September 2019
This month my focus is on foxes. There is a fox character, Reynard, in my w.i.p. "Milkweed Manor" - he's a shaman living deep in the forest with his weasel assistant, Vicious.
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A Special Moment in Reynard's Life
Lately I've arranged my schedule to not work on my book over the weekends. I did this in an attempt to avoid burn-out, but also to allow myself time to work on other creative projects.  Still, even in these "time off" projects, there's some connection to "Milkweed Manor."

Here's this weekend's project, a collage rendition of Reynard's graduation diploma from primary Shaman school. In my book, Reynard is a shaman living deep in the forest with his weasel assistant Vicious and his owl familiar Philippa. Although he appears in the book as an adult, of course he has a background, and here's part of it. Forest animal shamans, as well as their familiars, have a formal education. At the end of the primary phase, both shamans-to-be and familiars-to-be enjoy a graduation ceremony and at the same time are bound in shaman/familiar pairs for life. This "diploma" commemorates that event in Reynard's and Philippa's young lives.
I created this piece in two phases. The first, shown here, was the collage phase. For the elements, I used three pieces that I created - the owl drawing, the fox drawing, and the text. I included a few pieces from an old textbook of ancient Greek literature. The rest are snippets from a magazine. I chose the snippets for their color and/or texture.

By the way, the text is in a version of Theban Script which is a transliteration of the Latin alphabet. It's also sometimes called "witches script." I like its mystical look. So I wrote out what I wanted to say, then simply referred to the key to substitute Theban letters for the Latin ones.

The support is a piece of MDF (medium density fiberboard, available at Home Depot), sprayed with spray primer then painted with a coat of gesso. I use Liquitex Matt Medium as the adhesive.

I often use stencils and stamps in my mixed media pieces, but I decided to keep this one simple. Once I finished the collage I softened the value range with washes of thinned Gesso, added color to the animals with transparent acrylic washes, then added very subtle washes of color here and there. The final step was lots of detailed pencil work - my favorite part!

Below - the aftermath in the studio!

Reynard's Mum.
Here's Reynard's mum, Olivia, walking through the forest. (Actually, she's in one of my fairy gardens.) She may be going to market as she's wearing a "dress up" shawl. She never expected to have a pup who would grow up to be a shaman, but she's so proud of him! Also, she feels especially secure having a shaman in the family - it's as good as a doctor and a lawyer combined!

She's needle-felted and was so fun to make. She's about 10" long from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail. I think she's pretty cute and that she's an excellent mum!

Foxes are another animal that I'm so fond of but have never been blessed with seeing one in the wild. Maybe some day...

We're Good Enough!
If you an artist or a writer, I'll bet you can relate to this!  Here's a journal I made. I had it in my Etsy shop, but I liked it so much that I took the listing down, deciding to keep it for myself.  And it's not the only one. I have several journals that I made and they all have something in common (besides their maker) - they're all empty!

Likewise, I have a box of brand new brushes - some of them five years old at least! They all live in that box and the box is safely tucked in a drawer. They're all too good to use.

I know this is silly.  I know they're not to good to use. I'm worth it! And if you have a similar syndrome, well, you're good enough too! As soon as I'm done here I'm going to get three new brushes out of that box and put them in my brush holder - fair game for the next time I paint. Then I'm going to write in that journal. I'm going to use it to record ideas for books to follow "Milkweed Manor." What treasure are you going to honor by beginning to use it? I'd love to hear from you.

September Promotion

I'm offering you, my precious subscribers, a 15% discount in my Etsy shop.  (Please note this discount does not apply to any of the items in the bear section because I donate the proceeds from sales from this section to Idaho Black Bear Rehab.) The offer applies to everything else in the shop - all items hand made by me.  From September 1 to September 15, just use discount code SEPT15OFF at checkout.  I ship the day after I receive your order, and shipping is free.  Click on the image above to go to my shop - you'll land on this listing!
This Month's Free Downloadable Art
This Month’s Free Downloadable Art - Fox "Wonderment" Collage

This is one of my favorite pieces and I'm proud to share it with you. Click on the image and it will open in a new window (from  You’ll see the image, and at the upper right of the window you’ll see three little dots.  Click on them to open a menu, then choose “download.” Please note that I’m sharing this image for your personal use only.
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