7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #346: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Phoebe Wahl

h1 September 1st, 2013 by jules

In The Flowers
Watercolor, colored pencil, and collage, 2013


Happy long weekend, everyone. It’s the first Sunday of the month, so I have a newly-graduated illustration student visiting 7-Imp today. Her name is Phoebe Wahl, and I’m so pleased she’s here this morning, sharing her artwork, because I really like it. Since it’s a long weekend, I might just hear the sound of cyber-crickets here today at 7-Imp, but I hope some of you are around. Phoebe’s artwork is a treat.

As you’ll read below, Phoebe likes to work primarily with watercolor and collage, making (for a reason I love, which she explains below) very textured works you want to reach out and touch. Her stylized, richly patterned illustrations make me feel … I dunno. The word cozy comes to mind. Phoebe’s here to tell us a bit more about herself and then showcase some art, and I thank her again for visiting.

* * * * * * *

Phoebe: I am Phoebe Wahl. I graduated this spring from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Illustration. I am originally from the Northwest coast of Washington state and am moving to Portland, Oregon, this Fall. My connection to the Pacific Northwest plays a big role in my work. While I was living in Providence during college, my homesickness definitely manifested itself through what I was making. I found myself constantly drawn to painting blue islands and evergreen trees.

So much of my work is about the idea of home. Of comforting spaces. Spaces of nostalgia and sanctuary. Quiet moments between people and nature or parents and children or lovers.

Textures and patterns are important to me. I work in watercolor and gouache, usually combined with collage and colored pencil. I collect lots of oversized quilting books or books about fabric that I cut from. I also make a lot of three-dimensional soft sculptures of animals and people, using thrifted and recycled fabrics and wool felt. Both in my two-dimensional and three-dimensional work, heavy handedness is important to me, touched-ness. I think as we move further into the digital age, the relationships we have with hand-made things are growing increasingly important.

I have so many ideas for projects I want to make that I sometimes think I need a few more lifetimes to complete them all. I want to do children’s books, and I would love to get more into animation. I want to make giant wearable puppets and incorporate them into a theater production I stage and design. I want to do textile design and learn how to quilt.

I want to make objects and art that people feel connected to, as if they had seen it before in their childhood or a dream.


The Encounter
Watercolor and collage, 2012


(based on the book by Johanna Spyri)
Watercolor, gouache, collage, and altered book, 2013

(Click to enlarge)


Journey to Freedom
Watercolor, gouache, and collage, 2013

(Click to enlarge)


The Secret Garden
(cover re-design)
Watercolor and collage, 2013


Midsummer Parade
(Watercolor and collage, 2012

(Click to enlarge)


From the Sketchbook:








All images are used with permission of Phoebe Wahl.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

We need to try hard to find some good news this week, huh? Even if it’s just the little things.

1) I started my piano lessons! I like my teacher. I’m learning a lot.

Part of my homework is to listen to this below. I LOVE THIS HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT.

p.s. As of this week, I can plunk out a simple version of that! I’m telling you, in no time at all I’ll be joining Rufus on tour. See?

(No, no. I know. That is, quite possibly, the lamest Photoshopping job ever.)

2) The first couple weeks of school were rough for my second grader. I think she’s finally turned a corner, though. That’s the kick. (Wearing a cardigan daily to school, which makes her think of mama, helps. She squeezes the corner of said cardigan when she feels like she’d rather be home. I’ll just have to wash that cardigan a LOT.)

3) I’m excited about Neko Case’s new CD. I keep listening to it here, until the time it’s available for purchase. It’s very good.

4) Yesterday, my good friend and her husband visited. This friend was my high school drama and English lit teacher, and I realized how nervous I’ll be when she reads our book (come April of next year).

I’ll be nervous in an excited and humbled and honored-that-she’s-reading-it kind of way.

Also, I was able to give this friend some stacks of children’s books for another of her former students, who is teaching here for the Peace Corps. This is a school that really needs books, so this handing-off-of-books is just a good thing to have happen.

5) My vinyl copy of Sam Phillips’ kickin’ new CD arrived this week. Sam took old vinyl covers and re-purposed them with her funky collage art, as shown in the video below, and I ordered one.

See the art at second 00:24? That’s the one Sam sent me!

6) Our cat, Pumpkinfacehead, had a birthday this week. Our friends who gave us this kitten sent this old photo they found of him when he was but a wee kitten:

7) I saw this last night. So much kicky kick-tastic kick-credible fun, that Simon Pegg and his friends.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

21 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #346: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Phoebe Wahl”

  1. Jules, I’m so excited you get to start your piano lessons! It’s so inspiring when people get to do something they’ve dreamed of. And thanks for the super cute kitten picture!

    I love the art today, which isn’t surprising after an introduction about the importance of the idea of home and places that invoke that feeling.

    1. Father’s day BBQ outside on the warm first day of spring
    2. New glasses (though they are still a bit crooked, like my old pair…am starting to think it is my face that is crooked!)
    3. Learnt to use a baby carrier so that I can actually use two hands while carrying Rowan. Shopping (especially navigating the busy farmer’s market this morning) is a lot easier too!
    4. Successful journeys by train into the city with the pram made me feel quite competent and independent again (even if I have to learn new routes that don’t involve stairs!)
    5. Remembering to water the blueberry bush in time to save it (unlike some of the other poor neglected plants in our crazy new baby life – not helped by the fact it hasn’t rained in over a month)
    6. Visit by a good friend yesterday
    7. Asparagus at the market this morning! Apparently the mild winter had them sprouting in mid-July. Am starting to suspect the asparagus season is most of the year in this part of the world.

  2. Good morning, Imps!

    Phoebe: Thank you for sharing your art! I especially like that first image, with flowers and music! Good luck with your various artistic endeavors.

    Jules: Good luck with your piano lessons! Hugs to your little ones, especially your cardigan-wearing chica. Happy birthday, Pumpkinfacehead KITTY!

    emmaco: May the new glasses be awesome. Hola to your family!

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Story shared
    2) Places that have air conditioning and fans
    3) Opportunities
    4) Auditions
    5) Managing
    6) Being comfortable
    7) Staying calm

  3. Hi there, Phoebe I love the art. I am always intrigued by those who do collage.
    Jules, piano lessons, how fun. I hope your second grader gets over her sadness about being away during the day. The cardigan reminds me of Henkes’ Owen.
    Emmaxo, I love the name Rowan,. Enjoy the asparagus.
    LW: I have to remember staying calm this week. Hope auditions are fruitful.
    My kicks:
    1. Back to school.
    2. Seeing families at the school bar-b-que.
    3. Lunch with a 90+ yo friend, she taught first grade in the school I began my career.
    4. Early morning walks.
    5. Reading.
    6. Thunderstorm.
    7. Books.
    Have a great week.

  4. Phoebe’s images are great. I especially like the one with the starry sky.
    Jules- School starts Wednesday. Both kids are in new situations since the district made a shake-up last year. I’m hoping for the best.
    We saw that movie Friday night. I’ve never been so thirsty for a pint as I was by the end.
    emmaco- Sounds like you’re becoming a real pro at this Mama thing. I’m so happy for you.
    LW- I’m so glad you saw those opportunities. They can be easy to miss sometimes.
    Jone- Thunderstorm is on my list this week too. We had a doozy last night. I finally fell back asleep after about an hour. I don’t know how much longer it lasted.
    Jules is right. This is a good week to kick the happy things be they ever so small.
    1. Cape Cod – Home
    2. Family
    3. Friends
    4. Red Wine
    5. Cards ( birthday, sympathy and invitations specifically)
    6. Peace
    7. Doing the right thing.
    Happy September all!

  5. Phoebe, your work is beautiful! I sincerely wish you all the best.

    Jules, wow you are taking piano lessons?

    Emmaco, I am so happy for you. I want a baby too . . .


    Jone, oh I want to attend a school BBQ. I haven’t been to one in such a long time. And aaahhh kicks number 5 and 7.

    Moira, I’m hoping for the best for your kids too!


    1. I’ve been working out and dieting and people are noticing the results.

    2. My first time to preside over a board meeting as chair (of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People)!

    3. I’m one of the organizers for the Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards and we’re at the public voting phase of this year’s awards.

    4. Exo, my favorite K-pop group, keeps winning awards on Korean music shows.

    5. Exo. Hehehe.

    6. Scholastic Philippines dinner with Filipino book bloggers.

    7. New friendssssss.

  6. Phoebe Wahl’s colors are so rich and her situations so inviting; I want to join that Midsummer Parade. These pieces have a nice sense of lighting too… hiding under the forest canopy, running in the night or frolicking in a sunny glade. Very nice. And that sketchbook title “I am a nester and a nomad” really appeals to me. Thanks for sharing with us, Phoebe. (and Jules)

    Jules – That has to be the hardest thing—watching your child struggle-it-out. Glad the cardigan lovey is helping. It’s funny, but I dropped my youngest off at Emerson College on Tuesday for his freshman year, and the feelings are not that different from that first kindergarten morning drop-off. I helped make the dorm room bed and gave last-minute laundry tips. Then ya just gotta blow a kiss, cross your fingers and let them find their way. That saying about children being YOUR heart on the outside, comes to mind. All best wishes for a grand 2nd grade year for your girlie.

    emmaco – BBQs and farmers’ markets and train-ride pram (love that term) adventures? Sounds like you and Rowan are going to get lots of use out of that baby carrier. Enjoy!

    Little (wilting) Willow – I know! Too hot this week. Yea for dark and AC’ed movie theaters.

    Jone – I’m envying your thunderstorm. Happy new school year.

    Moira – lovely “ever so small” list. I think I’ll go card shopping today.

    Tarie – Readers Choice Awards sound fun. Congrats on your work-out/diet success. I’m working my way down too. Three months in: good results but I’m getting tired of being hungry. : – P Let me know if you need/want a diet buddy.

    So, big event this week was our family trip to Boston to deposit son at college. Resulting kicks:

    1. – 5.) The wacky, enthusiastic and very organized “Move-In Elves” (~30 students positioned at the entrance to each Emerson dorm around the Boston Common.) First, a sparkly winged Follow-Me Imp danced our car down the entry lane, then a mad hatter in an orange traffic vest checked my son’s name off a clip board, then a hoard of tutu’ed, bunny eared, jiggly-antennaed Cart Pushers surrounded our car and quickly emptied it of its load of suitcases, Bed, Bath & Beyond bags and Staples’ staples into their mailroom chariot. Then whoosh! Down the entry hall gauntlet of singing, dancing, cheering Greeters we went, and up the elevator (operated by an elevator fairy!) and into the dorm room with all my son’s stuff in less than 8 minutes. Impressive (and festive.)


    6.) Have you seen The Box Trolls trailer yet? Coming in September; it looks quite promising.
    http://www.theboxtrolls.com/ look for, click on, TRAILER sign at top of screen near lightbulb.

    7.) Empty Nest. Sad (I miss my kiddo) and promising (what might I create with this new Time?)

    Have a great week kickers! And happy new school year for all imps with kids, teaching kids and writer/illustrators school-visiting kids. Here we go again…

  7. RE: The Box Trolls …coming NEXT September. (2014)

  8. RE: new school year
    And librarians choosing books for/and guiding kids!

  9. Phoebe:
    I love your philosophy in approaching your artwork, making a connection to childhood or a dream. I like that you want your work to be textured, a mix of mediums. My favorite is Journey to Freedom.

    Jules: Congratulations on the piano lessons, better days for your second grader and time spent with close friends.
    Emmaco: I’m glad you are getting the hang of navigating with the baby carrier. It must be a challenge.
    Little Willow: I like staying calm.
    Jone: I’ve always preferred early morning walks. There’s so much to see as the world wakes up.
    Moria: Doing the right thing is a huge thing.
    Tarie: You can never have too many friends; sometimes the new ones are the best.
    Denise: Thanks so much for sharing the college move in description and pictures. What fun!

    My kicks:
    1. A friend surprised me with a house for Theo my tree toad.
    2. Two rabbits playing tag on my front lawn one evening.
    3. Listening to excellent audio books–Monstrous Beauty, The Raven Boys
    4. Neighborhood book group reading Kate Messner series
    5. Rain
    6. Celebrating birthdays
    7. Strolls with Xena

    Have a great week everyone.

  10. Jone: Hello to your friend. Thanks!

    Jone AND Moira: Hope the thunderstorm wasn’t destructive.

    Moira: May your kids have a lovely new school year! I’m all about preparation and opportunity.

    Tarie: Seeing STAYING CALM in all caps made me giggle happily. Good luck with the voting!

    Denise: Oh my goodness, the Move-In Elves sound delightful! Is this an annual tradition at that school? Hope he settles in soon and that the transition is smooth for all family members.

    Margie: I do, too. Hello to Theo the tree toad, and the playful rabbits!

    Hey, short story aficionados, especially those who dig twisty/contemplative/horror/smart stories: Do yourself a favor and get TELL MY SORROWS TO THE STONES by Christopher Golden.

    Welcome to September, y’all. Let’s make it wonderful!

  11. I’m here! I promise. Back in a minute …

  12. Sorry for my belated reply, everyone. I’m here.

    Emmaco, oh yes, those poor plants get demoted for a while when the baby arrives, huh? So did our poor, poor cats when we had babies. It’s good to hear you’re getting around and getting used to travel with the wee one. (p.s. I also suspect my face is crooked, if it makes you feel any better.)

    Little Willow: I love your second kick so much. It made me laugh. Your kicks are always very meaningful and pithy and thought-provoking (which I love), so I love that moment of practicality. It must be very hot where you are. (Speaking of smart women like you who say meaningful things, I found myself trying to explain to the girls the other day, since it somehow came up, what deep vs. shallow means. As in, human beings.)

    Ooh, Jone, your third kick is so cool! Best of luck to you with the start of the school year!

    Moira, did we miss your birthday?! Also, I’m sorry that something happened that warranted sympathy cards, and I hope you’re okay. VERY best of luck to your kids as they start school this week.

    TARIE! Your first board meeting. CONGRATS! Still so proud of you.

    Denise, good luck to your son! Yes, it’s like dropping your heart off, and I’m sure it’s even more intense when it’s, gulp, college. I love the very idea (and the photos of) the Move-In Elves. (What does the rest of that “bacon” shirt say?) … And, yes, I saw that trailer somewhere before, but I cannot remember where. Looks intriguing.

    Margie, what a good week you had. I wanna see pictures of the tree toad’s house!

  13. I wish I had a Summer birthday! I’m a February baby.
    The sympathy cards were for coworkers. It’s awkward to express sympathy while at work but a cards works so well.The invitations were for wedding and rehearsal dinner. Now I must buy a dress.

  14. Margie — it sounds like you live in Beatrix Potter Land! I too am curious what a tree toad abode looks like.

    Jules — photos are from the campus website. Yeah the move-in elves are an arrival tradition. The baconstrips T-shirt just continues to say “baconstrips & baconstrips”. It’s from a TV show guys watch called Epic Meals. Remember the old Saturday Night Live cafe that offered: “cheese burger, cheese burger, cheese burger…” Like that.

  15. For nostalgia’s sake, SNL and The Olympia Restaurant:


    (Man, what a great cast.)

  16. Jules, it is cool. Jean is a poet and she is very interested in the progress of my manuscript. She showed me how she has oraganizef thre 3 inch binders of her poetry. We are kindred spirits.

  17. Denise, you just made this SNL Geek happy.

    Jone: So cool!

    Moira: Happy dress-hunting.

  18. Beautiful, sparkling images!

  19. Hi Phoebe! This is a wonderful place! I love your work, congratulations on your accomplishments and I hope to see you at the Gallery.

  20. […] (Abrams, September 2015), Victoria Turnbull’s The Sea Tiger (Candlewick, October 2015), and Phoebe Wahl’s Sonya’s Chickens (Tundra, August […]

  21. […] a print from Phoebe Wahl at her shop (remember when she was a featured up-and-coming illustrator here at 7-Imp in 2013?), because dang, she’s […]

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