The Heart of the Story: Illustrated Adventures of Creatures Real and Imagined

March 19, 2022 - May 14, 2022
Linda Bourke, Nancy Cote, Thea Ernest

The Heart of the Story: Illustrated Adventures of Creatures Real and Imagined

Three local artists explore the ways in which illustration illuminates a story, imbuing it with heart, humor, and humanity.

Linda Bourke will exhibit the original illustrations for My Cat’s Birthday (words and music by Cheryl Wheeler).  Critters from far and wide gather to usher in Penrod’s 15th. Catnip ensures a wild celebration! 

Linda is happily retired from a long career teaching at Mass College of Art and Design, where she was Chair of the Illustration Department. Projects such as this collaboration, as well as a rigorous daily drawing practice, help to keep her sane and out of jail. 

Nancy Cote is children’s book author/illustrator who has illustrated over forty picture books and has written nine of her own. Her award-winning stories, illustrations, paintings, and poems have been featured in exhibits, collections, and children’s magazines throughout the U.S. and Europe. She taught Children’s Book Illustration in the C.E. Program at Rhode Island School of Design and is presently working from a studio space at the Narrows Center for the Arts.

Nancy writes, “At four years old, I remember waking up to a bird singing outside my window. Of course, I’d heard many birds chirp and sing before this, but I believed that bird was singing just for me. In the same way, when I write, paint and create, I remember that bird, and hope that you hear my voice; a song just for you.”

Thea Ernest is a Rhode Island School of Design graduate (Jewelry and Light Metals ‘87) who has gravitated toward the pursuit of color and storytelling better expressed through painting and drawing. She teaches in person and online in partnership with RI arts organizations and historic properties. Billy the Rescue Dog is her first illustration project for a complete picture book.

Thea illustrated the children’s picture book, Billy the Rescue Dog. Written by Susan Joyce, it is the true story of Billy, a Treeing Walker Coonhound, his rescue, and new life on a farm in Foster, RI. Susan asked Thea to join her creative team after admiring her watercolor and ink paintings on Instagram. Thea studied countless photos of Billy and his family, and their home on Maggie’s Farm. She researched bloodhounds, Saint Bernards, foxes, and the other creatures who appear in the story. This show illustrates the creative process, in collaboration with Susan and graphic designer Jeanette Chow and showcases the original paintings that so beautifully capture the heart of Billy’s story. For months under pandemic restrictions, she worked in isolation in her studio. And yet, she woke up every morning feeling like she was on the farm with Billy and his new family. In Thea’s mind, she could feel and hear these characters, smell the woods, run with them through the orchard and curl up by the fireside. We hope you’ll enjoy that experience as you look at our show today.

Second Image: Linda Bourke

Third Image: Thea Ernest

Fourth Image: Thea Ernest

Fifth Image: Nancy Cote

Sixth Image: Nancy Cote