Dreams really do come true. Keep dreaming!

Finding Inspiration

Do you ever wonder what inspires people to write a story, draw a picture, or write a song? Of course inspiration and creativity can come in many forms besides books, and art, or music. Some people are inspired to create with their hands through crafting or sewing or crocheting. Some people decorate their homes with amazing flair, simply by moving a piece of furniture, or just by adding a touch of color. Some people plant flowers and gardens and besides keeping bees busy, they make the world a lovelier place. Some people use wood and tools to build pieces of furniture and homes. Photographers capture wonderful scenes and moments in time and often with people in them. There are people who create recipes and prepare food as if it were an art form. I happen to know and love dozens of these creative people and I’ve been the fortunate recipient of so many sweet moments of pause and wonder, receiving countless bundles of flowers, garden produce, and assorted gifts of love. I’ve also enjoyed many amazing dining experiences that deserved a moment of silence, as well as applause.

I think for many people inspiration comes from their life and the people and experiences that are a part of it. Sometimes the inspiration is simply a desire to share an experience or something with the people in their lives. At least that is true for me.

Throughout my life, I have been inspired by so many wonderful storytellers, including my grandfather, and artists and illustrators of treasured picture books. As I worked on my book, The House that Wanted a Family, I often thought of my someday readers as I spent many hours and days and weeks tweaking the words. I will always remember how carefully I sifted each one of them, reading them aloud to myself and other people, and also listening to them read to me. I wanted every one of them to be just right. The same was true of my illustrations.

Throughout the days and weeks and months of sketching, I found myself walking through my home, scanning my cupboards and drawers, looking through photos and albums, and even paging through magazines and scouring the Internet looking for inspiration and ideas. Sometimes I did Google searches and then I would dig in closets and drawers and explore my basement containers to find items that I could sketch or use as models. I thought I would share a few of my illustrations along with the inspiration for them with you now.

Where to start? How about with pickle jars that for some reason on a Saturday in January I found myself doodling and then drawing and coloring in quite a number of them. I ended up being rather pleased with how they turned out. On a whim, I shared some of them (via text) with my daughter, and she loved them too. So I decided to put them in the book.

Pickles for My One and Only

Pickles for My One and Only

One in the beginning of the story with an added blue ribbon and one can be found on the kitchen counter not too far from the end.

Favorite Pickles

Favorite Pickles


The illustrations were all drawn to match the 8.5” x 8.5”size I chose for my book. Because of the size, some of the drawings took more time than others to draw, and the whole process required a lot of pencil sharpening to keep the detail as crisp and clear as possible. When I decided to add a baby to the family, I didn’t need to look far for inspiration. I found a 3” x 4” photo of my daughter in her highchair and what you see is a magnified image of my slightly smaller 1” x 2” drawing of the baby enjoying Cheerios. And let me tell you, those Cheerios were not easy to draw or color in.

The Baby from THTWAF - original drawing by Susan Spence Daniel

The Baby from THTWAF – original drawing by Susan Spence Daniel

My Baby

My Baby


THTWAF Rabbit - original illustration by Susan Spence Daniel

THTWAF Rabbit – original illustration by Susan Spence Daniel

I found a place amongst the moving boxes for my daughter’s favorite stuffed rabbit from when she was young.

The Inspiration Rabbitt

The Inspiration Rabbit

I thought long and hard of how to draw the house. I sketched dozens and dozens of houses. And at the same time, I drew all kinds of streets and neighborhoods and places for my story. I wanted children in cities, and small towns, and in the country, to feel like this could be their town. This early sketch is from when I was considering using Copic Markers for my book illustrations. I had also experimented with watercolor, watercolor pencils, various kinds of markers, pen and ink, pencil, and even did a few drawings with crayon.

An Early Sketch of the Town on a Hill

An Early Sketch of the Town on a Hill

As you may know, all the final illustrations were done in pencil. After the initial pencil drawing, I colored them with pencil color, and outlined them in pencil. I hope you enjoy my drawings as much as I enjoyed creating them. I also hope we all continue to search for and find inspiration and wonder in the world around us. Just remember, sometimes we may really need to dig.

The Final Hill from THTWAF - original illustration by Susan Spence Daniel

The Final Hill from THTWAF – original illustration by Susan Spence Daniel


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