From my Sketchbook: At Winter's End

Three weeks ago, this is what it looked like a stones' throw  north of my house. We went cross-country skiing here every single week this winter, sometimes right from our door if we beat the snowplow! The snow is mostly gone in the city now, but you can still find winter if you venture west into the Rockies.



On the first day of snow, I ate the last of the teeny-tiny pears my friend Maureen gave to me from her tree. And I painted this picture in my sketchbook!



From my accordion-fold sketchbook: the Iceline trail, a classic Rocky Mountain hike featuring high alpine vistas and peaks studded with glaciers.

Happy New Year!

White-tailed Ptarmigans live in the Rockies. They turn colour for seasonal camouflage: white in winter, and mottled dusty brown in summer. Their feet are feathered all the way to their toes - warm down boots for life in a harsh alpine environment.

Happy Halloween!

A pen-and-ink drawing:I was thinking about Edward Gorey, master of all creatures creepy and ambiguous.

Kiwetinok Lake

One of my favorite places in the world, in the Little Yoho Valley of the Rockies, painted on a scorching hot summer day. The snow and ice is left over from LAST winter.

French Glacier

Drawn on location in an accordion-fold sketchbook.

The French Glacier sits at the end of a massive valley leading up to the Haig Icefield. The glaciers have receded (ever faster with global warming) leaving huge moraines - piles of rock and rubble - behind.

When I look down on the scene, I see a slo-mo replay of this summer's flood in the mountains, which left gravel-filled creekbeds, churned-up alpine meadows and a slick of black mud over snow-covered streams. It makes me think about the way that rivers, whether ice or floodwater, rearrange the landscape.



The lilacs are finally blooming in time for convocation, and I found some little collages I made for friends who earned their phDs last June. Congratulations, graduates!

Dogs of Ocean Beach

From my sketchbook: On a recent vacation to San Diego, the sun was shining and the dogs were muscular!


Arctic Walk

I met some writers and artists from the Young Alberta Book Society a couple of weeks ago. We brought sketchbooks to the Royal Alberta Museum's Arctic Show.

I love Inuit artist Irene Avaalaaqiaq's wall hangings, both for the design and the content. She uses bold shapes and bright colors to depict fantastic creatures, she says, from the time "when animals used to talk like human beings."

Here's what I drew in my sketchbook, after Irene Avaalaaqiaq:


When I was growing up on the farm, we would occasionally leave some fields unplanted over the summer. The earth would rest, the moisture in the soil would increase, and the crop would yield a bigger harvest the next time it was planted. This practice is called summerfallow.

You know how farmers harvest day and night before winter hits? While I've been away from the blog this summer, I've been working like a farmer to finish the pictures for a new book, Weeds Find a Way. I submitted final art on Friday at 5pm. Whew!

Now for a break - at least until the editor's notes come back.

Summer's over, and in the back of my mind new ideas are sprouting. So now I'm ready to break out my sketchbook. Sketching bee, anyone?