Sleep

It’s late November here in Vermont ~ the time of year for hibernation.

Who hibernates? Bats, Bears,skunks, bees, snakes, and groundhogs to name a few.

Since moving from a mild California climate to the stricter seasonal progression of northern New England, I’ve become much more sympathetic to the concept of hibernation!

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On the last day of Baby Bear Counts One, Mama and Baby Bear are ready to curl up and sleep the winter away.

Showing the process of sleeping is relatively easy, but showing dreaming was a challenge in Only The Cat Saw.  When I was a child I often dreamed of being near the ocean or swimming when I really needed to get up to urinate!

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Holly Taylor modeled as the sleeping Amy, way back in 1984

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Amy, dreaming in Only The Cat Saw. Acrylic on paper

Of course, we sleep all year long, and humans enjoy it as much as animals. Mostly sleep happens when it is too dark to draw, but sometimes a nap overtakes us, and when it does I seize that moment of daylight stillness to draw.

Since the late 70s I’ve drawn people and creatures I love while they were sleeping.

Here is a selection.

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watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine, asleep on the couch after wisdom tooth removal..

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watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine.

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this drawing of Rowan reminds me of Amy’s pose. Colored pencil on brown paper

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Brennan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper

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Rowan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper.

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Sabin, asleep. Marker on brown paper.

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Tula napping. Watercolor on brown paper

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Nutkin, sleeping. Acrylic on paper.

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Wildridge kitten, sleeping. Gouache on brown paper.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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Baby Bear Counts One

 

Too many to count!

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Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Gobble, gobble, gobble

When I was young I used to find a thicket of these in my neighborhood, sit in the shadow of the vines, and eat grapes.

These are tiny and tart, but the intense grape taste makes them delectable.

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We called them “Fox Grapes,” According to Wikipedia:  There is ample evidence that the labrusca was growing wild in North America centuries before the Europeans discovered the continent.

If a wild grape is growing, a turkey is going to find it.

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turkeymaleAnd bears will follow…

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Surprise!
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Baby Bear Counts One-Publishing Day!

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Baby Bear and his patient Mama are back,

and now it is autumn in their forest home.  As baby bear counts from one to ten the weather grows colder. Like all the other animals in the woods, the bears are alert to signs of winter coming.

Walking in the woods this morning with my new MerryMakers plush bear cub, I saw signs that the season is changing everywhere I looked.

The ferns are turning yellow.

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The fall flowers are blooming

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The acorns are ripe and falling from the tree.

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And the leaves are turning color.

Can winter be far behind?BBToy_1:web

Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Part 4

Bears are great climbers.

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Look at those claws!

Two cubs were orphaned when their mother was killed by a truck. They were  brought to the office of Oregon’s State Wildlife Veterinarian, Dr. Colin Gillin, where I was able to videotape them.

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Bears climb trees to escape danger and to find food.

My cub climbed the tree to confront two squirrels

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My 1st sketch didn’t have him in the tree  so I revised to show him climbing.

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But the perspective seemed weird, for both the bear and the squirrels, so I revised again.

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And then again, to show the cub’s whole body.

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Finally I was able to carve the block…

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Print it and paint it.

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Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Part 3

There is not a tree I hate.

There are quite a few I am neutral about and many I really admire and look up to.

There are a handful I love.

I love oaks.

I grew up with the deciduous Eastern white and red oaks and came to love Yosemite’s Black Oaks, and California Live Oaks too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut my favorite oak, a very old oak, is growing in a park with other oaks in Corvallis, Oregon. It is my model for the tree in this spread.S&Rwalking:web

OregonoakHer branches reached out horizontally, twisting and swathed in mosses and lichen.BBSB10-11floppedShe first appeared in Baby Bear Sees Blue, when the cub sees green.Now she is back in Baby Bear counts one, full of ripe acorns that are filling the coffers of two rambunctious squirrels.BBCO6-7.1webI started my thinking with a close up view.

BBCO6-7Then pulled the focus out and assumed a lower point of view.

dummy.6-7webThen I decided to pull out completely to show the ground beneath them AND the spreading oak.

dummy6-7.2webIf you look carefully you’ll see sign of a retreating squirrel.

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Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Part 2

When my sons were little my Mom-in-law, Jewell Russell, introduced me to The Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown.

Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, is an alumnus of Hollins University, where I now teach in the summer program.

I read the Noisy Book and the others in the series and they were delightful read alouds for little boys.

Baby Bear Counts One is MY Noisy Book.

The books opens with:

Deep down in the den

Baby Bear perks his furry ears.

Thockthockthockthockthock!

“Mama, who woke me? he asks

“That is the woodpecker,” says Mama

“hunting beetles before winter comes.”

I have always loved the sound of a woodpecker, hammering away somewhere deep in the forest. Last fall I saw these freshly pecked holes not far from my Mom’s house. What a racket these must have been in the making!

Not to mention–a great deal of labor for the woodpecker.

Ash&Pileated_2_webMy first sketches are very small and rough. You can see the Woodpecker on this one in the upper right.outlined_1As the book progressed the woodpecker moved…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

BBCO4-5_weband got quite a bit bigger, or rather, closer to the viewer…BBCO_4-5_webThe linoleum block is in progress here. I printed it with black ink and painted it with watercolors.woodpecker_webAnd the finished print looked like this.BBCO4-5