Marion W. Lent - Artist


About Marion

My bio is as follows:

I live in Central Vermont with my husband, Jeffrey and our lovely seventeen year old daughter, Clara. Our older daughter is nineteen and doing amazing things and we miss her everyday.

We both work at home. My husband is a novelist, and I'm a freelance illustrator.

I was born in Canada, while my father was still in medical school. We later moved to Massachusetts where he practiced and taught for many years. I'm one of six kids, and with my father working long hours and my mother holding the household together, I had ample time to indulge in dreaming, reading, and most of all, drawing. It was a skill that seemed to flow naturally, letting me slip off into worlds of my own making and of course, escape the chaos when needed.

We moved to North Carolina when I was sixteen and after graduating high school I spent a year in Belgium. There I discovered, among many other new things, Asterixand Tintin. To my mind, Herge was and remains the master of the perfect graphic artist. The story lines, multitude of idiosyncratic and hilarious characters along with his art was pure genius.

After my year abroad I proceeded to a double major in political science and French. My creative endeavors were put aside for a bit.

Following graduation I worked at Malaprops bookstore in Asheville, NC where eventually I was ordering children's books as well as working with art again. I designed a new logo that they still use today (30 yrs later..getting close to 40)) as well as a window display for a national contest put on by Vintage Contemporaries (Random House) in 1987 and was one of three winners. Malaprops display was the one pictured in Publishers Weekly. Ahh, my first taste of success. . .and with a budget of 50 bucks.

It was during this time that I started focusing more on my love of creating stuff... painting, drawing, building. My life was heading in a new direction.

After meeting Jeffrey and falling madly in love, we got married. We both continued to pursue our own creative work. I worked for several years in independent bookstores and then as an illustrator for HighReach Learning, a company which designs preschool and after-school programs. I also designed several logos, and freelanced for other companies ranging from book illustration (Zero Population Growth), to Christmas cards and several t-shirts. After MANY lean years, my husband sold his first novel to Grove Atlantic and we finally had our first child. Soon after, we moved to Vermont and bought an old farmhouse and barn on forty acres. I stopped working and was a mom, my husband's first editor, stone wall builder (my Andy Goldsworthy phase), stall cleaner, posthole digger, and all 'round handy person.

As the girls grew up I worked at a variety of jobs mostly will children who I have an easy and delightful time with. I worked one on one with an emotionally challenged young man that I adored and as he earned time to do what he wanted, he always chose having me read to him. I discovered Mo Willams brilliant seies, Elephant and Piggie. We would choose which character we wanted to play and off we went. The books are so funny and expressive, he learned to read in no time. This job had me in the first and second grade classroom and it started to change my focus to the other 50 percent of the class that were creative and smart and were absolutely not getting the material taught. I was a visual tactile learner as a kid and I remember math as a sea of black shapes that made no sense. I have been working on a self teaching one to ten addition subtraction kit and it is close to done. The testers loved it and it works with kids that think like I did.

A year and a half a go I put down my watercolors and started working three dimensionally. I started making flying felted sprite like creatures with wings. I now have thirty or so hanging from the beams in our house and a steady stream of buyers. No idea where they came from but I am not bored yet. A few months ago I finished a concept book with photos of many of them. My goal is accessibility. Few of my friends can afford my work (I give away a percentage) and wanted a way to share them on a wider cheaper scale.

I still am a jack of all trades but I am getting old (56) and thought it was time to switch around how I spend my time AND be able to keep the lights on. Sometimes it feels as if I have too many balls in the air but actually I love it.

My favorite favorite illustrator creative hilarious guy is Mo Willams. Just like the hardware store is my Mall of America, this man is my celebrity of choice. He has given so many kids such pleasure and his books are not only funny but insightful and kind. Other favorites include Susan Meddaugh's Martha Speaks, Bob Graham's Let's Get A Pup Said Kate, anything Kevin Henkes produces, and the more recent discovery, Simon James' Baby Brains. There's also the great Peggy Ratham. Ruby the Copycat clearly should have won the Caldicott (in my humble opinion). Finally, I believe William Steig was a true master of children's picture books, in both his choice of words and loose but sure illustrations. Two of his titles, Dominic, and Amos and Boris, top my list of favorites.

When I used to ask my girls what they wanted to be when they grew up, my older daughter Esther would always say "a writer" (my younger one, Clara, would answer with great volume and enthusiasm, " a rock star!" but that's another story--)

Now Esther says "a writer and illustrator." . . . cool.