‘I’ is for illustrator
Kandy Radzinski divulges the secrets behind her fanciful drawings.
Kandy Radzinski’s illustration credits include “S is for Sooner,” now in its sixth edition. “Someone once told me that I was the goose that laid the golden eggs, but the farmer gets all the money,” she says of her long career as an illustrator. She is pictured with her dog Beanie.
Kandy Radzinski grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Phoenix, Ariz., where she played barefoot with her best friend, “Skinny Annie,” in a lava-hot parking lot in front of her father’s bar.
After some time teaching at Central Washington State, she came to Tulsa in 1973 to teach at The University of Tulsa.
She is now the successful illustrator of works including “S is for Sooner: An Oklahoma Alphabet,” “The 12 Cats of Christmas,” “What Cats Want for Christmas,” “What Dogs Want for Christmas,” “Lullaby,” “I is for Idea” and “Where to Sleep.”
You use family and animals as your models. Did they make appearances in “S is for Sooner”? I like to work from photographs as much as possible, so I made my husband dress up like a cowboy, bless his heart, and pose in the sun for an hour or so till I got just the right photo. My son, Ian, is also in the book wearing an Eskimo Joe’s T-shirt. Also, one of my dogs,
Kirby. In his heart, he’s actually a feral barn cat disguised as a Scottie.
You often include animals in your illustrations. Why? Well, I just love their textures. Guess I simply like painting hair. Right now, I’m doing a series of sheep paintings. Their wool can look like furry white SOS pads, dreadlocks or poodle fur.
Beanie, my other dog, is included in “What Dogs Want for Christmas” and “Where to Sleep.” She’s a rescue mutt and probably the sweetest and smartest dog that I’ve ever had the privilege to know.
Tell us how you became an illustrator. I always wanted to be an artist. I remember when I was about 9 years old, my family received an advertisement in the mail for “Encyclopedia Britannica.” It had a reproduction of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” and I was so impressed by the colors and subject matter. It kind of gave me a direction and sense of imagery.
I wonder if the way I paint might look better in children’s books than on people’s living room walls. I tend to paint very sweet images — stuff that is a little on the silly side. For example, some of my sheep are wearing knitted wool hats.
What projects are on your horizon? A novel, my first as an author, titled “The Magic Kingdom of Cisco, Texas.”
What do you think people would be most surprised to learn about you? I’m the most un-athletic person I’ve ever met. I utterly despise, despise, despise exercising, but I’ll be going for my fifth-degree black belt in tae kwon do in December. And I have actually used it once — on a German shepherd that was going to kill Kirby. I did a front snap-kick to the German shepherd’s head and, boy howdy, that nasty, vicious dog ran away with his tail tucked between his legs.
Oct. 25 — Book signing for “S is for Sooner: An Oklahoma Alphabet”
Noon-3 p.m. Sweet Tooth Candy & Gift Co., 3747 S. Harvard Ave. Meet illustrator Kandy Radzinski and sample chocolates and other Oklahoma products.
Call 918-712-8785 or visit www.facebook.com/SweetToothOK.