In elementary and high school I filled reams of blank paper and the margins of my textbooks with tiny little drawings, one-offs that sort of just fell from my brainpan and were soon forgotten. In college, I very slowly learned how to draw, taking eight semesters of figure drawing and creating hundreds of still-lifes and landscapes. I continued to “doodle”, but two things happened:
1) My doodles became more self-conscious and complex, but were not very “realistic” – I simply allowed the pencil line to go wherever it wanted. By definition, therefore, doodles weren’t “Art”, which created a major conflict.
2) I solved the problem by continuing to “doodle” – but kept the results hidden in a folder for most of my life. Several years ago, I finally realized that I wasn’t afraid of them anymore, and when my friend of thirty-five years, Jane Yolen, visited my studio, I worked up the courage to show her some of my "weird" drawings that were very different from my nonfiction work as a children's book illustrator.
Jane particularly liked one of my doodles, an unfinished pencil drawing of an egg/bird/landscape and asked me to print a copy for her. Within hours, she had composed a first-draft of what would become On Bird Hill, my very first fiction picture book inspired by many years of doodling.
Click on the slideshow link below to view a tiny fraction of all the doodles I've ever done. FYI: There's a seven-slide sequence in about the middle that shows the pencil drawing that became the “On Bird Hill” cover, plus several early color samples and close-ups.