A conversation with Richard Sheppard from “An Illustrated Journey”

Here’s the next interview with the contributors to my new book An Illustrated Journey: Inspiration From the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators and Designers

Interview continues here….

Richard Sheppard is a longtime illustrator but only started drawing on location about three years ago. I love his work and his interesting color palette. aWWGKiUMpGaVC8H4lXCBgTWbbDbZn_E2GMKE8_hmaK8%2C_TX-HLe2l2fS1TCgRGhlz8EeP8fEFduLarOlaDwnsvY%2Cm6Gu5OJ4mAElWj1oItxPezmRQyd1VUmnvv29rD-MQuA%2CabP29pigHuo3YPZyiqG4X4yP1GS7MyhEQzOQJlqjeRo%2CUFkBTsPOiftIJ1RN8BBkIk9i3fV5cWPMgICp7Ko2aRQ%2CcA0Dp14dUuyQzxdSTnb Karyatids F_F_Coppola-Winery

_aSCuQZ_tuLZyJUnOT6uit-jL830VxYh8b_lD_Obnyw%2CoaeznTTmweh-ddS_HJo1s-BWATmn6EMz4IH9W8BHyTs%2CGCO8nwE4zddx_T1HBSsA_elkqV6lUDYZign7WZRZKFY%2CVLH4giQUTs43KchTz8DL0CfM_jmsjLPIf1yJPj2pifs%2CH2aZsxjnl9720LZqSbRTVYA5Nsp_a4B3FaMpBMih6MYRichard shares a lot more in my book. Here’s an excerpt:

“But upon arriving in Ireland, I found that sketching from photographs didn’t prepare me for anything other than sketching from photographs. I was too self-conscious to draw in public and ended up taking photographs the entire time. I kept telling myself that I could paint from the photographs when I returned home. It never happened. There is no substitute for learning to draw from life, out-of-doors. You can’t fake it.…” (continued)

Please don’t forget to check out Richard’s work.

Go, Trev!

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My pal Trevor Romain (you may remember him from An Illustrated Life) is a huge-hearted and talented artist in Austin, Texas and I was so excited to get the following email from him:

Hi brother Danny -

I hope this e-mail finds you well and happy.  My new book, ‘Random Kak‘, was just released in South Africa. I wanted to share this exciting news with you as one night in your flat in New York (many years ago), while pouring over your journals (and pouring vanilla vodka) you urged me to document growing up in South Africa as an illustrated memoir in my journal. Patti nagged me about it every time I spoke to her.  Some time later, I finally posted some of my journal entries on various Facebook and blog pages and it went viral.  Then I was approached by Penguin Books in South Africa to do a three-book series based on my little drawings and notes.

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Your last blog post with Cynthia Morris was a wonderful validation and reminded me once more of how much you have inspired  and supported me over the years.  I am now using this illustrated memoir technique to help children in refugee camps in Africa and children who are terminally ill, share and express their feelings, and their story, even if it’s just in stick figure style.  When I met Nelson Mandela a number of years ago he said, “When a person dies, their library of stories dies with them.  So they must share their story so that it is not forgotten.  Even the most simple story can teach and inspire other people.

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I can honestly say if it weren’t for you this book would still be an idea waiting to happen. Thank you again for unlocking the door and inspiring me to walk into my past where I gathered arm-fulls of great memories and turned them into my newest book.

Hope to see you soon,

Trev

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I believe

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Because he made making art a pleasure to watch, because he inspired zillions of people to just start making stuff, and most of all because he was infectious with his belief that making art was something anyone could do and that it would transform the way you see the world around you, let’s remember Bob Ross today.

I got a letter from somebody here a while back, and they said, ‘Bob, everything in your world seems to be happy.’ That’s for sure. That’s why I paint. It’s because I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it. Shoot, if you want bad stuff, watch the news.”

Please watch and share the following loving tribute. And from all of us here, I’d like to wish you happy painting, and God bless, my friend.

Finding your groove

The need to make something can be a tenacious itch, clawing to be released into the world. You can try to forget it — like an early summer mosquito bite — refusing to scratch it, aiming your mind elsewhere, hoping it will just go away.
If you suppress it too often, maybe you’ll succeed in dulling your senses, in refusing to heed that inner call. You’ll have managed to wrap yourself in a cocoon, impervious, detached. Congratulations, you can focus on what’s “important,” undistracted  — for now.

Sometimes, the reason you ignore that call is because you haven’t yet found the right way to scratch it. Not every medium is right for every artist. For some reason, maybe it’s physical or aesthetic, we may need to keep shopping for a while ‘till we find the right instrument.  Bassoon players are somehow different from conga drummers, dancers are different from print makers.  (I think it’s sort of strange that in high school band, teachers will often assign instruments to kids, rather than letting them find their perfect musical partner). You need to find your perfect groove.

A few years ago, I visited Creative Growth in Oakland, CA. It’s an amazing hive of artistic activity, all coming from people with various disabilities. I will never forget the energy in that room, with dozens of artists working all day, every day, making paintings, subjects, ceramics, mosaics, prints… it was overwhelming and beautiful. Creatively, these people seemed to have no disabilities or challenges; they’d all found their groove.


When we visited the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore recently, I re-encountered an artist who I’d met at Creative Growth years before. Judith Scott was born deaf, mute and with an IQ of 30. She was also a twin. When she was seven, she was sent away to an institution. She was separated from her sister (who was not disabled), and because of her low IQ, she wasn’t given any training of any kind. So she just sat and festered, neglected, alone.
After thirty-five years in the institution, her sister Joyce managed to spring Judith from the institution and bring her home to live with her. Soon Judith started going to Creative Growth. But at the start, she could not connect. She had no apparent interest in drawing or painting, drawing aimless scribbles and little more. She didn’t speak so no one knew what she needed to take off.

Then, one day, Judith wandered into a class given by a textile artist named Sylvia Seventy. She saw the skeins of yarn and spools of thread and suddenly found her passion.  But, instead of following the projects that Sylvia was leading the rest of the class through, Judith began to make her own sort of art, something radical and new. She wrapped objects in yarns and cloth, binding them together into cocoons and nests and complex interconnecting forms.  Much of her art seems to be about connection and twins,  binding together networks and forms into a powerful and non-verbal  emotional message. I can look at her piece for ages, following the colors and lines, and somehow feeling something so sweet and strong and comforting.
I’m not the only person who responded to Judith’s art. Her work is in the permanent collections of several museums and has been the subject of books, films and gallery shows. She made hundreds of amazing pieces in the last two decades of her life.

Judith passed away in 2005. She had lived to be 61, which is extraordinary for a person with Down’s syndrome.  I like to believe that her art and her sister’s love kept her going.

I love Judith’s story because it feel so familiar to me. I can identify with what it must have felt like to go from being abandoned in an institution to suddenly seeing the light, to discovering one’s medium, one’s voice, and to see it grow richer and more complex and expressive. And how easily she might never have found her medium and remained mute and locked down. Judith didn’t have the ability to wander through an art supply store, a museum, to trawl the web, and to find her groove.

True love doesn’t just appear. You have to keep your eyes open and look for it.  Just because you don’t yet know how to scratch it, don’t ignore that itch.