Adventure-seeking author/artist finds her zen in Queens

Courtesy of Elizabeth Uhlig

Writer and artist Elizabeth Uhlig finds inner peace and clarity during her morning meditation sessions. She works from her Forest Hills apartment and says her art studio is where all the creative magic happens.

Widely traveled and proficient in many languages, Uhlig has always loved global cultures. The energetic author and illustrator of 17-plus books for readers of all ages has also illustrated books for other authors and runs her own publishing company, Marble House Editions.

Forest Hills, Queens-based author, illustrator, and publisher Elizabeth Uhlig has written and illustrated many books for kids, and all ages. She has traveled around the world but still loves coming home to Queens. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Uhlig)

Uhlig described her latest work, “The Book of Days,” as her “crowning glory.” It’s a unique collection of 365 poems inspired by nature, childhood memorie, and history, with beautiful artwork spanning 50-plus years. The book is not for sale anywhere, as Uhlig said she only published a small run of copies “to give as a gift to my nearest and dearest and that includes the people I will meet in the future, who will become dear to me.”

“I am fairly sure that with this book, I have expressed everything that is important and meaningful to me,” she added.

In a recent interview with QNS, Uhlig said that she’s finally slowing down after a long and rewarding career. But her thirst for adventure and learning continues.

The author’s first children’s book, “Grandmother Mary,” was inspired by her mother, who was a great influence on her writing.

“I wrote all about this in my memoir, ‘Before We Met,’ which came out in 2008, right after my mother died at age 95,” Uhlig said. “She was an extraordinary person, who had a difficult childhood.”

Courtesy of Elizabeth Uhlig

Written and illustrated in 2000, “Grandmother Mary” came about because Uhlig wanted to write something that would have “universal value.”

“I am not a fiction writer, so I took a true story and modified it for a young audience,” she said. “The message in that book is clear: A person can have a less than ideal childhood and decide that they are going to live a rich, kind and loving life as an adult. A lot of children could relate to this story, proving my conviction that it doesn’t matter where or when a story takes place, as long as the message is eternal.”

Uhlig noted that subsequent books – most of which are written in poetry – including “Oh, Me, Oh My, Oh How I Wish That I Could Fly!” “The Magic Chain” and “Lovely Toys of Long Ago,” were borne out of the needs that she picked up on, while visiting children in local schools, where she’d listen to what was on their minds and respond to that in her writing. 

Courtesy of Elizabeth Uhlig

The author has visited 329 schools in the New York area, as well as St. John’s University, Queensborough Public Library, Queens College and Queens Historical Society, among other places. Most of the schools she visited are in Queens and Brooklyn, starting with her own alma mater, P.S. 131, in Jamaica. Back in the day, Uhlig said she also attended M.S. 217, in Briarwood, and Jamaica High School, where she learned most of what she knew about art.

“We were encouraged to always carry a sketchbook and draw whatever was in front of us,” she recalled.

Several years ago, a teacher at one of the schools she visited and offered positive feedback.

“Today, the third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students had a visit from author, illustrator and publisher, Elizabeth Uhlig. Ms. Uhlig shared her artwork and her books with us. She told us the stories behind her books. We learned that she, like our students, has a writer’s notebook that she carries with her wherever she goes! Her notebook contains ideas and sketches that she later uses in her writing. I hope that everyone enjoyed this visit as much as I did!”

Talking about her adventures abroad, Uhlig said she decided early in life that she wanted to travel as much as possible.

“Not long after I graduated from McGill University [Montreal, Canada] with a degree in French, I traveled extensively in Europe, as many people did in the 1970s, when it was easy and cheap to do that,” Uhlig said.” On those trips, I did a lot of sketching, and those images later found their way into the children’s books that I was to write,” she noted.

You can find some of the Uhlig’s books on Amazon.com. You can find more information or order copies of her books and books by other authors that are illustrated by Uhlig at marble-house-editions.com/#ps.