Monday, September 27, 2010

Guest Blog by Cathy Witbeck

With four teenagers in the house, Cathy is one busy woman. She has a daughter in nursing, two boys immersed in the world of theatre and one scouting maniac, things never slow down. Top that off with a hubby/bishop who has just discovered the joy of fishing, and you get teen angst plus internet surfing for fish recipes. Somewhere in the middle of the chaos, Cathy likes to make Ukrainian Easter eggs, do interesting illustrations (especially cows and sometimes camels), and when she can fit it in, she writes.

Cathy has had anecdotes published in the Reader’s Digest several times, and has published many nonfiction articles, poems and illustrations in the Stories for Children Ezine. She is working on a YA fantasy and has a picture book that just needs a few coats of paint. She likes to blog about writing and illustrating for children. You can visit her blog at .

I know this is a writing blog, but I’m a writer and an illustrator, and sometimes I talk about art. I think the two can inspire each other. Take the painting “The Forgotten Man” by Jon McNaughton.

When Mr. McNaughton painted this picture, he says that he worried about painting it for a long time because he thought it might be too controversial. But he felt it needed to be done. He wanted to portray how the Presidents of the past would feel about the economic disaster we are presently facing. Notice how Obama stands with his foot on the constitution and his back to the despondent man on the bench. A few men applaud his actions, while others are dismayed.

Does this painting inspire words? Check out this site on youtube.

Over 1,700 comments have been made. If you are ever stuck in a writing rut, a painting like this is a great way to get out. Simply answer the questions that you see all over the canvass. For example: How did the man end up sitting on the bench? What is his story? Why is the flag at half mast? What is Lincoln saying? What is Clinton thinking? How did all of the past presidents come together at this place in time?

This illustration was done by my friend Shawna Tenney. It is copyrighted and she has given me permission to use it here. Shawna illustrates for the Friend magazine and has done several children’s books.

As a picture book writer, illustrations like this are a great. Again, just look at the great details and ask questions. [picture should be here] How did this little guy end up in the sky? How would you describe the countryside? Where will the kite take him? What will his friends down below do?

I’m a very visual person. When I write I see it all in my head. When I get stuck, I look around to get ideas. Seeing details in images often triggers ideas for me. I hope this can be helpful to you too.


G. Parker said...

Interesting blog. I love the painting! I've never heard of it, or him, but I have now and I'll be highlighting it on my own blog. Good job!

Michael Knudsen said...

Wow, some pictures can generate a lot more than 1,000 words! Great post, Cathy.

Anna del C. Dye said...

An awesome painting. It is very vivid and full of possible ideas. A great suggestion too.
Anna del C. Dye
Author of "The Silent Warrior Trilogy"

Rachelle said...

Fantastic post. I love the pictures you used and the ideas you gave to enlighten your writing through visual aids.

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen said...

Ditto to what Rachelle, said! What a great post. My only complaint . . . where's a picture that you've drawn/painted? :)