Friday, August 12, 2011

Catherine Lee
In Conversation with The Pen And Ink Blogspot

by Lupe Fernandez

“Once I slept through the night and I saw a cow jump over the moon with a crayon and a blank heavenly lighted book. I started writing and drawing.”

Catherine Lee is illustrator and a member of SCBWI. “I was introduced to drawing...with my first pack of big crayons of primary colors.”

Was this the Crayola 12 box or the 64 crayon box including a sharpener? 
“I've always been drawing since elementary school. It's what I liked doing. I lived in a part of Los Angeles a few years. My Japanese neighbor bought me crayons and coloring books for me to color. And that was the first experience. And in school, they would always compliment me of my drawings, and that's how it started. And it was Crayola 8 box and not 12. Really huge crayons, and then when I got the 20 something box it was heaven because I could trace and line it and then shade and color the images!”

What medium do you use for your artwork? 
“It is all digital now. I used to use pigment pens and markers with different types of paper to give a different look. Digital because you have infinite choices. 

When you say “It is all digital now”, do you mean you scan your artwork or do you create art using software? 
“I actually do both now. Initially, I used to work straight from the computer, but now I am also doing penciled work, scanning them onto the computer and making changes and coloring them. It's wonderful!”

The Teddy Bear Test
The Teddy Bear Test
What are you artist influences? Did you study art?
“I didn't study art as a major in college but took a few courses. One of my art teachers asked me to see him, and told me that I have such a unique talent and that I should major in art. However, my father had a different view. He didn't want me to major in art, because he felt that I would not make money.

“Art influences: I didn't particularly have any growing up, but just did loose drawings of my own style. I do have some women artist that I adore now though. One of them is Patrice Barton and there's so many other artists that I adore and would like to implement their style in my work, but it's not easy at all.” 

Catherine is part of the art team of the Los Angeles Times for The Kid's Reading Room

What is the LA TIMES Kid’s Reading Room?
“It's a feature of the Los Angeles Times, both in newspaper version and online. It's like a family feature of stories. It's very nice. There's one section devoted to poetry and prose by children, and it's just absolutely neat -- some of the things that these children write, so just wonderful. Their minds are so advanced these days.”
I thought it would be cute to see these to animate and converse.
I will be working on more of this in several scenes.
How did you get involved with the Kid’s Reading Room?
“I actually attend a bi-monthly meeting in Orange County of writers and illustrators, and they are all SCBWI members. I met a writer, who periodically submits stories, and she gave me contact information because I was interested in sending my illustrations. I spoke to the editor of the section there, and she reviewed and gave me a story to work on. And welcomed me to be a part of the art team for that section. My heart leaped and I felt like a child.”

Catherine’s first project was for the Children's Better Health Institute, publisher to Children’s Playmate. She did illustrations for a poem called Pumpkin Patch. 

How did you get involved in this project? “I actually worked on a book dummy of a story between a girl and boy. I called the art director there, and submitted via email. A few days later, I called to see if she reviewed the samples of artwork and the book dummy. She loved the book dummy I did, and thought of a story that needed an illustrator. She chose me to do that. I actually had to do a little research on pumpkins on this - funny.”

What are you working on now? “Well I have a family business that keeps me busy, and still working to do some better things to set on my website, and also to find more art projects. I just recently finished the LA Times piece and that will be featured on August 14, 2011.”

Do you have a dream project (this is what do you want to be went you grow up question)? “I'm quite grown up already, but still a child at heart. I would love to get a book project. I've been waiting for this whole life. That's four decades! My gosh.

“I found an immense fun, care-free, delightful world called the children's literature world and I'm dabbling into it, feeling wonderful with a child-like sprite and once I'm totally immersed you just don’t ever want to wake up from it. I'm also going to mention that when you’re older, it's more cherished when you love the thing that you do, and I love to illustrate and write.”

I’d like to thank Catherine participating in this interview. Her story "Mustard and Pea" will appear in the Los Angeles Times The Kid's Reading Room in November 2011.

For see more of Catherine’s work, visit her website at


  1. Thanks Catherine, I enjoy meeting you vicariously in this post.

  2. Hi Catherine, thanks for sharing your life and art with us. Being able to draw and paint is a wonderful talent and gift.

  3. "And it was Crayola 8 box and not 12."
    I always wanted the 64 Crayola box with the sharpener.
    Red Orange

  4. Thank you for posting your thoughts. It was neat! Catherine

  5. This was terrific. The illustrations are such fun! What a talented person you are, Catherine. Thanks to you both.

  6. Thank you. This was great.
    Kit Grady

  7. Catherine--I love your illustration. What a beautiful image of the dog and the fish. Absolutely charming. Thanks for being part of The Pen and Ink blog. It was lovely to hear your thoughts on the whole kit and kaboodle!

  8. AAnd Catherine illustration was published in The LA Times kids page on August 14th.,0,3218155.story?page=1

  9. Fun interview, Lupe. How true what Catherine says about cherishing that you love what you do. And when you mentioned the Crayola box with 64 crayons and sharpener in the back, I could smell all that colored wax again and see the brilliant shavings and remember trying not to sharpen too much or too often because then the crayons would die...and it was the only box I had. Thanks again to you and Catherine for an evocative post.

  10. It's not like I sniff Crayolas to feel better. I don't have a problem. I can stop anytime.
    One Crayon Charlie

  11. Oh gosh ..I remember it just as rilla said.
    My goodness!


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