on Sacred Herb. And so the Yerba Santa was saved with a renewed appreciation of the environment’s interconnectedness.
Robin’s Nest (Nest Series) (July 2015, 13″ x 11″, linocut)
I love the squawking & sharp chirps that Robin’s make! Their stalking, hunched low approach, then starchily upright stance as they eye the ground for worms! Great birds for avian antics. Their nest are equally impressive; so neat, circular & distinctive! Reference photo credit: Michelle Ahlstrom. (Another Limited Edition, single impression print, State II of the last impression of this edition has also been pulled.)
If you are interested in seeing how this one was made, I managed to put together this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYpl6ek9dLk