The Escape

40″ x 64″

A large piece of wood was cut, a playground photo shoot took place, and the jars of paint were opened. I started out with an abstract background, which I ended up masking off and painting the sky around it. The abstract bit became the city. A friend and I had visited Europe the year before and I just loved seeing the beautiful architecture! I used that as an inspiration. I was going to add dragons to the story, but the boy informed me that he doesn’t like dragons. I asked him what he preferred, and he said crocodile! That was more original anyways, so I researched crocodiles by watching every Steve Irwin episode on YouTube!


As the project progressed, I knew it was missing an important element. I went back to the original inspiration and, in order to complete the thought of the book coming to life, I decided to add pieces of the written story to the painted objects. My little sister loves to write, so I asked her to come up with a chapter from this imaginary book. Then, following the contours of the objects, I added the words.


The name “The Escape” comes from the idea that when we read a story, it transports us to that world. The chapter that is written out is also about an escape, but I’ll let you figure that one out!

Why are books so powerful and why do we read them?

Painting and reading are two things we do that speak to our sense of adventure and creativity. When you read a story of quests, heroes, creatures, and fantastical places you can’t help but picture it in your mind’s eye. The author invites you to a world they created and guides you along the same paths as the heroes you wish you could be. That is why paintings and books are so similar and that is why I created “The Escape”.


My plan was to make the book come alive as the older sister reads to her brother. When I was growing up I found it very hard to learn to read. However, my older sister would read to me as I studied the images on the front of her books, and imagined the stories taking place.


As I came up with the idea, I sketched out some possibilities. I was teaching kids church at the time and knew one of my students would be an excellent model along with his older sister. I did not know them very well but asked their mom. When she heard my plans for the content of the painting, she answered by telling me that her son learned how to read because his sister read out loud to him! Well, that settled it! I asked the kids and they were super happy to be part of the project.