I was born by the river, or as we here in the South say, riv-ah ! My wife really teases me when I say that. But I was born by the Yazoo River in Greenwood, Mississippi! Right smack-dab in the middle of the birth place of the blues, the Mississippi Delta! I had everything I needed there: a pencil, a piece of paper and a long-winded Baptist preacher.
Over the years, I've worked with both digital and traditional media. These days, I'm working primarily in pen and ink with transparent watercolor. It's an ever evolving process to grow in one's artistic inspiration
I rely on human nature to inspire me. My characters have universal themes to help make them more excepting to the reader. Then, you throw an animal into the story that has human qualities and the story can go anywhere! As an artist, I feel that illustrations in children's picture books have no limits.
I was born by the river, or as we here in the South say, riv-ah ! My wife really teases me when I say that. But I was born by the Yazoo River in Greenwood, Mississippi! Right smack-dab in the middle of the birth place of the blues, the Mississippi Delta! The hospital in Greenwood, located along River Road, faces the Yazoo River. The Yazoo flows along quickly, making its way down to the Mississippi River, the grandest of them all.
I began to draw when I was in very young boy. I say this because I can still remember my Dad giving me the church bulletin during church services for me to draw on. I think this was to keep me quiet. I had everything I needed to learn how to draw. A pencil. A piece of paper. And a long winded Baptist preacher. Many an artist got their start as a child while drawing in church.
I loved to draw growing up. I'd draw animals and comic book characters. I made up my own characters, too! Then I'd draw them and take them on many adventures. I was always the kid everyone would choose when ever there was something to draw or create for a class project. I always enjoyed that position because no one else could do it!
As fun as art is, I didn't know anyone in my hometown who actually made a living only doing art. Most folks looked at art as just a hobby. So when I graduated from high school and was planning my college studies, I decided to try my hand at... oceanography! Yes, believe it or not, I was going to study the ocean. I had learned how to scuba dive in a friend's swimming pool. I studied physical oceanography in college. I worked at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory during the summers, too. I learned a lot about the ocean: plant life, the mechanics of tides and water current in the Mississippi Sound. I also learned how to program the old card-fed computers back before there was Apple MacIntosh, PC computers or the internet!
There was one problem, though... I got seasick real easy! That was a problem that I could not overcome. So I looked around for another field to study. I decided that since I loved art so much, I would go back and continue to study art and become a, what we called it back then, commercial artist . Now days, it's called graphic design.
I graduated from Mississippi State University and got a job as an art director in an ad agency. Soon, I was working on layouts and advertisements. I continued to draw at home and began a freelance illustration studio in my house to work on assignments after hours. Soon, I had enough clients to work for myself. I have illustrated for clients like Este' Lauder, and Ladies Home Journal.
Eventually, when my wife and I had a son, Sean, I began to notice the wonderful children's books given as gifts. We would read to Sean and enjoy the art along with him. I fell in love with picture book illustrations and wanted to try my hand at it.
I have illustrated over 50 books for educational publishers around the country. I have created covers for Beverly Cleary's Ribsey and Henry Huggins , and R.L. Stine's Fear Street series for Recorded Books, Inc. Such an endeavor is rewarding because a picture story book brings an adult and a child together for a wonderfully shared experience.
But I have to admit, my favorite projects have been the picture books I've illustrated. In addition to illustrating, I have presented my "The Illustrator as Storyteller" seminar at book festivals and college library science programs. In this seminar, I demonstrate the development of an illustration from start to finish, while sharing book design aspects. My "Animal Parts" presentation has thrilled hundreds of school children as I lead them down the road to creativity through art. I finally got the chance to illustrate a children's picture book. And I've been doing it ever since!
I live in Jackson, Mississippi with wife, Forrest.