But Lewis isn’t ready to leave this world yet. In fact, he’s on top of it.
“I am very blessed, I wake up in the morning and I thank God for everything I have,” Lewis said. Lewis has had a thing for art since he was a child. That passion was nurtured by his family.
Besides his supportive parents, there were art teachers in the family and his mother’s brother – a painter and a sculptor – graduated from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia.
Lewis ended up majoring in graphic design and illustration at Temple while studying art education. After graduation, he started teaching, freelancing in graphic design and painting.
His award-winning watercolors have been exhibited nationally in prestigious galleries since 1985.
Lewis’ successful segue into children’s book illustrations started in 1993. Soon the artist/teacher had contracts with nine major publishing firms.
Winner of the prestigious Coretta Scott King award, Lewis prefers contemporary stories but said the setting doesn’t really matter as long as it is a good story. “I like strong human-interest stories … The kind that evoke emotion … Stories that touch the heart.”
Lewis laments that art education often is a casualty of school’s budget cuts. As a teacher at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Lewis says his lesson plan includes a primer on passion because it is vital to be passionate about what you do. “I tell them, you know, that thing you can sit down and do for hours? That is passion.”
Excerpted from “Painting with Passion”
Check out Lewis' paintings in our collection.
EDUCATION AND BACKGROUND
1956 Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1977 BA, Temple University Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Currently residing in New Jersey.
The Secret World Of Walter Anderson
The Negro Speaks Of Rivers
My Best Friend
Danitra Brown, Class Clown
Coming On Home Soon
Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry
This Little Light Of Mine
When You Were Born
Talkin’ About Bessie
Little Cliff And The Cold Place
Bippity Bop Barber Shop
Little Cliff’s First Day Of School
The Other Side
Virgie Goes To School With Us Boys
Dirt On Their Skirts
My Rows And Piles Of Coins
Little Cliff And The Porch People
The Magic Tree
The Jazz Of Our Street
The Bat Boy & His Violin
I Love My Hair
Only A Pigeon
Magid Fasts For Ramadan
Down The Road
The New King
Fire On The Mountain
AWARDS AND AFFILIATIONS
2005 Caldecott Honor for “Coming On Home Soon”
2003 Coretta Scott King Award Winner
2002 “The Other Side”, Notable Books Award For the Language Arts by Jacqueline Woodson
1996 “Down The Road”, ALA Notable Books Award by Alice Schertle
Current Teaches at the University of Arts, Philadelphia, PA Member of the Society of Illustrators, New York, NY