When my first draft of the Oscar story was complete, my next step before trying to get it published was to seek an illustrator who would do it right. My concept of what kind of illustrations would be “right” had to do with the correct balance between a representative drawing of a real osprey and a caricature (i.e., cartoon character). In other words, I wanted a recognizable osprey with human characteristics (does the word anthropomorphic come to mind?)
I was told that publishers usually want to prefer to use their own list of illustrators. So I submitted my manuscript without illustrations to various publishers, most were complementary but none were willing to publish a non-published author (an old “catch-22” conundrum for new authors, you can’t get published unless you’ve been already been published!). I received a lot of rejection notices. I believed my book was “dead” until one day I was referred to Jean Rosow (who was the daughter in law of a renown local CPA I knew well). I met with Jean and gave her my manuscript and asked if she would be interested in illustrating the book.
I found out that Jean was a wonderful person to work with and an accomplished watercolorist (if that is a word), a medium I simply adore. She said she loved the story and Oscar. She set to work and created sketches of Oscar and other characters in the book. They were done “right” and I loved them. I asked for a full water color of what turned out to be the cover for the book. After her seeing her watercolor painting (which hangs in my personal office) and numerous pen and ink drawings, I was hooked on pursuing self-publishing the book, which although several years passed (work kept interfering!) the book was completed and published (semi self-published as it turned out).
I’ve done some research on Jean and found this quote about her: “Jean Rosow always loved to draw, but her parents didn’t think that art could be a career, so she studied Russian in college with thoughts of joining the foreign service or becoming a translator. Things didn’t work out that way. She married, took other jobs, but managed to fit art into each job in some way. She now creates art for the ages, as she says. Her advice is do what you love to do”.
So I’ve actually followed her advice in my career and my avocation and believe everyone should seek and do what they love to do.