Spring has finally sprung for real, and I know because the cherry blossoms have come and gone, and the tulips are finally here. New Yorkers love cherry blossoms, but I think we must have a soft spot for tulips too because they're all over the city. I found these at Madison Square Park.

And what is this, you ask? Beats me! It's from the Eternal Flagstaff Memorial in the park, which "...honors those victorious forces of the United States Army and Navy who were officially received at this site following the armistice and the conclusion of World War I." According to the NYC Park website, it was designed by Thomas Hastings (1860-1929), from a famous architectural firm that also did the New York Public Library. The website goes on to say that this is one of four "rams heads, and was sculpted by Paul Wayland Bartlett (1865-1925). " A ram's head with wings? I love it!  It's always fun when scupltors let loose with grotesques and chimeras. It's a treasure hunt to see if you can find them on even the most serious buildings and monuments.

Cape Cod Sunset

I spent the holiday on Cape Cod and had a chance to get outside and do a little drawing since the weather was so mild. There's a nature preserve nearby, with some paths that are well-traveled by the locals.

There are also some beautiful views of the water. And of course, the sun was setting!

Here's to more and better in the new year!

Fall Is My Favorite

The leaves here in New York have been disappointing this year. I think the weather hasn't been cool enough for the leaves to change so they've just stayed green, then turned brown. Ew. But in the park next to my house, there's one circle of trees that went bright yellow. They had already dropped them by the time I made this thumbnail, creating a carpet of yellow underfoot.

There's a playground there under the trees, and for the kids it's time to go back to school no matter what the weather does. Fall will always be bound up with school for me, probably one reason I love the season so much. They only had thirty or forty minutes to run around, which was plenty of time to do a quick watercolor.

From the Archive

"From the archive" sounds better than "from that giant pile of old drawings," right? I found this drawing in the same...archive (wink wink, nudge nudge)...as last week's. I had sat down in Epcot's Japan pavilion in a drizzle with Veronica Lawlor and Margaret Hurst. At first it was just us, and I reconciled myself to a quiet drawing of pine trees and the pagoda. As the rain slowed and finally stopped, everyone popped out of their hiding places and I had a much more fun, chaotic drawing of people doing all the things they do (including using stools as a drum set).

Swedish Summer

I recently took a vacation in Sweden and was completely charmed by the natural beauty as well as the graciousness of the people. I've never met people who talked more about the weather, or cherished the summer sun more, I guess because the country is dark and cold for so much of the year. While I was there, they were having an unusually spectacular Swedish summer, I was told. It's true enough that the days were mild and warm, and the evenings cool and crisp. One of the things I noticed was that the Swedes are always ready for a swim. Even in Stockholm, I spied bathing suits and towels tucked into work bags in case the opportunity for a dip presented itself. The water felt COLD to me, but they just called it refreshing and jumped right in! So here are some Swedish swimmers on the Stockholm archipelago island of Grinda caught taking a dip during a midday break.

Gasworks Park

Last month, I took a trip with the Dalvero Academy to Seattle and San Francisco. I'm just starting to go through those drawings now, and I just knew the first thing I had to share was my favorite place in Seattle, Gasworks Park. As some of you may have seen in past posts (like here) I love drawing big, dirty machinery. Basically, if it's industrial, I love to draw it - bonus points if it's old. Gasworks Park is the site of a coal gasification plant that closed down in 1956. Then the city of Seattle bought it and said, "So what if tar still occasionally oozes from the ground? Let's make it a park!" And so they did, and it's awesome!

Frisbee-players and bike riders frolic amongst the hulking machinery of a past era. (Click on the drawing to see it larger)

They even built a kite-flying hill. I love Seattle!

I might post some other studies of Gasworks Park another time. In the meantime, check out my friends here and here to see some of their Seattle drawings!

A Year Ago: The Tuileries in Paris

I was thinking back to where I was a year ago - Paris! I realized as I was looking through at some old drawings, that I never posted any drawings from the Tuileries. I can't think how I overlooked one of my favorite parks in Paris. The proportions of the park's landscape are so perfect, you can't help but feel peaceful and relaxed when you're there. Besides being beautifully designed and landscaped, it's located right next to the Louvre. What excellent neighbors!

Birds of a Feather

It's been a few weeks since I've posted — let's call it a spring break — but when I saw that today was the birthday of John James Audubon, I thought it would be a perfect time to post some drawings I made of Canada geese over the winter. It was up in Mystic, CT, and snow was on the ground. I guess snow is nothing for geese that range as far north as the Arctic Circle. They were scrabbling around with their bills in the snow, and generally standing around looking big and a little goofy.

Our feathered geese friends here in New York have to watch out for the Parks Department, since it's the season for the city to cull their population. For super cute goose news, click here.

Goodbye, Fall!

It's December all of a sudden, and as the cold deepens, it's time to say goodbye to my favorite season, fall. I love everything about fall: the light, the leaves changing, the brisk weather. Even though I'm (so many!) years out of school, it still signals a fresh start to me. I know that's supposed to be spring, but to me fall is the time to start new projects in new notebooks, make new friends, new beginnings. This fall, I was able to get up to Connecticut to enjoy the changing leaves.

I like that last one, but as it often happens, I liked the thumbnail better:


Montmartre is one of my favorite neighborhoods of Paris. Since it's on the outskirts of Paris, it managed to escape the attentions of Baron Haussman, the Robert Moses of the 19th century, responsible for the homogeneity of many arrondissements. Montmartre became the refuge of those possessing a more down at heels aesthetic than those of the buttoned up, if grand, boulevards. It still retains the pre-Napoleonic charm of winding, cobblestone streets with their rich, mismatched jumble of buildings that lean against each other in long-established camaraderie. It's a tiny neighborhood, but all the streets are so twisty and hilly with surprises (a vineyard!) around so many corners, that you can easily spend a whole day exploring it.

This is the parenthetically aforementioned vineyard. Sadly, it wasn't open the day I visited, so I had to draw it from behind the fence. It looked like a little Rackham cottage up on a hill. I think I might have to make it into a wine label at some point, though, to appease the literalist in me.

I didn't get to finish this drawing of Sacre Coeur, glowing in the light of the late afternoon, but maybe I like it better this way? It seems to slowly grow out of the cloudy page (or screen), and in a moment, the mist will obscure it again and it will just be a memory of Paris.

Also, you can check out my friend and fellow Dalverian Julia's drawings of Montmartre.

Fairy Mural

This past week I did a private commission, a nursery mural. Painting on the walls feels so forbidden and fun! The client wanted fairies, butterflies and dragonflies, as well as mushrooms and flowers and animals, and I was happy to oblige her. As a big fan of Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, and other classic fairy tale illustrators, I've been drawing fairies and elves since I was a kid, so this was kind of the dream job!
Since the mural was to include so many elements, I started out with a pretty detailed thumbnail

as well as a color sketch

By the end of day one:

Day two:

Day three:

And by day four, it was done!

A few details:

It was rewarding to see my client get teary-eyed looking at it!

Cherry Blossom Festival

A few months ago, when spring had just sprung, I visited the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. It felt like walking in a fantasy garden. The trees were laden with pink and white blooms, and every time the wind stirred the trees, pink and white petals would float past. It was magical.

It was also nice to see New Yorkers of all kinds, usually known for our "rush-rush-rush" approach to life, gathered to appreciate something as simple as a garden. Many were sprawled underneath the trees to contemplate the beauty of the blooms.

And of course, there were plenty of children. These three girls were posing to have their picture taken by their father (in the plaid shirt at the left).

The trees themselves are so much fun to draw, with their twistings and movements in space. They are *almost* as satisfying to draw as people, and they certainly move around less!