Southwest Children's Literature

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Moon Song

Illustrator Interview with Ronald Himler:

Photograph of Ronald Himler

Jackie Andes-Ertmann and Sarah Bleyl met and interviewed Ron Himler. Jackie wrote the following interview material:

Born in Cleveland Ohio, Ronald Himler attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and the Cape Cod School of Art. He worked at professionally related jobs in the arts, and traveled extensively in Europe where he conducted independent research at the major museums, including the Louvre in Paris, the Uffizi gallery in Florence, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

In 1972, he illustrated his first children's book, Glad Day and Other Classical Poems for Children. In 1976, he authored and illustrated The Girl on the Yellow Giraffe. This sweet little book was written for his small daughter. In 1979, he authored and illustrated Wake Up Jeremiah, written for his son and co-authored and illustrated Little Owl, Keeper of the Trees. Ron moved from New York City in 1980, moving to Bat Cave, North Carolina. Presently he lives in Tucson, Arizona.

When asked about the process he goes through when illustrating a manuscript, Ron explained that he never tries to illustrate until he's had time to digest the story. To do this, he reads it through many times, letting the story simmer in his mind. As he works on other projects, he begins to see images of people and places that relate to the new manuscript. He allows the images to flow for several weeks; only then does he begin to draw.

During the interview with Ronald, we (Jackie and Ron) were surprised to discover that we had much in common and in fact, were many times in the same location at the same time. For example, Ronald and I lived in Provincetown, MA, in the same years. P'town, as it is called by locals, is an artists colony and small Portuguese fishing village. It surprised me that we had not met, because I was a portrait artist there, and am sure that he may have stopped to watch portrait artist's work. And since P'town is such a small town with many galleries, it is surprising that we did not meet at a gallery opening, or at the Cape Cod School of Art, which we both attended.

After our interview, Mr. Himler invited us to tour his studio where we had the opportunity to see his procedure for developing visuals and look at his renderings. In the interview, he mentioned that he has not changed his style in the years that he has been illustrating and that fact has kept him illustrating for over 30 years. I noticed several mirrors in his studio, and realized that his more recent work depicting facial features of anyone over the age of 50, looked remarkably like him! That is not a negative statement; rather, it is an understanding that artists who do not have access to a multitude of different type of models very often use themselves as a reference for body language and positioning. Mr. Himler was a charming host and most open in sharing his ideas about his techniques.

This interview was conducted in person with Ron Himler in October 2003.

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