Monthly Archives: September 2009

Sea and Sky in Hoonah


Spent yesterday in Hoonah at what used to be Cannery Point; now a tour destination with restored cannery buildings housing cafes, exhibits, and souvenir shops. It was warm for September, with cloud-chased sunshine and occasional stutters of rain. Port Frederick was so calm, so quiet that we could easily hear the breath of a lone humpback whale in the distance…and, every so often, the thrilling calls of the sandhill cranes skeining overhead.

Contorta contorta


Here in Southeast Alaska, lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) grows in its "shore pine" (P. contorta contorta) form. It's well-named: no lodgepole-straight trunks here, just endless variations of twist and turn, forced into beautiful cantilevers by countless winters of heavy snow. A shore pine with a trunk with the diameter of my arm may have 300 microscopic growth rings in its heart. I love the way the branches reach out; they offer up their clusters of needles with such grace.

Autumn Storm and Autumn Fruits


Northern Southeast Alaska was battered by a muscular Pacific storm yesterday– all eerie light and buffeting wind, with purple-gray swaths of rain hitting Stephens Passage so hard that the ocean water seemed to be jumping up to meet them in mid-air. I walked through the storm to the beach, listening to the wind moan and hiss. Collected these late fruits on the way back. Crabapples are among the few native shrubs here that show any fall color; in yesterday's wind their leaves were spinning on the branches, flashing red and orange, flying through the air like bonfire sparks. Down below, bunchberries hugged the ground, slick with rain.



Since 1997, I’ve been offering classes in field sketching, nature journaling, and science illustration.

  • University of Alaska, Southeast campus: annual summer course, Field Sketching and Nature Drawing
  • The Canvas Community Art Studio and Gallery, Juneau: periodic classes in sketching, colored pencil, scratchboard, and other subjects
  • Alaska State Museum: youth drawing classes in conjunction with various exhibits
  • Various Alaska elementary, middle, and high schools (Juneau, Gustavus, Wrangell, Lower Kuskokwim School District, and more): artist residencies in nature journaling and science illustration
  • Stikine River Birding Festival, Homer Shorebird Festival: classes in field sketching

Contact me if you’re interested in participating in a class, or arranging for a class at your school, museum, festival, or organization.


Owl sketch page, graphite



Rufous hummingbirds, colored pencil and gouache on toned paper



Abby was a "problem dog" (she liked to wander, and wouldn't come when called). Some friends adopted her from the local animal shelter last fall. Now that she gets enough exercise and training, she's becoming a model canine citizen. I love her big, broad Labrador head; like the head of a seal. I enjoyed doing this sketch–I wanted to capture the way she curled so snugly into a sleepy, contented bundle.

Big Little Discovery

Murrelet-sketch So back in July, we were surveying for American dippers on a creek
near Juneau. We hiked to the top of a cliff near a waterfall, at the
base of which we knew there was a dipper nest. As I topped the cliff, a
small brown bird burst out from a ledge below us and zinged downstream.
The bird's size, field marks, and style of flight–plus the
greenish-blue speckled egg it left behind in a hollow of moss–identified it as a marbled murrelet.

Murrelet nests are hard to find (just over 50 have been found in
Southeast Alaska, where these little puffin-cousins are among the most
abundant seabirds). We were thrilled to have found it, but very concerned that we had caused the birds to abandon it.

But they hadn't. So for the past several weeks, we've been checking
in on the single chick in the nest. Today it is looking pretty ready to
depart, so it may be gone by tomorrow…