Author and artist Thomas Locker, who illustrated more than 30 children’s books, died in Albany, N.Y. on Friday, March 9. He was 74.

Born in New York City in 1937, Locker began his career as a landscape painter in the 1960s, exhibiting work reminiscent of the 19th-century Hudson River School of painting. It wasn’t until 1982 that he turned to writing and illustrating children’s books. His first, Where the River Begins, edited by Phyllis Fogelman and art directed by Atha Tehon, was named one of the 10 best illustrated children's books of 1984 in the New York Times Book Review. He went on to illustrate more than 30 works for young readers, many of which he also wrote, and garnered numerous additional honors.

“Thomas was a pioneer in how he approached children’s books,” said Paula Wiseman, v-p and publisher of Paula Wiseman Books at Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, who was his publisher when she worked at Harcourt. “He captured nature as a living thing in his paintings and had a way of seeing and rendering that beauty that is a gift to anyone who read his books or knew his paintings.”