Before we get started, do read to the bottom of this post, because I have a book giveaway opportunity for you! I've made a new friend online, and I'm not sure I'll ever get over the fact that we live in a time when that's even possible. He's got a book coming out in a few weeks, My Favorite Color Is Blue. Sometimes, and I am excited to tell you about it. For the first time, I've decided to conduct an interview of sorts with the author as a way of telling you about this book. The book is a tool, and the story behind it is incredibly powerful. Readers, meet author and illustrator Roger Hutchison.
Tell me, am I the only one who reads the biography of an author first thing when I get a new book? Also, I always read the dedication page and the acknowledgements page. I want to know the whole story, so to speak. That's where I started with Roger.
1) Your biography mentions you painted with some children who witnessed the shootings at Sandy Hook. Have you written about that experience elsewhere? I'd love to share your words about what that experience was like.
A: Yes - the experience in Newtown, CT. changed me at a cellular level. Here is a link to a piece I wrote about that experience. http://www.edusc.org/press-room/light-and-love-my-experiences-at-trinity-church-in-newtown-ct.html
It was a beautiful Friday morning; my day off. I will, on occasion, spend my Fridays painting with children in local schools. Hammond School in Columbia, SC had invited me to paint with children in their Lower School. They were studying about the continent of Africa and wanted me to work with them on a style of painting called “Tinga Tinga”... Little did I know that at that same time I was working with school children in Columbia, SC, sheer terror and tragedy was unfolding in the hallways and classrooms of a small town elementary school in a community called Sandy Hook.
I paint at my Grandmother’s table, a table I once played under as a child and on which I enjoyed vibrant and delicious meals. The table became a Eucharistic symbol for me. It is the place where I go to paint, pray, and remember.
[Regarding his time among the Sandy Hook community] The end result of The Painting Table is not the painting that is created. It is the conversation, sharing, and listening that takes place around the table. It is one mother comforting another mother as they both grieve for their friend who lost a child. It is about the conversation I had with a 3rd grade girl who told me she had had a really bad day.
2) Have you read this book with children in your family, church, community? Tell about these tender times. He had a few quotes to offer:
A: From Emily Graham (www.justplayinghouse.com) -
I will never forget the drive home from the hospital that day. Reaching our destination meant telling our (then) 4-year old daughter her big brother, Cameron (age 7), would never be coming home. On Christmas morning no less. My mind raced for the right words. Those words don’t exist.
Using art and color, "My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes." illustrates the complex emotions found in grief. After reading the first two pages, I stopped and asked what the book was about. She paused quietly and responded, "Cameron”."
From Donna Waites, mom of two daughters, ages 11 and 12 -
I had the amazing and wonderful blessing of sharing my life with my grandmother for 41 full years, and my two daughters, 11 and 12, were uniquely blessed to know and love their great-grandmother. When we lost her, there were no words to express how we felt. She was my buddy, my mentor, my secret keeper, my inspiration, and now she was gone from this earth. As she was dying and after her last breath, I found myself not being able to find any words even in prayer, sitting silently with God. Hutchison touched a very raw and real place in my soul with his words and art. This book should be given to anyone who experiences loss, no matter their age. It is like a balm to a hurting soul like mine who could not find any words at all during the saddest days of my life.
Are you starting to see the power of this book? As I researched a bit further, I noted that Roger had written another book entitled "The Painting Table: A Journal of Loss & Joy." It's where this story starts, so to speak. I wanted to know a bit about this book too.
3) Your other book, The Painting Table: A Journal of Loss and Joy also speaks to the grieving process. How are these books alike and different? Would you recommend them as companion pieces or is the age of each audience a bit different?
A: The Painting Table: A Journal of Loss and Joy was my first book. It contains a short story about my Grandmother's kitchen table and how that table now serves as my painting table. The book contains space in the back for journaling, reflection, and drawing. It is a wonderful companion book - especially for adults individually or for use in small groups.
A huge thanks to Roger Hutchison for sharing his thoughts on his newest book, My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes. If you think this book could be helpful in your own life, or the life of someone who's experienced a tragedy, you can get it anywhere books are sold. Also, I'm partnering with publisher, Paraclete Press, in giving a copy away! Head over to my Facebook page and like or comment on the post that mention this article. Do so by October 27th, and you'll be entered to win a copy.
Author and Artist ROGER HUTCHISON is the Director of Christian Formation and Parish Life at his church in Houston, Texas, and the author of The Painting Table: A Journal of Loss and Joy. He had the privilege of painting with children who had witnessed the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT. The experience affected him profoundly and convinced him of a vocation to use his writing and art to serve those who grieve.