Jerry's talk title, A Sense of Place: Real and Imagined, is as broad a title he could think of to cover what's so important to his work, environment, but Jerry's decided to change his title in honor of something his father used to say upon starting a job (he was a jack-of-all-trades for construction and remodeling.)
His dad would stand in a room he was about to fix or beautify and say:
"THIS IS MY WORK."
So Jerry is saying that to us! We're getting a sense of how Jerry builds his stories and artwork.
Jerry gives us a bit of his history, this link is a good start!
My favorite anecdote—serendipity: Jerry's grandfather worked in a pencil factory, so Jerry had a lot of pencils to draw with. As a kid on a corner selling papers, he would sketch passersby while waiting for a sale, and one of his regular customers noticed Jerry's sketches. And this customer invited Jerry to come see his studio:
That's when the seed of possibility was planted, that a person could grow up to make images every day for work.
He shows us his first book, ADVENTURES OF SPIDER, first published in 1965, STILL IN PRINT and reissued.
HEART: When you look at his images and read his stories, it's always about going along for part of the ride of Jerry's discovery of the story, characters and environment.When he was working on the book GOD BLESS THE CHILD, he interviewed people that had lived through the sharecropping experience and worked to convey in his art and text that initial sense of surprise and delight he got listening to their answers.
HAND: Jerry does his preliminary sketches on plain old 8.5 x 11 copy paper in marker.
HEART: Jerry loves working with Hans Christian Anderson tales, their heartbreaking main characters are ones he's able to re-set into more modern day settings in 19th or 20th century America, when children were still being treated poorly (not that they aren't today! He brings up Bruce Coville's comment about the bullies of today, but for Jerry he's shining a light on the children under slavery and early-century child labor.)
HAND: Jerry's very inspired by past illustration masters. He says he's always straddling the shoulders of illustrators past, drawing from their amazing images to inform his compositions and technique.
HEART: Even in Jerry's tales and fables, their fantasy is resting on an element of reality.
HAND: Jerry does pencil sketch after pencil sketch of real wild animals for his fables and bible stories.
Jerry's now talking about making the art for THE OLD AFRICAN, too good to type during.