Jennifer Caritas and friend

I wasn't one of those kids who drew. People assumed I could: Throughout high school I collected -- and wore -- ladies' 1920's-era fancy hats; I meticulously decorated my locker, and sought out music no one else had heard of. I loved beauty in many forms, and surrounded myself with it as much as possible. But I couldn't draw a stick-figure. And frankly, I didn't care.

In college, I wavered between majoring in English (I was a perpetual reader and writer) and Art History, deciding on the latter only because the classes were easier and I hadn't yet found my passion, wanting only to coast to an easy degree. But while I loved my classes, a senior-level museum internship quickly taught me I was far too raw and awkward for art administration. Was there a career in art admiration?

It wasn't until I was in my mid-20s that I first had The Midnight Disease. (If you've never read Michael Chabon's "Wonder Boys," The Midnight Disease is that all-day, all-night buzzing, "like a fly trapped in a Coke bottle," where you can think of nothing except whatever you're creating.) My husband and I had started our own website business and I was the self-styled designer. The 90's were a great time to design for the web, and a terrible time to use it: two-minute Flash introductions, pages consisting of one enormous graphic, all manner of self-indulgent and maximalist design was the norm, all to be served up on creaking dial-up modems. I loved it. I'd work for weeks fine-tuning one perfectly intricate collage -- projects for which the entire site had a tiny budget -- and though we barely scraped a living I earned some local respect, and learned everything I could about color and composition. 

But it wasn't until I took an oil-painting class at age 48 that I had any interest in traditional art. Recognizing that drawing would help me with my painting, I set about learning, beginning with a months-long program of drawing nothing but boxes, and gradually, painfully -- thrillingly -- developing my ability to "see" in 3-d space. And then, the Midnight Disease again, as I realized that my new skill was the perfect match for the picture book texts I'd been writing ever since my daughter was a baby. 

I hope you enjoy my work.