Don Powers writes: “I was born in Nashville in the middle of the last century. When I was a young man I worked in a factory where one day, while singing Arlo Guthrie’s ‘City of New Orleans,’ I mindlessly stuck my hand into a machine. Later, when I saw the mangled mess, I decided God spared my hand so that I could become an artist for real! I got a job as an exhibits designer for a history museum and actually got to paint famous Tennesseans, including Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett and even Andrew Johnson, who wasn’t particularly popular, though he too was brave. Before long I had met an art dealer who wanted me to paint Indians, which I did for a few years. And I got paid! Then after a while I got a fellowship called the Lyndhurst Prize, at the same time as Cormac McCarthy, who is cool and bloody minded. It saved my life I can tell you—just another sign like the stuck hand! Through these folks I met Stephen Mitchell who asked me to submit some things to Candlewick Press. Then when I was going to have my chest cut open for surgery Candlewick called and asked me to illustrate Sonya Hartnett’s lovely book, The Silver Donkey.
“A few years back I got to know Jimmy Carter and the Dalai Lama. I did portraits of both of them. When the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance contacted me about the White House book and asked me to illustrate something from the life of an old friend, I was delighted, just as I am to be in such elevated company, and involved with such a worthwhile project. I’ve been married for over thirty years to a lady I’m still in love with, and we have two sons who graduated as English majors from the University of Georgia.”