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This is the Wintertree sampler I worked on this weekend. I was doodling around, looking at photographs from my Winter on Long Island file, playing with ideas I wanted to try — I was looking for some stylized ways to paint trees with blue, grey, and white paint. I played with some pattern ideas and some negative space ideas that I thought might work in a high-design kind of concept. I was not trying to paint naturalistic trees — I was going for something that might work in a  quasi-abstract, almost cartoonish way.

I hatched one or two techniques here that I might come back to, later, in a larger and more detailed scale.

I do this a lot, these systematic sketching exercises that I call samplers. This is how I’ve taught myself  to illustrate, by working on certain aspects of a technique over and over until I find the way that feels best and works best for me. I spent about three hours working on this bunch of sketches — and while I’m not thrilled that I didn’t come away with a Eureka moment, at least I now know about six ways I do not want to paint a Winter tree.

And that’s not nothing.

I learned something else this weekend too:

I learned this week that Amazon has a new feature for authors who register on their website. Amazon (the on-line bookseller) will give you a map of the United States that shows where exactly your books are selling — how many are selling in New York, how many in Minnesota, how many in New Mexico, etc. They keep a running demographic, adding up your book sales for four weeks at a time, mapping your hot spots. So of course I registered and looked at my sales map.

Which leads me to this: I have to do something nice for Washington State. Although my book sells strongest in New York (home field advantage, I guess), my second-biggest book selling state is Washington State. And I’ve never even had a book event there, done face time at the local libraries, got a review in a local newspaper, or shmoozed in a Local Author panel (the way I make a nuisance of myself here on my home turf). But the Patron Saint of Readers, Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl, did recommend my book almost exactly a year ago and I guess that Seattle pays attention to what Nancy says! Thank you, Seattle!

So I think I owe Washington State a visit.

Let’s see if we can make something happen.

I’ve given my slide show  in libraries, ladies clubs, historical societies, museums, colleges, book stores, private homes, and churches — I can go anywhere that has electricity. So, dear west coast readers, if you’re in Washington State (and by Washington State I guess I mean Seattle) let me know what’s a good venue for my hour-long workshop on art, life, and creativity. And I’ll see you there!

6 comments to A poem lovely as a tree

  • Jacquelyn

    I am so jazzed!! you must come to Orcas Island and Bellingham….and I will begin some work on those two places and their/our indie bookstores.
    Nancy Pearl can work the big city thing.
    I bet my librarian took a cue from her recommendation as to getting WWCTR in our small library….which led me to you and here!
    Spring time! Too dark and wet right now.

  • OH yes, please come here! We would love to have you here in Seattle, and you could practice Samplers of Rainy Skies over and over.

    I just checked out that amazon author service myself but my book sells mostly in Canada, which wasn’t on the map–but in the U.S., it sold in my state of course, but 2nd place went to New York — thank you, NY!

    Also, thank you SO MUCH for the delightful Christmas card. I’ve shown it to everyone I know.

  • Jeannie

    I grew up outside of Seattle and now live in Eastern Washington. It isn’t green here, it is shrub – steppe. You will love the Seattle area – mountains, seas, green everywhere, and friendly people. There are a lot of galleries in the Pioneer Square area, maybe you could hook up with them. An alternative is
    It is in Edmonds and they offer classes frequently. They are 1/2 hour out of downtown Seattle.
    Thank you so much for the Christmas card. It is framed and sitting next to our tree. Our three cats had similiar poses a couple of weeks ago, watching me fill the bird feeders in the snow. Didn’t want to get their paws wet.

  • Barb

    Hello, I can take responsibility for at least 10 of the sales. As to event places – The University of Washington book store in Seattle and Bellevue ( I live in Bellevue) and/ or the Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, where an art group trooped right over from the communal gathering space to the bookstore portion to buy out the book there, after I had brought mine in to share. You can probably easily get more info on both online, if not email me. Third Place is northeast of Seattle and Bellevue is across Lake Washington from Seattle. It would be great to have you come to the area. Best, Barb

  • Deborah

    Via Louisville?

    Tangent: Check out Hollywood Librarian, if you get a chance. There’s a segment featuring Nancy Pearl.

  • You have a lot of fans in Portland, Oregon, a little bit south — about 3 hours’ worth — from Seattle. So I hope you’ll make your way here, too, if you ever hit the west coast!

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