TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Lois Ehlert

Lois Ehlert

"I grew up in a home where everyone seemed to be making something with their hands. As far back as I can remember I was always putting things together, cutting, stitching, pasting, or pounding. The feel of the object I made was as important as the look.

My mother, a good seamstress, shared her fabric scraps with me and taught me to use her sewing machine when I was about eight years old. My dad had a basement workshop, which supplied me with scrap lumber and nails. So I always had a ready supply of art materials, but not necessarily traditional ones like paper and paint.

Today, I have a large studio to work in, with a huge drawing board and cabinets filled with art supplies. If you are creative, you need to find your own spot to work in. You won’t do much drawing or writing if you have to hunt for a pencil each time you get an idea.

If you look closely at my books, you will see that I still use simple art materials—and that I’m still cutting and pasting. It’s an art technique called collage: cutout pieces of paper, fabric, or objects glued to a backing.

If you are an artist or writer like me, sometimes it is difficult to know just where ideas come from. That’s a question people ask me all the time. Now that I’m grown-up, I realize that I write and draw things I know and care about. The ideas for my books develop slowly as seeds I plant in early spring. I study, sketch . . . and sit and think.

Then I begin to paint, setting the mood for the book. When ideas are coming, I don’t clean up my studio everyday. I leave paintings scattered around my studio; if I run out of space, I even use the floor.

Then I begin to write. As you may have noticed, in most cases my writing complements my art. I work on writing for a while and then go back to the art—back and forth, until I get just the right balance.

I’m often asked why I choose to be an artist. I think it may be the other way around: Art chose me. It’s something I feel very lucky about. I’ve worked very hard to make this gift as fine as I can make it, but I still think I was born with certain ideas and feelings just waiting to burst out."

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