Thankful Bliss

Gelett Burgess Award.

Kandis Lighthall, Mary A Livingston and Patricia Schetter sport their new book award bling. Percy Learns to Fly was awarded Gold in the Motivation and Inspiration category.

I couldn't have illustrated Percy Learns to Fly without loving support from my wonderful husband, Tim, The Forester Artist.

I couldn’t have illustrated Percy Learns to Fly without loving support from my wonderful husband, Tim, The Forester Artist.

Patty, author of Percy Learns to Fly (ABTA Publications and Products), Kandis, educational contributor, and I, the illustrator, received our Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award medals. I’ve already expressed how wonderful Kandis and Patty are to work with and how supportive my husband, Tim, the Forester Artist, has been, now I’d like to thank someone very special for his help getting me going with children’s illustrations.

Mark Mitchell of How to Illustrate a Children’s Book and Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks! online course was instrumental in my progress as a children’s book illustrator.

I started getting braver with art as I participated with the liturgical committee of my parish. During the summer of 2011, I stumbled across Mark’s website while I was looking for some artist resources for an illustrator of one of Red Tail Publishing’s titles. I bookmarked the page, and later, when I was alone, and no one was looking, I gave the site a good going through.

I so wanted to illustrate, but lacked the confidence. Typically, I’m a fairly confident person and don’t shy from a challenge. As the calling to art rose louder and louder, it terrified me. So I lurked and stalked the course website, I check out all the email updates.

I have always hung around, peeking over Tim’s shoulder, admiring the way his brushes danced across his canvas or how he could just sit and draw anywhere, with anyone looking. But I wasn’t brave enough to just jump in.

Then, finally, in the spring of 2012, I signed up for Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks! Tim was so happy, he bought me my own art table and new brushes for us both.

That May, I had my first critique. Angst swept in and consumed me. I had to listen to the replay because I was so overwhelmed during the live feed I could barely hear the comments. It was okay, it was encouraging. Mark and the critique group of my piers gave me wonderful tips and encouraging pointers to help me grow.

Before this course, I had been brave enough to pick up watercolors five times. This course demystified illustration and made watercolors feel like an extension of my heart.

While I was working on my own book for my company, I was hired to illustrate Percy Learns to Fly.

Percy Learns to Fly

Percy sports his award bling.

Percy Learns to Fly was the first book I illustrated as I finished it before completing No Place for Ugly Birds. Just image how thrilled I was to learn that Percy won a national award.

I can’t express enough how beneficial taking the Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks! course has been. I highly recommend it for anyone considering illustrating for children.

Thank you, Mark, for all you do for the children’s illustration community.

Next up a peek into Picture Book Academy.

21 thoughts on “Thankful Bliss

    • Patty and Kandis are wonderful people. We held weekly hangouts to go over art and story. Technology makes so much possible, like the course that Mark offers. The monthly online critiques (for those who choose to participate) really helped me to grow.


  1. Congratulations Mary, this is fantastic news. Wonderful to see your work recognized like this – love seeing you and Tim, and reading the story of how you got started. Happy holidays ~


  2. Mary, I always knew you had the natural talent to do this. Mark’s tutelage seemed to give you the confidence to jump in and go for it. His critique group has been a very valuable resource for the both of us. I am often asked how to get into children’s book illustration and, I recommend Mark’s course to anyone trying to up their game. Folks can learn a lot and make some excellent contacts.


  3. Pingback: Percy Learns to Fly | Reading With Rhythm

  4. This is just wonderful, Mary! I remember when I first signed up for Mark’s class, and I watched your posts about this book as it was developing. So inspiring. I am so happy for you!


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