Born in NJ. Education: Virginia Commonwealth University, B.F.A (certification in art education); New School for Social Research (now New School University), postgraduate studies (photography, film, and animation); Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, certificate in computer graphics.
Fine artist, muralist, and illustrator. Member, Canada/Nova Scotia Cooperation Agreement on Cultural Development advisory committee. Artist-in-residence, Saint Mary's University Art Gallery Media Centre, St. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Exhibitions: Work exhibited in galleries throughout North America.
Visual Arts Nova Scotia (board chair), Cultural Federations of Nova Scotia.
Mayor's Award, Halifax Regional Municipality, 2003, for Full Moon Rising.
Donna Grassby, A Seaside Alphabet, Tundra Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
Budge Wilson, A Fiddle for Angus, Tundra Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
Joanne Taylor, Full Moon Rising, Tundra Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.
Janet McNaughton, Brave Jack and the Unicorn, Rundra Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.
Jamie Bastedo, Free as the Wind, Red Deer Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2007.
Marilyn Lohnes, F Is for Fiddlehead, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2007.
Work in Progress
Illustrating Remember Preston, by Shauntay Grant, for Nimbus Publishing, 2008.
Susan Tooke is an artist and illustrator who has won accolades in a variety of artistic genres. A landscape and portrait painter as well as a muralist, Tooke began her career as a children's book illustrator in 1997, and in 2003 won the Mayor's Award for Excellence in Book Illustration in her home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. In addition her work as a painter, the New Jersey-born artist has also created digital montages for several historic sites in her adopted home in eastern Canada, among them the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, the Monument Lefebvre National Historic Site, and the Ryan Premises National Historic Site. Her mural installations can be found in cities in both Canada and the United States.
Reviewing Tooke's work on the award-winning picture book Full Moon Rising, by Joanne Taylor, School Library Journal critic Kathleen Whalin deemed the work a "luminous celebration of each month's full moon." Featuring a poetic text by Taylor, Full Moon Rising creatively details how Earth's moon has influenced humans over the centuries and includes the names given to the full moon by a variety of cultures. Resource Links reviewer Ann Abel noted that the inclusion of detailed illustrations provides readers with "more atmosphere and more depth than the text alone supplies," and maintained that "Tooke's paintings are a large part of the appeal of this book."
Critics also acknowledge Tooke's realistic illustrations for A Fiddle for Angus, a picture book with a text by Budge Wilson. A Fiddle for Angus, which centers on a young boy who is learning how to play the fiddle, is set in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and features a realistic backdrop, according to Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan. Tooke's illustrations "skillfully express the feelings of the characters as well as the beauty of the Nova Scotia setting," added Phelan. In a similar fashion, Cathie E. Bashaw acknowledged Tooke in a School Library Journal review, citing her realistic rendering of the story's characters and noting that the artist's "realistic, acrylic illustrations depict intense details and expressions. Looks of love and encouragement are displayed on the faces of the young musician and his family throughout the story."
In an artist statement posted on the Visual Arts Nova Scotia Web site, Tooke described how she faithfully renders details of her art work: "I attempt to breathe real life into my images—the sounds, smells, colours, and idiosyncrasies of specific places and the people who inhabit them."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, October 15, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of A Fiddle for Angus, p. 402.
Resource Links, April, 2002, Ann Abel, review of Full Moon Rising, p. 11.
School Library Journal, June, 2000, Sue Sherif, review of A Seaside Alphabet, p. 132; October 1, 2001, Cathie E. Bashaw, review of A Fiddle for Angus, p. 134; December, 2002, Kathleen Whalin, review of Full Moon Rising, p. 130.
Halifax Regional Municipality Web site,http://www.halifax.ca/ (September 11, 2006), "Susan Tooke."
Transatlantic Literary Agency Web site,http://www.tla1.com/ (September 11, 2006), "Susan Tooke."
Visual Arts Nova Scotia Web site, http://www.vans.ednet.ns.ca/(September 11, 2006), "Susan Tooke."