Terry Gross: Can you share some of your favorite comments from readers that you’ve gotten over the years?
Maurice Sendak: Oh, there’s so many. Can I give you just one that I really like? It was from a little boy. He sent me a charming card with a little drawing. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters—sometimes very hastily—but this one I lingered over. I sent him a postcard and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim, I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much that he ate it.”
“Jim loved your card so much that he ate it.”
That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.
As my letter subscription project crosses the half-year line and hits 50 subscribers, I’ve been inspired to go deeper into what a letter can be by exploring the different kinds of art, of writing, and interactive possibilities that can be included in this versatile, remarkable form of self-expression.
Gradually, more books about letters are finding their way into my personal library. Inspired this week by Illustrated Letters: Artists and Writers Correspond, a collection curated by Roselyne de Ayala and Jean-Pierre Guéno.
Taken entirely from French sources, there are letters by Gaston Chaissac
Arthur Rimbaud (swoon!)…
And this heart-stopping beauty by Victor Hugo…
…as well as letters by Picasso, Corbusier, Van Gogh, Turgenev…so many brilliant artists and writers. They’re just scrumptious! If I ever received a letter like Hugo’s, I think I would eat it…
The freehand text around the mural’s perimeter was my small contribution to Linda Joy’s mural, commissioned by the Corrugated Iron Youth Arts Organisation, an open and empowering performing arts organisation that has taken many young people into its camps and workshops over the past 34 years, made a place for them in an extended family of passionate circus and theatre performers, given them confidence, training, and an outlet for their tremendous energy. It has nurtured their creative fires, applauded their eccentricities, loved them up, and then sent them into the world as well-adjusted, personable and responsible individuals.
It was a huge privilege to play this small part as a sign-writer of Corro’s foyer mural.
And what an experience it was to be invited into the artist Linda Joy’s practice! Four days and two nights with this Aquarian rock star diva, artist of the Outback’s soul, made me feel like I was 17 again…it’s been decades since I last worried that the cops would come knocking on the door and tell us to turn the music down. 😆
*Thank you, Gorgeous, linda mujer, for the wine, the attitude, the Nick Cave 101, the agony and ecstasy, the no-bullshit business advice, and for passing some work my way!
Somewhere in the forums of Sketchbook Skool, I mentioned Ronald Searle, and then someone replied and mentioned Ralph Steadman. I’d never heard of him. Found a whole documentary about the guy. I love watching artists at work, and I love the maniacal weirdness of his drawings. The music on this thing is wonderful, too.
“This series started out as an attempt to do self-portraits. I wanted to find the most honest way of depicting myself and because I see myself most often from the inside, it became a depiction of inner landscapes….
“For a number of years, I have been doing a technique of painting in layers. It is a most effective way for me to convey inner histories, building from the deepest level up until I reach the surface.”
“It has always been a journey from the core, from the most essential part of being. From the universal to the very personal image that shows up on the surface.”
Chati’s been re-working her blog, and I just had to post a few images, and some of the beautiful thoughts and feelings that go with them, again (other posts about Chati here & here). I met Chati Coronel nearly 20 years ago, at a very special little secondhand bookshop and café, owned by a literature professor, across from the university, and I have had a girl crush on her ever since. She is one of the most beautiful, radiant women I know…a punk rock Björkshire princess (hey! I like the sound of that 🙂 ) enlightened mother, lover, and Buddhist saint, rolled into one tall, willowy, enigmatic and consummate artist. It has been a while. I miss my friends, my ‘tribe’, my creative space back home, my life with plants and cats in the mangroves. Saudade. Brazilian songs are full of it (though where they’d rather be, I have no idea.) Chatishine.