Tasha Tudor Field Trip

ImageTasha Tudor August 28, 1915-June 18, 2008

For those of you who like quiet risk-takers and women who don’t follow the herd, here’s your lady! Tasha Tudor is my favorite inspiration because while her artwork and stories are adorably innocent and whimsical, she took her public (mostly children) and her professional life very seriously. While she obviously loved her subjects (people and animals populating a 1830’s world) she boldly stated that there was nothing sentimental about the need to make money at it.

ImageTasha’s mother taught her to paint.

The New York Times in 1941 said her pictures “have the same fragile beauty of early spring evenings.” And while some of us backward leaning people might envy the real-life fantasy world she seemed to live in, I get the sense she worked damned hard to get there. Tasha once said that in life you could have anything if you had the patience. Image

Tasha had two failed marriages and children who didn’t always appreciate dressing in homespun clothes, but in her sweetly feminine way she held to her principles and dressed like the 1830’s sea captain’s wife she liked to imagine she was. She wrote and illustrated nearly 100 witty and beautiful books that have a timeless elegance and rare appreciation for animals and children without the preachy condescension of much modern children’s literature, but the real inspiration comes from the unwavering devotion she had to living out an unusual and hard life on her terms.

While raising 4 children, spinning her own fabric from materials grown on her  land and raising farm animals, she wrote and illustrated books at her kitchen table–did I mention she made her own bread? Even her name was a creation of her own. Some of us wish we could magically go back in time. She did it (obviously with a few bows to the present) and she did it with  an individualistic streak of brilliance.

The home she had meticulously built to 19th century specifications–even down to the nails. She gardened, too.


Tasha once opined that women lost something essential when they started wearing trousers (I hear some women grumbling) but she never played the frail old-fashioned girl. She was a woman of substance and power and one of my heroes.


Tasha Tudor As Young Woman

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There’s a special gift that only some people have of capturing the essence of life, the fleeting, joyous moments when creativity and enthusiasm combine to conjure up worlds not before imagined. Some people blur the lines between what is real and what is fantasy. They rarely follow herds and often must live in the backwoods of nowhere where eccentricity (true eccentricity–not the Hollywood or music world kind) can be given room to grow and thrive.

Every so often I need my Tasha Tudor fix.