Story Seeking: Blue Hills, South Shore

Perspective and research at Blue Hills Reservation (see tiny Boston). 
Good for the soul.

 Maybe stories come so easily in Nature, because stories are natural things, just like roots and blossoms and any old thing that grows...

Stories live in the quiet of the woods and marshes, the library shelf, the cobblestones, the bricks.

Stories are whispered in the sound and speed of falling petals...

In wondering about the people who loved this place before us...

My favorite direction to drive in: 3 South to Plimoth.

Back up to the bays all around our home. Happy heart... <3

Weymouth sea grass

Weymouth treasure. 

Shimmering like glass.

Mixed-Up & Berry Blue

Hope you all had a peaceful little weekend (said with Dowager Countess emphasis). Just got home from an Easter visit with our families and was greeted at the door by a package from Houghton Mifflin! Here's my newest cover for Jennifer Gennari's sweet debut novel My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer, out May 8, 2012...had a berry good time (oh, so sorry) collaborating with type-magician & designer, Rachel Newborn over at HMCo. (Ah, love the tendrils and tails on her title type!)

The story features the independent and strong-hearted June Farrell in her changing Lake Champlain town and it's "Full to bursting with sweetness and summer light."–Tim Wynne Jones, author of Blink and Caution. Be sure to put this one on the summer reading list!

Stories Are Blooming


Hello friends! Not much art to post lately, I've been making things out of words.

Writing days are so different from drawing days...using words instead of sharpened pencils; pulling things out of silence, instead of blank white paper. It feels right to be writing again though, like both of my feet are on the ground now, all of me is awake and something is blooming. I've been waiting years to give myself the time. The beginning of a YA novel showed up on Leap Day and I've been living in it since. Research is filling my days too, so I'm running between local libraries with a pocket full of nonfiction call numbers (yes!) because of course, it's a touch historical... :)

Old Fashioned Adventure

This past weekend, we ended up doing something I've always wanted to do.
Hopped in the car with a canteen of water, a camera, and an old fashioned map dated 1643...and hunted down some history.

(see blue arrow for Smith land)

Remember this post? While I draw and paint for lovely clients, my genealogy bug is growing consistently. My birthday present, Family Tree Maker For Mac 2 (yep, pushing up the nerd glasses) finally came in the mail yesterday. Genealogy is morphing from a hobby into a creative focus too, something that is pulling on my author/illustrator/fashion designing tendencies...I'm working on some personal pieces based around this "world"...we'll see what happens!

So, our destination was East Providence (Rumford, RI). We were hunting down the location of one of Matt's many Pilgrim ancestors: Master Henry Smith, and wife Judith : Matt's 11th great grandparents. Henry carried the "Smith" lineage over the ocean via the ship "Diligent" from his birthplace at Haddon Hall England to Hingham, MA in 1638, and eventually to Matt's mom. She is one of these Smiths and has loved her Masterpiece Classics for years, so the bit about Haddon Hall origination was happy news for her! Apparently, Matt's ancestors built and settled towns on all sides of the place we live today in Quincy...we've unknowingly completed many many circles just by moving here!

As soon as we neared East Providence, a really pretty thing happened: a SUN-SNOW-SQUALL! Right in the middle of it we realized we were essentially making the same trip Henry had made over 300 years ago... Hingham, the first place they settled off the ship, is next to our town of Quincy. Here we were traveling south to his new home in East Providence (imagine a snow squall without a car!) It probably wasn't the exact route, but most New England highways are paved over ancient footpaths.

Once through the snow-sun-squall, we set off to finally find our Smith land! I held my new iPhone 4s GPS map against the blurry wiggly one dated 1643 and got ourselves to the precise location on Bishop Ave. where he settled at the "the Ring of the Green", after it was freshly purchased from chief Massasoit, part of the Bay Colony in 1643. We were a little saddened, but as expected, nothing still existed to shout out the historical importance of this place. (It was a defunct bakery, which only amplified sadness....nary a cookie in sight!)

It's fascinating to think that our streets, especially in New England are so old. Bishop Avenue has been Bishop Avenue for centuries. Something I always think about: time and place. How can these times both be so real and belong to this one place? It's just this thing I've been trying to put my finger on and write more about: that we are of two worlds. Even though you can only sense and imagine one Bishop Avenue, and physically stand on the other. I think this is the history mystery that holds me captive...

So we said "bye" to Henry and "thanks" into the wind and returned to the car across the street. As I fiddled with the GPS the car was enveloped in another blinding sun-snow-squall. The bright beauty of it reminded me that this place was special as we sat waiting it out in the car, ice rushing from the blue sky down the lane ahead toward the place where something important began. We wondered aloud, "Maybe they're happy we came?" referring to the long lines of lives that brought Matt right here and I felt supremely lucky he was by my side. It blew over in a few seconds and we were back on the road.

Exploring is my favorite way to spend a day. Thanks to Edna of the EPHS for mailing the map. Thanks to Matt for chasing some history with me. Thanks to Henry and Judith for Matt.


I'm a February girl. I've always been sweet on this month for a few reasons: 
It tastes like sugar and smells like snow (normally!)...color is dazzling against February grey...there is romance, intrigue and birthday...I'm 29 today (eep.). This is the first year I've thought, "No, I'd like to stay RIGHT here at 28, thank you!" But, alas...Time will not be nicely asked to cease. My name means "youthful" so maybe I have that at least. Thanks, Momma.

Celebrating February with some snaps from this month, in the studio and out:

Lady tea #3 : Kate, Renee, Amanda, Caryn, Ellen
See more of Renee's Galentine's footage here .

Sea Shanty Lady

I just came across this lady again and thought I'd share. I sketched her in an airplane. She exists in a completely different time and universe than Ms. Cerulean in the previous post, right? An example of the two roads my art's been wandering down...the historical/sartorial coin is always flipping...

I imagined a place like Cape Ann behind her. There is a beautiful old graveyard facing Sandy Bay, where I could see her standing. When we took a family trip and wandered into it, this view stole the breath right out of me (its up a brambly hidden hill from Mill Pond Park off Beach St. if you ever want to see). It's one of those places that stays with you... the stuff sea shanties are made of! I kept imagining very old and forgotten romances when I was on this hill....Women at windows with eyes fixed on the sea, waiting for their loves to return home...

At the time of this trip I was listening to a lot of Crooked Still. But this morning, I woke up with this dreamy song in my head. I'm publishing this post early, since we have friends coming to stay and I'm off to be a Boston tourist this weekend! Happy long weekend! XO

San Francisco

Hey friends!
It's been a while...a long while full of art making (and subsequent lack of important things like housekeeping, blogging, breakfast) rolled right into a last minute trip to San Fran. It was a sun spot in the middle of the deadlines. Paint was still drying while I packed!

I promise to get better about sharing out-of-studio adventures. I tend to leave them out. So here's San Francisco (watch out, it's a long one! Click to enlarge pics if you'd like). My little SF playlist includes songs from Cold War Kids:"Mine Is Yours" and M83's new album: "New Map", "Steve McQueen", and Sequentia's Hildegard "Symphoniae" for the sleepy trip back... 

I will NEVER get over the novelty of lift off and I can't stop smiling when the wheels leave the ground.

I also love the perspective travel brings. See all those tiny squares? Farms. People. Lives. Wee little animals and things sleeping while you fly over their heads. It's refreshing. Last, I love the miracle of it: crossing the country in 6 hours, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We live in some lucky times...

OH––Hello, San Francisco! You are a glittering thing to meet by night. I wonder what you look like by day? Hey Union Square trolleys dinging, crazy trumpet serenades, and SPRING WEATHER for thick-blooded New Englanders...
Union Square at sunrise
I met Matt the next morning, who was already there on business, but he was quickly back over the Bay Bridge for work, and I hopped in a cab to visit the dreamy lair of Chronicle Books. Thank you to the brilliant art directors and editors there (Kate, Kristine, Kristen!) for the creative brainstorm and to Ariel for the tour! Then it was time for ideas to simmer and I had a full day to myself with San Francisco... lost and ended up on the Embarcadero.
...made a friend!
Swooned a little.
Fell in love with the view from Pier 14.
After work, we set out to take in the city and get ourselves some walking blisters.

Mr. Matt P.

Hurtling high speed over the Golden Gate: something I'll never forget!

Great giant Smorkin' at Kidrobot on Haight!
Pizzeria Delfina in the Mission, artists at work, really friendly folks.
The capable hands of a Tartine baker. Ohhh, Tartine, Tartine.
I came across the country with dreams of Tartine's pain au chocolat
et cafe au lait!
(Worth the trip.)
Finally, touched the Pacific!

As always, I fell back in love with home when our red-eye touched down during a Boston sunrise...back to the place where people drop their R's and add them in where they don't belong. Back to Seri waiting at the door and the seeds of new ideas!


For me, illustrating is about the marriage of intention with unaltered spirit.

While I switch gears in my career, I'm been creating art for the portfolio around what seem like my two "passion axes": history (narrative) and fashion (aesthetic), two universes I am endlessly inspired by. Meanwhile, my illustration style is also undergoing reinvention by forces of growth and controlled intention....but all the while...unaltered scribbling continues in the after hours, while art-ness puzzles itself out! People from other places appear on computer paper, not caring much for intention:

This is my little way of drawing that is more personal than professional in my mind. I draw like this when I listen to a song that makes my heart beat faster, or at night when it's very still and I slip back out into the studio. My drawers are filled with them and I'm not sure where they ought to live. They're very narrative and feel like little "spirit drawings" to me....for now I plop them into the "Character Studies" page.

I drew her late, after a day of genealogy research. I was trying to capture the feeling when you come into contact with a past that feels very alive, and stories are whispering through you. Do you know that feeling?

2012 In Green Stripes

Happy little new yearrr! How did you ring it in? We celebrated with dear friends, were treated to treats in Liz's farmhouse, I wondered how many New Year's Eve's were celebrated in front of that old hearth and bread stove since the 17th century when it was built...we had 12 skewered blueberries in our champagne glasses, each berry represented a month so we all crossed our fingers for a sweet year! (just a few tart ones!)

Resolving to:

Bake bread once a week.

Invite more COLOR into our home.

Invite more friends and family into our home.

Keep the muscles stretched.

Keep the eyes and mind sharp.

Keep the soul and spirit fed.

Keep trying anything I'm afraid to.

Laugh about it.

What are yours?

Scarves and Stories

How will I reconcile the narrative with the decorative? Fashion and picture books? My heart says 2012 holds the answer!

Thanks for art encouragement today over coffee, goes to my dear art school roommate, trusted critic, fellow fashion (mini) lady, Elizabeth. Though she is fabulously making waves in the retail–visual world, she has no web presence I can link you to! She makes visuals for Madewell look fantastic all over the U.S. and could kern the heck out of your typography class. Tomorrow we bake cookies together from dawn to dusk in her old fashioned farm house! Wishing you sweets and merriness.

I'll leave you with my favorite "Virginia" bit from Francis P. Church:

"...there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

Glamour In the Square

Out on Christmas capers yesterday, I spotted an invigorating abundance of fur, spots, print, pattern, textures on the racks and shelves in Harvard Square. Instead of shopping (well, OK, I did a smidge) I came home to paint. More new fashion work up in the portfolio...


*THANK YOU* everyone for your purchases of Hearts In the Dark, the editions are moving so fast! which means the kitties will benefit greatly! If I could only give you all enormous hugs!

There is *a 15% OFF SALE* going on TODAY for my picture book prints with code: BOOKPRINT, the last day for Priority shipping is December 19!

I Think We'll Bake Some Gingerbread

This week is bustling! There are gifts to get, pictures to paint, letters to write, cookies to bake, candles to light (ooph!) Even when it gets topsy-turvy-twistaround crazy it's good to remember the JOY at the heart of it all. Thank you, friends, for spending time with me here on the blog. Hoping you are all enjoying this busy time, wherever you are!

Black Cat Initiative: Hearts In the Dark

I'm so thrilled to announce a new series of mini prints:

Hearts In the Dark

For the past few weeks, I've been working with my friend and brilliant local artist, E.B. Goodale, to launch a black cat initiative called Hearts In the Dark. Today, we're both releasing a new series of limited edition prints, to raise awareness and funds for our favorite local animal shelters:

Hearts In the Dark: Set of Three by E.B. Goodale

View and shop mine HERE

View and shop E.B. Goodale prints HERE

Since adopting our cats from local shelters we have learned about the sad plight of the black kitty: they are statistically the most overlooked and un-adopted animal in shelters. Really? Yes.

The name "Hearts In the Dark" came from the first day I visited the shelter and walking by a cat carriers in the shelter, was stopped by one in particular. It held 3-4 adult black cats, their black fur all blurring into one liquid shape, quiet pairs eyes staring back at me, almost peacefully resigned to an understanding they would be overlooked again. 3-4 patient hearts waiting in the dark, while the spotted or striped kittens were picked and carted home...

Hearts In the Dark: III

Many factors play into this: photographs don't capture black cats very well (for online viewing), people are superstitious, folks just come to the shelter hoping for stripes and spots! I was told by shelter staff when I scooped up a purring Seri for the first time, that he "knew he would have to work twice as hard to be noticed and chosen!" Sure enough, when I returned two weeks later, his striped and spotted sisters and brother had left him last of the litter, despite his earnest little cuddles. It broke my heart and home with us he went. I have never met a MORE loving, as Emily says, "absurdly affectionate" cat.

Hearts In the Dark: I

Maybe what makes the black cat issue most tragic is the super-loving black cat temperament. Emily and I (having owned all kinds of cats) have often shared our suspicions that black cats have special magic...something spiritual, innate and inordinate affection, an empathy we can't explain but feel lucky to have in our lives. Other black cat owners discuss this too. It's like a black cat owner's secret! We want to spread the word and encourage adoption!

Hearts In the Dark: II

My series is comprised of black cat studies in pan pastels, scanned and printed on my ultra-archival museum grade paper. Our proceeds go to the great Boston area shelters: Black Cat Rescue of Boston and Pets In Need (Seri's first home as "Ace"!) They make gorgeous gift sets or stand alone prints. Each print fits nicely in a standard 5x7 frame. To help spread the word, you can "like" our little page here, where you can share your black cat stories and pictures too! :

Many thanks!