Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment I decided to become an illustrator. I have loved to draw and paint ever since I was child, and I subsequently studied art in college, became an arts educator, and a professional artist. Writing and illustrating children’s books is a natural extension of everything that I have done.
I have to say, however, that the idea really took hold from my experience of reading books to my own children and to my students. Reading books to children provides wonderful opportunities to ask questions and to listen to others’ thoughts and feelings about the world. Books connect people in wonderful ways. Seeing the real life impact that books had on children was the pivotal moment with which I decided that it was something I wanted to do in my life.
Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?
I received my formal artistic training with a B.F.A. in painting from Washington University in St. Louis, and a K-12 certificate in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
My experience as an undergraduate student provided a solid foundation for my career as both an artist and an illustrator. As an undergrad I received valuable instruction in art techniques and skills, and was encouraged to apply those skills to my own ideas and projects. It was also the first time that I worked in my own studio space within a larger artistic community, which was an incredibly rewarding experience.
After graduation I pursued a K-12 certification in art education. This certification allowed me to teach in a variety of settings over the years, including: public, private, international, art centers and museums. Teaching has informed my work a great deal, in that I witness and facilitate the creative growth of others on a daily basis. I have learned so many different art processes, materials and concepts from teaching others. I believe that working with children has also provided me with valuable insight as to how to illustrate for children.
Additionally, I have taken online courses and workshops related to illustrating and writing children’s books. I am a member of SCBWI, 12 x 12 Challenge, and Storyteller Academy, as well as several critique groups, and I consider myself a lifelong learner.
Was creativity part of your childhood?
I am forever grateful for the guidance and support for creativity that my mother provided for me growing up. An early childhood educator, she filled our home with books, games, and creative projects. I was a quiet child who loved to spend time drawing and painting, and I felt completely supported in that endeavor. I have one memory of being stuck inside the house during a snowstorm. I spent several days drawing and collaging our entire family tree onto the kitchen wall. My parents were extremely proud of my mural, and I think of that as a pivotal moment in my artistic development.
What piece of software or hardware could you not live without and why?
I worked in the traditional media of acrylic on canvas for many years, exhibiting and selling my work as a painter. As I began to consider illustration as a creative endeavor, I was unsure about which digital program to start with. Many of the illustration programs seemed counterintuitive to the painterly process of drawing, layering, erasing and adding that I had developed. This loose painterly style was not only comfortable for me but was an integral means with which to “find an image.” When I learned about Procreate through an illustrator’s group, I was curious. I purchased a new ipad and began to use Procreate. Procreate, in my opinion, is very intuitive and easy to use. I can utilize the pencil to draw directly on the screen using a wide variety of mark making tools such as pencil, paint, and oil pastel. It was a wonderful tool to make the transition into illustration from painting.