Learning to be Quiet with Tomie dePaola

Learning to be Quiet with Tomie dePaola


(piano music) – [Tomie] Dear Mother
Placid, help me with my work. Whisper in my ear when I need to make an artistic decision. Guide my hand to write,
to compose, to draw. To paint images that will
thrill and move children and all others to be filled
with the love of God. Help me teach others when
they look at my work. If you taught me, through
all those many years. Let them feel deeply
God’s love too, through you and Our Lady. And let me never forget
love is never too much. So be it, your brother Tomie. – Thank you. – You’re welcome. – Amen. (laughs) – Thank you. I look at it like my
career as my vocation, not as a job, but as
what I was put on this planet at this time to do. I love it when people say,
“Oh, it must be so much fun.” No it is not fun, it’s
very, very hard work. And I take it very seriously
and especially since it’s really aimed at
children, only the very best is good enough for children. And I really do believe that. You know what I’ll do, I’ll show you how I develop my line. All my work basically
starts with line drawings. For Quiet, I did line drawings first, and then I colored in,
like a coloring book. But the line for me, I have
to do it three or four times. And when I’m drawing a
line, I know this line here is a neck, and it’s going
to be behind his collar. And I had that in my head. So I’m seeing, even though
this is two dimensional, I’m kind of seeing it in my mind’s eye, three dimensions. – Right, right. – And then with this sort of gold line, I do the final line before it’s painted. Just a little outlined halo and I think it gives it light. (soft music) When I was a child, when I was young, I was very, very active. You know, we had an attic
that was finished off, and that was kind of our
rainy day playground. I would go upstairs and read or sit. Just look out at the mountains. Hanging Hills of Meriden. And just, just be. So I had this great combination of sort of a meditative childhood as well as this very active childhood. I started noticing several years ago, well, maybe even more than that, but this this insidious device in everyone’s hands. Families having dinner in a restaurant and everyone’s on a device. I know it’s a cliche, but
I’ve actually seen it. And you know, I thought, what’s wrong with this picture? And I thought, okay,
I’ve got to address this. I want to say to young children, come and be quiet with me. And I’m gonna do it, try
to do it through the book. (light guitar music) Your mind is so busy that you just have to train it to quiet down. You breathe in through your nostrils. You breathe out through your mouth. One, breathe out. Two, you feel yourself getting quieter? Yeah? – Yeah, that’s nice. – Yeah, the other morning that I thought, you know, I’m just gonna practice this, I couldn’t get to four. (laughs) The lives of the saints that I maybe will write and illustrate about, are universal. It’s not about a particular
rule or regulation. It’s about human, humanity, number one. And can be funny. You know, I did a book on Saint Francis and of course, he’s the
movie star saint, you know. The stories are so wonderful. Of course I had to do Saint Christopher, and I think I did it because he was kicked out of the calendar of the saints. But the story is still a good, good story. But there’s always a point of truth, human truth in those
stories of the saints. They show us our foibles,
they show us our rewards. They show us what to avoid,
what to embrace, y’know. And they, I guess they
give kids a lot of laughs. (laughs) (light guitar music) The Giotto frescoes in Saint Francis, there’s a cathedral,
Basilica Saint Francis. They’re picture books. They’re picture books. And we forget that that
early quote liturgical art, art that was used in the liturgy, or in the church, was used for teaching and used for meditation. Not just for decoration, which it became later in the Renaissance. I feel myself as part of
that family, you know. I haven’t done the DNA test, but maybe wouldn’t that be interesting? (laughs) (piano music) – [Kerry] So tell us a
bit about this church. – Well, this is Our Lady of Fatima church, it’s the Catholic community
here in New London. I became good friends with Dick Lower, who was a very charismatic priest. So I wanted to do
something special for him and for the church. You know, I have a history
of doing liturgical art, so I did a painting
for the church here. So this is the painting
of Our Lady of Fatima that I did for Dick in 1997. It’s so interesting to create an image of a spiritual experience for these three children of Fatima, so I just wanted to do a young woman in
white that glowed and I had no idea whether
they’d like it or not. – [Kerry] Right. – We put it up, and some people liked it and some people said that
wasn’t Our Lady of Fatima. (laughs) I haven’t seen it in such a long time, it’s like seeing an old friend. (soft instrumental music) Many of the young artists, don’t have studios anymore, they have a work station. With a computer. – [Kerry] So you’re still doing it all… – Oh yeah, no, I do it all by
hand, and yeah, yeah, yeah. Not sexy, that mouse. (laughs) And you know, I’m feeling the paper, I’m feeling the brush. – [Kerry] It’s much more tactile. – Oh wow, it certainly is. There’s a danger if I make a mistake I have to start again.
– Start over, right? – Whereas with the computer, it’s so easy to fix your mistakes. I don’t want that. At least, not in this lifetime. (laughs) – [Kerry] Is there an element of your art that you think expresses
your personality best? – Yeah, the way I draw,
the way I draw people. Yeah, I think I’m
basically a very positive person and I think my
people are pretty positive. But I think that I’m
very aware of my foibles and I think I can draw people
aware of their foibles. I do have a great reverence for life, and living things, and
I think that I can draw things with that reverence. I think. (piano music) – Hey, I’m Zac Davis with America Media. Did you like that last video? I thought you might’ve since
you watched to the end. You should hit the subscribe
button to your right to get more great content
from America Media. That’ll make sure you don’t miss a thing. So hit subscribe, I’ll see you there.

8 Replies to “Learning to be Quiet with Tomie dePaola”

  1. Oh MY! Thank you for the video! I have loved Tomie dePaola's work since 1977 when I met him at a book fair in Chicago. Funny, how in my studio there are areas of similarity. And both of us share a devotion to children and Mary.

  2. NICE! How wonderful to see Tomie in a video—he's like a family friend. I think I discovered his books at the library when my kids were small and bought several for our home library. Since I also share an Italian heritage, the stories touched me deeply and made it even more special to share with my children. I often give as gifts to pass down the love to the next generation. Thanks for this video.

  3. Thank you Tommy for teaching childREN about GOD IN JESUS CHRIST NO WONDER YOUR WORK HAS A SENSE OF AESTHETIC SPIRITUAL BEAUTY & JOYFUL PEACE. AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN

  4. Wonderful. I use Tomie's works every year (Epiphany to Easter) for my first-grade students. Whole new generations of kids who learn to love his work. A tremendously beautiful body of work for teacher librarians (especially Catholic ones)!

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