Interview | Corinne Humphrey

Corinne Humphrey will be our Storytime guest on June 21st at 11 a.m., reading The Tao of Rudy, a beautiful picture book that kids and adults will love for its bright pictures and simple, inspiring story. Also, congrats to Corinne and Rudy are in order for winning the Independent Publisher’s IPPY Award’s BRONZE Medal for “Most Outstanding Book Design”!

TKE: Tell us a little bit about the real Rudy, who inspired your picture book!

CORINNE HUMPHREY: Rudy (formerly known as Bob) was rescued from an abusive situation and brought to the shelter. Luckily the staff at Summit County Friends of Animals recognized his good points and he was transferred to Furburbia Adoption Center in Park City. He was adopted out and returned multiple times over the course of three years, and by the time I saw him, he’d spent over 2 months languishing in the kennel and was becoming kennel-agressive. He wasn’t my first or my second choice because of that, but the staff said, “He’s our favorite, Just take him for a walk…” I sat on a bench, he leaned up against me, and I was hooked. Inside the house he has perfect manners, outside the house was another matter. We had some work to do. He was dog-aggressive and wasn’t leash trained, so our first year was very challenging. We attended three obedience classes. The painting, ‘Soar Through the Clouds..’ is pretty indicative of what our early walks looked like. I can’t tell you how many times I was dragged through the sage brush, face down into the mud, and I even found myself underneath him and a snarling Rottweiler one day. He’s smart, funny, sassy and protective. He’s soulful and in tune with me, and he’s SO loving. I’m crazy about him. The painting, “Let Yourself Be Loved” is an accurate depiction of us.

TKE: You are an artist as well as an author — which came first for Tao of Rudy, the pictures or the story?

CH: The paintings. When I adopted Rudy, I was in the middle of a painting class. I went to an artist’s reception at Meyer Gallery in PC called “Beaks and Muzzles” featuring Canadian artist, Sheila Norgate. Her work inspired me to paint Rudy. I’m passionate about my subject, so I never get tired of painting him. I’ve recently started the paintings for a second book, and I have ideas for a third.

TKE: Who is one your favorite authors and/or illustrators, and why?

CH: So many great ones to choose from! Sheila Norgate inspires me because she is not a formally trained artist and has made a name for herself doing something she loves. Todd Parr, successful illustrator/author of children’s books, was discouraged from painting for years because of supposed “lack of talent” or lack of an art school background, but he finally said, “I love to paint, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

For kid’s books, Madeleine L’Engle‘s A Wrinkle in Time still holds a firm place on my bookshelf. I also like Willa Cather, whose strong women characters (Song of the Lark) succeeded despite poor backgrounds and little schooling. Are you sensing a pattern here? I’ll always root for the underdog, someone (or some animal) ignoring other people’s negative opinions and striving to succeed and realize their dreams despite hurdles.

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