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The Blue House | Phoebe Wahl

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

Phoebe Wahl's breathtaking painting and collage work is not only so rich with personality, but has been steady and true to her style since her start. Her artistry is a beautiful example of following your childhood heart, and not denying yourself the things you have always naturally gravitated toward.

Wahl grew up in Bellingham, and takes the influence of that mystical, enchanted landscape to new idyllic levels, showing us how it looks in her heart and mind. She has created the perfect blending of Pacific Northwest and old European folklore - the characters all resembling rosy-cheeked gnomes in forest fairytales. But these fairytales are mixed with modern-day life and people like you and me, which shows the reader that the magic of the other world can be attainable in ours.

She explains, "I'm creating for my childhood self, but I'm also creating for adults who feel that same sense of nostalgia." Wahl so accurately describes the feeling of that imprint of childhood influences, for her it being drawing fairies and leaving letters for them in the tall, northern woods. She embraces it and is who she always has been: "You find yourself bringing back in these elements from when you were a kid... that you realize are kind of your core elements of your identity, that (you) couldn't escape."

The Blue House is not only a story of a father and son's beautiful bond, but it gently addresses the subject of moving, and the reality of the waves of pain and sorrow that can come with it. It demonstrates to a child how to honestly navigate those emotions, and grants them the permission to feel both at once.

The boy and his father are ceremonious in saying goodbye to their home, but also find a way to be strong and move forward together. They discover they never have to fully leave the old house behind because they will always have their memories, and most importantly each other, to carry on in life.

Wahl's water color and collage technique itself is a treasure to behold. After painting the base scene, she cuts bits of paper to fill in the details, starting with the largest shapes and moving to the tiny ones last. She says the process for one piece takes about 8-12 hours, and that labor of love is not lost on print. You may not notice the shadow behind the paper pieces at first glance until you take a closer look. But instantly, from any distance, you can tell her work is something unusual and exquisite.

I am looking forward to her newest book, Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Forest, set to come out in August of this year.

Here is a spotlight with Wahl describing her upbringing and her start in making books:

Wahl's other authored-illustrated books:


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