Artist’s Statement

Here’s a link to an interview I did for Helena (MT) Civic TV on August 10, 2018:

watch the interview



I never truly left the Children’s Section of my small town’s public library. I grew up on a windy wheat farm, and Montana’s Big Sky could make me feel small and lonesome. Books offered a window to other landscapes and other worlds. My studio is filled with children’s books, both classic and contemporary, and I still love opening one and getting lost in the illustrations.

Using watercolors, I create custom-commissioned Story Paintings. Starting with the initial of the child who will receive the painting, I comb through the dictionary until a story forms—one that always ends with the affirmation that the child’s name is the single word “their” letter is proudest to represent. I have created over 100 of these, all one-of-a-kind.

My “Unusual Alphabet” print series features lesser-known animals, plants, insects, and birds, and my alphabet book, Teeny Tiny ABC, follows a small character named Annicka and her animal friends through the four seasons. My newest book, Teeny-Tiny 1-2-3, takes place on that magical day when late fall turns into early winter, with lots of objects for little fingers to point to and count.

Another book, Fun With Mother Goose, highlights ten classic nursery rhymes and songs, illustrated with my original paintings.  My “Mary-Mary, Quite Contrary” is a Jazz Age flapper who inspired 2018 and 2019 wall calendars, along with her friends, Cat, Mouse, and Hedgehog.

It’s cozy in the Children’s Section, though the chairs have gotten smaller.

Come in. Sit down.

It’s Story Time!

                                   ~ Shelley Freese