Harts Pass No. 263 - For Tom Zbyszewski, Andrew Zajac, and Richard Wheeler

For those of you farther from home, the three young firefighters remembered above, recently lost their lives while keeping our community safe. Famous is a poem that Tom Zbyszewski, a local kid working summer fires, performed in his state finals for Poetry Out Loud in the spring of 2013. He may also have performed it here at Twisp's Merc Theater, as I swear that I can picture him reciting it.

In any case, it is a fine poem and a worthy tribute (I hope) to the everyday but still heroic efforts that our firefighters and many others make to keep others safe -- even at times at great cost. A humble kind of service that is inherently heroic of course, but never demanding of any particular praise or recognition. Thank you all for your service and rest in peace.


And... done.

What a difference a week makes. Just seven days ago I returned from vacation -- a nice little respite from an otherwise busy patch of summer reading visits and the nearly final stretch of a quite overdue book illustration project.

Seven days ago I was refreshed and ready to go. Ready to dive back into my work - to put the final touches on Beluga Whales and then wade gracefully into my new book with Sterling and the fast-approaching fall high school xc season. Hmph. The best laid plans.

On Wednesday afternoon about 1pm, a wildfire started in the Twisp River area - about 8 miles south of my home near Winthrop, WA. One more fire added to an already boiling-over cauldron of activity here in eastern Washington. While my home and family remained -- and continue to remain -- generally out of harms way, there is, once again, a widespread impact to these events that will resonate for many months to come. In this case too, a tragic loss of three young lives that tends to put everything into even greater perspective.

And so. With some personal stress finally relieved by the generator-powered, evacuation-notice-bedamned completion of Beluga Whales, Grizzly Tales, my heart goes out to all that are much more in the thick of it than I.


Harts Pass No. 262

A GRRReat vacation on the Olympic Peninsula... and now its full steam ahead and back to work. Alas, too short... And, as per usual, I frequently exercise my own little grapplings with the world through the wise and knowing critters of Harts Pass. Enjoy what remains of summer break!


Harts Pass No. 261

Road trip! I'm really looking forward to taking an actual vacation next week. Alas, not a long one, but the art studio needs a little alone time.


On the drawing table!

Between summer reading visits, weekly comics, summer sherpa duties, and a little running and hiking in the mountains now and again (although far less than ideal!) I've been cranking (hammering, laboring...) away at a new book project for Sasquatch. Its been a bit of a struggle, to be perfectly honest, as I am working with some ornate borders and in a sense "matching" the style of a previous book (different illustrator) that was published by the same author 10 years ago.

That being said, I am finally feeling some satisfaction with the end results and there is indeed a light  at the end of this tunnel. Wrapping things up the end of this week, and then I am going to SLEEP! And take a vacation. And breath...and sleep :)

Oh yes, and just in case you missed the "foodie" aspect of these images, Beluga Whale, Grizzly Tales, and more Kidsnacks for Alaskan Trails (Alice Bugni, Sasquatch, 2016) is an excellent Alaska-themed collection of snack recipes for kids. "Bon appetite" and more for sure on this as we get close to publication!

The Runaway Tortilla Arrives!

My author copies for Eric Kimmel's Runaway Tortilla (Graphic Arts Books, Sept. 2015) arrived yesterday afternoon. VERY excited to have these and so pleased again with all of Vickie's design work to pull this all together in such a great way. THANK YOU VICKIE! Plus, she put SeƱor Coyote's glamour shot on the back -- which is perfect -- so there you go :)

The this newest book is a milestone for me of sorts as well, as it is my first official venture into illustration with Adobe Photoshop. There's some watercolor texture pulled into the mix as well, but I'm excited by the results and the potential for future work. Check out a few additional images on my digital portfolio page. Enjoy!