An ABC book for the kid in all of us

About the Illustrator, Colleen O’Hara

COLLEEN CROPPEDThree years ago when Diana approached me with the idea of illustrating her ABC affirmation book, I was intrigued. We sat down in front of a fire at my mom’s cabin in the woods and began with finding a rhythm to her script. In about three hours, we had a road map of words and drawings that would evolve into My Heart Smiles. After that, the project pretty much stalled until the spring of 2013. At that time, Diana began a rewrite that went from an ABC affirmation book to a “when I feel” book, and it changed everything. Suddenly, the project took on a powerful renewed life of its own, and the drawings began to reflect this seemingly simple change. By the end of the summer, the drawings were complete and painted. Interestingly enough, though, the last drawing of the book was for “Quantum” where a new little energy appeared on the end of a surfboard in the form of a dog. Again, this seemingly simple addition would establish a new direction for the book. I spent the next few weeks redrawing and painting all twenty-six drawings with this new perspective. The drawings went from one page to two, with the addition, in some cases, of this new little being. It was a magical experience. The result truly made my heart smile. As it turns out, this book is a “love letter” to both Diana’s and my inner childs. It’s a testimony to the way we live our lives as adults. Let me sum it up this way. When my granddaughter Alexis was about seven, I was driving her and a friend out to camp for a sleepover when I heard her tell this other little girl in the backseat that she loved to go to camp without adults. I looked at her through the rearview mirror and said, “Hey, what about me?” She replied, “You’re not an adult because you like to play.” Need I say more?
Colleen O’Hara has been an artist since she was a child in many forms: twenty-two years as a professional actress, a stage director, a playwright, a singer, and the owner of Butterflutters, an online business featuring her original butterfly art and original paintings. She has illustrated two other books, The North Shore cookbook and The Butterfly Woman, which she also wrote. She graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in theatre and a minor in art.


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