Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ten Questions with Ronda Eden

Ronda Eden (a.k.a. Ronnie Roo) was born in Adelaide, South Australia and spent her childhood dreaming about horses. As an adult, she is now living that childhood dream. Ronda’s been a factory worker, Chinese cook’s assistant, pharmacy assistant, teacher, storyteller, writer,  waitress, bartender, dishwasher, cleaner, touring art curator, gallery owner, horse trainer and artist A.O.T. (Among Other Things).
Ronda’s hobbies include the joy of  hiking, climbing, wind surfing, belly dancing, jogging, traveling, swimming, daydreaming, listening to music and, of course, horse riding. Apart from the later, none of these activities get much of her attention these days. Especially travel! Ronda loves it right where she is, doing exactly what she is doing. You see, Ronda lives in Laramie, Wyoming with her husband Mernie and together they run a horse boarding operation with 60 horses, 2 mules, a miniature donkey and a tough, bad boy tomcat. Ronda still manages to be an artist A.O.T (Among Other Things) in between feeding, riding and shoveling poop, but the horses come first. She does travel during the summers, but a couple of the horses go with her and together they cover hundreds of miles on the endurance trails of the Mountain Region. Ronda plans to be getting onto a horse and riding high well into her old age!

Hi, Ronda.  Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Yes! I was born in Adelaide, Australia and came to Colorado on a teaching exchange in December 1988. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at UCD Denver, I worked as a Curator for the University of Wyoming’s Art mobile program, traveling to remote parts of the State teaching art and art appreciation. I’ve done all kinds of things from waiting tables and bartending to being an artist in residence in schools across the Midwest and doing murals and window painting. I call myself an ‘Artist A.O.T’ which stands for ‘Artist Among Other Things’. What I like to do more than anything else is ride and be with horses. Everything else is secondary. One day I will actually have my saddle grafted to my bottom and that will be that! LOL

Do you also write or would you like to in the future?

Yes. But I feel words are only for those who can’t read the pictures! LOL

When did you first know you wanted to be an illustrator?

When I realized I could not add or subtract for beans!

What kind of training prepared you for your career as an illustrator?

I have a Bachelors of Fine Art, a Teaching Degree and have taken lots of work shops but I still think it’s just a matter of moving the pencil around the page, making lots of mistakes and correcting them over and over again.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

Develop your own style. Look around for ideas and information but ultimately let your true self develop. Not someone else’s true self. If that makes sense.

Can you describe the process you go through when illustrating a picture book?

I take huge pieces of newsprint (I get end of rolls from newspaper printers in my area) and do lots of doodles of whatever comes into my mind. I develop characters first then try to picture them doing different things and having different expressions and gestures to depict what is happening. The setting comes later. Sort of like props and costumes on a stage. I make lots of changes all the time and sometimes throw it all out and start again. No details at first until I get the shapes and gestures I’m looking for. I run these passed the author for suggestions if I can.

What advice would you give an aspiring illustrator?

Do not get too serious or attached to your work. If you are not enjoying it rethink what you are doing. Learn to laugh at yourself.

What are your current marketing strategies for The Brothers Foot?

When the book first came out Steve and I did a tour in Grand County, Co performing for audiences in all towns. Then our jobs and lives took over again and we haven’t done much since. This is the biggest promo we have had. 

In June we will be performing at Curt Gowdy State part at the Arts in the Park function. Neither of us are very good at the marketing side of all this. I think Steve mentioned this somewhere on this tour. I wish we were. But ‘we are what we are and we ain’t what we ain’t!’

Can you share about any projects you are currently working on?

Steve has written a sequel to The Brothers Foot and I will be working on the illustration again. It’s very cute (of course) and has another new song and dance.  So far I’ve just sketched out the character for ‘Farmer Fox’. Guess I’d better get to work on the rest! 

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

At 54 years old I would still much rather read a children’s book than an adult one. Maybe it’s the illustrations. Maybe it’s the brevity. Or maybe I will just never really grow up!  Thank you so much for letting me share my thoughts here.


Joylene Butler said...

Terrific interview. Thank you, ladies, for the bright and interesting post.

BarbaraB said...

The Brothers Foot looks like a hoot. I'm sure it was fun to illustrate.
Susanne, thanks for this interesting interview. We don't hear from illustrators enough.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

LOL. I loved this. Ronda's sense of humor is delightful. :-)

Deb Hockenberry said...

Thanks for such a fun interview. It sounds like illustrating a book is more work than it sounds and Ronda sounds like so much fun. She had great advice that not only illustrators can use!

Karen Cioffi said...

Susanne, Great interview. And, Rhonda, I prefer short stories to regular novels - I think it does have to do with the brevity. :)

Susan Hornbach said...

I enjoyed this interview Susanne. Wishing you great success with your art and the book Rhonda.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Very nice interview, Susanne. Great questions.

You've led an interesting life, Ronda. Love the photo. I like horses too. We had a few once upon a time. Not any more.

Good luck with your work.

alexia said...

I used to board and train horses, too! Still have horses, but not as a business.

Ruthi aka abitosunshine said...

Fantastic fun interview! "Not someone else's true self" makes perfect sense to me!

Susanne Drazic said...

Hello to Joylene, BarbaraB, Shannon, Deb, Karen, Susan, Beverly, Alexia, and Ruthi! I want to thank all of you ladies for stopping by to check out the interview with Ronda Eden. It is fun learning about children's books from the illustrator's POV.

Lynda R Young said...

Great interview. Being an Illustrator isn't an easy pursuit, that's for sure. I admire your hard work and dedication.

Jennifer Shirk said...

She has a hobby of belly dancing? How cool is that?
Enjoyed the interview!

Stephen Tremp said...

Its very nice to meet Rhonda! Being an illustrator sounds like a lot of fun. I wanted to be one too for many years. Its just that writing is what took off. Best wishes to you and have a great weekend!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great interview! I'm always a bit jealous of illustrators...I'd love to be able to draw well. :)

Thanks for sharing Rhonda with us.

Janet Johnson said...

I've always wished I could be an illustrator, but that is not one of my talents.

Best of luck Rhonda! And thanks Suzanne for the great interview as always. :)

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Lynda, Jennifer, Stephen, Sharon, and Janet! Thanks for stopping by to check out the interview and for also leaving a comment.

I wish I could draw, but sadly I can't even draw a straight line. I'm always in awe of those who can illustrate.

Talli Roland said...

Fantastic interview, ladies! I'd love to have a miniature donkey.

Kimberly said...

What a great interview. I'm with you Susanne, I wish I could draw.


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