My studio used to be the master bedroom when the house was living its grand old glory 100 years ago, but since then it became a dining room, living room, and whatever room when the house was turned into a triplex in the 70's. Now it is my studio with a writing chair facing the window and bookshelves nearby. It houses a drafting table for drawing and writing. And I paint on my studio wall with my palette that holds paints and brushes of all sizes and shapes for my needs. I am most comfortable in my studio-- it is the place where I can be myself and shut the door if necessary, only to open doors on creating words and pictures.
I have just returned to my studio after a whirlwind trip to Mumbai, India where I presented and led workshops with students at the American School of Bombay. It was an extraordinary experience that I am still taking in. I was able to talk with Heeru, the elementary school librarian about children's books in India. The stories of her childhood were the folktales and traditional Hindu tales of India. There were books, but most important were the stories she grew up with told to her by her grandmother. Her sons grew up with picture books which taught them about many things in the world, but she knew they did not have the same "family roots" to their stories that she grew up with and feels this is changing the way families stay together in India today. There are more small nuclear families in India, rather than the extended families with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all living under one roof. The result is less oral sharing of stories and more books. Most of the Indian picture books Heeru showed me were traditional stories turned into picture books for educational venues rather than trade markets. I was most taken with Tara Publishing, www.tarabooks.com, a very impressive Indian book publisher. It seems they contact indigenous Indian artists and commission them to write and illustrate Picture books. The two examples below are by Gond Artists who live in the state of Madhya Pradesh in Central India. For these artists, "art is a form of prayer, and they believe that good fortune befalls those whose eyes meet a good image." Their are is traditionally painted on mud floors and the walls of their homes-- how lovely that this publisher is creating a way for their incredible art and stories to come into our homes!