Growing up in Southern California, I always loved to draw, paint, and read. And from my earliest childhood I always loved animals. I attended and graduated from Principia College which was situated on the bluffs over the Mississippi River and was an amazingly beautiful part of the country for an art student to live. I then went on to LA Art Center where I studied illustration for 2 years. From there I married and since then my husband and I have lived in Utah, Massachusetts and now central California where we've raised our 4 children on a very small ranch.
My favorite things in life are my family, having LOTS of animals (especially Newfoundland dogs, Maine coon and all cats, draft horses and draft mules, and Scottish Highland cows), imagining and writing stories (or alphabet or counting books) purely for the pictures I can do, traveling, gardening, cooking, and most definitely fixing up our home with old doors and windows. Traveling and loving Newfies are in fact how I wrote my first book Seaman's Journal. While our kids were little we drove extensively throughout the regions of the Lewis and Clark Trail.
I never ever get tired of drawing and painting. I truthfully think every time I start a new illustration: I love doing this picture! And I keep enjoying it from beginning to end. Probably the reason is - since I always work in watercolor (except for acrylic white for fur and hair) - this medium always does its own thing so it's always fun and surprising to see what happens that I can work with. Watercolor washes are gentle and magical as well as lusciously colorful. I love doing animals, their expressions, details and I really very much get lost in the world that's happening on my board. I'm fairly slow and usually work late into the night with fuzzy cats on my desk and always a Newfie by my feet - best working conditions possible for me!!!
If I'm not drawing or painting I'm undoubtedly reading and my greatest interest is Russian art, architecture (especially the colorful churches and the wooden dachas- so unique and imaginative!), and literature. Besides that I love swimming, running (occasional 5Ks), yoga, watching movies (definitely while I do art work), and listening to soundtracks (my kids grew up having to listen to soundtracks whenever we drove anywhere).
Recently I found a new art form I love- story boarding. I got to do the storyboards and a set mural (fun because it was so large in contrast to my usual illustration) for our 2 older sons' very beautiful and amazing sci-fi movie The Signal (2014). I absolutely loved all the drawing- as much and as fast as possible! All the creativity, ingenuity and hardwork (and very late hours of shooting) of the film crew is incredible. It's so like illustrating - which to me is creating a world for characters to live in - but with all the talent of different crew members combined and making a 3D world. After the movie came out I took a storyboard class at Gnoman School of Visual Effects to really learn the needed basics for future work. The class and the school itself were astounding- such a site of artistry and creativity.
Another thing I truly love is reading my books to school classes-so much fun and really the whole purpose of doing books! Usually this is for grades K-5 but one school recently had an 8th grade English teacher who used my ABCs of Halloween as an example and the students wrote and illustrated their own version of a Halloween alphabet book. It was a long project and their writing ability and artwork were so remarkably creative. I am simply in awe of teachers' ingenuity and all they do for their students!
Equally fun are book signings and the most fun ones for Seaman's Journal were at different interpretive centers along the Lewis and Clark Trail during the L and C Bicentennial. The sites always included a Newfie. My favorite time was when the center at Pompeys Pillar was dedicated. It involved so many reenactors, historians and authors at a long event much like a mountain man rendezvous. (We had often taken our kids when they were smaller to rendezvous up in the Rockies and Tetons -we all loved them!)
Lastly and the best part of all of is my family. My husband has an art consulting business dealing in estate fine and decorative arts. He also travels on amazing mountain adventures to the Himalayas, Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua. As scoutmaster he took the BSA Troop (and our 3 sons) on epic mountain adventures in the states too. Any other free time he has is spent horseback riding, skiing and biking.
Our beautiful creative daughter Rosanna, who also has a new similar art consulting business in New Hampshire, is director of the Wilmot Public Library (chosen State Librarian of the Year (2014)), an author of a children's book Natalia's Favorite Color (which was fun working on together as I got to illustrate it!), an absolutely amazing athlete of marathons and half ironman triathlons, teaches skiing in the winter, is exquisitely fixing up her turn of the century house, and has 3 beautiful children 8, 5 and 4. And is getting their first puppy- a Bernese Mountain baby!
Our oldest son William is a Director (his first big film was Angels and Airwaves' Love (2012)) and an artistic cinematographer. He and his brother co-wrote The Signal (2014 Focus Features) which he directed. Now he and his brother are co-writing a couple of other scripts. When he has spare time he drives and works on his 1970 Land Cruiser, golfs and sails a little, and just became a member of the Magic Castle. Recently Chunk and Monkey, 2 irresistible baby English bulldogs, waddled into his life.
Carlyle and his beautiful new wife Caitlin (from Albuquerque) co-write and individually do scripts. They have a beautiful ranch home and barn they're fixing up filled with furry love- 2 shepherds, one husky and 2 kitties and a horse. In their free time they ride, team pen and rope, train and compete with horses. Occasionally Carlyle still finds time to run and also designs and builds beautiful furniture.
Winchester, our youngest, is studying environmental science and Arab studies at American University. He too loves horses and after classes and weekends he is a barn hand at a horse farm in MD. He also rides his paint horse at a farm in VA. Besides this he is an amazing archer, skier, does strongman races, body builds and travels. Last summer he worked at a game preserve in Zimbabwe. Recently he added the cutest fattest barn kitty to his apt in DC.
One more thing- I would honestly love to foster a baby Mammoth if cloning is successful. I love elephants and mammoths. And mammoth fur is the color of a brown Newfie. We do have the room to raise and love one❤️