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Sketchbooks & Pinecones


IMG_1584I was out collecting pinecones in the forest last weekend and thought of how sketchbooks are kind of like pinecones. They have little overlapping “pages”  and are filled with treats- but like a squirrel has to go through some effort getting a seeds from a pinecone, it takes some work to get the rough sketches out and develop them into something richer and more satisfying.

If I don’t draw an idea straight away when it comes into my mind, its probably gone forever. I feel I owe it to each idea to try to see what can happen. Some of them stay dormant never to become anything more but often they hibernate and surprise me in a painting later on. I never go anywhere without a pencil because who knows what will be the spark of a new idea, igniting something exciting.

A friend was visiting me recently and wanted to look at my sketchbooks. He suggested I post some drawings here. I feel shy about sharing them in but I like seeing other artist’s sketches so I decided to post a few.



 “A line is a dot that went for a walk.
”  Paul Klee









Here are some sketches with paintings that came after…

DSCF8596In the sketch above, I was drawing a western fence lizard and turned it into a girl and then the painting below, Faint from joy. (which is how I feel when I see these beautiful lizards!) click to see larger image 
Faint from joy

faint from joy 008 copy




The painting below is called   Upon thy belly, thou shalt go

Upon thy belly though shalt go






In the drawing above, I was trying to draw the concept of Grace. The little painting below is called Receiving and responding.






I’ve been thinking about transformation and how many creatures moult; shed their skin, feathers or fur. How we do that in non visible ways and how to draw that if we could see it.  The painting below is   Someday, I imagine

Someday, I imagine

Someday I imagine








This painting is Lamp unto my feet – continuing the idea of growing and transforming, how sometimes it seems like I need reconstruction to cope with things going on in my life

130531_Irene_ 1451



This painting is Wings brushing legs- kind of speaks for itself I guess. I love insects and raise caterpillars and moths , beetles and other insects in the summertime.

Wings brushing legs


…..and who else is getting seeds from pinecones???    

One of my favorite birds in Oregon, the Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) ! This colorful stocky finch is found in mature confierous forests. These birds are equipped with a unique curved bill crossed at the tips, enabling them to extract seeds from conifer cones


Red Crossbill photo: Mike Wisnicki 


170px-Crossbill_skull_and_jaw_anatomy_from_Yarrell_History_of_British_Birds_1843_(detail)Red Crossbill skull : Yarrell History of British BIrds


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  1. Larry Deemer

    It’s a treat to see what an artist looks at and sees. Looking and seeing is an essential part of creating. Thanks, Irene.

  2. Ellen

    Just saw this now…WHAT a FEAST of beauty , ingenuity, crazy delight! Thank you IHO!!!

  3. I am so grateful you decided to share these sketch book studies — few things are more inspiring than to see tangible examples of unguarded expression. I think it would be fun to see a list of your favorite sketchbook pens and supplies! Profoundly inspiring works live in your journals.

  4. Genevieve

    Soooooo happy to find your beauty eye heart mind! :))))

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