|July Hedge a Gram
It's the month in which our country's independence is celebrated.
I'd like to thank all the men and women in the armed services for serving
Every month I take some time to talk about my life as an
illustrator. I hope there's a person who I've never met, who shares my
ambition to be a children's book illustrator and they will hear this.
When I was a child I thought it would be great to wake up every morning
and draw all day long. It's even better than I thought, but there are
other things I have to think about, and that's what I write about in my
monthly hedge a gram.
I've just received my first bound copies of The Umbrella, my fall
2004 book. Today I worked with my husband on a blackboard border to give
away on my website that uses artwork from this book. Because it's set in
the cloud forest in Costa Rica, we hope teachers will like downloading and
printing my artwork for when they teach about the tropical rain forest in
Because I put a lot of details in my work, the pages take a long
time. When I do a spread, or two pages joined together, it usually takes
two weeks. Since I've just begun my book, Honey, Honey, Honey, I'm
researching my characters. Characters are one of the things children do
best. When I draw them, they fill up with character traits all on their
own. I am so inspired when I go on my bookstore tour, because children
show me their drawings. Often I laugh out loud, not because the drawings
are funny, but because children are so unrestrained and uninhibited with
their drawings. I also like to put designs in my pictures, mostly in the
borders. Honey, Honey, Honey is set in Botswana, Africa, and when I was
there I saw beautiful baskets that gave me ideas for the borders in this
Do you like honey? It's one of my favorite food sensations. The
character in my book, the honey badger loves honey too. Whenever I go to
a new country I like to buy some honey to bring home. If the honey is
from one place, not a blend, it will have a unique flavor. I like to test
my taste buds and experience the different honeys. Because I'm so
fascinated by bees and beehives I'm going to draw a little worker bee on
each page of Honey, Honey, Honey, very discretely. It will be fun to see
if anyone notices.
One of the reasons I illustrate children's books is because children
are such good observers of the illustrations. They notice things that
sometimes are overlooked by us grown-ups.
Since it takes me a year to plan, write, research, and illustrate a
book, I've got plenty of time to puzzle together the different pieces.
Right now, my editor and I decided we would like my two characters, the
honey badger and the honey guide bird, to have nicknames. We'd like them
to have Botswanian nicknames, the language is Tswana. For example in the
USA we might call a dog Rover, a horse Nellie, or a cat Fluffy. I have a
friend in Botswana named Ali, and I'm going to ask him about animal
Now that summer vacation is here, I hope you'll spend some time
drawing. I like to draw when my life situation isn't very fun because
it's an escape. When things are great, I draw to explore things I'm
fascinated with or to make them last longer. But the reason I can spend
day after day creating my world on paper is that I'm never really sure
what will come out. It's kind of a cross between discovering something
and something discovering me!
Bye for now. Happy writing and drawing and imagining.