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Seattle artist Sarah Hartsig creates a gentle watercolor world in 'A Party for Pepper'

Photo courtesy of Sarah Hartsig


Seattle artist Sarah Hartsig brings her love of the natural world to her first picture book, A Party for Pepper. Hand-painted with gentle watercolors, the story introduces kids to the lovable creatures of Hazelwood Forest while reinforcing early counting skills. Notably, Hartsig did everything for her first book herself: writing, illustrating, and self-publishing. 

We caught up with Hartsig to chat about her debut book.


SC: Why did you decide to self-publish?

SH: Hazelwood Forest and all the characters that live there have become so real to me, larger than life and bursting at the seams to share their stories with others. I wanted to create something entirely from scratch and experience the learning curve of what it takes to actually make a book. 


Do you have a favorite place that you visit for ideas?

I love to walk through the Arboretum, off the path, to observe the beauty of it all. I remember how enchanting it was as a child… like a whole other world of endless colors and trees to play around.

Discovery Park is a magical place as well. I love picnicking in the meadow with my easel and paints to soak up the colors and movement of the grass in the wind, and the sweet little bunnies racing about.  

Photo: Sarah Hartsig


What inspired your charming characters?

Occasionally, if I am very still, I will see a bunny hop through the meadow grasses of Discovery Park and quickly back into the brambles, where I love to imagine all the woodland animals living together in a magical place.


How long does a watercolor page take to paint?

Creating a painting from start to finish takes around two to three hours for a small painting. I wanted to incorporate my knowledge of color therapy into my illustrations. The soft shade of magenta is known to be very beneficial for children to look at, a gentle transition from our world of screens and electronic devices. 

A Party for Pepper is available now at hazelwoodforest.com

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