Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 4, 2010

Illustrator Saturday – Dolores Bartholomew

Early on Dolores developed a love for both art and science.  As a very young child, she often sorted the colors of her crayons into distinct palates and would wrap the sets of crayons with hair ties because “they didn’t fight with each other and they were happy together” just like flowers in a bouquet.  Later she experimented with the different palates to see what made the best picture and she would always conclude to her sister that the pastel crayons made the “bestest color set of all”.  Her first experiment, and art endeavor, was a success.

Not knowing which path to choose she decide to pursue both.  Hence, with her long standing wonder of how nature generates amazing beauty in flowers she has pursued a career in plant research where she has obtained a B.A. in Biology from S.U.N.Y at Buffalo, a M.S. in Plant Biochemistry and Physiology from the University of Maryland, and a D.Phil. (Ph.D.) in Molecular Biology from the University of Oxford in the U.K.  She has worked for a number of years as a Scientist in both the U.K and the United States.  Her research is published in both refereed scientific journals and books.  All the while she also has kept her hands wet with various art classes and projects.

Having pursued courses at the Delaware Art Museum and the Delaware College of Art and Design in illustration and in writing children’s books and acquiring a mentor in E..Jean Lanyon, a local Wilmington, Delaware artist and poet laureate, Dolores has developed a one woman art show entitled “Meanings of the Heart”.  This work has developed out of her passion to foster greater love and communication among family members. Her show is divided into several categories that explore family relationships and how we go about building bonds and positive memories with each other, it also explores aspects of romantic love, and takes whimsical looks at romantic or affectionate love.  She exhibits the show in family friendly venues, since it is geared to both children and adults.

To continue her work in generating opportunities for relationship building between parents and children, Dolores is working on writing and illustrating several books for children.  They are in various states of development.   As an artist, Dolores is engaged in pursuing this kind of work as a children’s books illustrator and author because it is a perfect match between her creative interests and her skills in scientific paper presentation. Both activities take writing and enhanced it with the use of visual aids. The visual aids are what give the opportunity to further explain exciting thoughts and ideas and make stories, be it scientific or personal, come alive.  She values the sharing of stories and bringing them to life as a means of helping individuals spend moments together that help generate positive feelings that are remembered and kept in their heart.

Dolores is a member of the Delaware Foundation for the Visual Arts and was Secretary for the past 4 years.  Also, she is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and participates in local conferences and Illustrator’s workshops.  Dolores was awarded the Jack Reid Memorial Scholarship for her art portfolio as a promising new children’s book illustrator by the West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  Dolores also is showing in the Children’s Beach House Show in Lewes, DE which works to help families and their children with special needs.

Dolores feels that the call of the flower will be making its way in to one or two of her stories and can’t wait to share the joy with others that flowers bring to her.  One of her fondest moments as an artist are the times someone sees a piece she has done and they say how happy it makes them to look at it and they end up being so happy that they give her a hug.  She never got hugs for doing her science!

Here is a picture of where Dolores works on her art.

The Gingerbread Boy Watercolor


Watercolor on Arches rough paper, Love It’s Really Grape!


My Art/Story Process

  1. When I start a story idea, I take out my sketch book and draw what ever comes to mind.  I also write in my book the story.  The words have to be with my pictures, for me they form a body, where the words are a leg and the pictures an arm. This activity is really fun for me and I usually end up with several stories in one. The photos below are of one of my sketch books of (at the time) one story about 3 French Hens, but now is actually three!

In the French Hen Story they originally were going to have magical eggs that they would give to people by hanging them on a person’s Christmas tree.  Hence this rough sketch.

But then it turned into the hens finding a wishing star but then it goes missing and this introduces a new character, Inspector Clue-Sew.  Here is a sketch where the hens have acquired his services and he is helping them find the star. 

After I have a rough draft of the story and I have some fun sketches, I then go to the computer and type out the story and try to tease out the different stories that have developed.  In the case of the French Hen story, there developed a story about gingerbread cookies and a story about a girl’s birthday.  The French Hen story also yielded a poem about wishing on stars, and a mystery star hunt story/game.          

I then go back and forth with editing a story and doing more character sketches in my book.

When I start feeling like I have a solid story I then story board it. 

I also start to do some character design on tracing paper and do some research on how real chickens or cookies look like and I might get some pictures from books or the computer or go on location and draw what I see.

Then I make a dummy book and try out drawings in ink and ink wash or in color using color pencil or watercolor.  Below is a color pencil illustration for the wishing star poem.  In the poem I found a way to keep the magic egg idea.

Here is a watercolor for my gingerbread story.

With the gingerbread painting I experimented with using a acrylic resist technique on the watercolor to see what kind of contrast I might get.  To do the acrylic resist, I painted everything over in acrylic paints and left some white space. Then I covered the whole picture with black ink.  After it dried, I then washed the ink off with gentle rubbing and water.

Other Stories

Below are more examples of my process.  As you can tell I’m at different steps with the different stories.

Other Stories


Here is some work for a story on a bird who has learned he has to migrate to a new home.  This story intends on helping children learn ways to cope with having to move house and it also is about teaching how birds migrate, so there is a science section it the back of the book that relates to the story.   So here I’ve combined my art with my science.

  1. Sketch Book sketches:    Tom and his parents stories.


Some of my written story and some sketches of the emotions Tom feels about moving.




Dummy Book Pictures:  Tom being mad and sad about moving.

Tom packs a suitcase of his favorite things from home.

Tom talks to Blue Jay about whether he migrates too.

A colored piece for the story:  Tom packing.  I tried to simplify the background by using letratone and a heavy shadow to give contract to the picture.  I also like to draw out side the borders of a picture.

I now have revised the story a lot and now need to redo my storyboard completely over and redraw the dummy book and colored pictures.  My characters have gotten new personalities and the story has been given some visual humor.  I have added in more science details to the story.  I also am working on making the characters more active in the scenes.  P.S. I often do my storyboard in my sketch book rather than on a board. 

Top Page: Now Tom is losing his feathers and is scared of the change. This teaches about molting. Bottom Page: He wakes up his mom and dad.  They tell him it’s normal. And his dad says, “Oh good now we can make some pillows”.   

Now Tom has over packed his suitcase and needs to take things out.

STORY 3:  An elephant goes out to play on a spider web and calls some friends to join him.

this is a book illustration of a song that is considered traditional, hence no author is associated with it.  

Here are some character sketches where I am trying to work out how I want to make the elephants look and to get them moving.

Here are some more character sketches where I am exploring moving elephants that are jumping or climbing onto on a spider web.

Here is a dummy book page with an aerial view of the elephants up in the air after jumping on the spider web.

Here is a dummy book sketch where the spider web breaks at the end of the song.  The spider gets the last laugh, earlier throughout the book the spider is a bit upset that the elephants have been jumping on his spider web.

Here is an ink wash with some watercolor from the dummy book page above.

Character development sketches and finals pieces

Next are some pieces I’ve done as character development pieces or as work for some workshops that I have attended.

A Girl Panda Bear Soccer Team and Their Coach: Sketches

Final in watercolor both on Arches Cold Press paper.  One of the issues for this was trying to make them individuals with different personalities.  I tried to make them different with adding girl hair and changing the black spots around the eyes.  I also used hair accessories.

A Pig Story from a workshop.

Here is a farm scene with a piglet running away done in two versions in ink wash.  In this one the momma pig is asleep when the piglet is trying to get away. 

In the one below the momma pig isn’t there and the perspective is changed so you are watching the piglet get away, where before the piglet was really in the background and the focus wasn’t on the piglet.

Halloween Story “Halloween Dude” from an illustration workshop.

Character sketches.  This story was lots of fun in it had so many interesting and unique characters to dream up and draw.  Here Halloween Dude is a grown up and has discovered Goodie Goblins eating candy and leaving a trail of candy wrappers to a cave.  He comments that they are littering and must be stopped.

Here is a sketch of the kind of clothes the dude might wear. And some sketches of goodie goblins.  The name goodie goblins reminded me of good n plenty candy so I tried a few versions of a good n plenty box.

Here is a black and white sketch in pen and ink and pencil on sketch paper.  The scene is of when the dude gets ambushed by the goodie goblins. This story was told by a narrator.  So I originally decided to have a pumpkin tell the story to some pumpkin children.  Also, since the story had a distinct western/cowboy twang to it I decided to create a border with a lasso.  This way I could keep the narrator outside the story and have the story happen inside the ring of the lasso.  I thought this would give the reader a choice in whether they could be in the scene or out depending on how scary it felt to them.

There wasn’t a lot of action in the scene.  So here is a sketch with more action in the children and horse.

Halloween dude was made into a child and the narrator is in the scene telling the story instead of being outside the scene.

Here is a colorized version of the scene. This watercolor on Arches cold press watercolor paper. I tried to limit the palate to orange, black and white for the background and then use a limited palate of colors for the characters to help make them visible from the black and orange and white scene.  The character palate was kept to what I consider fashion colors for Halloween.


And finally some pictures from my “Meaning of the Heart Collection”  For this collection I examine family relationships and how we form positive interactions with each other, I have reduced the scenes down to the bare minimum so that when one looks at the scene they can imagine themselves there in the scene and either think of a similar time in there life and pause on that positive memory or if they have never had the experience they can experience it right where they are viewing it and hopefully taking the positive feelings from it and use it to create new positive bonding moments with one of their family members.

This one is called Baby’s First Concert where big brother is practicing his clarinet and has set up some stuffed animals to listen to him along with his little brother, while in the background mom and sister check in on the scene.  The hearts on the people are a symbol that the interaction is a heart-warming and relationship bonding moment for the individuals involved.

Hope you enjoyed Dolores’ art and all the steps she shared with us.  I don’t have a website for Dolores, but here is her Facebook address:

Talk tomorrow,


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