It was in my native Argentina, where I enjoyed an idyllic childhood, that I first heard from my father the stories and poems that would shape my life. He was a wonderful storyteller and a voracious reader. We used to gather in the evenings, my brother and I, to hear him recite poems and tell us stories of ancient heroes and extraordinary peoples, especially the fabulous tales from the One Thousand and One Nights
. His gentle manner and his teachings left a strong mark in our lives and encouraged the development of poetic images and high ideals in us.
From very early on I felt at home with drawing, but I also loved music and wanted to take piano lessons, which my parents decided to put off until I was older.
Beatriz Vidal with some of her illustrations for
Pine and the Winter Sparrow
Since I was a very determined little girl and was eager to start, I built my own little piano. It was a device made with cardboard which I painted, trying to make it look like a real one, and I began practicing silently in a corner with a book I borrowed from my friends. This pitiable sight convinced my dear parents of my true desire to learn. Soon after, I was sent to study at the Beaux Arts Conservatory.
I got my degree from the Conservatory many years later. After I graduated from university, where I studied literature, I felt the need to clarify my ideas as to the direction I would take in order to find my real profession in life. It was then that I decided to travel to New York.
Soon after I arrived in the city my lucky star guided me to Ilonka Karasz (b. 1896), a Hungarian artist who worked in the style of the Wiener Werkstatte movement. She became my beloved teacher, a relationship that lasted until her death in 1981. Under her guidance I began studying painting and design and soon I was contributing to several different magazines.
However, since my favorite subjects were legends and folktales, I chose to illustrate children’s books, which I find enormously rewarding and which continues to be a source of great joy, as much as playing the piano and painting.
In painting, I like to experiment in a more abstract style, using geometric forms.
I have long taken on Paul Klee’s words as if they were my own: “First of all, the art of living, then as my ideal profession, poetry… and as my real profession, the plastic arts, and…to make a living, [drawing] illustrations.”