This is a photograph of me in 1956, when I was eight years old. I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up mostly in a seaside town, in Sea Girt, New Jersey.

I didn't know I would be an artist, although I always loved to draw. There weren't markers then. I drew with crayons. I had a box of sixty-four. The many colors were so exciting. My favorite subjects were flowers and clowns because I could use lots of color.

Sometimes I wrote poems and letters that I kept to myself. When I was angry or sad, I wrote to express my feelings. I learned that with words I could create a private world.

In high school I continued to draw and write, but never thought of art or writing as a career. I was maturing at a time when it wasn't clear what a girl was supposed to do.

Then in college, I took a pottery class by chance and fell in love with clay. I couldn't always make it do what I wanted, but I felt so much pleasure trying.

A few years later while attending art school, I began teaching children clay work and haven't stopped. When I realized that there weren't any books on women artists for my students, I knew I had to change that.

In 1989, Albert Whitman and Company published my first book on women artists, Inspirations: Stories About Women Artists. I began to write on women artists because I wanted my students not only to know about the work of these women but also to have role models, to see that they, too, could have creative lives.

Making art, writing books, and teaching children are vital expressions of who I am, ways to communicate, and hopefully, create beauty and a bright future.

Photo by Elsa Dorfman