American Artists Respond to WW1: at the New York Historical Society

A couple of weeks ago, I got to see the most fantastic show at the NY Historical Society on the advice of my friend Robbie Manning. The whole show was one knockout painting after the next, actually, but the painting I went to see was this one, “Gassed” by John Singer Sargent, painted in 1919. I didn’t take a picture of the whole thing as it is unexpectedly HUGE. The men are almost life sized–or so it seemed and felt.

To see it in real life, you see all these details that are not apparent when you see the tiny reproductions in books. For one thing, beyond the legs of the gassed men being led blindfolded to the tent where they will recover from their wounds, you can see men playing soccer–tiny flecks of red and LIFE in among the wounded and dying:

And in this detail, this beautifully painted hands, and that shadow under the lip–wonderful painting:

This is a bit more of the painting, moving to the right. More beautifully painted hands. And those ropes on the right that I always wondered about looking at it in reproduction are the stabilizing lines that hold up the medical tent:

Here’s some more of the tent ropes, but seeing the second group of men big made me see the mastery of Sargent–the brushstrokes that create those faces, that sense of golden light and dust:

But somehow even more affecting to me was seeing these tiny planes absolutely engraved on the sky like scars:This is one incredible painting, if you ever get a chance to see it. It lives in the Imperial War Museum in the UK, but I think is toured about with some frequency.

Other Sargent pieces in the show were these watercolors:

This is my favorite–those red blankets are almost as good as Vermeer’s Woman in a Red Hat:

And finally, this shocking thing:

This is a WW1 US recruitment poster. My Dad’s family are Americans of German descent, and my Dad always said that he was called a Kraut and a Nazi when he was a schoolboy, and that there were terrible propaganda posters around from WW1 and then WW2 with these kinds of images demonizing Germans. He said there was one from WW2 in particular that haunted him of a German soldier stepping on a baby. He was proud of being an American, but at that time, really felt  intense prejudice against his family.

It was an interesting show–not all propaganda, some informative, by artists embedded with the troops with sketchbooks, and some, like this final piece by Burchfield, showing a dead landscape, with one wilting flower–maybe a painting of Hope?


Journaling at the Beach with my NEW StencilGirl Stencils (Part 5: Woodcut Blossoms)

Beautiful view from Grand Manan’s Hay Point with the fog rolling in…

Grand Manan, an island in the Bay of Fundy, is a perfect place for thinking: puttering and drawing, reading and writing, walking along the beach or hiking to beautiful vistas. Working in my watercolor paper Moleskine journal with my new stencils was also a perfect fit! With these two stencils, Woodcut Blossoms Background and Woodcut Blossoms Background Inverted, I hoped to make a useful texture stencil that could be floral, mossy (check out the moss picture below!), undersea, a garden of black eyed Susans. To see these stencils from StencilGirl Products, the rest of the ten I designed for them, and all the wonderful products they have, go to :

Woodcut Blossoms Background and Woodcut Blossoms Background Inverted

In my art kit for Grand Manan, I took a pan of Sennelier watercolors, two brushes, blue tape and some pens and pencils.

After stenciling the Woodcut Blossoms Background, I added darks with the Inverted stencil to push the flower shapes forward.

Here’s the spread (and my pretty little workspace in our cabin): ready for collaging or writing…or maybe I will leave it just like this!

Check out this moss that we saw on one of our hikes–it looks completely like the inspiration for the Woodcut Blossoms Background–it wasn’t–but its amazingly similar!

To order Stencil Craft: Techniques for Fashion, Art and Home:

Journaling with my NEW StencilGirl Stencils at the Beach! (Part 4: Scarab Beetles and Dragonflies)

Two insect themed stencils from StencilGirl: L559 Scarab Beetles and L560 Dragonfly Background

I have always been interested in bugs. I’ll admit it. I think they are wonderfully beautiful, with some notable exceptions. One of the most satisfying picture books I own is a tiny one full of jewel-like insects called “An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles,” the title from the famous evolutionary biologist John Burdon Sanderson Haldane (1892-1964), who said this while alluding to theologists that the Creator might have had an “inordinate fondness for beetles” given the fact that not only are there more beetles than any other type of insect, but more than any other type of fauna altogether.

I sprayed the base of this with Ranger Distress Inks and then worked into it with watercolor, markers, ink pens and a silver Sharpie.

I know dragonflies are multicolored. I have seen huge blue ones here at the beach, as well as tiny golden ones, green, black and white, silver. But these, somehow, I wanted to be monotone. I started with Ranger Distress inks and the L560 Dragonfly Background Stencil, fully expecting to make them every color, but I ended up drawing into them with a pen, and adding some silver Sharpie highlights, and was quite satisfied to leave well enough alone after that!

Haldane also said, “I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer that we suppose but queerer that we can suppose.” (from Possible Worlds and Other Papers, 1927), which is just pleasing, and has nothing to do with bugs.

Look for more stencils at StencilGirl Products: http://www.stencilgirlproducts/stencils-margaret-peot-s/2039.htm


Journaling at the Beach with my new StencilGirl Stencils (Part 3: Impressionist Lilies and Textures)

The drive up through the northeast of the US is filled with bodies of water filled with water lilies–white and yellow and sometimes pink. This pair of stencils from StencilGirl is perfect for making painterly marks to paint a Monet’s Garden full of lilies and light. The stencils used in this post are:

L563 Impressionist Water Lily Background

L564 Impressionist Brush Textures (four)


The Impressionist Brush Textures (L564, on the right above) can be cut apart if you like, using folded masking tape or duct tape to make borders to hold on to, but they can be used not cut as well.

At the beach, as I said in previous beachy posts, I brought a tin of watercolor half pans, a tube of white gouache, two brushes, and a zip-loc bag of pens, pencils and markers. Here I am laying in some watercolor greens in the Water Lily Background stencil in my watercolor paper Moleskine sketchbook.

After laying in the greens and flower colors in the Impressionist Water Lily Background, I used the various Impressionist Brush Textures to add color and texture to the scene.

Here’s the finished page. In the “ditch” of the sketchbook, I painted green lily pad connectors–without the aid of stencils, and then spattered over the whole thing with light and dark greens too. I used white gouache mixed with a little watercolor to add highlights to the lily flowers.

Check out my ten new stencils at StencilGirl Products, and look around at all the other stencil designers, too. There’s some wonderful stuff there–I am in great company!



Journaling at the Beach with my NEW StencilGirl stencils! (Part 2: Looping, Leafy Vines)

Out of the ten stencils I designed for StencilGirl, I am finding that the Looping, Leafy Vines Background is the stealth super-useful stencil. Its good for laying in a background on a journal page, or for printing cheerful green vines on a tea towel, as a beginning for an embroidery design, or for printing custom quilt fabric.

Close up of the 9 x 12 Looping, Leafy Vines Background (L563) stencil itself–StencilGirl makes wonderful stencils–crisp and perfect cutting on a durable stencil plastic.

First I sprayed through the stencil with Ranger Distress Inks, then painted through the vine stencil w watercolor and gouache. Finally, augmenting with ink and a silver Sharpie.

Thanks, StencilGirl, for the wonderful stencils! Check them all out at:


Journaling at the Beach with my NEW StencilGirl Stencils! (Part 1: Bunnies Birds and Blooms)

The day has finally arrived! And my new stencils are available from StencilGirl Products:


Ten beautifully cut 9 x 12 mylar stencils: Woodcut Blossoms, Impressionist Water Lilies and Brush Textures, Scarab Beetles, Looping, Leafy Vines, Dragonflies, and three with Bunnies, Blooms and Birds:Part 1: Journaling with Bunnies, Blooms and Birds at the beach:

The beautiful view from my improvised studio…

I prepped journal pages before I left home by spraying through my new stencils with Ranger Distress Inks into a large moleskine watercolor journal, thinking it would be fun to have some beginnings of journal pages to play with instead of blank pages at the beach. Then I made a traveling art kit with a set of Sennelier water color pans, one tube of white gouache, two brushes and some pens and pencils. Here I am using white gouache on top of the Distress Ink texture–a large white rabbit with the Birds and Bunnies stencil (L561).

Adding more larger flowers to the page with watercolors through the Scattered Flowers Background (L562)

A detail–I added some inked lines…

The finished spread

The stencils I used to create this page: L562 Scattered Flowers Background L561 Birds and Bunnies L558 Scattered Bunnies, Blooms and Birds

Here’s the weird thing. The day after I completed this journal page, I saw this white rabbit on a woods walk with my son–almost as if I had conjured him!

Coming soon–more beach journal pages…

Thanks, StencilGirl, for the wonderful stencils!!


CROWS and CRAFTS at Literacy Inc Inwood Park Children’s Books Author Series

A picture taken of the reading circle in Bruce’s Garden from the garden entrance.

Last week I was so happy to have been able to participate in the Children’s Books Authors Series with Literacy INC collaboration with Columbia and Inwood Park in upper Manhattan. It was a drizzly day which may have curtailed our numbers somewhat, but made a cozy group. While we read, we heard jays in the bushes, and crows and a hawk circled overhead.

First, Carolyn read from a book about different birds nests…

I read from Crow Made a Friend, but first I read from a story that I wrote a few years ago, that included letters that my father wrote to me about stealing crow feathers and mailing them to me in New York, signed “Your Magical Father.” The nicest thing is that he really did do that–got crow feathers, taped them w masking tape to letters describing their acquisition.

All of the kids got free hardcover copies of CROW MADE A FRIEND, courtesy LiteracyINC and a nice discount from Holiday House, the publisher!

After the reading we did a craft activity–we made nests with brown paper lunch bags, and then “friends”–little clay birds with colorful feathers and pipe cleaner legs, who tended to as many eggs as the kids could make to put in the nests. The record was six eggs.

Then we made friends–with each other and also little clay birds in their own nests.

Some kittens came to the event and enjoyed making bird friends

I was happy to be in such good company in the series, with Ada Letelier, Elizabeth Balaguer and Andrew Kranichfeld. All of the authors got to read their books, talk about the stories of how their books came to be, and chat with the kids about their their own aspirations. Thanks Sarah, Sorelys, and Carolyn from Literacy Inc for the lovely day out!

CROW MADE A FRIEND and Inwood Park Authors Series


LiteracyINC has kindly invited me to participate in their Inwood Park Authors Series at Bruce’s Garden:

I will be reading my early reader picture book 
in Bruce’s Garden
11 Park Terrace East
This Thursday, July 27th 
at 3:00
There will be a reading of CROW MADE A FRIEND as well as other garden-y related books, FREE BOOKS, and a craft activity.
The alternate location, in case of rain or hot weather, is
Northeastern Academy
532 W 215th Street
Hope to see you there!

Another Hudson Co-op Pop Up Spot for June and July!

The dates are not totally set in stone yet, but the shop will certainly be open after June 17th, Til probably July 15th. I am honored to be a part of this grand experiment! This incarnation of the Hudson Co-op will be in the Gideon’s Bakery spot on 187th Street (in Manhattan). There will be handcrafted items, scented oils, jewelry, toffee (I think) a BAKERY (for sure) with sweets and Daily-type Bread like baguettes (I will be there for my daily bread!). I will have a selection of books and paper toys there, and coloring books, of course. Lots of gifting items! Thanks to Sue, Erin and Laura for making this happen. It is exactly what we need now: locally sourced fun:

Laura working hard on getting the Gideon’s space ready for Hudson Co-op customers…what a great wall color choice, chicas!

Here’s what I will have available to buy there. Fun!: