Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Ugly Duckling

I'm working on two new pieces for the Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson. I'm happy to do some linocuts after taking a break to experiment with mixed-media. I'm going to try some decorative borders, just because I like them!

I'll be doing a wedding commission at the same time, so it might be a bit before you see an update on these. Don't hold your breath (haha). But I'll show them as soon as I have something worth sharing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tessa's Book of Paintings

I'm so excited that my daughter Tessa's book of paintings turned out so well! 

For the straps I used (fake) leather with some decorative painted squares. 

Above are all of the colorful pages.

On the inside I included a few photos of her painting. 

I'm going to give it to her for her birthday in a couple weeks. I hope she loves it! I like the idea that she will see from the very beginning that her work is special enough that it can be turned into a book. Throughout my life I've wanted to be an author and make picture books. But the idea that my work is good enough to be published has sometimes been a struggle. Tessa loves books and she will grow up seeing her art and writing in books. That means a lot to me even if it turns out to be unimportant to her. Yay for books!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Big Linocut Blocks & Update

I've been cleaning and rearranging my studio trying to make space to put Tessa's easel and desk. I pulled these big linocut blocks out to repack them somewhere else and the sheer amount of TIME I've spent making them kind of overwhelmed me. They look neat in a photo though, don't they! And they feel pretty cool to walk on with bare feet, both Tessa and I did that a couple of times.

I am almost done with the book of Tessa's paintings which is going to be sooooooo neat! I ran out of PVA glue to finish the inside covers so as soon as I get that in the mail I'll finish and show photos. Here's a sneak peak---

I've also started a couple of drawings for new linocuts. I will show them as soon as I can. They for a fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. Can you guess which one? Here's a little clue by illustrator Josef Paleček.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Illustration Friday: Outside

I couldn't resist sharing a linocut from a couple years ago for this week's Illustration Friday. I am all about the outside! Especially during spring. It's my favorite time of year.

This is Lily Lake on Rabbit Ears Pass near my town, Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It's a very pretty spot and I love all of the water lilies. I can't wait for summer in the mountains!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Here are Cinderella and the Prince dancing the night away!

If you look down a couple posts, you can see some photos I took of this one as I made it. I used purple on the floor and there were no arches. That version didn't work out well. So I started over and used orange for the floorboards. I still used the same mask idea when stamping so I would only get color on the floor, not the people. I added the arches to give the room a little shape. Hopefully this one looks better!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Book of Paintings

My daughter, Tessa LOVES to paint and draw! For the last few months I've been having her paint on sketchbook paper that's pretty good quality. The paper is long, 12 x 24 inches. She's done so many- and they are painted on both sides. Now I get to make them into a book for her! I'm so excited.

I have her painting a big sheet for the covers now. I'm going to sew the book with the spine exposed so those pretty painted edges will show. I'll post photos when I'm putting it together!

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Here is one of my Cinderella drawings painted.

This is really different for me! I'm not sure it's working and I may redo it. No guarantees. I have to admit that I miss having a linocut to paint. I always play and experiment with the lines, texture, and shading with the black and white linocut. Then adding paint is kind of straightforward. This collage pattern and paint with pencil lines is unknown territory for me. And Cinderella is feeling a little vulnerable right now, too! But at least she has all her mouse, lizard and rat friends to run back home with.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Cinderella Progress

I haven't posted yet about the latest drawings that I'm working on. But I've really gotten into Instagram in the last few months and I'm showing a bunch of progress photos over there if you are interested.

I'm drawing Cinderella! This is funny to me because I don't much like the Cinderella story for lots of reasons. But a friend suggested it to me when I was asking for ideas. And now I notice that a new Cinderella movie is coming out! Ug. I hate to seem like I'm jumping on a bandwagon.

Here's what is different about my Cinderella illustrations. First, everyone in the story is an elephant. And second, in this world the bigger you are the more beautiful it is. This is very meaningful to me because I'm a big tall person and as a child and teenager I always felt like an ungainly giant. The beauty standard for women in our culture is to be slim, not too tall, feminine, and of course pretty. Weren't the animated Disney step-sisters tall gangly ugly girls? And in the trailer of the new movie, Cinderella is certainly very thin and beautiful- something most girls and women I know will struggle with and never quite achieve. So in my version, it's ok to be big and tall, and that's why the shoe doesn't fit- it's too big for everyone but Cinderella!

I'm using stamps, drawing, collaged patterns, and paint on these illustrations, similar to what I did for Rosie Sings. I'm starting to feel pretty good about this combination of techniques. Most of the time I don't know what I'm doing, but in a good way.

I printed a couple of versions of this drawing out on my favorite paper, BFK Rives. Then I took the version I didn't like and cut away the floor area to make a stencil. I laid it over the other drawing and used that long rubber stamp to make a purple floor. It's a little loud, but I will tone it down with paint. Do you see how I stamped right over the stencil even in the places that no floor should be showing?

Then when I took the stencil away it looked like this.

I'm working on four drawings at the same time so it's a little slow. Here's a photo from the other day when I did a bunch of stamping.

Today I got to add some paint. This is the most exciting part for me! I like to see it coming together and visualize the painting all done. I think all of the different elements are going to work together!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Liebster Award

I've been nominated for a Liebster Award by the wonderful Melissa Iwai. I love the richness, design and colors of her illustrations and it's been great to get to know her this last year!

To participate in the Liebster Award, I am required to tell 11 random facts about myself, answer Melissa's 11 questions, and nominate 11 other new blogs (with fewer than 200 followers) to do the same and ask THEM 11 questions.  It's a fun way to discover and share other blogs with our readers.

I'd like to nominate some of my children's book friends and favorite artists for the Liebster Award. I hope you can visit their blogs to see their artwork!

Dow Phumiruk

Karen Windness

Laura Diehl

Brooke Boynton Hughes

Marsha Riti

Julia Kelly

Michelle Henninger

Nina Crittenden

Roberta Baird

Luda Kiperberg

Stan Yan

Here are 11 random facts about me:

1. I was an orchestral oboist. I got my music performance degree and then played a couple of years in a Louisiana symphony before quitting and selling my instruments. I really could not stand making oboe reeds. You have no idea how much work and time is involved!

2. The first prints I ever made were potato prints when I was in my 20's. I carved a couch and the words couch potato into a russet potato and went a little crazy making prints.

3. I live in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a town known for having a lot of snow. And I'm sick and tired of winter!

4. I have to have some time alone every day. I'm a classic introvert. As a child I wished I'd lived in the 1800's as a mountain man- a trapper or homesteader in the west, basically a hermit.

5. I have a pretty intense sweet tooth.

6. My favorite color is blue. Any blue except turquoise and other blue-greens. I have to make myself use those sometimes.

7. I'm a pharmacy technician. I stumbled into the job about 5 years ago. I work part time in an awesome old-fashioned drug store. We even have a soda fountain!  Please stop in at Lyon Drug to say hi if you are in the neighborhood.

8. I've only seen the ocean a few times. I get a little overwhelmed. It's so big!!

9. My husband tells me I've become a much better singer since having a baby. My daughter demands that I sing to her all the time. My favorite song to sing is Angel from Montgomery. My least favorite is Knick Knack Paddywack. What is that song about, anyway??

10. My dog, Bailey is named after Champ Bailey who recently retired from the Denver Broncos. I'm not the person who named him. :)

11. I love old trucks. I drove a 1972 GMC pickup for 19 years until it was totaled. Sad day.

Here are Melissa's questions for me:

1.  What are your art goals for 2015?
The biggest one is to make  some progress on the road to being published. Other that than, learn, experiment, and have fun!
2.  What medium do you use?  
For a long time I've only done linocuts painted with watercolor. But I've been having fun lately combining some collage, drawing, painting, and stamps.
3.  What is your process of late for creating a piece of art from concept to finish?
I do a lot of drawings and maybe writing in the beginning until things start to settle into place. The early drawings are hard for me so I don't rush them or try to work too big.
For the mixed media illustrations I've been working on, I scan a drawing, do some digital collage, print it out on BFK Rives, redraw the linework, add some stamps, paint, stamp, whatever, whatever, roll a little ink over the top, or I don't know! It's been a lot of experimenting lately. 
4.  How did you come to be an artist? Did you do other things before this?  How did you know you wanted to become one?
I first studied to be a musician as I said in #1 of my list of random facts. After I quit, I gave myself lots of leeway to play  and try different things. I was really drawn to making art at that point. I loved the creativity and lack of supervision and structure compared to playing in an orchestra.I didn't really take myself very seriously and I think that helped carry me through a lot of uncertainty. And then one day I realized I was an artist. That was what brought me the most happiness.
5.  Have you traveled much?  What is your favorite city, town, or place and why?
I've travelled in the US a bit but not much beyond. My favorite place is a pretty empty corner of Colorado along the Colorado River. It's just breathtaking. I'm drawn to the mountains and rural ares mostly. I do love visiting New York though, and I'd love to go  again. This time I'd be a tourist with my family. And visit Melissa!
6.  What do you do when you get frustrated with your work?
I go for a walk. Or switch to a different project. And I try to give myself breathing room to take a break and become an observer for a while. If I can soak in some new inspiration before going back to the difficult project, that lets me return with a fresh vision.
7.  How do you manage your time -- that is, how do you carve out time in your life to do your art?
I just recently did a blog post about this very thing right here! But basically, I try to plan well and take advantage of every available minute. Small bits of work do add up to results.
8.  What is something you are grateful for? 

My family and the happy stable routines that we have.
9.  What is an inspiring quote that you'd like the share?
“For just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there’s nothing else. It’s here, and you’d better decide to enjoy it or you’re going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever.” ~Lev Grossman
10.  What is the best art tip/advice you've been given?
I can't remember exactly what he said, but I asked my brother, Peter Miles Bergman for lots of advice when I was learning how to become a printmaker. I was trying to understand all the finer points of editioning. Do all of the prints in an edition have to look exactly the same? Can the colors vary slightly? Or a lot? Does that make them monoprints instead of an edition if they are different colors? And he finally said, "Traditionally, this is how it's done. If you want make up your own system, though go ahead. No matter what, remember, you are the ARTIST. You are the creator and you get to make up your own rules." (He was probably exasperated with me!)
11.   What would you tell a child who says they want to become an artist when they grow up? 
This just happened to me today! My 4 year old neighbor, Macy told me she wants to be an artist when she grows up. I said, "That's great!" I strongly believe that it's important to encourage children to be creative and explore lots of possibilities. I also believe that it's important to teach them to tell the difference between reality and fantasy, and to teach them that dreams and wishes are earned through lots of hard work not magic. All this teaching is a process. It's not my place to squash Macy's new dream of being an artist by telling her today to give up before she begins because it's too hard to make a living as an artist. As she grows up, Macy will hopefully learn to work hard for her dreams and if she still wants to be an artist, she definitely can be! She may also have to be a waitress or a college professor to support herself, but I wish her the best no matter what!

These are my questions for the artists that I'm nominating:

1. What is a goal for 2015?

2. What is your favorite medium?

3. What is the hardest thing about being an artist?

4. What do you do when you get frustrated with your work?

5. What is your favorite illustrated book?

6. Where is your favorite place and what do you love about it?

7. Which is your favorite season?

8. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?

9. Who do you look up to or consider to be a mentor?

10. What is the best art advice you've ever received?

11. What is an inspiring quote that you'd like to share?

Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing my nominee's responses!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Illustration Friday: Metropolis

This is from a book dummy I did several years ago about two brothers who lived alone in a mountain valley. They decided to climb the mountain and see what the rest of the world looked like. On the other side they found the big city!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Love Song Finished

Here's how Love Song turned out. This is the last print in this little series. It took me a long time to  finish the series because I was squeezing them in between other projects. If you'd like to see, here are some process photos from Bird Song, and here are some from Whale Song.

Let me sing you a song about the ocean blue,
Let me sing you a song about your world so new,
Let me sing you a song about my love for you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Linocut Class

I'm going to be teaching a class at the Steamboat Art Museum in March. I realize most of the people who check in here don't live in my town, but I thought I'd share the info. Everyone will get a Speedball Deluxe Block Printing Kit, BFK Rives paper, and a little registration jig.  It's going to be two days of fun!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Love Song

I'm finally getting around to the third print in this series that I started last summer. I was just working on it between other projects. I'm really excited about it now, and I hope it looks ok printed!

Here's how the block turned out.

And here it is before I started carving, along with the Whale Song and Bird Song blocks. I'm going to print it on a peach colored music collage background.

The text of the three prints together is:

Let me sing you a song about the ocean blue.
Let me sing you a song about your world so new. 
Let me sing you a song about my love for you.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


The little Cardinal is finally done! It's a 4x5 inch 3 color print. It's done on top of a background that I rolled out with a carved brayer. And the word Cardinal was made with stamps.

I wanted to do a multi color print because I'm going to be teaching a beginning linocut class at the Steamboat Art Museum in March and I needed a refresher on mulit-block prints. For the last long time I've been carving one block and then painting the print with watercolor. I'm trying to mix things up for myself and try different techniques though so this was perfect.

I do hope to do a little series of birds and bird houses to go with this print. I think they would make sweet greeting cards.

Here are some process photos for the fun of it.

How Do I Find the Time?

A lot of people have been asking me lately how I find the time to do artwork with a toddler. It's starting to feel like they are asking if I'm ignoring her and spending all day making art. Which would be completely impossible even if I wanted to! So I've been thinking about what I do when, and how it's working for me. Just in case it's interesting or helpful to anyone I'll share the things that work for me.

First of all, nothing is perfect. Plans fall apart or we operate on not enough sleep, but I try not to stress about it and just keep plugging away whenever I can. It definitely adds up to results in the end!

A page from my sketchbook.
My daughter, Tessa takes great naps now. But for most of a year she didn't nap for longer than 10 minutes. It made me crazy! So I definitely take advantage of her naps now. She also goes to sleep at about 8 (usually) (hopefully.) And I stay up for a few hours working on things at night. I'm actually a morning person, so this isn't ideal for me. But every time I wake up early in the morning my dog gets up too. He's very loud flapping his ears and yawning and nosing around and he wakes up Tessa. So I stay up late and sleep in.

These times when my daughter is asleep are when I get artwork done. But I try and maximize my art time with lots of little tricks. And here they are:

-Always have a plan. Know the next two little things to be done and have materials handy.

-Have 2 or 3 different projects going in different phases. When I can't work on one, I move on to another.

-Do the daydreamy planning brainstorming stuff while helping her fall asleep, fall asleep myself, or in the shower, in the car, or whenever I have enforced quiet time. I've formulated huge projects this way. I take notes when I can. And then as soon as I have free time for art, I jump right in because I've been working out the details in my head for weeks already.

-Keep notes on my phone with ideas for illustrations, stories, things to do, business stuff, whatever.

-Do as many chores as possible with Tessa so that I don't have to do them later by myself. We make laundry and doing dishes into fun games. 

-I like the house to be organized, so whenever I go through a room, I will quickly pick it up. Usually everything is tidy when she goes to bed.

-If Tessa is enjoying playing alone I pay the bills, do email, or things like that so I won't have to do them later.

-I always have a sketchbook or other artwork on the kitchen table. She often takes longer to eat than me, so I just start drawing without even getting up. We can still talk and I can help her.

Here's a goofy photo that my husband took during breakfast one morning.
And these are the things that I DON'T  do:

-I don't stress over minute housecleaning. My house is rarely very well dusted.

-I don't  watch TV. It's often on because my husband is watching. To be friendly I sit in the room with him and do artwork or computer stuff at a desk we have in the living room. I might sit on the couch and watch a one hour show per week without something in my hands.

-I don't procrastinate on art projects. It's hard to get started sometimes, but taking the first little step will quickly get me excited instead of being nervous. I do procrastinate on things like taxes. Blah.

-I don't do social things unless they are toddler-related. I'm not necessarily recommending this, but Im both broke and an introvert, and that's just how it is.

Play time at the library.

All of this leaves us tons of time to play, read, go on walks, do crafts, go to fun places like the library, music class, or gymnastics. Tessa is actually quite the artist herself. I don't think it will be too long before I don't have to monitor her as closely and maybe we could do some drawing or painting side by side!

Tessa painting.
If you've read this far, here is a disclaimer: If I do get a big job with deadlines, we will investigate some daycare. I'm not Wonder Woman!

A page from our collaborative sketchbook.