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K(athryn) L(ynne) Darnell (1955-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

Born 1955, in Detroit, MI; Education: University of Michigan School of Art and Design, B.F.A., 1978. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, music ("I'm a closet clarinetist"), gardening.


Office—210 Abbott Rd., Studio 40, East Lansing, MI 48823.


Artist, illustrator, and calligrapher, 1981—. Part-time faculty member, Lansing Community College, 1981—. Designer of type fonts for computers; lecturer in elementary schools and at conferences.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.



Devin Scillion, Fibblestax, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2000.

Kurt Hassler, Hannah and the Homunculus, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2001.

Kathy-Jo Wargin, Michigan Reader, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2001.

Alice Ann Miller, Treasures of the Heart, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2003.

K. L. Darnell

Tom Lewis, My Piggy Bank, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2003.

Work in Progress

Writing and illustrating Marigold, a picture book.


K. L. Darnell told SATA: "I have always drawn pictures. My mother put crayons and paper on the highchair tray when I was tiny, and when I was old enough not to eat them if she turned her back, I was on my own. Even now, after over twenty years of doing what I do, the fact that I can make my living doing what I love best continually surprises me. Even if the task at hand is drawing the bottom of a foot or a simple bag of rice, I just love the process of making a picture.

"I draw every day. My studio is about two miles away from my house and I try to bicycle in every morning at the same time everyone else is going to work or school. Unless I am teaching a class or giving a presentation in a school, I work a full day there. Since I am both an illustrator and a calligrapher, there is variety, often with me working on several projects during the day.

"I do not believe in waiting for a muse to bring me inspiration for my work. Work is my muse. By starting to draw, I can see what is possible, what works, what does not and what might. I think creativity is often a conversation with the thing you are trying to create, and if you don't begin it, nothing can happen.

"When I am illustrating for children, I like to imagine, not just the story told by the author, but the other things that might also be happening along side the plot. I try to include details that could tell their own story—something a child can find the second or tenth time they open the book. I take my work for children very seriously, as I still remember how critical I was, as a child, of a picture I thought was poorly rendered or inconsistent with the story.

"If I were to give one piece of advice to an aspiring young artist, I would tell them to draw. Draw everything, anything and every day. It is how they will shape both how they see their world (there is nothing like drawing for making you look at a thing closely—to see it completely) and how they will express it to the world."

Biographical and Critical Sources


School Library Journal, August, 2003, Judith Constantinides, review of Treasures of the Heart, p. 139.

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