Tuesday, February 14, 2012


One of the questions authors and illustrators frequently hear is "Where do you get your ideas?"  The other day I watched myself actually "Get An Idea," and decided to document it.
I was preparing to wash out the bathtub.  As I picked up a sponge and the can of Comet, I gazed idly at the tub interior.  My eye was suddenly caught by a pattern of hairs that clung to the bathtub wall. 

"That looks like a face," I thought.  I shook some Comet onto the sponge.  Then I paused.  "No---wait."  I got out a sketchpad.
I first drew the actual arrangement of hairs.  (And of course my photo would also record this.)
I then reworked the sketch, trying to capture the humanoid my mind's eye had seen.

Perhaps, though, it was not a humanoid, but an animal. (I would actually like to say, "an animaloid"---since my animals often look like people, and my people often look like animals).  So I reworked it again.
And will this "idea" lead to anything?  Who knows?  That is the wonderful, frustrating thing about ideas:  Sometimes they germinate and grow into fabulous realities.  Other times, they stay dormant---nothing more than scraps of scribbled-on paper in the file cabinet.


  1. Long ago, at a conference, the late author/illustrator, James Marshall said he had paper and was ready to draw on it. There was a flaw in the paper, so he drew a hippo around it. George and Martha were born! As they say..the rest is history!

  2. Perfecto! Perfect illustration of the birth of an idea . . .