Nature artist Walter Anderson was a bit like St. Francis of Assisi, Henry David Thoreau, and Vincent Van Gogh. He befriended animals on Horn Island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Mississippi. He alternated his time between his retreats to the humanly uninhabited island and working for the family manufacturing business. While alone he painted swirling, colorful natural scenes that almost move right off the canvas. Alabama author Hester Bass tells the painter's story in The Secret World of Walter Anderson, a children's picture book illustrated by E. B. Lewis.
Bass and Lewis depict Anderson as having childlike enthusiasm for his vocation. He is shown climbing trees to see nests and wading into the gulf to sketch a moth on the water. On most pages there is an animal observing the gentle man. His retreating from family and society is just accepted as the way of an artist.
The author includes explanatory notes at the end of the book from which readers learn that Hurricane Katrina destroyed some of Anderson's estate. Luckily some of the paintings were in a small museum on higher ground away from the coast. Part of the profit from this attractive book will be used for restoration and support of Walter Anderson Museum of Art.
Bass, Hester. The Secret World of Walter Anderson. Candlewick Press, 2009. ISBN 9780763635831.