Meet the Artistrator

Award-winning artist and illustrator E.B. Lewis will talk about his work on Sunday, October 6, at 2 p.m. at the Main Library, 915 Monroe St. Admission is free.

E.B. Lewis has illustrated more than fifty books for children, including Nikki Grimes’ Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, the 2003 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner; Alice Schertle’s Down the Road, an ALA Notable Book; Tolowa M. Mollel’s My Rows and Piles of Coins, an ALA Notable Book and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book; Bat Boy and His Violin by Garvin Curtis a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, and Jacqueline Woodson’s The Other Side, a 2002 Notable Book for the Language Arts.

Inspired by two artist uncles, as early as the third grade, Lewis displayed artistic promise. Beginning in the sixth grade, he attended the Saturday morning Temple University School of Art League and studied with Clarence Wood. Lewis attended the Temple University Tyler School of Art. There, he discovered his medium of preference was watercolor.

During his four years at Temple, Lewis majored in Graphic Design and Illustration and art education. After graduating, he taught art in public schools for twelve years. Presently, Lewis teaches at the University of Arts in Philadelphia, continues to paint and illustrate and is a member of The Society of Illustrators in New York City.

In 1992, Elizabeth O’Grady read a story about Lewis and saw examples of his wonderful watercolors in Artist Magazine. Previously, at a Society of Illustrators Annual Children’s Art Show, an art director from Simon & Schuster had asked Elizabeth to contact her if Elizabeth found any talented Afro-American artists who might want to illustrate children’s books. Elizabeth handed the magazine article about Lewis to her partner, Jeff Dwyer. He telephoned and explained the business of children’s book illustration to a quiet Earl B. Lewis. Lewis asked Jeff the names of other African-American children’s book illustrators, and after Jeff gave him the names of the “usual suspects,” Lewis told Jeff that he’d get back in touch with him if he was interested in pursuing children’s book illustration. About a week later, Lewis called and said, “Hey, I can paint better than those guys!” Within a year, Lewis had delivered his illustrations for Fire On The Mountain (S&S), quit his teaching job and began a career as a full-time children’s book illustrator.

In 2003, the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota purchased a collection of original watercolors from Lewis’ first twenty-five children’s books. His work is owned by numerous private collectors and sold by art galleries throughout the United States.

View examples of his work on his website, eblewis.com.

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