Saturday, November 6, 2010

Watercolor Artist Bonnie Beckeman, and a book supporting autism research

Pagan Spirits' special guest today is Bonnie Beckeman, a watercolor artist and the illustrator of Amie and the Purple Butterfly. My interview with Bonnie Beckeman appears below.

One reader who leaves a comment will win a paperback copy of Amie and the Purple Butterfly signed by the author, Cheryl Pillsbury. To be eligible for the drawing, please leave a comment on November 6-7, 2010, and also send a blank e-mail to so I can notify you if you win. Please put "Amie and the Purple Butterfly" in the subject line.

Cheryl Pillsbury never explicitly states in her children's book that the main character, Amie, has autism. "Autism" is a grown-up word, of no interest to the youngsters who will read and listen to this book. Yet Amie is based on Pillsbury's own daughter Alicia, and Pillsbury donates profits from the book to the Autism Society of America.

The noble cause behind the book is why grown-ups will like it. It will be a favorite of children because Bonnie's pictures are spellbinding. The furry-faced butterfly looks almost like a kitty. Kids can't help but fall in love with the large, friendly insect. The love between Amie and her daddy is another sweet aspect to this heartwarming, life-affirming picture storybook.

Erin O’Riordan Interviews Illustrator Bonnie Beckeman

What was the name of the first book you illustrated? How did you get it published?

BB: The first book I illustrated was Amie and the Purple Butterfly. Cheryl Pillsbury of A.G. Press asked me to illustrate this book that she wrote, so I did.

Which do you find leads you to your best work: your triumphs or your tragedies? Do you illustrate from joy or pain?

BB: My triumphs. I illustrate from joy. I love flowers and animals and I love
communicating that through my paintings.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

BB: The biggest influence on my career was Ivan Powell who illustrated for H. G. Wells and was considered one of the top ten artists in the country. He picked me and two others out of 5,000 applications world wide to study privately with him through Syracuse University's graduate illustration program. At the end of my studies with him he said I was the most talented artist living today, but what did he know? He said, “Never give up.”

Do you read for pleasure? If so, what kind of books do you like to read?

BB: I read for pleasure. I like to read about the Impressionist movement and all of the amazing characters like Monet who got it going.

What has been the most significant book you've read in your life?

BB: Probably anything by a lesser know illustrator and writer that I also studied one on one with named Tomi DePaola. His children's books are very intense and have great morals.

What project(s) are you currently working on?

BB: I'm painting oils for a gallery on Cape Cod called Yak Arts. I’m illustrating a third Amie and the Purple Butterfly, and I just finished illustrating Disappearing Light Hides True Evil by Jennifer Tokarz.

I also paint portraits of people's dogs. I am presently working on painting a dog for a family that had their dog die recently.

This is an affiliate link:

Visionary Kids: Steve Jobs by Sara Abraham. $5.99 from
The Visionary Kids series invites children to read inspirational stories about some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and innovators. The first book in the series is a colorfully illustrated rhyming book that follows the life of Steve Jobs, from his adoption at an early age, to dropping out of school and building a world-changing technology out of his garage.


Cassie Exline said...

Illustrators fascinate me. Such talent. A book supporting autism research is awesome. Good luck.

blondecomet76 said...

Bonnie Beckman seems to have an awesome outlook on her work. The cover art, that is visible, is very beautiful. It makes me smile inside when I know that someone as sweet as she (seems in the interview)puts her artists heart to work to make such magic. Wonderful interview, great Illustrator. She is very impressive.

Anonymous said...

You may also purchase a copy from the AG Press Bookstore.
Erin thank you for hosting the interview with Bonnie she is truly an amazing illustrator we are proud to have her.

Dithreabhach said...

Put it on my to buy list for December! I'm also going to suggest that Seven Stories (the first museum in the UK wholly dedicated to the art of children’s books) gets a copy.

Erin O'Riordan said...

Congratulations Faydra, a.k.a blondecomet76! I mailed your prize today.