Saturday, November 28, 2009

Roman the Wolf-Dog

10" X 8" pen and ink

Brenda commissioned this portrait for Gary. I’ll let her tell Roman’s story:

Roman is 85% gray wolf and the rest husky. He and Gary have been inseparable since Gary got him as a puppy. Roman used to go everywhere that Gary did.

Roman & Gary

Roman was an incredible athlete [in his prime] and is well known on Deer Isle for both his strength and friendly, kind, but aloof nature. He has always been liked by other dogs, loves parties (cheeseburgers!), is an escape artist (has been in the Blue Hill Hospital, TradeWinds, Monroe Saltworks...), and is just generally a really good soul.

What has always amazed me about Roman is how he could walk down a 12' vertical cliff and then get a running start and run back up it - seemingly effortlessly. It just seemed like he was going to fall on his head going down but apparently it wasn't a problem for him. Others talk about how effortlessly Roman could jump up onto something  "like he just levitated himself up there."

Roman is now almost 15 years old. He can't walk any longer but wants to go on walks (he has an incredible spirit) so we take him in the wagon down to the water. We must be an interesting sight but Roman is so happy to be going.

I used two photographs of Roman for this drawing, one for his head and another for Sand Beach, his favorite spot, in the background. I think the combination has an epic quality. Roman certainly lends himself to an heroic tradition.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


7" X 5" pen and ink

I became more and more smitten with Tanner as I drew his portrait. He emerged from the blank page as that perfect combination of strength and sensitivity. He’s handsome, too! Noble even. And his steady gaze cuts right to my quick. I’ve never met Tanner, but I feel like I know him.

I met Tanner’s person, Bob, on a flight from Norfolk, Virginia, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I was wearing a PenPets T-shirt. (I’ve been experimenting with T-shirt designs. Talk about self promotion!)

Next thing I knew, I was penning in Tanner’s bedroom eyes and feeling my heart go pit-a-pat.

Bob has since told me a bit of Tanner’s story: “Tanner is now six and a half years old. We got him at the Kennebec Humane Society a year and a half ago. He was brought in accompanied by a rottweiler. When the rotty went, Tanner’s personality blossomed. He has a huge ‘play’ gene and blasted around with wild abandon.”

I’m glad to know that my heart-throb is a fun-loving fellow as well!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


When I first saw this photo of Gypsy, I thought she was a big, yellow Labrador, the backyard, all-American variety.

I was wrong on many counts.

Gypsy is a HE, not a SHE. He’s small, only 25 pounds, not big. He’s brown, not yellow. He’s of mixed and mysterious origins, not labradorish at all. Finally, he’s from Israel, not New Hampshire.

Teaches me to profile a dog!

Regardless of sex, size, color, breed, or country of origin, Gypsy looks quite cozy snoozing in his leafy bower. The wrinkled muzzle is, as I am told, a part of his character. He must be snarling at the rabbits he’s chasing in his dreams.

7" X 5" pen and ink

Monday, November 23, 2009

Woodcut Wedding Present

Great Blues
13" X 10" woodcut

Kristin & Travis
17 October 2009
Chesapeake, Virginia

I made this woodcut as a wedding present for my nephew Travis and his beautiful bride, Kristin, after I attended their wedding last month. It was a great challenge for me. Kristin and Travis don't have any pets -- yet -- so I couldn't just draw their dog or cat for them. I hadn't met Kristin before the wedding. I knew that I wanted to carve a woodcut for them, and I knew I wanted the subject to be furry or feathery. While I was in Virginia for the wedding, I visited the Virginia Beach Aquarium with my other nephew, Hayden, and his sister, Lexi, and we saw a Great Blue Heron there. I've always wanted to carve one and I've been collecting GBH images for years. That cinched it! I carved this romantic pair on cabinet-grade birch plywood and printed it in blue, water-based ink on handmade sumi paper. Tom matted and framed it. Travis has called to report that it will be a welcome addition to their bare walls! Wew!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Out-House Ode

Tom and collaborated on this poetry broadside (or "broadsheet," as they are sometimes called). Tom wrote the poem and I drew the drawing. We gave it to Nancy, Tom's sister, for her birthday. Nancy now owns the property where this venerable out-house still stands, just down the driveway from our house.

Here's the poem for those of you who don't have a magnifying glass to hand:


When I pulled with my tractor the dead

oak limb poised to crush the out-house,

and it fell, kicking off a patch of shingles

and scarring the roof, I wondered at

that out-house, unused now sixty years,

thought of your satisfying plops and farts,

Russell, you who built it next to your magnificent

concrete bridge, you, dead now half a

century, who sailed your yawl to Nova Scotia,

old charts stashed in the main house still

bearing your waypoints and courses,

and your meadow, boat-house, wooden

row-boats, the long brass telescope

to watch, you said, yachts run aground

in the cove, all of this in the place you

gave abruptly to our family sixty years ago,

I thought of you, relieved in your

outhouse, planning projects with your

shackles and lines, your taps and dies,

your water-cooled grindstone, and I thought

of your wife reading her French newspaper,

brewing tea to serve on the fine china

that you also left in this house on the Maine

coast, a gift of high kindness by you, to us.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Best Job

8" X 10" pen and ink
I do have the best job, as one of my PenPets clients recently pointed out to me: "What a wonderful job and passion you have for putting smiles on people's
faces." --Roberta

Here are some kind words from another happy recipient of a PenPets portrait: "The package arrived this morning, and we are really pleased -- you nailed Layla! In addition to capturing her personality, the detial in your drawing is amazing. Can't thank you enough!"

These testimonials put a smile on my face as well. Smiles all around! What could be better!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

PenPets Dog Days 2010 Calendars

Cover Art

A sample page

Calendar dogs

Calendar dogs

Calendar dogs

Here's a preview of my PenPets "Dog Days 2010" calendar. As you can see, it's full of terriers, retrievers, toys, and wonderful one-of-a-kinders. It's available in my Etsy shop, or just email me at and let me know you'd like one. Both dog and cat calendars are long and thin (4" X 10"). They're printed in black ink on white card stock ). They hang nicely in a narrow spot and are guaranteed to warm your heart with a new furry face each month. ($10 + $1.50 for shipping & handling)

PenPets Cats 2010 Calendars

Cover Art

A sample page

All 12 calendar cats

Speaking of cats, I've published a PenPets "Cats 2010" calendar this year, now available in my Etsy shop. It took three years to gather enough cat commissions for a calendar. On the other hand, I had too many dogs to choose from for my PenPets "Dog Days 2010" calendar. I'll show you that calendar in a separate posting.

One Cat

8" X 10" pen and ink

After my four-cat extravaganza, drawing this little diva was a piece of cake. I can't rest, though. Coming soon is a three-cat drawing. But first, I'm going to carve woodcut as a wedding present for my nephew and his bride, who is now my new niece!