I Failed Many Times before I Succeeded– New Children’s Book Illustrator Shares Personal Journey

I’ve made some mistakes in my lifetime, but I don’t consider them failures. After all, some of the best learning comes through mess ups. I put in long hours on this little girl before noticing that I had drawn and painted her lips lopsided. How’d I do that? It’s complicated.


My illustration had other issues, too. Through multiple layers of colored pencil, wax built up until her face wouldn’t receive additional color. Peach skin tone was desperately needed. I applied the color in tiny circles, just as I learned to do on  a “How to” video. The artist on the video made it look so easy. But my work wasn’t anything like his and my efforts to create real looking skin were as successful as trying to water color on waxed paper, an impossible feat.

Crooked lips and blotchy skin were not my first major mistakes. This was my third failed attempt to paint the little girl in an illustration with Xander, the blind pug. The other two painted drawings show her with protruding eyes that nearly pop off the page and skin with a creepy, plastic appearance.

Making mistakes helped me learn how to use Prismacolor pencils and eventually led to an illustration that communicates the value that I want in my new book.


This is my fourth attempt with the illustration of the little girl and Xander. I think I’ll keep her. Finally! She’s everything I’d hoped that she would be.

Failure can be a great tutor when we’re willing to learn from it. I’m learning a lot as I continue on my journey with Xander the Wonder Dog, #1 Pug. It has been difficult getting to where I currently am, but the goal isn’t to do something that’s easy, it’s to complete a book that I hope will touch the hearts of children.

Currently, I’m working on an illustration of Xander visiting the same little girl while she’s hospitalized following an accident. This is exactly the sort of work that Xander does. He has a God given gift of comforting children and adults during some of their toughest days.

©Pamela Koefoed, 2018



Darling Blind Pug, a Therapy Dog, Featured in New Children’s Book

In childhood, I spent hours drawing. I drew while glued to a wooden bench, waiting for my mother to finish her last cigarette, her last beer, her last conversation with the people straddled on the tall stools beside her. Sometimes I waited all day and late into the night.

Those all day beer marathons gave me the opportunity to create trees and animals with a pencil and whatever blank paper I could find.

God gave me the ability to draw and the grace to totally forgive my mother and to demonstrate His unconditional, steadfast love to her. She’s no longer here and I sincerely miss her.

Now more than 30 years later, I’ve picked up my pencils again to create a book that I believe can help young children. Here’s one of the first sketches for Xander the Wonder Pug, a children’s book featuring Xander, a therapy dog who lives and works in Klamath Falls, Oregon.


Next steps…begin painting with Prismacolors.

Prismacolors! Yikes.

My number one challenge so far is learning how to use Prismacolors. Prismacolors are wax based pencils with a high color saturation, meaning they are blendable and the colors are rich.


The video tutorials that I’ve watched make it look easy peasy. So far, I’ve watched several of the pros whip out realistic paintings like it’s a walk in the park. Per their instructions, I’ve followed along and quickly learned that painting with pencils is not without challenges. Trust me, my practice color pencil drawings (also called paintings) barely resemble the ones in the “How to” videos.

Failure is a part of learning. I’m discovering what works for me and what doesn’t work for Prismacolors. They chip, I learned. And smear. And they have no idea of the concept of grace. There’s no forgiveness. One wrongly applied color can ruin twenty hours of work.

Speaking from experience, failures have been a big part of making progress with my drawings and paintings. I’ll share a failure along with the painting that I completely redid as an example in my next post.

Why don’t you follow along? I’ll share the project in various stages and maybe my process will inspire you to launch into your own creativity.


Sketch #1 of Xander and a little girl he visited in the hospital who is now well.