Seeing the world one drawing at a time.

“ As artists, our job is to get people to enjoy their vision, instead of just using it to get around”

Maira Kalman Portrait
Maira Kalman Portrait

I love the work of Maira Kalman. I love the ideas of Maira Kalman such as  “I walk everywhere in the city. Any city. You see everything you need to see for a lifetime. Every emotion. Every condition. Every fashion. Every glory.” She sees the world as she walks. Maira records the moments most people don’t even notice and makes them beautiful.

Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman

The power of walking is a force of intellect, awareness and creativity to Kalman. Her illustrations are delightful impressions of what she notices as she walks the neighborhoods of New York. Artists like Kalman have long known there are two ways of seeing the world, seeing and noting objects as a nonartist or seeing the world as an artist by taking note of the colors, light, shapes, negative space. Kalman uses her vision to show us her world one drawing at a time. Her illustrations for The New Yorker, children’s books and books for the young at heart are imaginative, witty and so honest.

Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman

Kalman’s need for walking and movement as a gateway to a higher sensibility is something a number of great creators have in common. According to writer and blogger Maria Popova, Dickens and Hugo were avid walkers during times of creative thinking; Twain paced madly while dictating, Goethe composed on horseback; Mozart preferred the back of a carriage. Maybe there is something powerful about walking (or movement) leading to being present. In walking is there an effect that opens us up to observation? Do our minds flow into inner dialogue about what is in our field of vision, not realizing that ideas are beginning to take root.

Kalman’s daily life is her art. She sees walking as a suspension from all the things that are weighing her down. She walks and collects images of people, street fashion, dogs and in the end she may have something she would like to draw. She has made a career of daydreaming. ” Kahlman sees her job as walking, looking for things that feel natural. As she stated in a PBS interview, when creating from her observations, “this is really me and I don’t have to be anything else but myself, and that’s my job.”

I don’t want to trudge up insane

mountains or through war torn lands.

Just a nice stroll through hill and dale.

But now I walk everywhere in the city.

Any city. You see everything you

need to see for a life time.

Every emotion. Every condition.

If you are ever bored or blue,

stand on the street corner for

Half an hour.

I have a specialty of love-

old people who have difficulty walking.

I walk behind them and

quietly imitate their step.

My heart goes out to them.




Maira Kalman is the perfect example of “drawing attention to life.” What an inspiration! Check out her blog at After doing that, go for a walk in your neighborhood and we might just pass each other!