Jake the Lion


Jake the Lion, graphite on watercolor paper.

I had the privilege of drawing again today at the Burke Museum’s Mammalogy lab. Jeff, who runs the place, asked me what I’d like to draw, and I gave him only the vague answer of “some kind of interesting skull.” He suggested a carnivore and brought out the skull of a lion.


This lion turned out to be not just any lion, but Jake, who lived at the Woodland Park Zoo for about 20 years. He passed away in May, 2011.

Jake started out at the zoo living alone, but after a few years he was introduced to a new female lion named Juanita. The two became close and got along very well their whole lives.


I can’t help wondering about the animals I draw, and now I know exactly whom I was spending the day with today. I read that Jake loved to roar, and that made me smile. What a beautiful, amazing animal.

Our Walnut Tree


Walnut Tree, notebook sketch with Uniball pen, painted with a watercolor brush in Photoshop.

I always wanted a walnut tree. We finally planted one a few years ago, and while it’s healthy, it’s taking its time producing walnuts! Last year we had two or three. Maybe this will be our year? I’ll sketch more over the summer and track its progress.

The unfolding leaves are as beautiful as any sculpture.

Spent Daffodils


Spent Daffodils, graphite and colored pencils on watercolor paper, Photoshop.

It’s almost the end of daffodil season. Our family planted dozens of daffodil bulbs on our hillside on Orcas Island a few years ago, and last year my wife planted dozens and dozens more. Now in the spring the fields are dotted with bright yellow, and it’s dazzling.

They’re still eye-catching—even beautiful—as they wither and become bedraggled, ghostlike and faded.