I've always said, “If I had to do it over again, I’d be a farmer.” These days, I’m beginning to think I’d rather be an artist. Painting is something I have been doing almost my whole life; just not in art. I remember painting my bedroom when I was around 14, with gray walls and red trim, and sensing my father’s bemusement when I took him upstairs to see it. I thought it was cool, but all he could say was, “You did this in one day?” as if to say it didn’t take me long to ruin an otherwise perfectly good room. Later in life, I painted the entire exterior of a couple of houses while going to grad school to become a psychologist, and several years later, sidelined with problems of my own, I ended up working as a painter in the small town of Kent, CT. It was easy in those days to establish a painting business. There were few regulations, and basically, all you needed was a trade name, a good ladder, and a commercial truck. I was successful enough to work for a few prominent people and household names over the next 32 years, but when work was slow in the beginning, I painted a couple of dog portraits for my sisters as Christmas gifts. Feeling the rush of seeing them come to life on canvas, I was hooked on doing more. I knew I couldn’t make a living as an artist without any background or training, so it became nothing more than a hobby, but since then, I’d say I have probably completed close to 50 paintings in oil, acrylic, and watercolors. Now that I am a grandfather, and retired, I find myself reading a lot of children’s books again, just as I had for my son and daughter, but with a fresh eye toward the artwork. I am amazed at how creative the illustrators can be in telling a story with pictures, but something else strikes me as being indicative of a talented artist. Whereas my paintings are fairly straightforward, and I strive for something lifelike in my portraits, a good illustrator can capture the feelings of the book’s characters and the emotions of the moment with a simple gesture, a look, or the sweep of a brushstroke, bringing to life something that most artists would envy, and most of it is done in the name of entertaining kids. It makes me think I wouldn’t like farming after all. I would have enjoyed the life of an illustrator.