• African-American artist Palmer Hayden painted a work that illustrates how important the creation of art is to some people. The Janitor Who Paints (created about 1937) shows a janitor in his apartment — a super’s apartment that is part of his pay as a janitor — working on a canvas while his wife and child pose for him. In the background is a clock displaying the time of 4:07 — showing that as soon as the artist’s day job was done, he rushed to his apartment and started painting. (Early in his career, Mr. Hayden made money to support his painting by cleaning other people’s homes.)
• Dale Messick was actually Dalia Messick, but she took a more masculine name to avoid having her work rejected by male editors and publishers simply because she was a woman. She created the comic strip Brenda Starr, and she kept on producing the strip even after she became pregnant, although she says that her workday became “throw up, draw Brenda, throw up, draw Brenda.” She liked doing the comic strip and even named her daughter “Starr” and dyed her own hair red like that of her comic strip heroine.
• MAD writer Dick DeBartolo and MAD artist Don Martin used to collaborate, but Mr. DeBartolo quickly noticed that when taking notes, Mr. Martin would sometimes change what he said. For example, when Mr. DeBartolo would write a musical satire, he would say something like, “In the opening panel, we see 50 girls in a line kicking …,” but Mr. Martin would write, “Four girls in a line kicking.” Mr. DeBartolo asked, “Why not 50?” Mr. Martin replied, “Because I have to draw them!”
• During the Depression, Zero Mostel was employed as part of the Art Project, one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s programs to keep the people of the United States working. Mr. Mostel even taught for a while, although he was certainly an unconventional teacher (as are many art teachers). Once he grew hot during a class, so he went swimming in a nearby pool. When an administrator came by and asked Mr. Mostel what he was doing, he replied, “I’m studying water colors.”
• Charles M. Schulz, creator of the comic strip Peanuts, was a very careful worker. For the first four years he drew his comic strip, he never had a spelling error for his editor, Amy Lago, to find and correct. When he finally turned in a strip with a spelling error — he wrote “extention” instead of “extension” — Ms. Lago was so surprised that she checked a dictionary to make sure that “extention” was not an acceptable alternative spelling of “extension.”
• Like many illustrators of children’s books, Pat Cummings frequently gives presentations in schools about her career. After one presentation, she received a letter from a girl who wrote that she had wanted to be an illustrator, but since Ms. Cummings had revealed how much work it was, she now wanted to be a lawyer.
• Pablo Picasso lived until the age of 91, and he created works of art until the end of his life, leaving behind a prodigious amount of art. He created more than 15,000 paintings, as well as creating ceramics, drawings, prints, and sculptures. From the time he was eight years old, he averaged one work of art per day!
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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