I grew up in Winchester, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. I have always loved to draw. My parents say I’ve been drawing since I was two years old. During high school I took figure drawing classes at Boston University on weekends (a special class for high-school students), and then in college I majored in studio art. For my senior thesis at Bates College, I wrote and illustrated my first picture book, Sebastian’s Ball. Two years later, after much revision, Sebastian’s Ball became Zachary’s Ball, my first published book. Now I live in Ogunquit, Maine with my wife, Sarah, and our two daughters.
My first books were illustrated in pencil, partly because that was the medium I felt most comfortable with at the time and partly because monochromatic illustrations felt right for those stories. Since then, my style and process has changed considerably, mostly because I found myself illustrating stories that simply demanded some color. For example, the beanstalk in Jack and the Beanstalk just needed to be green, and the golden eggs needed to have a bright, yellow glow. Now I mostly work in full color, with watercolor and gouache. I try to let each story guide me, and adapt my process accordingly.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. The best birthday gift I’ve ever gotten was the drafting table my parents got for me when I turned ten. I still use it today. There are other tables in my studio, but I do all my drawing and painting at the table I got for my tenth birthday.
2. I once played on a softball team that lost every single game. Zero wins and sixteen losses! We did much better the next season though—we even won a playoff game!
3. A poster of Boston Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe reading my book Zachary’s Ball was once given out to the first 10,000 fans at a Boston Red Sox game! This was wonderful, until Derek Lowe entered the game in the ninth inning and proceeded to blow the lead for the Red Sox. Hundreds of people threw their posters onto the field, and the game had to be stopped for several minutes while the ground crew gathered all the posters!