What an awesome day this was! We first heard from James Gurney as he described his journey along life's path through the eyes of an artist. His presentation is multi-generational and according to his wife, Jeanette, "today's audience was not as squirmy as kindergarteners!" I think that could be due to the fact that we were awestruck by all his accomplishments!
Gurney met his lovely wife while they were in art school together. Jeanette still carries a sketchbook when they travel and uses pen and ink with watercolors to sketch interesting people and buildings. The Gurneys have two sons and the couple resides in the Hudson River Valley.
During his brief stay at the Mazza Conference, Gurney was busily sketching some of the other artists, as well as the museum director, Ben Sapp, and Jerry Mallett, curator of the museum.
While working for National Geographic, Gurney traveled extensively and met world-renowned scientists, including many paleontologists. In addition to his fine arts works, he has designed dinosaur postage stamps and illustrated for Ranger Rick Magazine.
He is best known in the world of children's literature for his Dinotopia series. (Dinotopia is a portmanteau for the words "dinosaur" and "utopia") The target audience for these fantasies would be grades six and beyond. Gurney mentioned that one of his favorite childhood books was Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling. James Gurney is definitely a modern-day Renaissance Man!
Many Ohio residents are familiar with Bruce Langton's B Is for Buckeye book. This was Langton's first children's book. It was followed by V is for Volunteer and H is for Hoosier.
Langton is actually now a Hoosier as he resides with his wife, Becky, in Granger, Indiana. They have two sons, Brett and Rory, who frequently appear in his artwork. Langton was born in Minnesota and raised in Wisconsin.
Langton aspired to be a Disney artist and the book Oliver's Travels; an Ohio Adventure by Cynthia Reynolds has illustrations by Langton which he considers his "Disney adventure." The drawings of Oliver the mouse and the critters he encounters are very Disney-esque. In addition to the fourteen children's books which Langton has illustrated, he has also provided illustrations for eight hunting and sports books.
Langton's other interest lies in the area of music. He's in a band called Zonixx. You can hear him jamming on his guitar at his myspace.com address. Langton enjoys listening to his IPod while painting. His mantra is "Life is short...just do it!"
Originally from Peoria, Illinois, but now a resident of Berkeley, California, M. Sarah Klise spiced up the afternoon session with her tales of growing up in a large family. Their father was a writer and also founder of the Thomas S. Klise Filmstrip Company. Their mother was an art teacher, who agreed to pay their college tuition as long as they each wrote a letter home once a week while they were away.
The children made home-made gifts for one another. On one holiday, Sarah and Kate decided to create a book together. This was the first of many children's books on which they collaborated. Sarah rues the day when letter-writing as a form of communication does not exist. Another family tradition was a letter written by their parents and presented on each of their birthdays.
Most of Klise's books are set either in Missouri or California. The books are considered epistolary novels, as they are written in the form of letters.
Why Do You Cry? was their first picture book. This was followed by Imagine Harry, a book about an imaginary friend. Their most recent book is entitled Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother. Klise concluded her presentation with a photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the statement, "It's not the thing you plan, it's the thing you end up with!"