In the Canyon

In honor of the National Park Services” 100th Birthday, I celebrate one of the jewels in the crown.

Read this and then like Page Through the Parks on Facebook to be entered in the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Welcome to Grand Canyon, Arizona

boots&paintingweb
It is one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World”

It’s about 270 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, Its walls contain rock layers that reveal a timeline of Earth’s history.

To make the illustrations for  In The Canyon as good they could be, I had to explore the Grand Canyon. I took my  intrepid sister, a wildlife veterinarian, for company and and in we went!

friendly bighorn2a

Dr. Peregrine Wolff  and a friendly  Big Horn Sheep-commonly found In the Grand Canyon.

peribinocsweb

castlecragweb

Approaching Castle Crag on the South Kaibab Trail.

from RIM to RIVER…

AhhhhatOohahweb

Joking around at Ooh Ah Point on the South Kaibab Trail.

and back!

The main character of In the Canyon, written by Liz Garton Scanlon, speaks in the 1st person voice. She begins her narration like this:

girl_2:web
“Here’s a map, some boots, a pack, a walking stick, a sandy track.”

willaGC_2web.jpg
I always enjoy working with a model and I found a lovely girl in San Francisco named Willa.

faces_web
I spent a few hours with Willa taking pictures, and then used those to draw from while illustrating the book.

jacketweb

She gazes at the reader from the jacket, inviting you to join her In the Canyon.

As soon as you dip below the rim of the canyon you enter a vast, deep bowl that has no direct route to the bottom. The trails are constantly zig zagging down the steep walls. Occasionally you can spy the river, way down deep.

My sister Peri, seen from a few switchbacks above, with many more to go. The Colorado river, bright green, is crossed by 2 bridges. One is visible here.

periaboverinnergorgeweb

If it is a cool spring morning on the rim, it is full, hot summer at river level. Along the way are blooming cacti and yucca, birds, lizards and curious squirrels.

beavertailweb
I can’t get enough shots of the blossoming Beavertails.

footstepsweb

a finished linoleum block and gouache illustration.

“Here’s a footstep, dusty red, another one and more ahead.”

signGCweb

To do this rim to river to rim hike one must be very fit and prepared for a lot of heat and exertion.

warningweb

Some people choose to travel by mule. Mules are chosen from Tennessee and Missouri. They are used for pack supplies to Phantom Ranch and pack mail out of the canyon and later promoted to trail mules.

mulesGC_2web

I used a photo of a family, gathered under an overhang, as inspiration for this illustration.sliceofshadeGCweb
16-17lunchGCweb
“Now here’s a tiny slice of shade, a yummy lunch, some lemonade. And a lizard, still as sand, his head all speckled, body tan.”

sliceofshadeweb

Finally, we’re at river level, where the deep shade around Phantom Ranch is most welcoming. Time to recharge and load up on water and salty snacks for the hike back out. Peri and I made it back to the rim by nightfall, a 16 mile roundtrip.

phantomranchweb
But the child in In the Canyon is luckier. She gets to spend the night, camping by the river.

ITC_Moonweb

“Here’s the dark and here’s the shine, and here’s the moon—it’s like it’s mine. To tuck inside me way down deep, Grand and wild, mine to keep.”

I’ll come back to the Canyon someday, no doubt with enough overconfidence to descend to the bottom and back in one day as I did with Peri.

After all, I have what it takes: “a map, some boots, a pack, a walking stick, a sandy track.”

bootsweb

If you enjoyed this post, please  follow me here: Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, my webpage , my Etsy shop, or Instagram. You can follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

SkaDaMo~2014

Why draw?

for practice, for fun, for history and remembrance, to be in the moment–all good reasons.

Add one more.

To be part of a pop-up, temporary community of kindred spirits during a very dark, very chilly month.

I may not be present  and accounted for on every day this month. but I will try to do SkaDaMo 2014 with as much verve as possible.

My first weekend of November was spent in Florence, MA with dear RISD friends: Barb and Maureen. We spent happy hours in Maureen’s kitchen, which sports an impressive pot and pan collection.

barb11-2-14web

Barb enjoys her coffee black.

maureen11-2-14web

Maureen grows her own thyme.

11:1:14

I look forward to the rest of this month.

#SkaDaMo

Life with Dogs (Short Side Trip to the southwest)


I am traveling in Colorado and Utah this week, hiking in some of the great western National Parks.

MesaVerde_6web

Today I climbed down to the Cliff Palace, a cluster of dwellings of at least 150 rooms built below the rim of the mesa in a rock alcove. These structures were built of hand-shaped sandstone blocks, cemented together with mud. They were built between 1200 and 1270 AD in Mesa Verde, CO. The last time I was here was 24 years ago, in the spring of 1990. I was 5 months pregnant with my 2nd child.
mesaverdeweb
As usual,  Pumpkin acted as my alter ego, grinding corn with a stone on a Metate with her baby strapped to a cradleboard nearby.
The scenery and architecture of the south west bowled me over and when I got home I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I revised the setting for the book I was working on: A Garden Alphabet by Isabel Wilner. The gardener, who looks an awful lot like Pumpkin lives in an adobe house with a kitchen hung with strings of drying chilis called ristras.
XYweb
And after a hard day in their desert garden, the gardener and her friend the frog relax in the shade.

GardenAlphabetSanteFeweb

The Joy of Beaches in Winter

Christmas at the beach-a California tradition.

Big storms sweep in from the west and huge tides bring in piles of tangled kelp and other beach debris.

risingtideweb

pileofkelpweb

The impossibly tangled piles buzz with Kelp Flies.

shellbeach2009web

The Kelp’s gas bladders keep the long stem or stipes, floating upright in the water.

beachdebrisweb

Northern California beaches are not known for shells but there are dense mussel beds and those shells are easy to find.  This sketch includes a scrap of Abalone shell, fish spine bones and crab claws.

I love collecting this sort of beach debris for my Beach Portraits.

sealsweb

And then there are the Harbor Seals, who haul themselves up to nap on the sunny rocks.

stengelbeachweb

And sometimes there are the husbands, who nap anywhere they like.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you enjoyed this post, please like Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, visit my webpage here, my Etsy shop, or follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

Saint Nicholas and Santa

My Dad was raised in Germany and always celebrated St. Nicholas Day on December 6th.

I made him this card, back when we had a German Shepherd named Thumper, and before I fell in love with Border Collies.

StNicholasw-shepherd_web

The European tradition he grew up with is for children to put out their shoes on the night of December 5th and for St Nicholas to leave a small gift in them overnight.

As children my sister and I did not put our own shoes out, but we would put a gift into one of our daddy’s big shoes.

He loved candy, so it was easy to please him. KitKat Bars were his favorites.

StNicholas:web

But my sister and I believed in Santa Claus: the belly, the beard, the boots and the red hat.fakebeard:web

In 1986, I visited China. In a street stall in Beijing I bought a red satin hat trimmed with sequins and rabbit fur.  It looked just like Santa’s hat, only exotic.

pumpkingreatwall:web

Here is how it appeared in a postcard I painted while still in China.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nowadays I keep it safely stored for most of the year, but bring it out at Christmastime and wear it pretty much non-stop for a few weeks, especially to paint in.

Kalusbustin hat

Today a bronze bust of Klaus as a child is wearing the hat.

Happy St. Nicholas Day, Klaus!

If you enjoyed this post, please like Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, visit my webpage here, my Etsy shop, or follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

Thanks.

Snow!

As a Vermont Girl, I know my snow.

I’ve been figuring out ways to draw and paint snow, in all its shapes and forms, my entire life.

skaters:web

There are lots of kinds of snow.

The 1st snows of autumn, that slowly cover the still-green grass, frost bitten plants, and leaf strewn ground.

December snows, that slowly fill up the woods~until we trudge through it to find a perfect Christmas tree,

Or February snow, deep and light enough to race a sled through,

Or use as a smooth, white, picnic blanket for the birds.

December:web

A Year of Birds

I’ve painted snow as the natural habitat for Polar Bears,

And gray wolves.

And painted it in totally unexpected places, like a usually sunny day in Jamaica!

I’ve sat in my car and drawn a snowy scene from life.

And I ended my new book, Baby Bear Counts One, with 10, big snowflakes, falling slowly enough for a surprised bear cub to count them.

But turn the page and watch as the snow picks up, swirling in curtains across the mouth of the den,

And finally, the flakes are falling so fast that there are…

page40_web

Baby Bear Counts One

 

Too many to count!

If you enjoyed this post, please like Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, visit my webpage here, my Etsy shop, or follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

SkADaMo: working on setting

I’m living in the Grand Canyon, in my imagination.

I am walking the trail, noticing the birds, the cactus with the raspberry bloom, the towering agave, the light, the scents, the dust.

I am trying to dream myself into the canyon from top to bottom to make my viewer feel like they are there too.

The sketch is pencil, the color is slopped on in Photoshop.

28-29-type