Monday, December 30, 2013

Into the Light.....

....and into the upcoming new year, the Year of the Horse at that.  This did not end up as I envisioned, sometimes (often) that happens.  I came close to giving up several times and finally decided it was worth the lessons learned.  Onward.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

More about illustration

Before I leave the topic of illustration, I have to say how much fun it is to work with Christine Hamilton at the American Quarter Horse Journal.  I learned a lot in our valiant attempt to come up with the "perfect" anatomical specimen of a quarter horse.  (alas, "Bruce" was not perfect despite our efforts, but he was close enough to make a good demo model and the series won an award from the Livestock Publications Council.)  The best Illustration is always a collaboration which is what makes the work fun and interesting.

In 2013 my illustration for The Horse on the development of osteoarthritis was honored by American Horse Publications, an organization that recognizes excellence in horse oriented media.  Describing it as "a very good example of a medical illustration.”  

The horse world is my primary focus for illustration because of my veterinary specialty, but yes, I can also draw a dog, cat or cow!  and I do work with other animal, medical and natural science subjects.  It's a great job and never boring!

Friday, December 27, 2013

What I do

I know you think I just play all the time (accurate assumption by the way) but sometimes I play for others.  I like it and it feeds the dog (he likes it too).  The Horse magazine, a mainstay of equine health publications, has been a steady client since I began illustrating in, whoa, the early 1990's.  I was still practicing veterinary medicine then, but moved back north and gradually ditched the pager (we used those instead of cell phones you know).  Sleeping at night was a welcome perk.

I love the challenge of bringing a concept to life, of visually showing the incredible design of the master machine, a mammalian organism.  I am forever amazed.   I'm thinking pretty much nobody wouldn't like my job, so I'm sharing a little recap of 2013 with you.  Hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

back to reality

Short lived peace, now back to the kitten.... just looking around for a little chaos to cause.... and we wouldn't have it any other way.  Would you, cat lovers?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


...... on Earth!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Horse - Reindeer - Elf

Actually, I call it "Horse Torture" to go with the dog a few posts ago.  A particularly tolerant horse, this one.... and who knows, maybe she does turn into a reindeer - elf late on solstice evenings when no one is looking??

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Who, Moi?

original acrylic painting 6x6"
On a roll with the kitten... little devils that they are :)  Although allergies preclude me from being much of a "cat person" I have to say that I admire their feisty nature and graceful athleticism.... those that aren't couch potatoes anyway.  I have way more scars from working with cats in vet school than I ever got from either dogs or horses.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Coolest thing in the woods today

A back lit leaf with the solstice sunlight glowing through.  Every day there's something to discover in my ferny woods!  And here's my best walking companion.... the dog with a leaf on his head.  Did I mention he is very tolerant?   As long as I don't make him wait too long before getting down to the most important business of stick chasing anyway!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Paws In The Action

Sorry about the title, couldn't help it.  Not much pause for this one!  Nothing says "chaos about to happen" better than a kitten about to pounce.  Anyone know what breed of feline this is?

Saturday, December 14, 2013


6x6 acrylic painting

On the edge of the abyss in the mist of rush and thunder there's a calm, quiet place.... have you been there?  It's right next to the place where you feel like you could spread your wings, step off the edge and fly....  It's a wonderful place to visit, but unless you plan an early next lifetime as a bird, you probably shouldn't stay too long.  When I have wings I'll go back and float on that sound!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dog Torture!

small painting available through DailyPaintWorks

It is, but somehow we just can't resist dressing up the dog!  "Bite Me!" comes to mind, but then dogs are so much more tolerant than people.  That said, he does have a slightly demented look and may flip out at any moment.

Best Gift Ever?

contact me about small painting gift certificates

What gift is thoughtful, personal, affordable, comes as a surprise, is unique to the gift-ee and involves no effort (on your part)?  I've been told it might be this gift certificate for an original commissioned painting :)  

"I just opened the package and I’m so THANKFUL for your artistic skills, your unique interpretation, and willing collaboration.  I think that the portraits are perfect!!  I LOVE these little paintings!"

"Wow, this painting is absolutely fabulous.  I find myself wanting to use exclamation marks after every sentence, I'm that impressed.  "Making Introductions" will have a place of honor in my home, somewhere everyone who comes in will see it.  Need I say, "I love it" or "well done"?  YES!  

Thanks happy collectors!  Check out my website, fernwoodstudio for more examples.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Color

small original acrylic painting, see DPW for purchase information

There may not be flowers but some winter foliage can be very colorful.  Red always stands out in a grey-green landscape and it absorbs more light and heat from the feeble winter sun.  Oregon grape leaves range in color from green, burgundy, rust to iridescent red.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Coolest thing in the woods today.....
An earthstar mushroom, Geastrum saccatum, the rounded earthstar, puffball family.

A beautiful land bound star that brightened up our morning walk today.  Apparently edibility is not one of it's virtues.  It is commonly found in singles or clusters on leaf litter and rotting wood in North America & Europe.

The spectacular mushroom year continues, until the upcoming big freeze anyway.  Hope you can spend some time outside today.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Barrel Racer Cowboy Chaser

Lauren rockin' the work boots!  I remember in vet school one of my more mischievous (some say diabolical) friends put a "Barrel Racer Cowboy Chaser" bumper sticker on the back bumper of Dr. Wagner's truck.  It took her quite awhile to figure out why all the Pullman cowboys... or any and all boys for that matter, kept honking and winking at her :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Walking Home From School

Here's a little change of pace.... slow, enjoying the sunshine, explaining how the teacher says that frogs are amphibians and they croak to attract a mate.  I imagine that walking home from school might just be their favorite time of day.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Potter's Bench

Memories of summer are a nice pick me up for a rainy, blustery, wintery day.  This is where lovely bouquets are made in the morning to sell at the farmer's market later in the day.

A big "thank you" to my intrepid supporters... braving said bluster to attend the reception for my show at the Kimball Gallery.  Not to mention my best ever family who cooked up the treats, helped clean up and most of all, are always there no matter what the weather :)   If you missed it, the show continues through Dec.8th. I always appreciate your feedback on the new work...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Edge of the Sea

Here's a new painting that will replace one that sold in my show at the Kimball... I want to have a full wall for the reception tomorrow from 3 to 5 pm.  Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Gift and A Promise

This large (24" x 55") diptych is included in my show at the Kimball Gallery.  I love exploring our temporary island homes on foot as well as by boat while on kayak adventures.  Each island has it's own flavor and features, some more accessible for rock scrambling than others.  It's always a gift when I encounter the more permanent residents... a mink or otter foraging the edges, mice cleaning the kitchen.  Eagles soar above, butterflies and bumble bees (those bright orange ones that always think my sun shirt is a bluebell flower) in more tumbling flight, the rare bear or wolf exploring the tideline.  I like to believe that I belong here too and renew my promise to cherish and protect this environment that does so much to feed my soul.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


This is an odd start to paintings from my recent Puerto Vallarta trip, but we did visit the zoo there.  Although it was clean and the animals well cared for and healthy looking I have a hard time imagining their life behind bars.  On the other hand I also know that we don't protect and value things we don't have a personal connection with, so I believe the zoo system is a valuable way to experience and learn about exotic species.  (not to mention the zoo mandate to help maintain the incredible diversity of life on the planet as we bulldoze them out of existence with our own burgeoning populations)  Hopefully the visit to a zoo stimulates an appreciation of the sacrifice of a few to ensure the survival of their brethren in the wild.  OK end of rant... this fellow speaks volumes with only a look.

Edge of Summer

This is one of the new paintings in my show at the Kimball Gallery.  Reception coming up on Sunday, November17th 3pm to 5pm.  Hope to see you there :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Artist Residencies in the National Parks

Happy to represent the National Park Service's Artist in Residence program, check out this website for some stunning artwork (my sketchbook image is included under "Signature of Place")  and links to how you can be an AIR.  It's never too soon to plan for next summer :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


New paintings up at the Kimball

The show is up! (at the Kimball Gallery in Gig Harbor now through Dec 8 with reception on Nov. 17) I'm happy to say that it's a fair representation of some of my favorite places in the world to be.  These are all PNW land and seascapes but that's why it's only "some" of my favorite places, guess I'll just have to keep painting :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Vanitas is a still-life painting from the 17th-century Dutch genre containing symbols of death or change as a reminder of their inevitability.  I call it Edge of the Mystery.  I think it's a valuable exercise to contemplate death.  Conversely, today is a gift, go out and play!  

This painting will be in my upcoming show about edges and the places between them.  (Kimball Gallery, opens Oct 29, reception Nov. 17)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sneak Peek!

Show of new paintings coming up at the Kimball Gallery October 29th. 
Reception on Sunday, November 17th hope to see you there :-) 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Run Off

Wet.  Water oozing from the pores of a Pacific Northwest autumn.  Time to put on your webbed feet and enjoy it!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


He's quite sure that I need help and he's right.... running through the woods is inspirational, but not very productive however!  Working hard to get all these new paintings pulled together for my show at the Kimball Gallery the end of the month!

Heard that my little apple painting ("Almost Ripe" see old post) won a prize at the Peninsula Art League show recently.  That's always encouraging, along with sales of a few small works, no complaints here :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sol Duc Falls Painting

A shaft of light glints off Sol Duc Falls.  Amazing to see how the relatively small creek we crossed several times on our hike builds into this plunging cataract.  Bet it's really raging now!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Chance of Rain

5.75x6" acrylic

Another image from our recent Olympic Mountains hike.  Even, or maybe especially, on a gray day the autumn colors are incredible.  Not in this painting, but there was a big ole black bear sauntering along the ridge to the left as we descended past Heart Lake above Sol Duc Park.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hope for the Morning

7x5" acrylic
After 3 days of backpacking in rain, wind, hail, sleet and snow, this glint of a sunset inspired hope for more pleasant weather to come.  Although we did have challenging conditions for this group of 10th graders from CWA, they were up to the task.  Good teamwork and positive attitudes helped make it a great learning experience in the best classroom on the planet!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Display at KC Professional Center

Busy, busy!  I have work showing in the Key Center library (with the Two Waters Arts Alliance group) plus several of my paintings displayed next door in the Professional building.  A solo show of new work coming up at the Kimball Gallery in Gig Harbor the end of October.... and one more backpacking trip into the Olympics next week.  I love the fall!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tranquil Evening

The calm belies an active summer's day.  Time to relax and appreciate where we live :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What would Ruby Do?

Matt is off to set up his new home base at the UW today.  The last bit of (unsolicited) advice from his auntie, came via this painting.... When in doubt or worry, stop and ask, "What would Ruby-Do?"  Of course he might not always be able to curl up on the couch and just sleep on it, but it's good advice for clarifying many situations faced by a new collegian.  Happy trails Matthew :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tree Swing

This painting was another exercise in notan.... using a strong black & white design as an underpainting.  Backlighting usually creates a strong notan which is one reason that kind of light is so dramatic.  Even if it's not so obvious in the scene at hand, if you can effectively simplify your composition this way it will make the resulting painting a strong one.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Almost Ripe

8x8 acrylic

It's that time of year when everything is ripening.  My honey crisp tree has an insane number of apples on it.  I've removed at least 50, no probably 60 and still there are so many!  It is highly traumatic for me to twist off the little green orbs... they're so close to ripe, but the tree is literally tipping over and branches are breaking!  :( bad gardener, bad!.... most of my labor is either sat upon by the dog or eaten by the deer, slugs, birds, bunnies etc.  Ah, well, good thing I'm a painter.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Sunset Seats

Just waiting for you to enjoy the late summer sunsets!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer Rain

9x12" acrylic

A warm rain after a long, dry summer is welcome even if it is a bit of a steam bath.  Do you think these two ever talk about the weather?  Naw, me neither, it's more likely he's asking for a little scratch right behind his shoulder where he can't reach.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Clanninick Creek

8x8" original acrylic
Lest you think I've forgotten about color.... imagine a short paddle from the bluster of the Pacific Ocean into the quiet of this surreal alcove.  Clanninick Creek is a special place on NW Vancouver Island that is protected because of it's singular old growth spruce trees and for the salmon that spawn here.  When we paddled up the creek it was like floating into Wonder Land!  A looking glass stunningly clear and shimmering, yes, it was pretty much this vibrant.  Some of us plan to go back.... one way or another.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Whispers On The Wind

Well, sunshine's back!  I've updated the photo of this one.  I took some pains to get it right because you never know when a good digital image might come in handy.  The low key value range except for that bright field in the background makes it a challenge, but rules are meant to be broken I say, at least sometimes!

Here's another limited palette painting.  Love my Shire neighbors.  It's proving difficult to photograph, where's our sunshine?  I'll try for a better one later.  Otherwise, I am enjoying the soaking mist and rain!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer Pasture

8x8" acrylic

I'm fond of this piece.  This is a view along the road the dog and I walk every day and an endless source of inspiration.  Sometimes Arna just likes to graze along with the horses, he's not so nervous now about those big noses coming down to check him out.

I've always liked a limited palette approach.  Raw umber, yellow ochre with just a touch of cad red is plenty of spectrum with black & white at each end.  This one also has an easily discernible "notan" pattern that makes for a strong composition.  So many possibilities, so little time :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Barred Owl

6x8' acrylic, see DPW for purchase information

Arna and I flushed this big barred owl on our walk through the woods yesterday at about 4:30 pm.  These owls have migrated from their east coast origins and seem to be quite content taking up residence in my woods.  They have a characteristic song described as "who cooks for youuuu" and a mating call that is weirdly wonderful echoing through the night woods.  (described as "hoo-aw" but my owls say  "eeeeeyour"- must be a west coast adaptation!)  They are more active during daylight hours than many of their kin and if you don't see them, you'll surely hear them if you frequent the forest around here.

This painting is another experiment on copper metal affixed to a foam core backing.  I prep it by sanding, cleaning with alcohol and then rubbing the surface with garlic juice.  Apparently the juice ever so finely etches the metal surface making it more receptive to paint.  I then apply acrylic medium over the entire surface to seal it and to lengthen my working time since I'm using acrylics.  Of course that makes the surface "slicker than snot" to paint on. (garlic notwithstanding)  The paint goes on grudgingly and somewhat transparent to begin with, slowly becoming more sticky and opaque as the medium dries.  If I commit myself to alla prima, I can't get too fussy with the details... generally a good thing all around :)  I like this one better than the first attempt, so I'll call that progress.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sand Piper

8x6" acrylic painting
I've been looking at this reference a long time, finally tried a sketch.  I believe it may deserve another go on a bigger canvas with a slightly warmer color palette. (flute playing in the background)  This is another experiment painting on a metal surface.  I happen to have a frame that is just that odd hue in the mid-ground of the sand so I won't change the color on this one, I kinda like it :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

By The Sea Shore

6x6" acrylic painting, see DPW for sales information

Hot afternoon on the beach, tide seeping in between the rocks in gentle waves (except when a boat goes by and you get goosed!)  Gotta love summer by the water.

This is my first experiment painting on copper.  Can't really tell much in the digital reproduction here, yet another reason that original art is best :)  It's not one that you'll notice the copper itself a whole lot (in the hair & bits here and there) but I do like the slick surface and the color.  It will be fun to explore more possibilities.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Three's company

Here's the other side of the kid & pony show.  Squirt has his work cut out for him, teaching two little girls how to ride and take care of horses.  I think they're all up for the challenge though :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013


YoYo's mother and I think he is adorable.... I wonder if he'll loose those hazel eyes when grows up?  I'm quite sure he won't loose that penetrating Aussie gaze anyway!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Notan painting

So my goal was to use the "notan" - a black and white simplified composition (below) to map out this painting.  It did help, but I'm feeling great resistance to making a light colored pooch dark enough in the shadows.  The original painting looks better than the digital (hah, heard that one before!?)  Maybe it's a warm-cool color issue?? Anyway, pondering the possibilities.  Who says painting is easy?