I consider myself fortunate because:
- I can support myself with a job (illustrating children’s books), which I love so much that I’d still be doing it even if I won the lottery.
- I’m able to do it at my home, so I don’t have to commute.
- My husband built me a beautiful studio with a wall of windows just beyond my desk looking over five bird feeders, a pond with koi and goldfish, resident cottontails, grapevines, and lots of flowers, so there’s always plenty of action within a few feet of my drawing desk.
I’ve been a ‘bird-watcher’ since the early years with my family, watching and listening as my parents got excited identifying the birds that came to our feeders. They noted the dates when certain birds first arrived and the last times they visited the feeders at end of the season, which turned out to be remarkably consistent for migrant species. If you’re new to the appreciation of avians, I encourage you to start by paying attention to the birds that inhabit your particular location regularly. From that base of knowledge, you’ll be able to recognize the seasonal and migrant birds.
Since I’ve worked with the same editor at Chronicle Books, Victoria Rock, for 23 years, she knows me well. When Dianna Aston’s manuscript, An Egg is Quiet, came across her desk, she thought immediately of me. As I read it for the first time, it created so many images in my head that I knew it was a perfect fit. I loved the many weeks spent doing research nearly as much as the time spent sketching and ultimately creating the final paintings.
The best part is that it became the first of a series of non-fiction picture books which now includes A Seed is Sleepy, A Butterfly is Patient and A Rock is Lively. We have two more projects at the beginning stages—one about nests, one about beetles—so I’ll be busy at my desk doing what I love for the foreseeable future.
Sylvia Long has illustrated over 20 picture books, many with a nature theme. Her award winning art brings the pages to life through a combination of ink drawings and watercolor, sometimes with a touch of airbrushing. To see more of Sylvia’s illustrations, visit www.sylvia-long.com.