Get to know Wendy…
Wendy was once an airplane pilot and horse trainer, but now she happily spends her time making up stories and illustrating new worlds. She has been an artist for as long as she can remember.
Before transitioning into picture books she showed successfully in galleries throughout North Carolina, Nevada, and Oregon, and painted commissions.
She grew up on the East Coast in a wonderful, imaginative place by the sea. She now lives with her husband, daughter, and many animals in beautiful Bend, Oregon. For more information please visit her website.
What is the last thing you paid money for?
A very large vanilla latte.
What do you often make fun of?
My animals. Not in a mean way, but because they are goofy. My dog fell up the stairs the other day. How do you not make fun of that?
What is the best thing about staying at a hotel?
You don’t have to cook your meals! You can just make a phone call and food shows up.
What is one thing you do with determination every day?
Every-single-thing. I tend to be a bit driven, which can be exhausting. So I also try to nap with determination each day.
What healthy habit are you glad you have? What’s your worst habit?
My best habit is probably that I eat healthy food. Fresh fruits & veggies, organic stuff. My worst habit is not returning friends phone calls for what seems like ages. I’m not easy to reach and they get frustrated sometimes. Also- not getting enough sleep.
What is the biggest advantage of being tall? Biggest advantage of being short?
Tall? I have no experience with that. The biggest advantage of being short is that you can find fun, inexpensive clothes in the junior’s department. And most people don’t ask you to help carry heavy things for them.
What topic would you like to know more about?
So many things! Whales. Seals. Eagles. The ocean. Biplanes. I could go on forever.
What is the first thing you notice when you meet someone?
How kind they are. Their eyes. That’s two, but they are related.
If you were a prescription drug, what would be your main side effect?
May cause you to stay awake all night creating, play loud music at all hours of the day, and talk to animals.
What is the worst occupation in the world?
Anything requiring you to slog through rotting garbage. Ick.
What is your greatest phobia?
Probably heights. Which is funny because my previous occupation was pilot.
If you ran a funeral home, what would your company slogan be?
My Grandfather had the corniest joke whenever we passed a funeral home-“it’s so popular-people are just dying to get in there”. I guess it would have to be that.
What is the messiest place in your home?
My studio without a doubt!
What random act of kindness have you done in the past year?
I rescued a neglected puppy from my backyard (he wandered in and was terrified and hungry), and found him a new home through my local Humane Society. He was so cute.
If you had to smell like one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Coffee? I love it. It’s a comforting smell.
How do you deal with creative blocks?
I really don’t have them. Sometimes I’m looking for inspiration on a particular piece, and then I’ll go back through notes from an artist workshop, or go online and browse other artist’s sites. It’s the equivalent of being around other artists- it gives me a collective, creative energy.
Can you visualize a finished product before you begin a book?
Yes. The images usually come first for me. I dream it, then try to make it real. Such a big gap from one to the other.
Do you feel that you chose your passion, or did it choose you?
It chose me for sure. I couldn’t sleep, just constantly having images and ideas running amok in my head until I figured out what to do with them.
Is there a particular place where you feel most creative?
Riding my horse. Odd, I know. Around other artists, too, especially if we are all working together in a room.
Who or what has helped you to persevere through the challenges?
There have been so many kind, helpful people I’ve met along the way. They’ve shown me the path when I didn’t know where to go next. I’d have to say my husband is my number one supporter and cheerleader. I also don’t know how to quit once I start something. It helps.
If you were no longer able to illustrate, how else would you express your creativity?
God help you all if I decide on singing. Interior design maybe?
What has been your greatest sacrifice that has enabled you to become the illustrator you are today?
Time. It takes a lot of time and dedication to improve your art in a field where you have no guarantees of financial success. I have a fine arts background. In that world I painted and then sold my work in galleries, or I painted commission pieces. In illustration, particularly the children’s literature market, there is so much more time put into projects that may never be “purchased.” I’m so lucky my family supports my madness!
What words of inspiration were given to you that you would like to pass along to others?
Draw every day. Never give up on your goals. And don’t be shy about talking to people about what you do. I’ve met some great clients that way.
When did you realize that you had a gift for illustrating?
When people began buying my work and galleries invited me to be in shows. I was shocked.
How do you balance your personal life and your creative endeavors?
If someone has an answer for this that works please contact me asap. It’s a constant tipping of the scales for me. I’ll work feverishly on a project for days or weeks, then I’ll take days off to catch up with family. Did I mention I’m terrible at correspondence? This is one of the reasons. There’s never enough time for it all.
What is your typical day like?
Define typical. There is none. When I don’t have to get up early the next morning, I’ll stay up until 2 am working. Otherwise, I’ll work from 7-11am in my studio, then do other things in the afternoon, then work again from 7-11pm. But it’s not consistent at all.
How much of your own life is reflected in your work?
A lot. There are horses everywhere. And dogs. Kids. Happiness. I need to do more airplanes.
Do you have family members who are writers or illustrators?
No, but my Dad was a very talented musician.
What was your childhood like? Did your upbringing influence the way you illustrate today?
Rocky best describes my childhood. In the early years we lived wild and free on the NJ coast, which was a real gift. I was given my first easel when I was about 5, and my Mom always encouraged creativity. Later on there were several creative adults in my life who were a positive influence.
Which of your books gives you the most pride or satisfaction?
I have not been published yet so I’ll have to report back on this one.
How do you think you differ from other creative people in your genre?
Wow, tough question. I think we are all different, thank goodness. For picture book illustration done in watercolors, my work tends to be very detailed, and often I use many layers and usually lots of color.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If so, in what ways?
I hope so. Over the years I have challenged myself to take workshops and try styles that are out of my comfort zone. I am a tight painter, so I’ll do some studies in a looser style. Over time I’ve found it has influenced my work. I find I’m also more likely to play and try new things to get the desired effect in my work. Lately, I’m working in ink and watercolor, which I haven’t done for years.
When do you feel the most energized?
At night. It’s maddening.
Does your illustrating reflect your personality?
Somewhat. No deep meanings, but I am a bit of a perfectionist. So my painting style is tighter and my line work more precise. My colors are intense as well. Where’s the couch- I may need to lie down to reflect on all this.