On January 27, 2011 The Lord’s Prayer illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson with commentary by Rick Warren will be released by Zonderkidz. (Read a review of The Lord’s Prayer.) The Examiner recently had the opportunity to speak to this amazing author and illustrator. The Examiner hopes you enjoy learning a little bit about this man as she did speaking with him.
E: On the dedication page of The Lord’s Prayer you thank World Vision, Inc. for allowing you to use photos for inspiration and reference for the illustrations. Did you draw inspiration from any where else for this book?
R: I worked as an assistant art director at World Vision for several years and used to bring home proofs sheets from images photographers had taken of children around the world. I would share those proofs with my children and we would discuss them. So when I was asked to illustrate this book I went to World Vision and asked if I could look at their international images. The Lord’s Prayer is really for everyone, everywhere so I wanted to capture that in the images. Those World Vision images became my imspiration for the images of the children on the endsheets of the book.
For the other illustrations, I used neighbors, my children, and grandchildren for inspiration. The picture that accompanies the text, ‘Our Father which art in heaven,’ is the hand of my grandson grasping a composite of my son’s and my hand.
I like to experiment with techniques and combined oil paints with silk screening. The oil painting allows me to capture the emotion and movement; the realism of the pictures. The silk screening is more graphic and allows for more conceptual art, such as the sun motif that is seen throughout the book.
E: What is an average work day like for you?
R: My day has an ebb and flow to it. This book was a year-long effort so when I’m working on something like that I will often take time between paintings and paint something abstract. I have a flexible schedule that I established when my children were young that allowed me to attend their soccer games. I often take time out from writing and painting to split wood, write on my blog.
E: Did you know you always wanted to be an artist?
R: My mother was very artistic and my father was a physicist. Although I have always been more artistic, I am still interested in science and have a great appreciation for scientists and the way they approach something with a desire to discover all they can about it. In a way, artists do the same thing, they just express it differently.
E: Do you have a favorite verse of Scripture?
R: Revelation 2:17,
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
That verse tells me a few things. First, we need to listen to God. It also tells me that when I am victorious, I gain insight into the secrets God has for me. That white stone, with a name only God and I will know, has the name of who God created me to be. In the center of our hearts is our essence, and that is where God wants to dwell, revealing Himself to us. And over time, He reveals to us our true selves. As He does, He shows us that each of us has a wonderful, unique gift that is to be used to benefit others.
E: What are you currently working on?
R: I just submitted some ideas for a book about Mother Jones. This is a woman who experienced great personal tragedy; she lost four children and her husband to yellow fever in one week. She later lost everything she had in the Chicago fire. She went on to be a great force behind establishing child labor laws and providing and education for children.
I also am working on some fun dinosaur books as well.
E: What else would you like the public to know?
R: The world desperately needs the message that is contained in the Lord’s Prayer. The line that says, ‘And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,’ is especially important in this day and age. The world has so many who have hurts and grievances against one another; whether those grievances are political, emotional, whatever. The Lord’s Prayer is interactive, as is all prayer. It is conditional as well. God has this incredible free gift of forgiveness that He offers us, yet we are unwilling to offer that same gift to others. Whether we are justified in our complaint against another is not the issue. The issue is will we continue to hold onto this hurt and bitterness?
There are two quotes I like. One is that when we hold on to unforgiveness we are letting someone live rent-free in our hearts. The other is a definition for bitterness. Bitterness is when we drink poison hoping someone else will die.
The Lord’s Prayer is for everyone around the world.
This book and others written and illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson can be purchased online from Powell’s, Barnes and Noble, and Borders. His books are also available at independent retailers around the country like these located in northern California.
The Reading Bug
785 Laurel St
San Carlos, California 94070-3113
Garlic City Books
7490 Monterey S
Gilroy, California 95020
Kepler’s Books & Magazines
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, California 94025
Leigh’s Favorite Books
121 S. Murphy Avenue
Sunnyvale, California 94086
855 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, California 94301