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Inspired by Paper

Inspirations for successful careers come in many forms, including cherished childhood memories. A special bond with a family pet might lead to a career in veterinary medicine or playing dress-up, inspired by a closet full of mother's clothing, might lead to a career in fashion design. Few can lay claim to being inspired by a box of paper.

But that was the inspiration for successful author and illustrator, Judith Moffatt. "My dad was a printing salesman and he would bring home these great boxes of paper. A lot of the paper was so beautiful - it would be textured or colored - my sister and I had the first bunch of florescent paper, before they [even] put them in the stores."

Those sales-samples inspired Moffatt to begin creating collages, a technique she would later put to use in the illustrations for her popular children's books.

Moffatt recently brought her life-long appreciation for working with paper to Brookside Elementary School for two daylong sessions with first and second graders. "I want them to enjoy art with their hands," she said.

Brookside art teacher, Lisa Duarte, agreed, "I always cut paper with the kids." She explained that she also utilizes Moffatt's books in the classroom and when she discovered that Moffatt offered school visits, she thought "why not? She's close by [Medway] and I'm a huge fan."

Duarte explained Moffatt presented slideshows to the separate grade levels in the mornings during her two-day visit and in the afternoon the illustrator helped students create a green frog and a red cardinal using colored paper.

"They can relate to my art because I'm doing something that they do," Moffatt said. "They'll say, 'how did you make this piece of art?' and I'll say, 'just like you do, with scissors, paper and glue.'"

She said her slideshow demonstrates, "how I put together a page [by] layering the paper. It's three-dimensional ... not flat. I also show the kids a couple of little things that I did when I was a kid - how I was inspired when I was young - and I show them my pets and where I work and my latest stuff."

Moffatt, who teaches children's book illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, decided on her career path while still in high school. "I took a class in children's literature and I said 'oh my gosh, this could be my career - I could do this - I could do children's books'." Over the course of 25 years, Moffatt has illustrated over 50 books. "I do baby books up to about third grade," she noted. Many of Moffatt's books are utilized in classrooms across the country.

Her latest project, she said, is geared toward adult readers. "It's sort of a book about myself - an author's book. It's very new to me because it will be [for adults]. It's sort of a graphic novel [based] on journals I've kept since I was 13. It's a little autobiographical and it's got little elements of teaching and [things] I have done.


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