Thank you, I’m glad to be here.
When did you realize your talent as an artist? Did it begin in childhood--college--or?
As a little kid I did a lot of doodling and made decorations for our archways every Christmas. One year my Nana entered me in a coloring contest at the Bradford House Restaurant, and I won a paint set.....and I was off and running.
Was there something that prompted you to become an illustrator?
I got my first job right out of art school as an associate designer of primary teaching aids (Sunday school curriculum) for David C. Cook Publishing. Part of my job was to design, work within budgets and hire illustrators for certain products like PIX, and Make-it, Take-it etc.. I found that I would rather illustrate and be on the other side of the drawing board and so I began working on an illustration portfolio.
How do you decide what to keep and what not to keep for an illustration?
There are some things I look for while I am working on a piece. Is the composition strong? Is it showing or not showing what it should (follows the text), are the characters and setting believable? And most of all does it have the magic, that "comes to life" effect? If it is not there, or if I have over cooked it, I start again. This can and does happen with every book but happens less than it used to. :>)
Do you draw free hand and incorporate computer software to achieve pictures for books?
Yes, I work traditionally on the board, and use mostly watercolors and colored pencils, pastels and pen and ink....not all at the same time! Once I am finished with board work, I will scan the art and adjust and clean it in Photo Shop.
What steps did you take to achieve your dream?
I wish I could give you a tidy answer to this question. But like life in general, there were a lot of starts and stops. I attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia and graduated with a visual communications degree in graphic design. I began working for David C. Cook Publishing in 1987 and it was there I discovered that I wanted to illustrate for kids.
It took many years of trying. Living life, starting a family, home schooling our son didn’t leave much time for me to pursue my dream. But I kept working… a little at a time… before my dream began to emerge. God heard my heart and prayers about this but His answers take time. There were times I put it on the back burner and times I was ready to give up. But I always continued to create, render and be creative. So don't any of you give up! If you have been given abilities, believe that in time, if you keep at it, the One who gave you the gifts will make opportunities to glorify Him with them and will provide what you need.
You are an illustrator of sixty books! Wow! Congratulations!
Can anyone hire you to illustrate their self-published books?
I work with both self-publishing authors and with publishers. When I started illustrating, I decided that it was important to really like a book manuscript, if I was to contract with the author. Illustrating a book takes so much out of an artist, to research, sketch, revise, revise, revise and do final illustrations, so you need to like the story. Loving the stories you illustrate, inspires you to create the beauty, wonder and magic in the work.
Authors that have a manuscript that has had a final edit with a children's book editor, can contact me for more information. I really like working with new authors. They are exuberant, excited and usually want to learn all they can about the book process. Creating a team, working together to create something lovely and wonderful for kids is a unique journey for each author and for the illustrator as well
How can we learn more about you and contact you?
Folks can view my website at www.picturekitchenstudio.com
On Creativity: It's limitless....in creation (God's design) what a beautiful world with so many amazing little creatures, beautiful places and fascinating flora. It's funny how something can trigger a word picture or an idea for my sketch book. I have found poetry; Josh Garrels music and even CS Spurgeon can create a spark. I try to sketch daily....for the past several months I have been sketching sermons, inspired by illustrators like John Hendricks, he has amazing sketch sermon journals.
I want to say that sometimes it's hard work to create, even though you love what you do. Many ideas come easily, almost effortlessly but usually there is a wrestling, and a struggle to birth ideas ....a lot of "butt in the chair" time to get to the very best concepts and artwork.
- create what you love
- work hard at it
- keep learning
- be fearless
- leave your results to the Lord
- Remember you are not in competition with other artists, you have a unique perspective and that is what you bring to the dance...so dance!
- Encourage and help those coming behind you... (a fellow Christian illustrator, named Kevin Collier that I had emailed for some advice when I was low and ready to give up, took the time to help me with my first website. Months later Picture Kitchen Studio was started. That kind act of one brother, was a tremendous encouragement to me....I think this was what Martin Luther meant when he said "Both human creatures and non-human creatures function as Masks of God behind which He remains the creative agent of life.")