By Alicia Dziak
As Western New Yorkers, we are lucky to have so much art and creativity around us, and it’s especially exciting when we are fortunate enough to have a local artist and writer share her talents through the power of a new children’s book.
Wende Essrow, a special education teacher by day, is the author of “The Paintbrush Dreamer,” a beautifully written book that features numerous paintings by Essrow.
After moving from her home in Kenmore to a more rural setting in West Falls, Essrow was amazed to find that the view from her studio window strongly resembled a painting she had created 15 years before. This, combined with her love of nature and some encouragement from her family, inspired her to write “The Paintbrush Dreamer,” which follows her journey from young artist to present day.
“I grew up in a family where creativity was encouraged,” Essrow said. “My father always made up stories, and I just thought every parent did that. I did the same with my own kids, and so now, as adults, my children really encouraged me to write. I had created a couple books that featured my photography, but I really wanted to do one that incorporated my paintings,” Essrow said.
Once she completed “The Paintbrush Dreamer,” she approached the owner of a longstanding independent bookstore in Buffalo to seek his opinion.
“I figured if he liked it, it was worth pursuing,” she said.
He did like it, and gave her the names of some local publishers, which led her to the book’s publisher, Rock Paper (Safety) Scissors, a division of Buffalo Heritage Press.
According to Essrow’s website, “’The Paintbrush Dreamer’ is a story of an artist’s lifelong dream of having an art studio in the forest coming true. It invites young children to learn to see the world from a wildlife artist’s sensitive and passionate point of view. This book asks parents, grandparents and children to connect with the natural world. Hear the birds, look for rabbit tracks in the snow, and embrace the colors of each season. Fall in love with morning, and look for surprises like a blue jay feather between blades of grass. ‘The Paintbrush Dreamer’ simply reminds us to slow down, enjoy the outdoors, and celebrate beauty with a dream in your heart and a paintbrush in your hand. It is a call to action for young artists and seekers of all ages to dream, explore, and create.”
Although Essrow has worked in oils and various other mediums, her favorite has always been watercolors.
“I can still picture my first set of watercolors,” she said. “I was blown away by the 30 colors in the set and have been painting ever since. I’ve always loved their transparent quality and how one color bleeds into another. It’s very natural.”
Essrow’s love of nature shines through in her paintings.
“When I see something in nature, I memorize the color pattern and will write notes about what captures my heart,” Essrow said. “I see something so magnificent and painting is the only way to get it out of my system. It’s my way of saying thank you to nature.”
When asked what advice she has for budding young artists, Essrow replied, “Paint and compose what you’re compassionate about, and what makes you feel happy and excited. Don’t get discouraged, and if the direction changes during the process, go with it. Let your painting lead you and your ideas evolve.”
“The Paintbrush Dreamer” is a local treasure sure to inspire young children to follow and achieve their own dreams. The book is currently available in several Erie County public libraries, as well as the Albright Knox gift shop and the Burchfield Penney gift shop. The book is also sold right here in Ellicottville at Alexandra’s located at 10 Washington St.
Support a local artist while presenting your favorite child with the memorable and lasting gift of a unique book. For more information, visit www.wendeessrow.com.