Judith Clay, the author and illustrator of Thea's Tree, wrote a beautiful note about herself and her love for children's books for our blog and it made our Monday morning.
I was born and raised in a small town in northern Bavaria, Germany, where my childhood was filled with climbing trees, building hideaways in the forest, ice skating and sledding in the winter. After high school, I completed a three year apprenticeship for ceramic painters. Later I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative literature in the United States, combining my passion for visual art with my interest in literature.
Besides spending time outside as a child, I loved hiding in places, reading books and studying the illustrations that went along with the stories. That was the time when I first picked up my pencil and started drawing my own pictures.Creating art, to me, is synonymous to creating my own worlds, my own stories, and staying connected to my inner child. And that is the reason why, I think, I love illustrating for children. I need that sense of freedom and magic that working for children gives me. It allows me to suspend reality for a while so my characters can fly across the sky on the backs of seahorses,or sail through space on imaginary planet ships.
I still enjoy reading children’s stories and fairy tales, and I collect picture books and old toys, all of which give me inspiration for my artwork. Whenever we travel to places (which is another favorite pastime—travelling), I first look for bookstores, and then the children’s picture book section in that bookstore. That is the reason why a lot of my souvenirs are illustrated children’s books. The second thing I look for are art museums where I can easily spend hours wandering around, studying brushstrokes, color choices, compositions, and themes. Browsing through art supply stores is also a must wherever I go. There’s nothing more fun to me than discovering and trying out differently textured drawing or watercolor paper, or a new shade of green or red, purple or yellow.
Judith is currently working on illustrations for her exhibition and is contributing three drawings to a group exhibit of international artists in Hamburg in May.
Thea's Tree, which was listed in The White Ravens 2012 catalog of notable and remarkable international children’s books, is available for purchase here.