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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Encourage them

Artist to Artist

pro­ceeds from the book ben­e­fit The Eric Car­le Muse­um of Pic­ture Book Art

If your child loves to draw or paint or sculpt or cut paper for col­lage, encour­age them.

Scrounge up the tools they need.

Do not steer them away, gen­tly or blunt­ly. Do not tell them there’s no mon­ey to be made as an artist or a craftsper­son. You don’t know if that is true. You do not yet know the depth of your child’s deter­mi­na­tion, their well­spring of pas­sion for art, their need to express them­selves artis­ti­cal­ly.

Then, for any­one age 8 or old­er, track down a copy of Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illus­tra­tors Talk to Chil­dren about Their Art (Philomel, 2007). The book begins, “Dear young artist,” and con­tin­ues with let­ters to artists-on-their-way from 23 pros in the field.

Each artist includes a self-por­trait, pho­tos of them­selves as chil­dren and now, with a few adding pho­tos of stu­dios, and then some of their first art and their pic­ture books in the mak­ing. Their let­ters reflect on their men­tors, where they found inspi­ra­tion, and most of them share that illus­tra­tion is very hard work.

Mordi­cai Ger­stein says, “When I was four or five years old, my moth­er made a scrap­book for me. In it she put repro­duc­tions of famous paint­ings that she cut out of mag­a­zines. It was my own lit­tle art muse­um, and I lay on the floor and went through it over and over again till I’d mem­o­rized every pic­ture.” Now, that’s encour­age­ment. Yeah, mom!

Wen­dell Minor writes, “My moth­er believed in my dream, but my father thought I would nev­er be able to make a liv­ing in the world of art. He thought that work should be work, and not some­thing that should be enjoyed. Every day he went to his fac­to­ry job, tak­ing lit­tle enjoy­ment from his work. He lived for his free time when he would go fish­ing, or walk in the woods and fields to hunt wild game. That was his true pas­sion in life. When I went with him on these out­ings, it became clear that he loved the nat­ur­al world and took joy in shar­ing it with me. … From that time on I have nev­er stopped observ­ing and draw­ing from nature. If you dare to fol­low your own dream of becom­ing an artist, you will dare to be dif­fer­ent.”

Rose­mary Wells shares that “I had no idea if I would grow up and work behind a cash reg­is­ter in the mys­te­ri­ous grown-up world. All I knew was I loved to draw, and would spend prob­a­bly four hours every night draw­ing all the way through high school until I got to art school.”

These illus­tra­tors offer heart­felt encour­age­ment. They share their thoughts, know­ing that chil­dren will respect what they have to say and find what they need to forge ahead.

They talk about par­ents who rec­og­nized the impor­tance of their love for art and teach­ers who gave them the tools and the under­stand­ing that they work with today.

As Nan­cy Ekholm Burk­ert signs her let­ter, “With sin­cer­i­ty of heart, may you find your Path and fol­low it.”

And may all of us pro­vide encour­age­ment along the way.

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