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The Best Places
One-of-a-kind book by Donna Thomas. 2021
Peter and Donna Thomas: Santa Cruz

The Best Places. (2021) Texts by Donna Thomas, Mary Hunter Austin, Lester Rowntree. 14 accordion pages. 13.5 x 10 inches. $2,800.

Full bound, green Oasis goat leather covers, brown goat spine (leather tanned by Donna) , tooled multi-color leather onlay of shooting star flower and laced strip of light green Oasis goat leather on front cover. Medium green Oasis goat leather straps lace across spine and into front and back covers.

Accordion made using coagulated green paper (handmade by Peter Thomas) laced together with blue handmade paper strips before folding. Text is hand painted on accordion. 17 watercolors, painted plein air in the Sierra Nevada, stitched with thread, or laced with paper, to the accordion.

Clamshell box, green cloth covers, blue handmade paper spine and sides, handmade paper interior, paper label with title on front cover.

Artists' statement and notes:

This book was made to honor two women whose lives have inspired me, women who loved the Sierra and the native plants of California as much as I have: Lester Rountree was a self-taught botanist and native plant nursery owner who spent months every year traveling solo around the West studying the native plants and collecting seeds, an unusual thing for a woman to do in the 1930s and 40s. I admire her strong independent spirit. Mary Hunter Austin is known for her keen observations and descriptions of the eastern Sierra. Her short quote compares nature to a “wanton” that doesn’t reveal every best quality on the first encounter, and that every experience in the mountains or in nature will reveal something new and wonderful. In this book I pair my paintings with quotes by Austin and Roundtree. In agreement with Austin’s sentiment, I have included larger landscape paintings that reveal some of the “best places” I have visited while backpacking in the Sierra. In honor of Roundtree’s love of flora, I have included smaller botanical watercolors that I painted while pausing to enjoy a moment in some of those “best places”.

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© 2002 Peter and Donna Thomas