Megan Jost: From watercolors to whimsical tales for kids

Megan Jost with her art. | Megan Jost

A cute bear cub lifts its paw up to its mama, giraffes, deer and horses nuzzle each other in that special parent/baby bond. These are the comforting illustrations I remember seeing at Megan Jost’s booth Colors By Megan at the Made in Tahoe Festival held at Palisades Tahoe in autumn 2022.

Only a few months later, I saw “Ski Patrol Pups,” a book she illustrated for sale at Alpine Meadows — and again at Cuppa Tahoe — which told the story of Walter, the ski patrol dog.

Originally from Fairfield, Jost started watercolor painting for fun while studying architecture at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. After she graduated, she accepted a job with Dale Cox Architects in Truckee. Shortly after moving to Truckee, she became pregnant with her first child Calvin.

“As a kid my family would vacation up here. I love Truckee,” she says.

While on family leave, Jost thought about that watercolor class she took in college and started painting again.

“One of my architecture teachers was an amazing watercolorist and I took a class from him when studying abroad in Switzerland,” Jost says.

“I wanted to broaden my range of what I was painting but I did it more to explain to my kids what makes Truckee so special.”     –Megan Jost

A lot of her earlier prints from 2016 are in a mother/baby-inspired theme because that’s what she was going through at the time.

Jost eventually went back to work three days a week and transitioned into doing art along with architecture. In 2017 she started selling greeting cards and prints at craft fairs, art shows and Truckee Thursdays; all were well received. The Josts had their second child a year later and she came up with the idea to create “ABC Truckee Book.”

“I wanted to broaden my range of what I was painting but I did it more to explain to my kids what makes Truckee so special. Coming from Fairfield makes this place look amazing,” she says.

It took Jost about six to eight months to get the images together and then another three to four months to figure out the publishing aspect of it. Her husband and friends helped her brainstorm for the books by providing suggestions for the letters that coincide with Truckee/Tahoe themes and landmarks around the lake.

She released “ABC Truckee Book” in 2019 right before the pandemic and then followed it up with “ABC Tahoe” in 2020.

“I saw how well the Truckee one did, so I created a Tahoe one, despite shipping and supply chain challenges during COVID,” she says. “Thankfully Christmas happens no matter what and both were released before Christmas.”

As Jost’s books were selling and her watercolor techniques improved, she became friends with storyteller and author Megan Butcher when their kids attended the same preschool.

“She had been thinking about writing a book for a while and met me and figured it could be a possibility. She had the story, so it worked out well,” Jost says.

“Ski Patrol Pups” came out before Christmas 2022. The book is sold throughout the Tahoe Basin as well as in stores in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Colorado and the East Coast.

“Anyone in the world interested in skiing would probably like this,” she says. “Megan’s [Butcher] husband is a ski patroller at Alpine and they owned Walter, the main character of the book. They wanted to get his and the dogs’ story out.”

The first book in the “Ski Patrol Pups” series follows the story of Walter, a golden retriever who was hand-selected to become an avalanche search and rescue dog at Alpine Meadows. Walter passed away in 2020 and the book pays homage to him while sharing the details of his adventurous life.

When asked what Jost’s goals are for the future of her art, she replied that she’d like to continue the series with Butcher and perhaps do a project with her young sons.

“I could’ve never imagined this path and seen how it evolved. I don’t know where it’s going to go,” she says.

Megan Jost will be at Truckee Thursdays, which is held in downtown Truckee from June 22 to Aug. 10. |