Wild Inklings

A collection of the small wild ink images — “wild inklings” — that Kate paints with the homemade inks she makes.

Nearly all colours used are wild foraged here on the Maker’s Dozen property. Inks include: acorn, buckthorn bark + berries, oak galls, wild grape berries + vine, sumac, goldenrod, and horsetail.

Though I usually paint whatever critter is on my mind, I do accept commissions from time to time. Some of the finished paintings below are also available. If you are interested in one, feel free to contact us using the email link at the bottom of the page.


Beaver sketch, painted with acorns, wild grape, avocado pits and oak galls. Based on a black and white photograph by Hope Ryden

More about my resolve to be busy as a beaver can be found here.


Wolf spider

Painted with wild grapevine charcoal, saffron bits, oak galls, soot, buckthorn bark, beet skins. Fine lines are detailed with a quill pen made from a wild turkey feather.

Eastern cottontail rabbit

Painted with buckthorn bark, sumac, wild grape + avocado (the grass), oak galls.

Sprouting acorn

Painted with acorn, buckthorn berries (originally mixed with lye, brought back to life with baking soda + wild grapes), wild grape, sumac berries, buckthorn bark, beet skins, charcoal wash from wild grapevine.


Hover fly

Painted with sumac, oak gall, buckthorn, acorn, and goldenrod. Finished with micron pen.

American Robin
For the spring equinox.
Made from sumac, acorn, buckthorn berries, goldenrod, wild grape, wild violets, and grapevine charcoal.


Painted with wild violets, sumac, and mulberries. Plus a little acorn, buckthorn, and some wild grapevine charcoal.


Painted with foraged wild grapes, buckthorn berries, and grapevine charcoal. Detailed with a micron pen.


Eastern Phoebe
Painted with acorn, goldenrod, buckthorn berries mixed with lye, charcoal made from wild grapevine, wild grapes, and “muddy medley” — a little container where I bottle up any inks I put on my palette but don’t finish.


Fawn in the woods
Painted with acorn, horsetail, wild grape, buckthorn berries, buckthorn bark, grapevine charcoal, sumac and mixings of the above. The textured white is from whitewash I made from hydrated lime and water.

Story of this encounter told here.

Painted with sumac, horsetail strobili, wild grape, grapevine charcoal, buckthorn berries and bark, acorn, and goldenrod. Plus a little detailing with a micron pen.
Did you know that when slugs mate their engagements go on for several hours? I feel we may have misdefined the phrase “feeling sluggish”…

Saw whet owl
Buckthorn bark and berries, wild grape, grapevine charcoal, sumac, acorn, some avocado, and a touch of locally grown saffron dustings for the eyes. As with the white squirrel, I used a lot of buckthorn berries mixed with vinegar. Which goes on bright pink but settles significantly, shifting from brighter purples to a mix of mauves and greens. Constant change, in art as in life.


Though no dandelion in the mix — this one’s heavy on the horsetail. Which makes for some vibrant colours, but which will fade over time to much more muted brown tones. Passing colours. Painted with horsetail, saffron, wild grape, sumac, and a wee splash of acorn.

American toad
Painted with wild grapes (fruits and burnt vine), buckthorn (bark and berries), copper oxide, sumac, horsetail (strobili), avocado pits.


Painted with buckthorn, wild grape, avocado pits, goldenrod, sumac, grapevine charcoal.



Story of this painting told here.

Asparagus season
Painted with wild colours from grape, dandelion (the gentle green washes), buckthorn, horsetail, acorn and sumac. Plus a bit of help from avocado.
A few minutes in and I’d lost the image I was trying to make, and sometimes there’s no undo. But these inks are a bigger practice for me — accepting, exploring and working with whatever ends up on the page. If an image starts to look “awful”, I try hard not to throw down the brush, disheartened, but instead see if I can fix it. Stop trying to have the picture I want and see what new beauty I can find. It all sounds very meta and deep but it’s really just me practicing not being a “this-is-all-stupid-and-I-hate-everything” whinypants.

White Chess Set

In 1966 Yoko Ono made a piece of art called “White Chess Set”. Where all pieces and the board were white. Players were challenged to rethink what it means to have a side, and renegotiate with each other how to play a game traditionally thought of as a war game. Players quickly lose track of their pieces and have to decide with each other what it means to win. Do they keep trying to play by the old rules, or create something new?

Chess set in homemade whitewash. Splatters of sumac, saffron, wild grape, copper and mulberries.


Eastern grey squirrel

Exercise in diving right in with the homemade inks, no pencil drawing first. Based on one of the morning photos by Robin “BirdBailey”. Painting this way means I have to work with whatever ends up on the page on pass one. So I have to embrace and work with my mistakes. In art as in life.

Painted with acorn, wild grape, avocado, buckthorn bark, sumac, and a little bottle that’s a blend of all my leftovers cuz I can’t bear to waste them.

Now framed and hanging at Robin’s house — thank you Robin!


Ladybug taking flight
Based on a slow motion video I caught somewhat accidentally in our garden. Painted with horsetail strobili, sumac, wild grape, mulberries, acorn, avocado.

Eastern Towhee

We’d heard towhees here before, but only saw them in person for the first time that week — a chubby little male and female, scrummaging around in the junipers.

Reference photo was from Wikimedia, because my quick phone pic of the towhees we actually saw was a forever photo of blurry shrubbery.

Homemade inks used are: sumac berries, horsetail, avocado pits, wild grape, grapevine charcoal. Plus a grey/brown colour that’s the current state of the leftover inks I mix together and save.


Virginia opossum



Blue Jay
Painted with copper oxide, buckthorn berries + bark, and wild grape.
Feeder watchers know them as bullies.
Birders know them as nest robbers.
Like other corvids, blue jays will sometimes eat carrion. Unlike other corvids, jays will hop to get around on the ground — crows will walk. When blue jays are at ease, feeding with family or a trusted flock, they may lower the feathers of their crest.
Blue jays will also “mob” predators, a group of them chasing away an owl.
So while jays are themselves sometimes a threat to songbirds, they can also function as other animals’ protectors — nothing in life is simple.


White squirrel
Inspired by friends who rescued a orphaned squirrel kits, who started leaving the nest looking for help when momma squirrel didn’t come home. Including one white squirrel babe. Squirrely here is painted mostly with buckthorn berries mixed with vinegar, some buckthorn bark, plus a little sumac and a dash of wild grape.


Bouquet of local flowers.

Based on a photo by Knuckle Down Farm.


Based on a photograph by Susan Guy. Painted with wild grapes (fruits and burnt vine), buckthorn (bark and berries), copper oxide, sumac, horsetail (strobili), avocado pits.

Painted with goldenrod, horsetail strobili, sumac, wild grape, buckthorn, acorns, avocado pits and some saffron.
I also did some blacking on this one with a standard fine tipped pen. The goldenrod goes on clear, but dries to a lovely bright yellow.
This is based on a photo from Vika Farm which beautifully illustrates how bees collect pollen of all colours, leading to both questions and answers about which flowers, trees, and shrubs the bees are harvesting from and when.


Red colour-morph screech owl

Based on a photo by Tess Miller of an owl in care at Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre