Claire Ewart
Claire Ewart

Claire Ewart

Claire Ewart is a well known illustrator and author of books for children. She has illustrated books for famous authors such as Paul Fleischman (Time Train) and Tomie dePaola (The Legend of the Persian Carpet), who said of her abilities as an illustrator, “No author could ask for a more talented interpreter.” Ms. Ewart has also written and illustrated several books of her own, including One Cold NightThe Giant, and Fossil. Her rich and detailed watercolor illustrations are not only a visual treat, but, just as important, each one captures the essence of the story.

Claire Ewart’s work has received praise and awards from many reviewers and organizations. Ms. Ewart received the Celebrate Literacy Award from the International Reading Association. In addition, Ewart’s work as an illustrator has been included on Best Book lists from School Library Journal and Parent’s Magazine and has appeared on other such lists of recommended books. It has also appeared on the PBS television shows Reading Rainbow, and Storytime. Claire Ewart’s illustrations have been featured in museums and galleries, and included in the Society of Illustrators show “Original Art.” Her portfolio was featured in the 1992 edition of Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.

Claire’s most recent project for Wisdom Tales included some wonderful light-charged illustrations in The Green Musician, a charming ancient Persian tale retold for children by Mahvash Shahegh. Wisdom Tales Press first welcomed Claire Ewart to our list of authors and illustrators for the book The Olive Tree, written by Elsa Marston and illustrated by Ms. Ewart. The Olive Tree is a moving story of two children from a country recovering from a war. The children are different in many ways but both share an attachment to an old olive tree growing across both of their yards. Both of these books have won awards, with the credit shared between the authors’ and Claire’s talents. Details on the awards can be seen in the section below this one.

Claire Ewart notes that her desire to tell a good story dates back to her childhood, when she had many experiences that stimulated her imagination and creativity. Claire was born “in the almost fairytale-like town of Holland, Michigan where at a very young age I squeezed my toes into wooden shoes to clomp along 8th street with my mother during the Tulip Time Parade.”  She still recalls her adventures with nature, “tickling tadpoles, spying turtles in the sun, and mucking around muskrat dens.” Claire Ewart drew, painted, and wrote throughout her childhood and adolescence.

In explaining how her childhood experiences contributed to her sensitivity to interesting stories, Ms. Ewart recalls, “My father’s job required that we move a number of times, but my mother always made sure that where ever that took us, we lived on a lake. In each new place, my father lost no time in marching my two younger sisters and me out to explore. We swam in clear water, hiked along up-turned creek beds, squished and sprang through peat bogs. As we did, we learned that each feather, fossil and footprint we found was part of a story.”

Claire Ewart’s reflections on her youthful experiences as a developing artist and storyteller should be interesting to parents: “What a way to appreciate the gifts of nature, to learn ingenuity and resourcefulness! Because my parents led by example, those early explorations began my creative journey.”

After years of moving around because of her father’s career, Claire Ewart became a college student at the Rhode Island School of Design. During her college studies, she remembers that she became dissatisfied with “the static nature of the 2-dimensional medium of painting. When I applied oil to canvas, along came the nagging feeling, that there must be ‘more to the story.’ Almost by accident, I rediscovered that if I went beyond the cold, analytical environment of the painting studio, out into the world, my work came alive. Out there in the streets, beneath the sky, along the water, I used pencil, brush and ink, or watercolor to capture the gestures and emotions of people and animals. I drew with brush and ink at the Providence bus station. I took pencils to the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus, and sat in the elephant tent sketching the huge elephants as they swayed back in forth in their chains.”

During her college years, Ms. Ewart “stumbled upon, then fell, whole-heartedly under the spell of the art of traditional animation. My thumbnail sketches…grew into full-fledged storyboards [and] became effective ways to plot out action. With animation, I could make stories come ‘alive.’” After college she found a job as an art director of computer animation, a medium which was in its infancy at that point. She notes that “Using computers to produce animation seemed exciting, and I could imagine the potential for incredible storytelling. Yet, the reality of the process, at least in those early days, was all too often a drudgery of numbers and equations that had little to do with the spontaneity of creation. That regimentation proved far too mechanical for imaginative storytelling.” And so Claire Ewart decided to strike out on her own to tell stories in her own way, with well planned and crafted words and paintings.

Since her college days, Claire Ewart has traveled widely in the United States and abroad to expand her experiences and to capture the sight and feel of other places. She has traveled to Egypt, India, Indonesia, and other locales, always drawing or painting and writing. Readers will experience these places along with Claire such books as The Legend of the Persian CarpetThe Giant, and others.

Throughout all of her experiences, personal growth, and adventures, Claire Ewart continues “to weave words and pictures together to tell a story.” We can see just how much value she, even though she is already a successful artist and author, still places on personal learning: “…What I value most about my life with words and pictures are the moments of discovery. Now, I am thrilled that through my books and school visits, I am able to share those discoveries with young readers.”

  • Awards Won by This Author’s Books

    • The Olive Tree, by Elsa Marston:
      • Silver Medal in the “Illustration – Graphic” category of the 2014 Midwest Book Awards
      • Honorable Mention in the “Picture Book” category of the 2015 Middle East Book Awards
    • The Green Musician, retold by Mahvash Shahegh:
      • Finalist in the 2015 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards, in the category “Picture Books”
      • Gold Medal in the 2016 Benjamin Franklin Book of the Year Awards, in the “Interior Design: 3 or more Color: Children’s/Young Adult” category
  • Author Extras & Links

    Claire Ewart’s own web site has a lot of information on her life and work, and there are many wonderful photos and illustrations to see on it. Click here to go to Claire Ewart’s web site in a new window or tab.

Sample Page Spreads from This Contributor’s Books

Click on the image below to see a larger image and a caption for this and any additional page spreads.