When did you first become interested in illustrating?
I started drawing when I was five. I loved to design Barbie doll dresses (and sewed them on my mom’s old Singer machine) when I was a pre-teen. I built doll houses (largest 4 foot x 4 foot) with individually laid coffee stirrer parquet floors and hand cut stairs.
When I entered college at Virginia Commonwealth Universities’ Fine Art Program, I completed the first year of fine art studies but let someone else push me into Interior Design versus the Graphic Design I really wanted, so quite after the 2nd year. Years later, attended Radford University to complete my Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Graphic Advertising and Illustrative Art. During that program I started drawing pen and ink pictures of old barns, historic buildings (Colonial Williamsburg), abandoned buildings, and other subjects that just lent themselves to pen and ink. After I completed my Ph.D. (in STEM Education), I decided to go back into the art field and pursue some long-ignored outlets for my art. One thing I noticed was the increasing interest in coloring books, so decided to try a few, and this summer, targeted the Fairy Houses and Fairy Doors for a topic. The books have taken off beyond my minimum expectations in popularity!
What are your favourite things to draw?
My favorite topics are architectural topics - old abandoned gas (petrol) stations and barns that are falling down. Windows with vines and flowers creeping in and out of the sills. Fences that have been taken over with wild morning glory. I actually ’suck’ at drawing people and animals - never have practiced long or hard enough at those to excel.
Where do you find inspiration?
Lots of folks who admire artists’ works don’t realize that many artists are inspired by something they have seen around them. I have keep scraps of magazine photos, I pour over Pinterest for hours, I Google images now for specific topics. If I like a photo or an idea of how to make something, I use the idea that I see in the photo or magazine as a basis for creating an original drawing of my own. I never infringe on another artist’s copyrighted work, but I may see a cottage with a fence and draw a version of the same thing using my own interpretation of the items in the original drawing. Many people feel that is copyright infringement, but it’s not - you can’t copyright an idea, only an image.
If you weren’t an illustrator what would you be?
I am more than an illustrator artist - I do more than draw. I create mixed-media that ends up looking like sculptures because of their 3D qualities. I have sewn more than 50 quilts in my lifetime and have plans for another 50 or so using rescued stitchery pieces I have found in thrift stores. I love up-cycling furniture from curb-side throw-aways to stunning wood-burned images on the tops and bottoms or wood-stained illustrations all over the surfaces (dressers or tables). I guess the question should be - if I didn’t have to make a living as a business consultant, resume writer, and editor/publisher for academic books and wanna-be writers - what would I want to do? I would want to be a full-time artist!
I also love rescuing stitchery from thrift stores, crocheting afghans (I only know two stitches so just go round and round in a square pattern until it’s too heavy to continue). I want to start playing with mosaics and designing stone walkways with river rocks in patterns.
Why do you think adult colouring books have become so huge?
I understand the recent trend started out as a hobby in France and grew outwards from there. The news articles that the media have started writing about the positive and beneficial results of mental, physical, and psychological relaxation and stress-relief have built on the trend. On top of that, the coloring medium industry - providing gel pens, markers, sharp point pens, and coloring crayons in the multiple variety of stunning colors is directly appealing to the hobbyists, as well as the faddists (those who jump on the bandwagon only because it is the latest trend). Social Media has fueled the fire - I personally am a member of over 50 groups directly on Facebook. I ‘lurk’ in most of those groups to see what the trending topics are and many members simply want to showcase the results of their own coloring efforts of the most successfully printed coloring books.
What does your working environment look like?
Since I just moved between houses (hubby and I are downsizing - all three of my daughters have left the roost), I have to pack up the large (10 foot x 12 foot) art studio I used to have. In the new house I am looking forward to converting my garage to a new art studio with conditioned air (heat/AC) within the next six months (about the same size). I have been working at the kitchen table for the last year because while the house was being sold it had to be magazine photo perfect as the potential buyers came to look. The current (500 square foot smaller) house still has boxes piled up to the ceilings. So it’s cramped. I have a glider chair in the living room, and a TV tray table on which I have balanced a light table to work on while drawing my images for my coloring books.
Do you listen to music when you work? If so, who/what?
When I work on my business consulting during the day, I have to have absolute silence in the house. My editing of resumes and dissertation conversions to commercial books have to be precise and 100% quality assurance, so any music, phone calls, televisions in the background are not allowed. Sometimes I have to kick my husband out of the room during the day if he plays hooky from his own business. But, when I do my artwork, I don’t mind a movie playing in the room that I can listen to while I create. I could dispense with the TV altogether and have gone months without one in the past, but the hubby insists on TVs around the house.
My favorite type of music is Jazz, then Country, New Age musical instrumentals, then accustic guitar - especially classical . I could do without the artists’ singing and just listen to the music itself.
What are your favourite things in life?
Not necessarily in vital order: creating art or upcycling wood pieces (furniture, boxes, etc.), the company of my my husband (retired Navy Chief, Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD)), gardening - flower and vegetable, renovating houses. I currently identify myself as a sandwich generation. I have to visit my mom’s house in another city once a week to take care of her and help her run errands as she slowly goes down the path of dementia and growing physical decline in strength and ability. One of my daughters had a baby and the ‘baby daddy’ ran away to the other side of the country to avoid his responsibilities, so I have had to step in and assist in helping her with childcare in the evenings while she works a second job. So I adore my grand-baby(ies) (first of two grandsons; the second one lives in California).
Finally, please give 3 words that describe your work.
Ok - I cheated, but I’ll provide three ’terms’ versus just words.