I was born in Pittsburgh, PA and moved to St. Louis, MO with my family (four brothers, two sisters) when I was six. I graduated from Webster College (now Webster University) in the St. Louis area, taught K-6 (I was the only art teacher for 11 school/180 classrooms!) and worked at a community college as a media specialist before moving to Arizona with my wife and son to work with visionary architect Paolo Soleri. I stayed in the area through the following year as the first Director of Media Services at Scottsdale Community College, then moved east to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
As I settled into western Massachusetts I diversified, meaning that I had a lot of different jobs, including (but not limited to): school photographer at a school for the deaf; substitute teacher; junior/senior-high school art teacher for several years; textbook illustrator; paste-up-and-layout artist for a newspaper; and taxi driver (in a town with fewer people than NYC has taxi drivers).
Eventually, I developed a portfolio aimed at Young Adult jackets, showed it around NYC – and began my illustration career with the most perfect assignment possible: a jacket painting for an Everglades-based young adult novel by Jean Craighead George, whose stories about nature I read voraciously during my middle-grade years. Her books revealed worlds that didn’t exist anywhere in the city or suburbia, and they sparked my lifelong interest in the natural world. This first book jacket also led directly to my first two picture books, both published by Harper&Row: “One Day in the Prairie”, by Jean Craighead George, is still in print and counting; “The Lady and the Spider”, by Faith McNulty, was a Reading Rainbow book and has sold over a quarter-million copies, won the Parents Choice Award for Illustration and was selected as one of “1001 best books of the 20th century” in the NY Times Parents Guide to the Best Books for Children (1st Ed.).
My fourth book, “An Extraordinary Life: the Story of a Monarch Butterfly”, by Laurence Pringle, was selected as the NCTE’s 1998 Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, for which I was the first illustrator to share the award with an author; an ALA Notable Book; an IRA Teacher’s Choice; and selected as one of “1001 best books of the 20th century” in the NY Times Parents Guide to the Best Books for Children (3rd Ed.).
I’ve illustrated twelve nonfiction books for children, including my very first fiction picture book, “On Bird Hill” (Cornell Lab 2016). This was followed by two more books for Cornell Lab, “On Duck Pond” (2017) and “On Gull Beach” (2018). I’m currently working on writing my first book for children, which is about pangolins. For a complete listing of all of my books, click HERE. For honors and awards, click HERE.
In 2002 I received an Artists and Writers Program grant from the National Science Foundation to research Weddell seals in Antarctica for a nonfiction picture book. I subsequently spent five weeks in the austral spring of that year living with and extensively observing and recording many seals and several of the world's top seal scientists on the still-frozen McMurdo Sound, 750 miles from the South Pole.
For over twenty years I’ve combined my passion for painting, a deep interest in nature and years of experience as a K-12 classroom art teacher to create programs that emphasize organized observation as the foundation of both science and art. I’ve given many presentations, workshops and keynotes on the subject at schools and educational conferences nationally and internationally. I also offer residencies and workshops for kids and adults to create their own nonfiction books, as well as a slide presentation about my adventures in Antarctica.
For inquiries about artist visits, keynotes, artist-in-residencies, etc., please contact me directly at email@example.com.