Tuesday, April 24, 2012



Hallelujah PILGRIMS! For the love of this beautiful EARTH which we inhabit, I have taught myself to draw images to illustrate Ron Shaklee's story, The (Mis)Adventures of Maria the Hutia. It is about the JOURNEY of a young Bahamian hutia who gets swept away from her safe home on a pristine island. She finds her rescue team in the form of caged animals at the Nassau zoo. With the promise that her precious undeveloped island could be a new home for them, she engages them in helping her find her way back to her family. But she must first educate them as to what a hutia is! 

When asked by the various Bahamian animals she meets along her JOURNEY, she responds with the following refrain:

 “We’re small, brown, furry rodents. We were once found all over the islands.”
 Each animal invariably asks,“What happened?”

Maria answers, “Man came. He hunted us with his animals. He destroyed our habitat. Now we’re only found on two small islands where no one ever goes.”

As an artist who was going to illustrate this story, I too had to find out what a hutia is! I learned that there is an abundance of Cuban hutias and that they are not endangered like the Bahamian ones. I found various images of Bahamian hutias on the internet and also thought Cuban ones would serve well as models. I would love for a scientist to tell me the distinct differences between the Bahamian and Cuban hutias. For me, I associated the hutia with an animal I had seen before--the groundhog!

The years have passed by rapidly since I was asked by Sandy Voegeli, who at the time was playing a major role to establish a nonprofit organization to preserve the natural life of San Salvador, Bahamas, to illustrate Ron Shaklee's story. I have been working on these images since 2008, and now, the time is coming to publish the story and the images must be finished. 

In the last three years, I have taken a CREATIVE JOURNEY along with Maria the Hutia! I have gone from painting acrylics on board directed only by an inner vision to drawing 27 black and white images of Maria's story on paper using micron pens and india ink--as well as visual references!

During this time, I have learned vast amounts about Bahamian natural life. I have travelled to the Bahamas, to the Gerace Research Centre to SEE the iguanas, tropic birds, coral reefs, and vastness of ocean and sky. I have scoured pages of the three volume Reef Set by Paul Humann and Ned Deloach. Sandy, a master diver, provided me with numerous photos of sea turtles, dolphins, spotted eagle rays, squid, corals, and many more profoundly beautiful sea images. My friend, Jacq Marie Jack, an artist, geologist, and world traveler, has been my angel mentor supplying ideas, references, and guidance. My husband, Chiboogamoo, has assisted me with his considerable artistic skills, and his mother Veronica informed me that it was God's will for me to illustrate this book!

FELLOW SOJOURNERS! The vast and glorious UNIVERSE has brought me to this place of discovery right here, right now. I am an ARTIST with CREATIVE FRIENDS. We TRAVEL together as we do our individual work. With great mystery our lives intertwine and expand beyond our wildest IMAGININGS.

Ron Shaklee has encouraged me that we can get The (Mis)Adventures of Maria the Hutia published by mid-summer! Wish us luck my FELLOW SOJOURNERS. Wishing you JOY on your JOURNEY. Soul Blog with me at Coffee with Halllelujah!

View this video to hear Ron Shaklee's very catchy song about Maria the Hutia's journey! It was recorded by children from the island of San Salvador and played all over the Bahamas on the Bahamian radio. I promise  you will be humming this song for days to come if you give it a listen!


  1. Nice, nice drawing. The song and video of endangered Bahamian species is upbeat, but heart-wrenching. Can't wait to see the book and all the illustrations when it is published.

  2. Wonderful, Ruth! I love the illustrations you shared with me and I feel very fortunate to have had a sneak peak! I can't wait to see the book in it's final form. Watching you on your creative journey has inspired me to take a closer look at where I'm headed with my art and try new things too.