Tomie dePaola is celebrating his 60th year as a working artist, 50 of which have been filled with illustrating books for children, as well as his other projects including many one-man shows of paintings and drawings. He is the recipient of the 2011 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honoring an author or illustrator whose books have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.
I studied Illustration at Pratt Institute in the early 1950’s. It was the best thing I ever did. It turned me from an art student into an Artist (not a children’s book illustrator yet—-that would come later).
In 1955, I spent the summer at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture where I met Ben Shahn, a visiting faculty member. He noticed my work and for two weeks, he personally “mentored” me daily. I learned so much from him, but there was one thing he told me that I would like to pass on. Ben said, “Being an artist is not only what you do, but how you live your life.”
There is something else I’d like to share with you, too. This is a quote from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. It’s applicable to anyone who is trying to create. “As you unfold as an artist, just keep on, quietly and earnestly growing through all that happens to you. You cannot disrupt the process more violently than by looking outside yourself for answers that may only be found by attending to your innermost feeling.”
And a final word from me. COURAGE!
Compliments of SCBWI – Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators