Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ups and Downs

Trina Schart Hyman (1934-2004) was an amazing American children's book illustrator with over 150 books under her belt. She was the recipient of three Caldecott Honors and one Caldecott Medal. I often find myself looking to her work for inspiration when I am feeling stagnant. I found this interview with her and took a segment from it that I found particularly interesting.

Mrs. Hyman told The Boston Globe that she thought the pinnacle of her career, her Caldecott Award in 1985, was also one of the lowest points in her artistry.

"I realized that I was drawing the same figure over and over again, because I don't work from photographs or models when I do my illustration; it's all from my head," she said in 1992. "So I thought I was not only in a rut as far as my creative output, but I also just hated my work."

In response, Mrs. Hyman turned to painting models in an attempt to expand her creativity.

"Painting from life is really an exercise for me," she said. "I felt like it's saved my life several times. When you work in your studio at home you are answerable to everyone. Your work is answerable to everyone. With this work, I am not answerable to anyone."

It's interesting how public views often have little or no bearing in how an artist views their own work. Often the work that puts an artist on the map is their least favorite work. Whether it's because they feel that they aren't staying true to themselves or simply because they wish to branch out and explore something new, artists often reach points when they feel stagnant and stale. It's nice to see that even someone with Ms. Schart's talent can have moments like this as well.


  1. This was a wonderful post! I love her artwork, and I love the excerpts that you shared. (Now I don't have to read the whole thing, you already gave me the best parts) I've often thought that illustrating a book would be tedious and would prevent a true artist from growing and developing his/her creativity... I guess she felt that way too! I wish I could do pictures like that! (Your work is very beautiful, too. I love your blog)

  2. Thanks so much Katherine! I love your blog and work as well. While the computer often seems like nothing but a time waster, it IS nice that it allows you better access to other artists that you'd never have the opportunity to meet otherwise. :)

  3. St. George and the Dragon. Incredible.