Friday afternoon

Hello from a sunny, cool, and green day in the valley. I’ve been immersed in painting, garden work, helping with a neighbor’s little horse, taking care of our own pets (it’s hard to watch pets get old, as it is with some people), writing, and studying.

This was Grandpa in late January:

first sketch/layer

Here he is today–I’m still adjusting light and dark, forms and colors. Slow work, perhaps, but I’m learning as I go. Some dreamlike elements suggested themselves, based on certain memories I have, and particular stories I remember my mother telling me. So–as this is a practice piece, and the end result matters only to me, I’m going with it and trying to solve some technical issues in the process:

still a long way to go…

Generally it’s improving, but form and expression and certainly color balance still need a ton of work. I’m going to let this dry, then go at it again with glazes and scumbling, dark to light, to try to make it right. There are a few other paintings in progress that I have not shared…a lot of those are so completely experimental, or terrible, I’m going to paint over them and start new pieces over the top. There are currently seven or eight paintings here in various stages of composition (or “decomposition,” maybe–ha!) so I can rotate the work from one to another according to drying time.

Some very interesting things may be in the works…funny, how sometimes events and things here at home end up tying knots with other ‘strings’ from surprising places and distances…serendipitous, startling and sometimes mind-blowing, and hopefully–eventually–sources of inspiration, collaboration, and rich creativity. Say–this week, for me: dreams, unexpected life developments, phone calls or letters present something…then something else in a book brings up a parallel; then it pops up again, from afar, and it suggests to me that Something has quite a sense of humor, and I think if we notice these shifts and happenings, life can be so rich. In this work, this way of seeing and creating, there is no quitting, although things may often become quite confusing or difficult. There is only “do,” “watch,” “make,” “appreciate,” “observe,” “communicate,” “learn,” “love,” (not necessarily in that order, and always appropriate to the situation or ‘thread’ at hand) and repeat: creative process, interwoven with daily life. I consider that my ideal state of being, following the threads and seeing where they lead, and what they make.




January 23

Good evening…today I’m putting myself through exercises to learn how to handle paint better. I need quite a bit of work to improve my figures, and must learn to model forms in an economical, expressive way; I’m trying to make the marks more confident. Anyway, this is the result of the first session on the underpainting for a portrait of my grandfather, from his dapper photo of the 1920s. I’ve worked approximately ninety minutes on this so far, and I hope that subsequent layers will help rather than hinder the work. Too often I get the value map I want, then–at least with the grisaille method–once I attempt color, I screw it all up. I must not be so afraid to make terrible paintings…wading through all of these is what I must do in order to learn. So here’s part of today’s studio practice.

Grandpa, first stage of oil study

Sunday January 14

Today I got two paintings ready to go to a local show…it’s a juried exhibit, so no guarantee my work will get in, but I’m going to offer these:

“Memory: County W, Wisconsin” — Oil on canvas, 8″ x 10″
“October Fields,” oil and graphite on board (left) and “Memory: County W, Wisconsin,” oil on canvas (right) framed and ready to go

It’s obvious, at least to me, that I need to practice a lot more with the medium, but I’m falling in love with oil paint and determined to become a decent painter eventually. Meanwhile I am enjoying the process immensely.

Best wishes to you all! Have a great day.

January 2018

Greetings! A new year is here, and I hope this finds you well and happy. My studio’s busy right now. I’m working to learn how to paint better, and doing a few private commissions; among them is a painting for a new project from a great band in Iowa…here’s a detail of the artwork:


Later I’ll post more about that project…the designer’s working his magic to get the CD packaging, etc. ready to go, then I can share more.

In addition to that bit of Autumnal fun, a wonderful Halloween story by Robert McCammon–He’ll Come Knocking at Your Door–and another McCammon book, Tales from Greystone Bay, will soon be shipped by Cemetery Dance Publications. It is an honor to have had the opportunity to illustrate these wonderful stories, and I’m excited about the books’ release; I can’t wait to see the final product. Here are some of my favorite illustrations from the two books:

Interior illustration for He’ll Come Knocking at Your Door, Cemetery Dance Publications (graphite on paper)


Interior illustration for He’ll Come Knocking at Your Door, Cemetery Dance Publications (graphite on paper)


Interior illustration for He’ll Come Knocking at Your Door, Cemetery Dance Publications (graphite on paper)


Interior illustration for Tales from Greystone Bay, Cemetery Dance Publications (watercolor)


Cover artwork for Tales from Greystone Bay, Cemetery Dance Publications (oil on board, digital)

One more book featuring my illustrations may also be released early this year, although it seems there has been a rather major error at the printing company; the book may not manifest in its expected form. So, we’ll see how that goes…I hope the problem can be solved, and we can share that artwork soon.

Some copies of SST’s edition of our art book, October Fields, are still available from the publisher’s website ( SST informed me just this morning that forty more copies of this book have sold…thank you so much for the interest in my work, and for supporting a freelance artist!

Next summer I’ll be studying for an intense week with some fantastic artists and teachers. Although I’m a bit nervous about attending this workshop, I hope it’s an investment that will help me be a better painter and businessperson. I’m looking forward to meeting other artists and immersing ourselves in work and lectures, demos and critiques. More on that as things develop…for now, I’m focusing on the process of painting and drawing, and practicing a lot.

At this very moment, I’m putting the final touches on at least two paintings to offer for a local juried show…I hope they’ll be accepted. My studio assistant, Mr. Purrsival, is a harsh but fair critic, and a wonderful companion to me while I work:

Purrsival, providing some feedback from a different perspective

That’s all the news from our studio for the moment. Let’s hope 2018 brings good things, better things: intelligent leadership? peace? understanding? tolerance? better care for the planet and animals? a greater appreciation for the good in life, and help for those who have little? —hope, then.

Be well! More soon from our place in the mountains.

March 17, 2017

Greetings from the Santa Cruz Mountains–I’ve been even more of a hermit than usual lately, hanging out here at home and working on a few projects. One of them has just been announced: SST Publications of Birmingham, U.K., has offered our art book, October Fields, for pre-ordering. It’s an honor to be included in SST’s Art Book Series; my volume is #5 in the series, which has also featured Daniele Serra, Keith Minnion, Tomislav Tikulin, and Vincent Sammy–what great company! Scott Thomas, acclaimed author of ghostly tales and an artist, himself, has written the introduction for this book, and gracious colleagues and associates have been generous in providing blurbs or reviews.

From SST’s website: “This book features artwork rooted in the earthy, the mysterious dark, the dreamworld–it’s Autumn work, smelling of smoke and following secret, twisted pathways.”

In addition to the art book, I’m working steadily on artwork for a lovely volume from Cemetery Dance Publications, which I can’t wait to see finished…the story is written by one of my favorite authors, and it is deliciously spooky. When these projects are complete, I will return to personal work and keep at that, unless more publishing jobs present themselves–I’ll always be happy to illustrate for new books if they’re a good fit.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate it. I probably have a measure of Irish ancestry, but I think it’s more likely largely Scottish and Welsh…so I’m going to celebrate the day with artwork, poetry, some time spent in the garden this afternoon, and good music. Rain’s approaching, and by Monday we’ll be soggy again, so I’m determined to get out and soak up some sun today.

May you all be blessed with good health, good fortune, and happiness on this fine Friday.

Wednesday 2/15

It was sunny today! The ground finally dried out enough that I could work in the yard without slopping through muck. A few spots are still sticky with mud, but I was able to mow and rake, prune a few things, clear the drainage area and pull weeds…that bit’s easy, as the ground is so soft. There is still much to do, but I feel much happier today having gotten to play in the dirt, and it is nice to have this place better tended. The daffodils are starting to bloom, the plum trees are flowering, and the acacias are heavy with bright yellow fragrant flowers…they make me sneeze, but I like them anyway.

All the outside work had to be done soon, as it’s supposed to start raining again tonight. After a short break I got to paint a bit more — below is one study that is nearly done. I am learning a lot, even though the work isn’t ‘pro’ yet…all part of the process, and it won’t get better if I don’t keep at it.

Adding color…nearly done with this study (still wet)

That’s it for now…hope this finds you all well. More soon!




The twisted old plum tree has suddenly developed buds: seems like they appeared overnight, but maybe I wasn’t looking close enough…they snuck up on me. The tulips are growing, and the snowdrops are blooming. The hyacinths are getting ready to flower — they smell so great, I hope they have a chance to do their thing before the rain beats them up.

Rain: after a long drought, the Santa Cruz Mountains are getting hammered with it. Our yard is basically a marsh, and although I joke about starting an alligator-and-rice farm (“Grain & Gators?” or, how about my father’s idea, “Bayou Basmati?” I like that), we’re lucky, so far: no landslides or severe flooding or downed trees here, but we don’t take anything for granted, and keep a close eye on things. This morning my brave partner decided to tackle the commute to his job over the hill. He and our trusty car made it partway, but he had to turn back after driving past landslides, downed trees, and — finally, encountering a flooded roadway that was unsafe to drive. The good part of all that is that he’s back, and safe working from home. A break in the storms is coming, then we’re to get another soaking — last I read, three to four more inches of rain. Considering the damage already done to the roadways, homes, and the considerable number of landslides, I’d say it’s a fantastic time to hunker down and work, enjoy evenings by the fireplace, and be glad that we have a well-stocked pantry and lots of candles, and a generator, and some cats (they are great lap warmers and good company).

Truck / oil on canvas
Old truck: work in progress, first layers

So, I’m doing that — working, and being grateful. It’s been slow, though. Energy is in short supply lately, and at times it’s daunting: I have all these ideas swimming around in my head, a deep love for the work of being an artist, and I am very happy here in the mountains with my partner in life: he is the best. Last year I was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis (TSC) and Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM): these conditions affect primarily the skin, lungs, lymph nodes, and kidneys. You can read about it here if you are interested ( ). Apparently part of having LAM is dealing with fatigue; although my husband and I still hike, and I get routine things done fairly well, day-to-day, sometimes I’m frankly stupid-tired. My approach to dealing with this is to work more, rest when I absolutely must take a break, and pare art projects down to what I’m most drawn to do. A couple commissions that were slogging along are done at last, and I have been working to get my head straight and my body rested enough to plan, with clear head and strong intent, where I want to go next. Right now there are two nice projects brewing: a beautiful book project with Cemetery Dance Publications, and another from a publisher in the U.K., which I hope will soon be announced. I’m working on oil painting, and writing more. I’m continuing to work as an illustrator, but obliged to be very selective in the commissions I accept. A sense of urgency and peace, determination and resignation, go with all this.

Back to work, here–time to do it! I hope this finds you all safe, healthy, and happy. We’ll post more artwork soon…in the meantime, take care.



Good afternoon from our spot in these mountains, where it’s full summer–it’s dry, and although the creek is still running, it is a bit low. Our apple tree, durable green soul, is laden with fruit; perhaps this will be the year I make apple cider. The roses are blooming profusely, and the sage and the lupine are also flourishing.

Above is a detail of a much larger graphite drawing that will appear in an upcoming publication…it’s a bit gruesome–more so than a lot of my work–but the tale for which this drawing was created is raw, in-your-face, and bloody. Believe me, it could have been a much more graphic illustration (I did consider it). The full image is in a different format than most commissions I am given, as well, so it was an unusual job and great fun to do. I’ll post more about this when I can.

The past few months have been great in most ways. My companion and I have been enjoying visits with family and friends whenever we can; we have been hiking longer distances again, after a break. It’s the season for summer fruits and veggies, so we have been relishing those. I’m determined to get back into doing yoga. Last year I enrolled in an excellent class as a beginner, and–for several reasons–haven’t gotten back to those sessions. I miss it, so must learn to keep up the discipline on my own. I’ve been wanting to get things in general settled: sorting and organizing materials in my studio so all the projects in progress–all in different media, both personal and commissioned–can be done in an orderly way, and culling stuff from the house that I no longer want or need. I’ve been going through my own head, with a similar approach…it’s all house-cleaning of a sort. Some articles suggest that a messy work space indicates particularly high intelligence–so I’m reluctant to admit that I prefer things to be aligned, dust-free, sorted like-with-like, allowing lots of empty table and desk space, so things have room to happen…but there it is.

There are several private commissions in progress right now, and one wonderful book project has just been set in motion, which will be announced/published in the first quarter of 2017. I hope by this Fall that a project which has been in the works for quite a while will finally be announced…it’s exciting news for our studio, and I look forward to sharing that with you. I’m also working on oil paintings; there are currently eight of them in progress, in various stages of completion and with decidedly various levels of success. I am falling in love with the process and the medium, and hope to spiff up my portfolio and get some nice jobs in the coming years…maybe find some gallery representation and/or an agent along the way.

Here is one oil sketch I’ve been working on as part of my study:

Rusty water tank – Mt. Diablo Hike

I’d best get back to the work at hand, but one last bit of news: a cat has shown up at our place–so friendly, it seems that he’s been abandoned. We’ve looked at bulletin boards, missing pet posters, etc. and we’ve found no one so far who is claiming or looking for him. He’s getting taken care of now, and it seems he will stay with us–my husband’s rather fond of him, too. Kitty has had most of his shots, and will have the last of his vaccinations when he’s neutered later this month. He loves to hang out with me in the studio, and follows us when we’re out in the yard…he has a huge purr, and is talkative; he is happy to sleep (usually upside-down) on the rug here while I work. He joins a neighborhood cat, Purrsephone, a beautiful, feisty tortoiseshell kitty who spends a lot of her time here at our place, and with a kind neighbor lady who also feeds, shelters, and grooms her. This is Mr. Purrsival, Morale Officer and Spider-Catcher for Rowan Studio, shown on the job:


Until next time, please be careful out there; be kind to yourselves, and each other; and don’t forget to slow down and enjoy things…savor life.


Spring is here: the calla lilies are blooming, as are the hawthorne trees, and the lilacs; the roses are ready to pop, too. The grass is growing faster than I can believe, as are the weeds. I’ll get to those–working in the garden is one of my favorite activities–but this week I have to concentrate on finishing some commissions.

In the midst of a very busy time for my companion and me, it was very nice to see this post from Brian Freeman of Cemetery Dance Publications:  Many thanks to Brian and Mindy at CD. I love my job, and it’s always good to know that clients are happy with my drawings. Hopefully a lot of readers like them too, although no one can please everyone all the time. So here’s the drawing for the upcoming issue of Cemetery Dance Magazine: a small, fuzzy, innocent (?) kitten.


This week I hope to finish an anthology project (still unannounced by the publisher, so I won’t reveal any details yet), and I’m working on an 18″ x 24″ oil painting–a personal work–and a smaller oil commission, which is great fun. I’m quite happy here in the woods, listening to music and drinking tea and painting and living here with Michael and all our crazy animals.

Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other, and read a lot of good books!


Greetings from the mountains, where it’s Spring for sure: our first daffodil of the season popped out a couple days ago; the snowdrops and the hyacinths are blooming like crazy. The grass, which was dry and brown for much of last Spring and Summer, is back with gusto: I will actually have to mow and rake this week.

Meanwhile, I’m working on a series of fifteen illustrations for an upcoming anthology; an oil painting for a private collector; a couple remarque projects are in the works, and I’m doing some art for our friends’ wedding in March. I have many paintings and other projects sketched, notes made, etc. and–after the current commissions are complete–I’ll be diving into those full-time. I’ll be doing as much art as I can without neglecting my partner (he’s at least as busy as I), letting the cats starve, or letting the house and yard go to Hell. I cannot fathom how people with bipedal children get much at all other than childcare accomplished, if they don’t have a nanny or a helper…it’s busy enough with what we have on our plate. I’m happy doing what we are doing: it’s really all right!

The Dark Tower group is offering another of my paintings in their annual fundraiser–along with the watercolor for the Stephen King Limited chapbook that was shown in a previous post, we’re donating this oil study of Pennywise, as a benefit to The Haven Foundation:


The auction is active–as of this writing–for another week, and you can find the link here if you’d like to bid: All of the proceeds from the sale of this oil study will benefit The Haven Foundation.

Heading back to work now: there are lots of good things happening this year, so far, and I hope it may continue. We’ll have some very exciting news to share soon: probably next month. In the meantime, be careful out there, everyone, and try to be kind to one another…’til next time. Cheers! (raising coffee cup…whoops, time for more coffee)