Wendell Minor Visits Kendall College of Art and Design
Wendell Minor, a well known children’s book Illustrator, gave a delightful talk at the Kendall College of Art and Design Gallery last week, accompanying an exhibition of his work.
Rather than standing in front of the group, the gentle spirited man sat facing his computer wearing a baseball cap and chatted about his career and many of the books he’s done. It was all very conversational and relaxed.
He included some of his child hood drawings, demonstrating the same verve and delicious color, line and images that appear to jump off the page of the many books he has illustrated. “We all start with crayons and a blank page,” he said.
But where most of us give up the brightly colored drawing tools, he explored his passion with enthusiasm.
Wendell has been creating children’s books for what he calls, “a long, long time.” In fact, soon he'll celebrate 25 years with a retrospective show. “Actually, I’ve been freelancing for 42 years.”
Part of his success is clearly the amount of research he puts into each subject, often going to the venue, learning about the animals, doing whatever it takes to really understand what he is drawing.
An interesting example is that when he was doing a book called Luck, about a crane, he hired a pilot to take him up in the air so he could see what a crane sees when he flies.
When illustrating a book about President Lincoln being transported home by train after his assassination, he found a man who had made a model of the train. “It was challenging because there weren’t any photos,’” he explained. “Finding someone who shared a passion for trains was wonderful.”
His dream assignment was to go to the Grand Canyon and paint whatever he saw for two weeks. The result was a wonderful book that was given to every fourth grader in Arizona the year it was published.
Another memorable experience was working with Buzz Aldrin about space exploration. “I would go to book signings with him,” says Wendell. “It was amazing to sit next to a piece of history.”
That book received such attention it was advertised on billboards. Wendell chuckled about this one. “You know you’ve arrived when you are up on billboards for all to see.”
The gallery talk was an amusing mix of stories about the different books he’s published and some kindly advice to the students in the audience.
The question he posed to them upon leaving must have had lots of them thinking. “As an artist, what do say about your world, your generation, that hopefully you can say to the next generation through your art?”
~ Susan J. Smith