Week 6: Talking with Artists compiled & edited by Pat Cummings



Found this book in an adorable barn red free little library in Silver Springs, MD during my visit with fellow reader Gina just a few days ago. It is a “kids book” in the sense that the level of writing is inclusive of younger ages and those with limited reading ability. The book is a series of biographies from an array of children’s book illustrators. I enjoyed flipping through this over the last few days. Here are a few lines that popped for me:

“I got to do my first book because I knew someone important who could help me. And one book led to another and another. I can’t ever pay that person back, but I do try to help young artists get started.” – Victoria Chess

“It didn’t take long to realize that nobody really knew what the pictures were supposed to be. But my mother would put them up on the refrigerator door, and that always made me feel good.” – Pat Cummings

“We don’t have any children, but we have talked about trying to find a twelve-year-old who likes to do dishes.” – Pat Cummings

Pat Cummings also tells a story about how she got her offer to illustrate a book and when asked “Do you have any questions?” she foolishly said no, and acted as though she had experience. Panicking, she calls a seasoned illustrator who walks her through the basics– how to pick which parts of the story to illustrate, to leave lots of space for text, important details away from the middle of the book. She says finally, “The most important thing I learned from Tom that day was that we have to help each other. He helped me get started, and I never forget that when someone who wants to illustrate calls me.”

“There is no such thing as a normal day for me. Some days the pictures come easily and some days they don’t come at all. Some days I get to the drawing table early and some days I sleep late and work well into the evening.” – Richard Egielski

“It took years for me to get my first picture book. In the beginning, many editors said that my pictures were too weird for children’s picture books.” – Richard Egielski

“If you’re interested in being creative, have a little spot in your house where you can leave your things so that when you do want to do something, you’re ready.” – Lois Ehlert

“My drawing board– a giant antique oak one– came from a school in New York. I think about all the students who sat at it long ago, and the artwork they did.” – Lisa Campbell Ernst

“There’s something wrong here. When you become an adult you seem to lose your freedom.” – Steven Kellogg

“I can’t say there was one moment when I decided to be an artist, because there was never a time when I didn’t want to be one.” – Amy Schwartz (Kind of Stein-ian, no?)

“Art improves with practice. A loving familiarity with books and stories will help you think like an illustrator.” – Amy Schwartz

“I guess I really knew I wanted to be an artist when my fourth-grade math test came back with a big “D” on it.” – Lane Smith

“To be an artist you have to keep on doing art— draw, draw, draw!” – Lane Smith

“Like a lot of New Yorkers, I have a great view. It is of a brick wall.” – Lane Smith

“The other thing that’s important [to get good at art] is to make pictures you feel strongly about, that mean something to you.” – Chris Van Allsburg

“I have a cat. His name is Cecil. He’s an old cat. He’s about 15 years old. He’s ruined a couple of my drawings. One was an ink drawing. He upset the bottle of ink, ran through the ink, and then ran over the drawing– but that only happened a couple of times.” – Chris Van Allsburg

Of course, there are samples of illustrations from each author that are awesome to see.

This was a relaxing and inspiring read to enjoy this evening in lightening illuminated & Charleston, South Carolina.


2 comments on “Week 6: Talking with Artists compiled & edited by Pat Cummings”

  1. This is a great find. Each quote carries it’s own bit of wisdom that goes well beyond drawing. I especially like the author’s story about getting help; my good friend always says that we all need a committee to get through life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So many fun quotes; thanks for taking the time to choose (and type!) all of them for us. I’d like to see drawings that were thought to be too weird for children. Who would appreciate weird drawings more than a child?

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s