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Where My Roots Begin

I love stories, fantasy stories actually.  As a child I loved stories of heroes and princesses that my Czech grandmother read to my sister and I.  She only visited us once every 2 or 3 years so between the visits we would fall asleep listening to 1 of 3 records my parents had of Czech fairytales.  I still  love stories where good and evil are clearly defined and honestly I need good to win for my life to be worth living (more on that later?).  But I think what I loved most and what still thrills me is narrative illustrations.  So to honor those memories and to discover more about my past I’m looking into the artists that shaped my childhood and hopefully discovering new ones as well.

Discovering Illustrators of my Czech Heritage

Stepan Zavrel

Let’s start with an artist I actually don’t know.  And although he’s new to me he has everything I remember from the books I had as a child.  The fluidity of the watercolor medium,  the ease of brush stroke and a playfulness. There’s child-like innocence balanced by brilliant composition and those little touches that transform an illustration into a portal to a child’s imagination.

Stepan Zavrel (1932-1999)

A Czech illustrator who escaped from communist Czechloslovakia in 1959 and established one of the biggest centers for children’s book illustration in a village around 60 km from Venice where he lived.

Zavrel - vodnik

stepan zavrel

Sarmede is also the home to  Le immagini della fantasia . An international event that showcases illustrations from around the world and was establish by Zavrel in 1982.  In addition Stepan Zavrel started an art summer school for children’s book illustrators!  What a DREAM that would be to attend a class in Italy!

zavrel house
Stepan Zavrel’s house in Rugolo in Sàrmede, Italy


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