For Beth and Sallie, who wanted to see.

A large, older painting (pre 1993). 20×24, if I recall. I still like the wolves. Not so much the composition or setting. They look like they’re grazing, for crying out loud–and what was I thinking with that distracting wispy mist in the background? Probably just being lazy!

My most recent attempt (2002 or 2003). 5×7 portrait of a chicadee. Now hangs in a home in Jerusalem, Israel. My tastes have gone from the big and overly dramatic to the small and intimate. Bird by bird, so to speak.

And the drawings I did this month for the first page of BEAR COUNTRY (and all I plan to do!) in a rough, collage-type mock-up.

Text for the above page from BEAR COUNTRY, Copyright 2008 by Lori L. Benton (all rights reserved, etc.):

One day near summer’s end, a teddy bear named Palister and Sarah Jane, his child, had tea with The Queen of England on Sarah Jane’s bed.

Right in the middle of their second cups, Sarah Jane’s parents came into the room.

“We’re going on a family trip,” said her mother.

“A camping trip,” said her father. “In the wilderness.”

Sarah Jane set down her tea cup and gave the bed a little bounce. “Hooray! I love camping.”

“We know!” said her parents.

“This trip will be a special adventure,” her mother said. “It will be Palister’s first camping trip.”

Palister didn’t know what a wilderness was, but he knew all about adventures. After all, he had fought a dragon and rescued Sarah Jane from a high stone tower. He had sailed a ship on the ocean and battled pirates by her side.

Of course, the dragon and the pirates were pretend. The high stone tower was really a tree house. The ship was a porch swing.

Sarah Jane bounced again. Tea cups clattered. Palister flew into the air and landed on his head in the pillows. The Queen of England remembered an important engagement, and dashed away.

Sarah Jane turned Palister right side up. “Did you hear, Palister? We’re going camping!”

Yes, Sarah Jane, I heard, Palister said in his heart. He didn’t know what camping was, either, but it was clear that he and Sarah Jane were about to have another great adventure.

And no more pretending about it.

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