Wednesday, December 19, 2012


It’s 70 degrees this afternoon in south Louisiana, and I just shed a leather jacket that I had been prompted to wear because the early morning temps were in the 50’s. What a wimp some of my friends in the mountains think I am! As I write this, winter storms are brewing in the West and Midwest, and this morning’s email from Gary Entsminger, publisher of Pinyon Publishing in Montrose, Colorado, carried a wintry message. “At last,” Gary writes, “we awoke to a winter storm. Five inches of snow have fallen so far, and it is snowing steadily. The atmosphere is calm…nice. Susan (Susan Elliott, Gary’s partner and artist at Pinyon) and Garcia (a beautiful black Lab) shoveled our first paths and stocked the feeders, so we have about 100 little birds dancing and pecking in the snow and on the pinyon branches. The mountains have been getting good snow for a few days, but our storms had been just dusting until this morning. Hooray! It’s a classic winter wonderland outside…”

Gary and Susan have many indoor pursuits that keep them busy while the snow falls and have been working steadily on publishing books, selling second-hand editions, practicing guitar mandolin, and piano music, singing and dancing, cooking and canning. Their latest indoor pursuit is a beautiful project that they finished just in time for Christmas. Susan created Art Cards from two of Pinyon’s book publication list, Open the Gates: Poems for Young Readers by Dabney Stuart, which contains 43 illustrations drawn and painted by Susan; and Why Water Plants Don’t Drown: Survival Strategies of Aquatic and Wetland Plants by Victoria Sullivan, which contains 62 illustrations rendered by Susan.

Almost all of the artwork in Open the Gates is of animals because the creatures are what the poems are about. Susan chose eight animals that displayed the different vibrant watercolor styles she used in the book: bat, rhino, fiddler crab, newt, bumble bee (one of her favorites because it’s a Bombus appositus bumble bee on a Delphinium barbeyi larkspur, subjects in Susan’s dissertation study – she has a Ph.D. in Botany), impala, water ouzel, and wolf.

We ordered several of the packets of the Art Cards featuring Susan’s illustrations in Why Water Plants Don’t Drown and plan to order more. Although Why Water Plants Don’t Drown includes technical illustrations to accompany the section in which Vickie describes the primary needs of plants: light, gases, structural support, and reproduction, no Art Cards were created from this section. Other sections include aquatic plants (sub-categories of Divers, Floaters, and Floating-Leaf Plants in Why Water Plants Don’t Drown) and wetland plants (sub-category “Waders”). For the Water Plants cards, Susan chose four aquatic examples (lotus, sea grasses, spatterdock, and water hyacinth) and four Wetland examples (water tupelo, cranberry, venus fly trap and swamp milkweed).

We’ve given several packets of the Art Cards as Christmas gifts that our friends opened immediately, and the response to Susan’s artwork has been tremendous. For those readers who haven’t purchased either of these books, you’re in for a treat. Susan says she chose images that were striking and elegant on their own (without accompanying text or poems), and the images bear out her descriptions of both animals and plants.

Use the Art Cards link to contact the publisher online or at mailing address: Pinyon Publishing, 23847 V66 Trail, Montrose, CO 81403.

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