Ravenstone Press

Stories of Kansas and the Great Plains
Diane A. Dollar - Artist and Illustrator
Diane Dollar photo

Diane A. Dollar

Diane's summer reading poster

Diane's Kansas Libraries
Summer Program Poster
for 1998

See the covers
and illustrations
from Diane's books: 


Johnny Kaw

Twister Twyla

Kansas Tall Tales

Diane A. (Hills) Dollar was born in Kansas City, Missouri on April 25, 1933.  Her family moved to Manhattan when she was five years old and she grew up there, attending Eugene Field Elementary school, and graduating from Manhattan High School.  Diane earned a B.A. in commercial art and an M.A. in painting from Kansas State University and an M.F.A. in design theory from the University of Kansas.

Diane says that as a child she liked to read and draw best of all.  "I liked to sing, too, but nobody liked to listen."  She had an older brother, who also liked to draw.  "We grew up drawing a lot.  In fact, that was our Sunday afternoon entertainment.  He would write the stories and I drew the pictures."  Their mother even provided pencil and paper for them in church when she discovered it would help keep them occupied during the services.  Diane says this shows one reason she likes being an artist . . . you can always find materials to make something to look at.  "I like the idea that no matter what happens, no matter where you are or what your opportunities are, as long as you have even a stick and dust you can draw pictures.  You always have something to do."

Some of Diane's favorite books were Winnie the Pooh(the original A.A. Milne books), the Raggedy Ann and Andy stories of Johnny Gruel, and books by Booth Tarkington (like Penrod and Sam) and Mark Twain.  She especially loved the maps on the end papers of Winnie the Pooh and enjoyed drawing map illustrations for Stephen Hoffman's book What's Under That Rock?

She and her brother staged circuses in their back yard, charging admission and selling popcorn.  They gave the money they made to the Red Cross.  "We just kept a nickel each for ourselves.  We'd go to the Heap 'Em Up Ice Cream Parlor and have ice cream cones, a double scoop cone, for a nickel."  Diane's circus adventures appeared on the Kansas Library Summer Program poster for 1998, where she had fun including herself and her brother as two of the children on it.  (Find Diane as the ballerina in the dark pink tutu down front and her brother at stage center.)

Diane married John Dollar, "a brilliant, handsome raconteur and electrical engineer," on September 3, 1955 in Manhattan.  They have two children, Allison (1956), who is a teacher, and Matthew (1959), who is a historian.  She has one grandson.  Her two pets are a dog and a cat.

Diane loves being an artist and insists that she doesn't have any other talents, even though she plays the piano and violin.  She enjoys traveling and still loves to read, but now her taste in reading runs toward editorial magazines like Vanity Fair and Talk.  She also likes to watch C-SPAN.  Her political interests find their way into her art for adults.  "When I do paintings or photographs, I try to find ways to make a political statement."  In illustrating children's books, she always tries to include children from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, saying she noticed they were missing from the books she read as a child.

Her favorite media include pencils (graphite, colored pencils and pastels), paint (watercolor and acrylic) and photography.  Sometimes she combines them.  When Diane illustrates children's books, she enjoys creating pictures to fit the words, forming an image in her mind and working to create it.  She says that illustrating books is different from creating other kinds of art because, "the idea is provided for you by the manuscript, and you're not trying to sell a product like you are with commercial art.  You still have the creative license to make the pictures and make the characters look like whomever you please.  You still have the same design considerations for each picture.  You have to think about composition.  You also have to be aware of the implications of what you draw and pay careful attention to detail, both to be sure you're accurate and to be sure you're consistent."

Diane is the illustrator of Johnny Kaw - The Pioneer Spirit of Kansas, Imagicat, and Twister Twyla - The Kansas Cowgirl, all published by Ravenstone Press.  Johnny Kaw and Twister Twyla are included in the 2008 anthology, Kansas Tall Tales.  She is currently working on two children's books, one about a squirrel who decides not to take his nap, and the other about a little girl who has had the worst day of her life.

Diane is available for presentations.  Contact her through Ravenstone Press.

About Johnny Kaw - The Pioneer Spirit of Kansas
About Imagicat
About Twister Twyla - The Kansas Cowgirl
About Kansas Tall Tales

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Twister Twyla
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Last updated February 20, 2008