I was drawn (pun intended) into art at a very early age, sitting at my mother’s knee watching her paint. My mother, Lulu, was landscape painter. At three I would sit beside her – on my hands, so I didn’t accidentally touch the oil paint – and watch magical things unfold. Frequently, as most 3-year-olds do, I would ask, “Why does? What’s that? Where’s…” The endless questions must have driven my mother nuts, but she never let on. And some of my questions were answered with stories.
In one painting, Virginia Road, there was a tree in the foreground that had a heavy branch extending across the painting. It wasn’t just any branch, however. This branch has a saddle in it. Not a real saddle, but a bend – like a saddle. I must have stared at this for hours – well minutes – before I just had to ask. “Why is there a saddle in the tree?” My mother answered without missing a beat, “That’s Tim’s saddle. Tim, the man who owns the farm. He’s grown up here. Lived here all his life. And he’s sat in that tree every morning since he was old enough to climb it to watch the sun rise. After many years as he grew, his weight formed that saddle in the tree.” And that story led to a million other questions, that led to more answers, and more adventures.
I became an artist at my mother’s knee, drawing Tim and the other people she talked about in her paintings. At first they were simple stick figures. And every once in a while my mother would glance down at my efforts and drop a hint. “Do you think if his head is round, his body might be too? Why don’t you try drawing his body’s shape instead of using a line?” And the tips and tricks and prompts grew into example and technique as my skills grew.
I was an accomplished portrait artist by my teens. After high school, I traded cartoon strips with my mother instead of writing the traditional letters home. The Adventures of Jacky and Sir (our Cocker Spaniel and Great Dane) became substitutes for me and my college roommate. I did pen and watercolor fashion sketches for a local boutique in my late teens and later became “Becky”, the pen-named political cartoonist of Two Cents Worth, for the Wisconsin Counties Magazine. When my youngest was born, I created my first picture book, The Christmas Leprechaun, as a present for my kids and the cousins, recapping and embellishing our day at a Christmas Tree Farm with Grandpa and all the kids. As I began to raise children of my own, photography became my medium of choice and I opened my own studio, Reflections Photography of Oregon.
Many years later, after taking a course at the local technical college with Caldecott Medal Winner, David McLimans, I ventured back into cartooning. It didn’t take long for me to combine my digital editing skills with my drawings and now I work almost exclusively in Adobe Photoshop to create my illustrations.