How My Studio Spent Its Summer Vacation

I’m sitting in the golden light of an almost-autumn day, looking back at summer and the young friends who visited my studio. It turns out you can meet some wonderful people because of books.

In early August, Sundee Frazier and Micheline Lopez drove up from Renton with their daughters in tow for a morning of mural painting and lunch. I met Sundee when I was teaching at Vermont College of Fine Arts, years before she had published her Coretta Scott King-winning debut novel, Brendon Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It. She introduced me to her friend Micheline, who is a children’s librarian. Three years ago Sundee and Micheline started visiting me with their daughters, Skye and Umbria Frazier and Ruby Lopez. This time, Ruby’s older sister Lauren, joined us, too. As you can see there are lots of budding artists in the group.

The mural crew, l. to r.: Micheline, Lauren, Ruby, Sundee, Skye and Umbria.

In addition to the mural, Lauren painted a picture of the three younger girls playing in my garden.

Umbria alternated mural painting with jumping on the mini-trampoline.

Later in August, Lisa Citron from my exercise class visited with three of her children, Tariq, Yasmine and Nuha. We made gouache resist paintings, the medium I use for Zelda and Ivy. (Instructions at

Ready for the art show! L. to r.: Nuha, Tariq and Yasmine and their mom, Lisa.

At one point in the gouache resist process, you cover the whole painting with black ink and then wash it down in a sink with a sprayer. This is the most exciting part. The black ink floats away and the picture is revealed.

As we were spraying off his painting, Tariq looked up at me. “I bet this is lots better than writing by yourself all day.”

What a thoughtful kid. And he’s right. It is a pleasure to have these children and their moms in my studio and to create art together. I hope they’ll visit again soon.

Tariq and his gouache resist painting.

6 responses to “How My Studio Spent Its Summer Vacation

  1. How wonderful for both you and the children. I love the photos!

  2. I can’t tell you how much we look forward to our visits. This was one of the highlights of our summer!

  3. So happy to be introduced to your blog and the enjoyment of your young visitors!

  4. Nice to see your update – was hoping there was a sequel coming to Zelda & Ivy Series. My Allie here in Pennsylvania had a fun summer finding insects with a neighbor pal, naming them, burying those little critters that passed with tombstones and wildflowers; snack picnics on the lawn, endless trips into the house for more additions to the (non-existent) treehouse – Trying hard to convince her that the Barbie at a peer’s birthday party was NOT the real barbie and many other trials to my aging patience. (my other two are 22 and 26) and Her Princess Mimi still lives! Always thought we’d write her story. Best wishes to you!

  5. The photos of your studio’s summer vacation bring back wonderful memories of my Seattle visit with classmates from Vermont College. Your studio was magical, so I’m not surprised that Sundee and Micheline’s children created such masterpieces. Send my love to all the Seattle VC-ers!

  6. How delightful. I teach an art class to children, too, and I know how rewarding that can be. The kids did wonderful work!

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