Colleen O'Hara - Illustrator of "My Heart Smiles"

Three years ago when Diana approached me with the idea of illustrating her ABC affirmation book, I was intrigued. We sat down in front of a fire at my mom’s cabin in the woods and began with finding a rhythm to her script. In about three hours we had a road map of words and drawings that would evolve into My Heart Smiles. After that, the project pretty much stalled until the spring of 2013. It was at that time, Diana began a rewrite that went from an ABC affirmation book to a “when I feel” book and it changed everything. Suddenly the project took on a powerful renewed life of its own and the drawings began to reflect this seemingly simple change. By the end of the summer the drawings were complete and painted. Interesting enough though, the last drawing of the book was for “Quantum” where a new little energy appeared on the end of a surf board in the form of a dog. Again, this seemingly simple addition would establish a new direction for the book. I spent the next few weeks redrawing and painting all 26 drawings with this new perspective. The drawings went from one page to two, with the addition, in some cases, of this new little being. It was a magical experience. The result truly made my heart smile. As it turns out, this book is a “love letter” to both Diana’s and my inner child. It’s a testimony to the way we live our lives as adults. Let me sum it up this way. When my granddaughter Alexis was about seven, I was driving her and a friend out to camp for a sleep over and I heard her tell this other little girl in the back seat that she loved to go to camp without adults. I looked at her through the review mirror and said, “Hey, what about me? She replied, “You’re not an adult because you like to play.” Need I say more?

Colleen O’Hara has been an artist in many forms, since she was a child: over 30 years as a professional actress, a stage director, a playwright and a singer. She was the co-founder and Artistic Director of the “West End” Theatre Co. Ms. O’Hara was the creator and owner of, an online business featuring her original butterfly art and paintings. She has illustrated two other books, The North Shore cookbook and The Butterfly Woman which she also wrote. She graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Theatre and a minor in art. Colleen currently lives in Marquette, MI, near her three “Awesome” and “Creative” step-daughters: Holly, Andrea, and Tricia; and, her five “Gorgeous” and “Brilliant” granddaughters: Alexis, Janelle, Lydia, Melanie, and Shelby; her son-in-law Gabe, who is “Playful” and “Kind”; and Bubba, Andrea and Alexis’ dog, who might be small in stature, but has a “humungous” heart.

To contact Colleen, click HERE.