The Cascades Carnivore Project

The below video is shot and edited by Environmental journalist: Alison Morrow for KING5 - please watch!

In June 2018 I had the opportunity to tag along with the Cascades Carnivore Project into the Southern Cascades where a wolverine den was recently found. My role was to illustrate and visually document the den and surroundings.

For those of you who don’t know what a wolverine is, you’re not alone here. Many friends I spoke to about my trip thought a wolverine was a small wolf, made jokes about seeing Hugh Jackman in the wild, or thought they were the stuff of legends. Wolverines are cute, yet vicious member of the weasel family, but more closely resembles a little bear, in my opinion.


Its jaws can bite through bone, and it can take down any mid-sized animal to chow down on. Their territory spans into the upper end of the double digits, and they are mostly solitary. I also happen to think they are just too cute (but not something I’d like to run into by my lonesome).

My friend, Bennett Dewan, took the above photo. You can check out more of his wildlife photography at his website: . He’s truly brilliant.

It must be mentioned that wolverine sightings are incredibly rare, as not only are they elusive, but they were thought to no longer live in the area. Wolverine sightings are a HUGE deal, so to be included in this was absolutely incredible.

The hike (20+ miles in all) in took us across a raging river and over some snow pack, which turned out to be my downfall. After setting up camp, the team and i set out for another few miles to scout out the wildlife cameras and collection stations. This is where scientists/biologist collect samples of fur to see how many wolverines/other species have been visiting the pungent bait - which is dangling from a rope in a tree to lure in interested wildlife- to be photographed.

It appeared that Pepper, the resident female wolverine, whose den we were on our way to visit, visited with her Pepperoni - otherwise known as her kits. So. Stinking. Cute.

Not far from a beautiful lookout of the Cascades, sadly my trip took a turn for the worst. As I was discussing how excited I was to sketch and observe the area the following day, I broke through the thawing snow pack and straight into an underlying tree.

While normally this is not a huge issue, unfortunately for me, a wave of nausea hit and I knew something wasn’t quite right. As it turns out, I managed to sprain my ankle at a Grade 3 level: where I completely tore ligaments in the right side of my ankle, making it very difficult to walk down hill without rolling my already rapidly swelling ankle.

Regardless, I managed to make it to the wolverine den, which was massive! In June, the wolverines had already made their way to their summer home, so there were no run-ins, or needs for quick getaways. It truly was a sight to take in!

An environmental reporter for a local TV station took fantastic footage about the whole trip; you can watch it below, and in a different segment above:

I get a special mention as the “Illustrator Lady”.

Sadly after one day and night, I had to head back to civilization with the KING 5 crew. Crossing over a raging river with a busted ankle was terrifying, and of course, hiking downhill was no treat. It’s truly amazing how much adrenaline (or whatever it was) takes over to get you through to the otherside. As soon as I got into the car, my ankle ballooned to 3 times the size it was whilst hiking.

After realizing I couldn’t drive back into Seattle, I spent the night in Yakima and ate an entire Domino’s pizza by myself while watching “Southern Charm” - truly wonderful and horrifying.

Regardless of the lingering injury, I would really enjoy doing more conservation work - artistically. I gotta get the ankle back up to snuff, as it’s not quite there yet. to go on mountain treks to find the rare and elusive. Hopefully soon enough!

Thanks again to the Cascades Carnivore Project for allowing me to tag along!

You can see my illustrations under the pen and ink section of my website titled: Pepper, the wolverine, and Vulpes Vulpes.


Volunteer Profile - Urban ArtWorks

Since October 2017, I’ve gotten to know the fine folks at Urban ArtWorks (UA) In their own words (gleefully copy and pasted from their website):

Urban ArtWorks is a Seattle-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for contemporary artists and local youth to work together to create public works of art. Our goal is to empower young people through professional opportunities in the arts.

Since then, I have helped UA raise money for youth programing through donating my art for auction, taught and facilitated mural projects, and volunteered my time assisting in fundraising endeavors.

Below is an interview I did with UA in June 2018 (recently published on their website):


Amanda is an artist and volunteer who helps us out with a variety of initiatives. We asked her some questions about public art:

How did you find out about Urban Artworks? 
I was reading The Stranger while at my former day job and saw an ad for Urban ArtWorks’ Summer Celebration. I sent-in an email to introduce myself as both an artist and as a potential volunteer for UA’s events and teaching opportunities.

Tell us about yourself, where did you grow up / how did you find yourself in Seattle?
I was born in Geneva, Switzerland and moved to the U.S. shortly thereafter. My family and I bounced around the U.S. – mostly between the Midwest and Alaska. My love of art started when we lived in an Inupiaq village called Brevig Mission in Northwest Alaska where I was surrounded by Native carvers and drawers. Close proximity to animals and various forms nature provided me with the subject matter of my art, knowing Native artists provided an example of using art as a form of storytelling, which I have followed over the years. After a near decade of being a German-language instructor at University of Oregon and Oregon State University, I decided to change up my career path and follow my passion of art in earnest. In 2015, I applied for University of Washington’s Natural Science Illustration Program and was accepted. I’ve been in Seattle ever since and am happily getting more involved in the art scene here.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
I go on ridiculously long walks and really listen to song lyrics. Misinterpreted – or reinterpreted—lyrics tend to lead to an idea for a drawing. For example, during a creative dry-spell I was listening to a good deal of David Bowie, particularly “Let’s Dance.” There’s a lyric, “Put on your red shoes and dance the blues,” which made me – an absolute bird nerd- think about the mating dance of the blue-footed boobies putting on red shoes. Silly things like that really help me create new art.

Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed? 
The subject. As most of my art features animals, it is important to portray their personality, feathers, fur, glint in the eye accurately. Every minute detail matters as they are very specific to each species. I am an incredibly messy artist despite my best efforts, and I tend to start with the foreground instead of the background, as it’s always more interesting. Of course, this has gotten me into loads of trouble!

Have there been major influences from childhood that you didn’t realize until later in life?
Not really, as they’ve always been present. When I expressed my interest for art and animals, my parents helped encourage and cultivate that, and continue to do so – even when the art game gets tough.

What projects are you working on these days?
I am currently working on a pen, ink and gouache series of Pacific Northwest Carnivores and the flora that surrounds them. I am an avid supporter of conservation efforts, and I believe representations of nature gives the viewer a more-relatable insight to the general public on what is happening to our green spaces and how we can help indigenous wildlife.
I’ll be on a backpacking adventure with Cascades Carnivore Project soon, where I’ve been asked to illustrate a wolverine den (and any potential elusive wolverines that come my way!). Getting out into the field and seeing wildlife firsthand – instead of in photos – is always fantastic.

Who are some other artists who have influenced you?
One of the first female natural science illustrators, Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 – 1717). She led me to want to try watercolor with pen and ink.

Did you come from a creative family?
My father is incredibly creative. He and I used to spend a good deal of time drawing or building things together. My mom and sister have their moments, but they happily stay away from things which seem too artistically complicated.

How is living in Seattle influencing your work right now?
I’m getting more involved with local conservation groups looking for art and illustrations for their organization. Access to these orgs as well as the proximity to nature is really channeling my artwork in that direction at the moment.