Any idea who this bearded wonder might be?


It’s John Muir, subject of the current non-fiction picture book I’m working on with Charlesbridge Publishing. The story, by Julie Danneberg, is spun directly from Muir’s own journal, about an event in Yosemite in 1871. Drawing Muir’s beard has become quite the challenge, and now beards are on my brain.

In one scene, Muir gets soaked by a waterfall. Hmm, what happens to a wet beard? I found the curious social network, Wet Beards, but it wasn’t much help. I noticed a colleague at Maine College of Art has a very Muir-ish beard. He very gamely obliged my request for some wet beard photos.


It was helpful for this sketch:


I couldn’t resist sketching the variety of styles while watching the famously bearded Red Sox on TV.  Napoli’s is so full it looks attached to the helmet.


Workman’s is very trim and pointed.


I worked on this sketch over a couple of games. It takes many glimpses to capture anything.


The bald head and long beard is so, gnomish. Or Gomes-ish?


On a recent ferry ride, I sketched Scott Nash a couple of benches away.


All this keeps me nimble for the Muir project. Then I learned from Charlesbridge this view of Muir’s cabin is incorrect.


According to Muir experts at College of the Pacific’s John Muir Center, his view of Yosemite Falls was through a skylight, not a window.

My intrepid husband, Marty, made a model of the sawmill and “hang nest” in which Muir lived during the episode from Danneberg’s story. This helped me visualize it all a bit better. I think.



Back to the drawing board. We’ll see if this one flies. Meanwhile, beard up, Boston!


  1. I absolutely love this post, Jamie !!! I enjoyed that your pal let you pour water over his head; fantastic Marty with his inspired model; the Ferry beard man is really easy on the eyes; Of course, the ball players have been foremost in my mind… When I first heard of this project, I thought Mr Muir would be a perfect Red Sox team member. Great post! Very wonderful portrait of John Muir. Last, I remember a visiting friend who said: “what is M-Weer Woods?” The sound: M-Weer, has stayed emblazoned in my brain… I am excited for this project… great work, friend !!!

  2. Diane, your enthusiasm is deeply appreciated! I’ve not heard of M-Weer, but get this: on my retreat in Stonington, I came across a road sign, Muir Woods. It was downright cosmic! I agree, Muir would have been GAME ON.

  3. Great to have this post to share with students on the value of research!

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