How long have you been an artist?
I guess I would have to say that I’ve been an artist for as long as I could hold a crayon! Everyone is an artist, we all make our own creations and they all count as art, even a toddler can express themselves through art. But I have gotten paid for my art for about 30 years! I studied fine arts in college and have been creating art as a career since I graduated 30 years ago.
What different mediums do you work in?
My very favorite is just plain old drawing with a pencil. That is the easiest way for me to see what I am trying to express. But I also love to paint with acrylic paints, or a combination of watercolors and colored pencil, which is what I did for the cover of Peggy Noodle. Color is fun and adds a whole other form of expression. There are so many choices when it comes to color! For fun I also like to play with clay, it is entirely different from drawing and painting because it is dimensional and you can literally feel it.
What’s your favorite medium?
As I said above, pencil and paper is my favorite. I think it is because I can get lights and darks and shading and have a lot of control. Sometime color can distract from the image and sometimes it enhances it, so I sometimes like to not be distracted by color.
What is your process?
For the Peggy Noodle book, I first had to decide what Peggy looked like. How big is her nose? How long is her hair? What does she like to wear? Then I mess around with a lot of sketches until something looks like what I imagined when I was reading the book. I did use regular pencil to do the inside sketches, but the cover was drawn in pen and ink, then painted with watercolors, and then I did some highlighting and detail with colored pencil.
What did you study in school to become an artist … or, is yours just natural talent?
I got a degree in Fines Arts and took a lot of drawing, painting, sculpture and art history classes. But I grew up drawing a lot and it was always something I could do pretty easily. I don’t know if it was easy because I practiced a lot or if I practiced a lot because I was good at it! I just know that art has been part of my life for as long as I can remember and I can’t imagine not doing it.
Are you the only artist in your family? How about your parents, siblings, children?
My Dad wasn’t a professional artist, but he was very talented. At Christmas he would always draw a Christmas mural on the huge chalkboard that we had in our basement. Looking back at pictures of his mural now I realize that he was really talented! I have two sisters that also have made careers in art.
Where can we go for more information about art?
Art Museums are a fantastic place to see and learn about art. It still impresses me to see a painting in person and see the actual brushstrokes. But art is everywhere. Children’s books have some of the best art ever made. And local art galleries in your town probably have some interesting art as well. I think the more different kinds of art you see, and then maybe try to do yourself the better. Don’t be afraid to try new things, go online and just look for project ideas and try them. They don’t all have to come out perfectly, it’s mostly just fun to try to see what happens!
Where do you get your influences?
I am influenced by almost everything that I see. Nature influences me a lot, because it is beautiful without trying, it has beautiful colors and compositions. I love the old masters and some of the crazy modern stuff also. I think any art that is created passionately can influence me.
Who is your favorite artist? Piece of art? Style of art?
This is hard to answer, because I am attracted to so many styles. If you make me pick just one style or source, it would have to be children’s book illustration.
Who is your favorite children’s book author?
My favorite authors tend to be those that also illustrate their books, I think that is just because I am an illustrator! I can’t pick just one, so I’ll tell you several. I love the way Dr. Seuss thinks, I love the way Maurice Sendak illustrates, I love the way William Joyce thinks that all children are so smart, and the humor in Kay Thompson’s Eloise books.