Trish McKinney: Artist to illustrator to author

By Pamela Dillon, Contributing Writer

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Author and illustrator Trish McKinney looks at her book, "Do Trees Nap?" Contributed photo by Pamela Dillon

Trish McKinney's newest children's book is about a daughter taking a journey.

Like the character she writes about, McKinney has been on quite a journey herself lately.

A professional artist since 1989, McKinney has won two Best of Shows from the Western Ohio Watercolor Society. Dayton art enthusiasts recognize her work for her vibrant colors and experimental style.

She segued from canvas to bound pages last spring when she collaborated with Jacquelynn Buck on the self-published coffee table book, Defining the Art of Trish McKinney.

About a year ago, she met Melissa Leembruggen of Clay Bridges Publishing who asked McKinney to illustrate her children's book, "Benny the Baffled Behemoth." So the artist became a collaborator on a book, then an illustrator. The next step was almost inevitable.

"I had written a story about my daughter based on an actual conversation we had when she was 5," said McKinney, a New Carlisle resident. "I told her she had to take a nap, and she asked, “Do trees nap?" I got up the nerve to tell Melissa about my story."

The story involves the little girl's journey to find the Wise Tree of Life who can answer her question. That story is a soft cover children's book available at, Barnes & Noble online and on McKinney's Web site for $19.99. It was published by Clay Bridges and released in August.

McKinney will be sharing her story with dozens of onlookers at The Children's Book Festival at The Greene on Sept. 19. She will be joined at the Town Plaza by Ohio authors/illustrators Liz Ball, Marcella Barrett, Valerie Coleman, Cindy Driehaus and Steve Harpster, among others.

The illustrations are actually sections of McKinney's mixed-media paintings on which she drew the title character, Talitha Koum, and scenes from her journey. The process resulted in creative hues and imaginative settings.

"I really love it from an art standpoint that the book connected my various styles of painting, my mixed media," said McKinney.

"The background is filled with my mixed media work, then I would choose the colors for the mood and draw on top of them."S

Contact contributing arts writer Pamela Dillon at

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