A doodler at heart, Ted often remarked—with a twinkle in his eye—that he never really learned to draw. His school notebooks often included bizarre creatures that framed sporadic notes he had taken in class. While his work is very distinct to adults and children, Janet Schulman—his editor for the last 11 years of his life—admits that he despised when his writing and illustrations were referred to as “whimsical.”
Ted was also very, very particular about color. According to Cathy Goldsmith, his art director from 1980 through 1991, his sense of color was very idiosyncratic (which means the colors he used were very distinctly and recognizably ‘Seuss’).
His paintings might not have been considered serious by critics’ standards, but Ted took his painting very seriously—it relaxed him. Using watercolor, gouache, ink, or casein, Ted would create vivid scenes with skewed, nonsensical perspectives and images. He would often contrast bright colors against a much darker background, creating an illusion of the subject popping out of the painting. While he longed for critical recognition that he was an artist, Ted would not sell his paintings out of fear of critics’ rejection.