Archive for children

The Future of Children’s Literature: The Story Behind the Art

This new piece, co-illustrated by both Benjamin Hummel and Cherish Flieder, tackles the question, what role does children’s literature have as we move full steam into the 21st century?

We certainly live in a changing world. Book sales nationwide continue to drop–magazine and newspapers are going out of business left and right. We are in the growing pains of a new, digital revolution, in which everybody can become a contributor. There are pros and cons to this new digital age, but in the end, I believe that kids still want to be entertained, they still want to escape into a world of imagination.

With the new technology changes, we have newer and more innovative ways to distribute great storytelling to kids these days that could never even been dreamed of even fifteen years ago. From smart phones to tablets, kids can enjoy interactive e-books–filled with learning, fun, imagination and animation. As we figure out our way through these cool new changes, we as artists and writers and poets will still be called upon for our creativity and imagination.

We chose Steampunk as a theme for this illustration, to tie in with the juxtaposition between the past and the future. The books in the foreground countryside represent the fact that no matter what happens, paper pages will always be here with us. (Something about not needing batteries, never freezing, and never having to worry about data loss.) The tablets and smart devices in the distance form the booming and approaching city. And the pig? Why the pig? Well… Why not?

So what about you? What are your thoughts about the future of children’s literature? Reply using the form below and let us know!

Right Field: The Story Behind the Art

The phenomenon of little league sports can be pretty humorous at times. Attending many such outings with my younger brothers, there were always two or three (usually my siblings among them), who would find interest in anything other than the game in which they participated. It was easy to spot the casual player compared to the aspiring pro. The casual players would be the ones playing in their jeans.

Also, anybody who has played team sports in school knows the agony of being picked last, whether deserved or not. In baseball, the worst player was usually sent to deep right field, the part of the playing field where, except for the occasional left handed batter, the ball would never go. Often, the loneliness of such an isolation would draw the individual into the more beautiful or simpler parts of life, the cool summer breeze, the butterflies who seemed to float magically in the air, or the busy bee, working hard to provide for the comforts of the hive. Only then would this trance be shattered by the mad shouting of the crowd, several yards away, indicative of the baseball that just careened by the carefree child.

Additional fun facts about this illustration:

  • This is the first piece to make it into the Painting for Life collection and it solidified with finality what I wanted to do with my art.
  • The kid in the picture is my younger brother.
  • Yes, the child in the illustration is a lefty. He started as a right-hander, but the composition worked out much better with him as a left-hander. So I switched it at the last minute.
  • The bumble bee will find its way into my art on frequent occasions. “Hummel” translates to “bumblebee” in German.

The original for this is no longer for sale, but prints can be ordered. Contact us about pricing on a large giclee. Otherwise, we sell an 8″ x 8″ matted version.

“Right Field” artist print


A Dragon Named Trouble

This piece was co-illustrated by Cherish Flieder and Benjamin Hummel according to their acclaimed Been Cherished style. The story is simple. There is a dragon named Trouble who would love to come inside the kingdom. So he makes his appeal to the children guarding the gate. The boy thinks he remembers this dragon being here before, and the last time he was here, he lived up to his namesake, digging up flower gardens, spilling paint on the carpet, getting into the cooking jar, tracking mud throughout on the clean carpet. But this dragon is so enticing and after the children turned him away once, he comes back, this time tempting them by juggling cupcakes! Will the kids succumb to his antics, yet once again?

Cupcakes and dragons. What more can you ask for? Both lend themselves to a great birthday card!

“Dragon Named Trouble” A7 birthday card

How to Draw a Leprechaun Activity Sheet

As a St. Patrick’s day gift to you, we have created a free fun, step-by-step tutorial on how to draw a Leprechaun. Great for school aged children. The instructions start with “Draw two fish bowl shapes.”

That’s all I’m going to say for now. To find out more and to get started with your St. Patty’s Leprechaun drawing, download the  the 3 page PDF worksheet.

Happy drawing!