Children’s author-illustrator Byron Barton, known for his many picture books for very young children featuring simple text and images rendered in bold blocks of color and thick black outline, died June 3 at his home in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., following a long illness. He was 92.

Barton was born Byron Vartanian on September 8, 1930 in Pawtucket, R.I., to Toros and Elizabeth Vartanian. His father sold seasonal supplies of coal, wood, and ice, and the family home “made an ideal playground” for a boy, with its woodpiles, barns, and attics to explore, Barton told Something About the Author.

Just before Barton entered fourth grade, the family relocated to Los Angeles, where Barton recalled that his true interest in art blossomed when he was given time to “play with paints” at school. His teachers displayed his paintings in the classroom and Barton became known as “the artist.” Barton’s early affinity for art grew into a more serious passion, leading him to study at Los Angeles City College from 1948–50, when he received a scholarship to the Chouinard Art Institute. That plan was interrupted, however, when Barton was drafted by the U.S. Army to serve in the Korean War. Upon his discharge, Barton returned to his studies at Chouinard in 1953 and completed his art training there in 1956.

In 1957, Barton moved to New York City and worked as an ad designer and artist at Equitable Life Assurance and an animated film designer for CBS-TV before segueing into children’s book illustration. His first book contract was to illustrate A Girl Called Al, a novel by Constance C. Greene, published by Velma Varner, director of children’s books at Viking Press, in 1969. In 1971, Seabury published Barton’s first self-authored title, the wordless picture book Elephant.

For the next 30 years, Barton illustrated books for such authors as Russell Hoban, Jack Prelutsky, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, and Seymour Simon, in addition to building a large catalog of his own works. Among Barton’s best-known titles are Airport (Crowell, 1982); Building a House (Greenwillow, 1981); Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs (Crowell, 1989); I Want to Be an Astronaut (Crowell, 1988); and the series My Car; My Bus; My Bike; and My House, from Greenwillow. Over the years Barton’s Greenwillow and HarperCollins titles have received numerous accolades including six ALA Notable Children’s Books citations; a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books selection for Where’s Al? (1972); and two Reading Rainbow picks.

In a 2014 interview, Byron told PW what he thought made his work appealing to children. “Being simple makes subjects easier for kids to understand and relate to on their own,” he said. “But I think there is also a kind of mystery about large areas of bright colors. I want my drawings to be fun and I want them to be informative. The way the lines and shapes are drawn and the colors are put together is done with that feeling and intent. It is not a formula. Most of the time it is just feeling. I am very much influenced by kids’ drawings, and maybe kids see that.”

My House, published by Greenwillow in 2016, was Barton’s final book, though he continued making art in recent years, turning his creative inspiration to fiber art and needlework.