Don Berry Illustration logo


An Artist's Journey

bio index...............previous chapter.. chapter

Chapter 17: Transition to a new life


The animation work that began in the last two months of 2011 continued into the new year. I completed the second project, "Why Snow Avoids the Desert" by mid-January and the next, "Must Be a Cat!" about three weeks later. Both can be viewed on the Berrytoons site.

"Why Snow Avoids the Desert" is 43 seconds and "Must Be a Cat!" is over a minute
Why Snow......Must be a cat

Each production became longer and more complex than the one before. I was on an accelerated learning curve that not only incorprated illustration, design and writing skills but pushed me into areas of audio and video production that expanded my creativity.


Mom duty also continued into the new year and intensified as her condition began to rapidly deteriorate. Animation was set aside in February as I dealt with her situation. By the middle of the month she was receiving hospice care. She died February 28.

Helen M. Berry, 1921-2012

Helen M Berry

In the aftermath I completed writing a short book, "The Drive Home—Tales & Images of Mom Duty", about the last two years of my experiences as my mother's caretaker and caregiver. It was a way to bring a sense of closure to the 7 1/2 years of duty so that I could move on. The book was self-published through CreateSpace. It is available on their site here and the ebook version on Amazon here for any who would like a copy, but mainly I saw it as a way to share the experience with family and a few friends who were kind enough to listen to me thoughout the adventure.

The book is a 6x9 paperback with 60 total pages and several black and white interior illustrations. The Kindle ebook version has color illustrations.
The Drive Home cover

It was also left to me to arrange for her cremation, clear up the loose ends of her life, mainly financial, and arrange for her modest estate to be distributed equally to me, my brother and sister. In a bit of cosmic timing, my 6-month food stamp allotment expired as the inheritance money and new work came in. I immediately used half of my share to upgrade my seven-year-old computer workstation and software, have the car tuned-up and repaired, get some dental work done, and have much needed and long-delayed plumbing repairs made around the house. The upgraded business equipment allowed me to resume my book illustration and animation work with much more powerful tools and continue to develop my skills to accomodate new creative goals. The remaining money was put in savings for unexpected expenses and as a buffer against future slow business spells.

New work magically appears

The internet is vast, and the appearance of my web site with a web search is unpredictable, so I periodically run a Google or Bing ad. That has generated a few inquiries that occasionally led to actual work, but projects usually come my way out of the blue.The next three jobs are examples of a mysterious process that allows people to quickly find me even when the ad isn't running.

I was contacted in April by Cece Wick. She had a manuscript ready and had plans for a series of several books that address life issues for children. She said my site came up immediately when she began her search for an illustrator and she knew intuitively that I was the right person for her project. This would not be the entire book, rather a front cover and text layout of the pages with two illustrated spreads to serve as a proposal that her editor would pitch to a publishing company.

After the usual preliminaries, work began and we finished the proposal in June. As of this writing it has been submitted and is waiting on a decision from the publisher.

This proposed book is 8.5x11. The story concerns helping children cope with life's changes.
Zen Zebrq cover

Then, Donna Smithey contacted me in June shortly after I'd finished the Zen Zebra proposal. Her manuscript flowed from her keyboard in a state of inspiration and finding me seemed to be part of that inspired energy. We quickly finished our negotiations and the completed book files were submitted to her publishing service, Xulon Press, on August 31.

The book is 36 total pages, 8.5x11, and available in print and ebook versions

Nichisan cover

In October I received an inquiry from Paige Fertitta about illustrating a poem she wanted to publish as a tribute to her daughter Jessica. Work began in mid-November. Jessica had died unexpectedly in an unusual auto fire at the age of 25. In the book, she is depicted as a child. This poignant assignment was a fitting way to bring 2012 to an end, a year that marked a transition to a new day for me.

The book is 24 total pages, 6 x 9, self-published through CreateSpace

Positively Jessica front cover


bio index...............previous chapter