Carole Horowitz

I was saddened to hear that Carole Horowitz had passed away. A long-time Ames resident, her obituary describes some of her many contributions to community and the arts (link is to Ames Tribune website).

I last worked with her on the sculpture for Children’s Theater (see my blog post Remembering Ames Children’s Theater). We had fun creating images for the sculpture showing what it meant to the children who participated. I loved working with Carole and she was a dear friend, and always encouraged and believed in me.

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Words and pictures

Cover of the book Carol Jo's Daydreaming Tree, written and illustrated by artist Jo Myers-Walker, with watercolor painting of a girl and cat perched on the limb of a tree watching figures below that look small from the height

Cover of “Carol Jo’s
Daydreaming Tree”

Being an illustrator is very similar to being a writer — telling a story through images versus words. After painting the illustrations for Lucky’s Feet, I wanted to try telling a story of my own through both words and pictures.

The result is “Carol Jo’s Daydreaming Tree,” a children’s book inspired by my childhood growing up with my brothers (but fictionalized!). Friends who are writers provided feedback as I refined the wording and worked out which paintings and perspectives I needed to show the events in the book. Another friend provided technical expertise to add text to images of my paintings.

I’ve been enjoying illustration, which is well suited to times when we can’t meet each other in person. Doing both the writing and watercolors was a creative adventure, and led directly to my illustrating a third children’s book, which I’ll show you in an upcoming post!

(Send me an email — — if you’d like to order a copy of “Carol Jo’s Daydreaming Tree.” Price would be $25.00 for a color-photocopied self-published soft copy as shown, not including sales tax or shipping and handling.)

From Jo Myers-Walker's book Carol Jo's Daydreaming Tree, preliminary sketch and watercolor page showing young girl and cat inspecting a spot on the ground in front of a house

A preliminary sketch and the
resulting page from the book

Artist Jo Myers-Walker seated at a desk with her book Carol Jo's Daydreaming Tree and an illustration she painted for it

Illustrating my book

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Tree of celebration

A tabletop Christmas tree with baby shoes and a baby hat among the decorations

Celebrating life

I love this little tree, I have my children’s baby shoes among the ornaments and “countdown” envelopes, and at the top is son Devin’s little blue cap he wore from the hospital.

The only problem I had was buying more lights — the stores were all out, but the joy of the little tree does not need a full array of lights, it sparkles anyway.

Happy Holidays to those near and far! Rejoice in the little things as it is all about Love.

Ceramic nativity scene overseen by a small "alien" doll

A joyful scene

A small "alien" doll dressed in a green jumpsuit stands on a small black ladder to look at a tabletop Christmas tree and nativity scene

Coming from afar like the wise men,
this "alien" from my doll collection has
climbed the ladder to get a good look

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Remembering Ames Children’s Theater

A sculpture shows a painting of four young people gesturing toward Ames Children's Theater logo with theater curtains represented in a foreground layer

Four young participants gesture toward the
Ames Children’s Theater logo in a scene
featuring the familiar white cube stage prop

I had the honor of creating this small sculpture to commemorate and celebrate Ames Children’s Theater, which recently wrapped up its illustrious 40-plus-year run. The program provided theater experience to area children, and presented plays and guest artist performances in Ames elementary schools. The sculpture is made of durable Lexan™ and is sized to easily move from place to place.

As usual with a commissioned piece, I worked with the client in developing the artwork to reflect their vision. In this case I collaborated with notable friend of the arts Carole Horowitz, who was instrumental in founding Ames Children’s Theater and throughout its run. It was fun for me to work with Carole because I’ve worked on so many committees when in Ames and we could reminisce about happenings in the art world.

Carole and Children’s Theater board member Maureen Friedrich spoke with the Ames Tribune for the article, “End of an era: Ames Children’s Theater disbands after more than 40 years.”

Update January 2022:
I’m sad to relate that Carole has passed away; see my blog post Carole Horowitz for a link to her obituary.

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Painting while dogsitting

Two small dogs next to a small watercolor illustration by artist Jo Myers-Walker

Attentive Frank and Bella, with painting for scale

Earlier this summer I spent some time dogsitting with my daughter’s beloved dogs Frank and Bella (both females), shown at right; then more recently with another daughter’s dog Olive, shown below.

Olive is very affectionate and used to sitting on her owner’s lap. After playing ball with her I wanted to paint, so I pulled up a chair next to me and she laid her head on my lap with an occasional lick on my brushes and paint container. It is just like kids in the studio, better to let them be involved!

A small Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog sits on a chair in front of a watercolor workstation

Olive (at bottom right of the photo)
at the work station

A small dog inspects a watercolor illustration by artist Jo Myers-Walker

Inspecting the results

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Wrapping up summer at Shalom

Multiple left and right footprints in purple and green paint respectively on a large sheet of white paper

What are the stories your feet can tell you?
Where have they been?

Watercolor painting of a chicken in the background with many colorfully painted leaves in the foreground by artist Jo Myers-Walker

Anticipating a colorful future for the leaves

To round out the Watercolor Playgroup series with our August session, we started by making prints of our feet using washable tempera paint in flat pans. Lots of giggles doing this, but so fun! While the footprints were drying we painted the ever-popular chicken, and drew around leaves and painted them with lots of color getting ready for fall.

As we gazed at our dried footprints, considering the lines and impressions in our feet that have carried us for so long, we began to find shapes and symbols, like seeing animals in the clouds. Class members imagined landscapes where they could add trees and people. We cut out our “feet” and added a little paint and markers and made cards. One participant sent her footprint to her beloved with the words, “I will follow you anywhere.”

For an artist or anyone, it’s powerful to try learning to see beyond the obvious. We can use many methods to look at things in new ways and strive to “see as God sees.” I enjoyed working, playing, and meeting with people at these summer sessions and look forward to returning to Shalom Spirituality Center (check out their Events and Newsletters pages for upcoming events!).

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Scenes at Shalom

Exterior photo of buildings and shaded lawn at Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque, Iowa with watercolor painting of detail of the scene by artist Jo Myers-Walker

Using a viewfinder (white paper with rectangle cut
out) to select an area of focus from the larger photo

For our July Watercolor Playgroup at Shalom Spirituality Center, I took photos of the grounds outside, then using a viewfinder found a part that spoke to me rather than painting the whole yard. We painted the closeup area and added some chickens. The class wanted to paint larger chickens as one participant had chickens at home. In the painting at left below, we were outside celebrating and saw our shadows and it was joyful!

Watercolor painting of person with arms outstretched to play with making shadow by artist Jo Myers-Walker

Painting shadows is grounding and revealing

Sketch and watercolor painting of a chicken by artist Jo Myers-Walker

Always a favorite subject

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Watercolor playgroup

Members of a watercolor workshop at a table with watercolor supplies

Using our viewfinders to choose an area of focus

On June 26 I was at Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque, facilitating the first session of Watercolor Playgroup, a plein air retreat. Unfortunately for the “plein air” plans, it rained all afternoon, so we took our artmaking inside. We worked from photos and used viewfinders to focus on an area of a scene that spoke to us. I demonstrated technique in drawing and watercolor using a workbook emphasizing shadows which I developed for the class.

Photo of spring flowers in a vase with stark shadow behind, and a watercolor painting of the same scene by artist Jo Myers-Walker

Shadows are grounding in a drawing or painting.
On a rainy day I used a flashlight to get a distinct
shadow for this example for the workbook.

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Ready to get outdoors

Watercolor painting of a narrow street in the village of Saint-Victor-des-Oules, France by artist Jo Myers-Walker

A street scene from Saint-Victor-des-Oules in southern France,
painted for an earlier “staycation”-themed Zoom class.
At right, detail of the plein-air painters in the scene.

In the Spring an artist’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of … plein air painting!* Online watercolor classes were a great way to escape the winter climate; as the weather grew nicer, my students and I were growing impatient to get outdoors. Zoom classes are on hiatus for now while I venture on to some other projects.

Pictured:  In Saint-Victor-des-Oules, France, some fellow artists and I walked up the road into town from our lodging on the outskirts and tucked ourselves into a little driveway to paint — the cars come up fast on these narrow streets! A beautiful part of travel is the “mindful moments,” being able to sit and absorb the wonderful smells of food and flowers and the sounds of people speaking French, paying attention and enjoying the senses and feeling “really there.” This scene brings to mind the scent of beef bourguignon floating to us through an open window.

* (with apologies to the source of the quote)

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April classes: Painting Monet’s gardens

Watercolor painting of Monet's garden at Giverny by artist Jo Myers-Walker, showing lily pond and trees in autumn color

The beauty of Monet’s gardens at Giverny resulted
from careful planning and a lot of work, both
originally and to restore them in modern times

For my Zoom watercolor classes in April we are painting Monet’s gardens, focusing on water, trees and flowers. We work from a photo, a value sketch, and a color palette before we start painting.

Pictured: My traveling companions and I were at the gardens at Giverny in an October, just when the trees were turning. The still water reflections were stunning amongst the water lilies. Everything in the gardens was planned, from the times that different plants and trees would be in bloom, to the reflections in the water.

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