Making Marks

Making Marks

by Rita Goldner

My illustration for today is a page from my work-in-progress coloring book Making Marks.cave-paintings It’s my interpretation of the cave paintings in Lascaux, France.

These Paleolithic cave paintings, discovered in Lascaux in 1940, are thought to be 20,000 years old. The paintings are of large animals, once native to the region. These hauntingly beautiful images stimulate my imagination, and transport me back in history, just like my time-traveling protagonist. Standing beside those long-ago artists in my mind’s eye, I wonder if they painted just to record info about the hunt for the rest of the clan, or if they were driven to leave marks for future generations.

I get both inspiration and enlightenment from the very young school kids I meet during author visits. Part of my shtick is telling them that writing and reading a word is a magic trick. With it, I can take an idea from my head and put it in someone else’s head. I write the word “cat” on the board, and ask if anyone now has an idea of my pet in their head. One time a little boy said, “I can’t read or write yet. Can I put this in someone’s head?” While holding up his sketch of an orangutan. I said “Of course!” and basked in his grin as he showed it around.

I especially identify with his question, because I am a writer and illustrator. I hope to commune with readers of picture books using both of these tools. I see it as part of the universal human condition that we want to do this “magic trick” – putting ideas into other people’s heads. We’re compelled to leave marks of some kind, not only to communicate with contemporaries, but to document that we were here.

During World War II, there were ubiquitous sketches of a character with the statement “Kilroy was here.” Soldiers who found the graffiti in unlikely places duplicated it in other unlikely places all over the world. This phenomenon, and the existence of other graffiti, speak to the pressing need for people, especially in unfamiliar or lonely outposts, to leave a mark.

My colleagues and I, in this daily author blog, are determined to leave marks. Our aspiration is that our observations, dreams, and creativity will be shared far and wide. If our agenda were to be rich and famous, most of us would have given it up long ago. The motivation, something much more substantial, is the urge to connect with other people.

My ambition, with this coloring book and through the media of colored pencils and crayons, is to inspire readers, especially children, to leave their own marks.

You are welcome to jump right in, too, and print out a full-size copy of the cave drawing to color by signing up for my kids’ newsletter at

Rita Goldner is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book,
Orangutan: A Rita Goldner2Day in the Rainforest Canopy. Rita has also written and illustrated two eBooks, Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, in the Jackson’s Adventure series. For orangutan facts and images and to purchase the book (also available as an ebook), visit Or by the Kindle version here. See her new work at Anthill Books. To view additional illustrations and other books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook.

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2 Responses to Making Marks

  1. Beth Kozan says:

    Great column, Rita. I especially like your Action, and yes, we are here to make our marks!


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