Tag Archives: gouache resist

Fox-founded Friendship

In December 2015, I received an email from a father in Novato, California: “I wanted to write you because you’re my daughter’s favorite author. And we just wanted to let you know how much we LOVE the Zelda and Ivy series! I wanted to thank you for writing and illustrating the book series my daughter will always remember as her childhood favorite. You are truly a hero of hers!”

He went on to say how they have several copies of each of the six Zelda and Ivy books and that they’ve done all the crafts on my website.

“And last year our family had a baby sister, and my older daughter thought Ivy would make a perfect name. And honestly, we were a coin flip away from naming our second child after your book’s character.” (They named her Zoe.)

Luna and Zoe and their fox friends.

As the years passed, Luna, the older daughter, began a tradition of making a yearly Christmas art project that related to Zelda and Ivy: Z&I Christmas ornaments for the tree, an elaborate Lego Z&I house, including outdoor sandbox, swing, pirate hideout, lemonade stand, birdbath, bunkbeds, piano – the complete setting of the books.

When we did a launch event for Little Wolf’s First Howling at Charlie’s Corner in San Francisco in April 2017, Luna and her family drove down and we got to meet in person. I invited them, if they were ever in Seattle, to come by my studio for an art project and tea.

At Charlie’s Corner: Luka holding Zoe, me with Luna in front, and Yukiko.

Luna sent another amazing Christmas project last December: a Twelve Days of Advent calendar that has Christmas outfits for Zelda and Ivy paperdolls behind each door.


Then last month, they took me up on my visit offer. We made gouache resist paintings together in my studio – and chomped on cucumber sandwiches (of course) with tea.

Thanks to Luna’s father, Luka, for these photos.

All of this is the unexpected golden extra – the cream that I didn’t even know was in the offing as I worked alone in my studio cooking up the Zelda and Ivy books.

It makes me smile to re-read Luna’s dad’s note: “Our family has TONS of Zelda and Ivy inside jokes too: we often play Go Fish, joke about cucumber sandwiches, sing “Take me out to the ball game” as a bedtime lullaby, often play pirates, occasionally change our names to Yolanda/Boleo Rose and say “halibut” if something is amiss, Luna got a (velvet-looking) gown (gloves and boa included) last Christmas, and a baton she reluctantly shares with her younger sister Zoe, she also has a Lucky Jewel, camps inside, digs holes to China, creates interesting “concoctions” and much more..”

What is better than to know something I wrote became part of my readers’ family’s lexicon and lives?

When Luna’s family visited, they brought along Fourth of July outfits for the Z&I paperdolls

pdollsand a beautiful illustrated book of Luna’s own, The Fox Princesses, in which sisters named Luna and Zoe team up with Zelda and Ivy to help a bear.



The cover and the conclusion of Luna’s latest book.

Best of all, was to have these sweet sisters working beside me at the drawing table on a lovely July day, together in that happy hum of creating.

Like Luna near the end of The Fox Princesses, I beamed.

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 http://www.lmkbooks.com/fun/gouache.php).

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.