July 2019
Is anyone else wondering how it got to be July already? It seems that just yesterday I was starting the seeds in the greenhouse, but here it is summer. A lot's been happening and I'm so glad you stopped by so we can catch up!
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It All Started with Squirrels!
Early last year when I was working on two squirrel figurines for my Etsy shop, I was searching for a way to add value. Realizing that I was making up stories about them as I sculpted, I decided to include a little story booklet with each figurine. It didn’t take long before I had the beginnings of several stories and over time became interested in expanding them and writing a book. Thus, "Milkweed Manor" was born.

At the beginning of the year I decided to focus on this project. It’s been a fun and interesting challenge, especially since I decided to self-publish. There is so much to learn – not just the craft of writing, but also the technical skills involved in the print-on-demand process. It’s all new territory for me!

Creating the artwork for my cover is my most recent milestone. The book is becoming more and more real to me all the time, but especially so now that I can “see” the cover.

Red or Gray - Squirrels, that is!.
I'm a great fan of squirrels! As a member of Sierra Wildlife Rescue I've raised several orphaned and sick babies for release into the wild and every time I get a little one it's a love affair all over again. Here in the northern California foothills the dominant type, and the type I'm most familiar with, is the Western Gray squirrel. The squirrel figurines that I spoke of in the lead article are grays.

But when I began drawing squirrels in preparation for "Milkweed Manor" illustrations, I had a choice to make. What type of squirrels would they be? Both the American gray squirrel and the Eurasian red squirrel live in England where the story is set. I chose the red - they're the natives.

Once populous throughout the country, red squirrels are now rare or threatened in many areas, and the imported American gray squirrels are often blamed. Some think the grays are aggressive and, wherever they establish a foothold, force the reds out. But actually, grays are a more adaptable species than the reds. Specifically, they have a more varied diet and are better able to survive when habitats change.

For me, the red squirrel's most irresistible feature is its ear tufts. When I was researching this species though, I noticed that ear tufts were missing in many of the photos. Why? Surprisingly, they shed the tufts in the spring and re-grow them in the autumn. With my illustrations, though, I will be invoking my artistic license and give all my squirrel characters ear tufts regardless of the season!

Rosebud Cottage
In "Milkweed Manor" the squirrel family lives at Rosebud Cottage and this is how I envisioned it in my sketchbook. Pencil drawing is my absolute favorite medium. It's so straight-forward - just me, a pencil, and paper. I suppose you could say it's the most accessible art form. The only problem with it is that it's tricky (as you can see!) to reproduce. At least it is for me!

I'm at the point in creating the book where I'm finally ready to begin some of the illustrations, and I'm thinking of using this for the frontpiece. I'd have to re-do it because I've vowed not to tear anything out of my sketchbook. But maybe something with an animal in it would be better. Anyway, I think this is a very elegant home for squirrels, don't you?

July Promotion

I'm offering you, my precious subscribers, a 20% discount in my Etsy shop.  The offer applies to everything in the shop - all items hand made by me.  From July 1 to July 15, just use discount code July20 at checkout.  I ship the day after I receive your order, and shipping is free.  Click on the image to the left to go to my shop!
This Month’s Free Downloadable Art - Sparkle the Fox Squirrel

My sister and I were so fortunate as to befriend a sweet little fox squirrel. She'd pop up in all kinds of places when we were outside. Here she is sitting on one of the fence posts around the garden enjoying a snack. This piece is a pastel painting that I did from my photo.

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.”  This is a large file - 4.8mb.  Please note that I’m sharing this image for your personal use only.
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Copyright © 2019 Kaaren Poole, All rights reserved.

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