Illustrator / Picture + Book Maker
I'm an Illustrator
A Picture + Book Maker
...And I've known it was a destined fate since I was four , sitting on my grandparent's porch listening to my grandmother and my great aunt craft storytelling magic. Then came the dawn of pictures when my mom bought me "Sam and the Firefly." I think there was a lesson she was trying to teach me, but all I wanted was the freedom and power of writing words in the night sky. Well…maybe I still do!
I am in love with bringing new characters to life. Pencil, ink, watercolor, gouache, oils and occasionally acrylics decorate my pages and find themselves pulled together with text using the Adobe Creative Suite.
I grew up with all the greats: Leo Lionni, Eric Carl, Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak. And then I became a teen. But unlike most, I was the teen with a license and a permanent spot at all the local thrift stores. There I discovered James Thurber, Miroslav Sasek, H.A. Rey, Doris Burn, A.A. Milne (not the Disney Pooh I knew as a kid.)
I went to college dead set on an art degree. Courses in human rights and photography led me to politely steal my dad's camera. (He later gave it to me so don't worry.) Those four years took me to Senegal, West Africa with Operation Crossroads Africa. Of all the things I learned there my favorite was recognizing that Frederick Franck was right. Art was universal. I was asked to paint and sketch landscapes and portraits. Art became my way of saying hello when language was a giant wall I couldn't cross. Upon returning to the States I realized art silently - without words - spoke here too!
Way off the art degree path I graduated and found myself cultivating a green thumb for three years as an Americorp VISTA . (Go VISTA Volunteers!!) Art still proved to be that universal tool - breaking class barriers, ethnic backgrounds and the deep rooted fear of differences.
The years that followed took me far from a studio. I stood behind pulpits speaking on poverty and environmental issues. I wrote freelance columns on accepting the fate that newborns are night owls. I became an environmental planner working with government agencies on water quality, natural resource management, and climate change. I even ran my own firm helping communities determine their greenhouse gas footprint.
And while these were all great pursuits, the footprint that made me smile most was the one that emerged in the quiet of night from the moon's shadows. I would get lost in the early morning stories that filled my head and strive to remember them to share at bedtime to my growing children.
I'm not naive, as some might say about those who follow that whispering voice within. I'm quite a realist that somehow sees characters in tree bark, musical notes in the whistling wind and humor in our human condition. So join me on the journey. Listen to your voice. And always let me know what you think!
Thanks for Visiting!
Bethany holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Communications and Human Rights from the University of North Carolina Asheville
and a Master's Degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Harvard University.
Member of Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
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copyright Bethany Jewell 2010-2016