My muse is amusing

When people ask me what artists I admire or inspire me, I feel a little uneasy. For one, I remember work, but not always who made it. Two, the art that most directly inspires me isn't typically found in a museum but rather on my bookshelf.

This leads me to confess something. I am a children's book buying addict.

I'm not addicted to just any children's book but particular ones motivate me to paint more than most things can. For one, the books I grew up with take me back to my shy and quiet childhood. Because most of my paintings are based on memories, this is important. Two, I enjoy the simplicity of line, shape, and color- the flatness of the pictures.

The quintessential example, the book that got me thinking about the paintings I wanted to make in college, is Space Case by James Edward Marshall. The characters, the colors against a nighttime sky, his attention to mundane details, the humor. It's wonderful.

^color against black


^This is the first drawing I did where I pursued this subject matter. It was 2005, and I replaced the characters with some characters I know. I apologize for the poor quality of this image.

One of my favorite things to do is go to McKays used bookstore and follow the little kid footprints to the children's section. There, amongst the moms, elementary teachers, and small children, I find peace sifting through colorful books, looking for treasures I've missed. I've found many by Marshall, and I buy them all.

One of my favorite finds is Yummers, a story about a turtle named Eugene who encourages his pig friend Emily to exercise more. They go on a walk, which turns into them stopping every few minutes to eat snacks. They eat so much, Emily becomes sick, has to lie down, and blames her woes on the walk. Eugene brings her food to make her feel better.


I also love this book because on the back is the first photo of Marshall I had ever seen. Of course he would have a precious bulldog.

After this, I decided to write him a letter to express my gratitude to him, but when I searched online for an address, I discovered he had passed away in 1992. I dedicated my last show at the Tomato Head to him instead of writing the letter.

Some have asked if I'd like to write/ illustrate a children's book one day. I have an idea for one, and my goal is to write and illustrate it by the time I'm 55. (I've tried to sit down and do it. It's hard) Until then, I'm making somber, funny, color-against-black, simple yet complex paintings on canvas. I'm also dreaming of how great it would be to talk to this mustached man.