I have been working on my book The Foundling for quite some time, let’s be honest, for seven years. The story idea came to me when I discovered that some workhouses in Ireland had stone baskets to the side of the entrance doorways where girls with illegitimate children would leave the babies, ring the bell, and then disappear.
Giving up a baby is a difficult decision, even today, but in Ireland during the famine years, handing a child over to the workhouse must have been devastating.
I needed a picture for the front cover of my book to depict that stark reality. Parting with a baby must be like experiencing a death, final and traumatic.
I found the most beautiful art work on James Schultz’s website, The Art of James Schultz. This Long Island art teacher creates imagines that leave you with haunting questions, and I like that.
I emailed James Schultz and asked for permission to use the picture The Baby Carriage for the front cover illustration of The Foundling, because the caption beneath the picture on his website seemed to know what the book was all about.
“This image of a Victorian woman is something of a mystery. Her face is unreadable and expressionless as many of the photographs of that era. Why does she stand there in such a bleak landscape? Where is she going? And what of the child in the baby carriage?
There are other paintings too that leave me with questions. Thought and Memory, although a depiction of the ruler of the Norse gods, Odin, just makes me wonder what this bearded old gent is thinking about. Has he remorse for sins committed I wonder? Why are there two crows near him on the bench? Crows signified impending death in Celtic mythology. And doesn’t that tree look as though it is reaching down toward this seemingly gentle old man?
I spoke with James Schultz on the phone and am happy to report that this talented artist, and I’m certain he is also a very talented art teacher, has granted me permission to use the image for the front cover of The Foundling. To say that I am over the moon right now would be an under statement.
I am glad I found The Art of James Schultz, and hope you’ll take a look at some of his work.
Hey, all us artists need to support one another, that’s how this works, right?
Coming soon to Amazon.com in December 2012 The Foundling by Loretto Leary.