Before I could read or write, I drew … and drew, and drew… my mother read us fairy tales and my father read us the Greek myths, so I drew images based on those and made up strange creatures and princesses of my own. Constantly. My childhood in Manhattan was filled with music, books, and visits to zoos, museums, and going to plays; we kids spent summers in an old farmhouse in Vermont in a wonderfully unstructured way – running through the fields and woods and discovering how the natural world works, just by satisfying our endless curiosity.
I also acted in the plays staged at Columbia University’s Children’s Program Series, and I fell under the spell of The Stage; the costumes, masks, colors, and the worlds created by sets and stories. Food for an active imagination! To me Art has always been, in large part, the process of creating that same real “theatrical” experience out of some magical realm of unreality.
I was fortunate to go to schools where art (“clay”, painting, drawing, plays) were important parts of the curricula. And then I majored in applied art, with minors in Art History and Theater. Looking back at the college art experience, I can say it was quite devastating and delivered such mixed messages on The Right Way To Make Art (plus what to do in order to get that A), that for seven years after my graduation I created absolutely nothing. Sounds like a Grimm’s fairy-tale….
I was in graduate school (Columbia University) studying archaeology and anthropology, when a good friend convinced me to contribute some art to his science fiction fanzine (“Akos”). This was a difficult task. To my dismay, I discovered that my hand-eye coordination had atrophied a bit and I had to really work hard at conveying on paper what I visualized. Finally it all came together and because of him (Eli, many many thanks!), “Akos” was the jump-start of my being an artist. Eli’s confidence in my ability and the encouragement of many other friends got me into art again and soon I added some art classes (at the Columbia University School of the Arts) to my course load.
I began painting my own visions. I also painted original images inspired by various books; these were prompted by private commissions. I did pictures, for instance, from The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin. My medium was watercolor washes over pen-and-ink line, or colored pencil; my ideal illustrators were – and to a large extent still are — Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, and somewhat later, Brian Froud, Alan Lee, and many others.
As a professional editorial illustrator, my first work was black-&-white interiors for SF&F magazines (Isaac Asimov’s, Analog, etc.) A tip of the hat to Ellen Kushner, who shepherded me into oil paints for cover work for fantasy novels. I also worked in women’s spirituality and ultimately, children’s books (view illustrated books). My excellent agent was crucial to my success for a long time: Gayle McNeil (Bookmakers Ltd.); tragically, she died several years ago and I will always remember her gratefully and fondly.
One favorite children’s book I illustrated is The Dream Mouse, by the late Barbara Juster Esbensen, for Little, Brown, & Co (buy). The work involved my doing a great deal of fascinating research into what Old Latvian architecture, costume, and landscape were like. I did a series of posters to sponsor reading, and enjoyed illustrating many “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. Some projects are really fun to work on; others unfortunately are a chore. For me, the more artistic freedom I have, the more fantastic the setting of the assignment, and the more creative the action, the better! I’ve written three fables for children as well, one of which has been published. I am at work on the illustrations for the others, and I want to re-publish that published one.
I now live near the coast of Maine, and manifest my own visions, dreams, and stories in a variety of mediums including oils, pastels, watercolors, pencils, etc. I also make masks using found objects and natural materials. The persona I see revealed in a finished mask invariably derives from a myth, either known or personal and thus, as C.G. Jung would say, Universal. I love ceramics as well and experiment with odd glaze material…creating masks, and a series of “excavated ritual platters” (and a Martian Vase, too).
One of my latest artistic outlets is beading: my love of ancient history and the romance and colors of various cultures have led to a fascination with making necklaces out of unlikely bead combinations. I’ve amassed a large collection of loose beads: Roman, Greek, medieval European, ancient and antique African and Asian, and American Indian beads – as well as beautiful new semi-precious stone and metal beads.
I have shown at many venues on the East Coast and several exhibitions on other shores. A partial list follows:
- Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine – one person show
- CG Jung Center, Brunswick, Maine – oral presentation with slides
- River Arts Gallery, Damariscotta, Maine
- Lincoln Street Center for the Arts, Rockland, Maine
- Delaware Art Museum (Delaware)
- 123 Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – two person show
- Columbia University Graduate Center, New York City, NY – one person show
- Southern Vermont Artists’ Center, Manchester, Vermont — one person show
I have exhibited also in the Art shows in conjunction with various Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions (New York; Boston; Philadelphia – and at the World Fantasy Convention in Seattle), where I won prizes in various categories.
My work is in private collections in this country, Canada, England, and Singapore.
Some of the publishing houses I’ve worked for include:
- Doubleday & Company
- Bantam Books
- Little, Brown & Company
- Simon and Schuster
- Dell Books
- Harper Collins
- Tor Books