Sunday, November 15, 2015

Artists Who Live in the Woods; Relics of a Fulfilled Life

 Step into the enchanting home of my friend Debbie Dean.  You will be greeted by rooms that echo a happy and fulfilled life of an artist who has always loved life in the woods.   She is a vibrant and courageous single mother, enthusiastic and full of gratitude for her children and her home.  Although she relishes her quiet mornings huddled by the fire withe a cup of coffee, a smoke and a notebook, her days are spent actively helping others.  She is friend to many people and creatures alike.

Warmth and dance of the fire,

  Shells strung into beads

Bells rattling on the front door

  Wind blowing through trees. 

  She is a wild woman with a loving heart full of random magical stories of exotic travels.  You can step into the wild forests of India or be part of a hand made puppet show.  Relics of travels through Mexico are arranged among the crystal altars that surround her studio.  Dried flowers, framed portraits, instruments, collage furniture, patterned rugs mirrors and windows gather around her own creations.  Life is art, art is life.

Debbie's daughter, Belle Star, is much like her mother; a very strong and beautifully talented woman.  The two have a close relationship and I have always felt much warmth and love during gatherings in their homes.  They compliment each other in both art and cooking.  Visiting Debbie, we enjoy expertly cooked and lavishly seasoned meals both delicious and nourishing.  She is well educated about herbs and grows her own culinary and medicinally mystic garden.   This kitchen is a kind of ultra glorious studio where her love for herbs and food are assembled. 


Debbie is currently loving her newest body of work, a series of acrylic paintings that were created using bursts of blown breath to move pigment.  Her thoughts were deep with the drought and fires that consumed the Sierras and moved into the time we are now grateful for, the rains.  Her abstract paintings are full of life and infinite stories.  Her studio is bathed in sunlight inside her home that was built from the trees that stood on the land.  She tells me she loves to greet her newest creations in the morning.  "They are my babies"

I asked Debbie how living in the woods has positively impacted her life and her art.  She responded "It's so peaceful and quiet.  I grew up in the woods.  Since I was little I knew that I always wanted to live in the woods and to have my own children and a studio to make art.  Now I have all of those things.  It is incredible and wonderful to know that you can manifest what you want, you just have to know what you want"

I've noticed a pattern in many people who know what they want and often exercise the meaning of life in a simple way.  For those who are still searching for their dreams, a walk through a tunnel of trees is a kind of hallway to follow those dreams.  Taking a long look at the sky and the land around a meadow is an open book of stories.  An exposure to the natural environment can reveal magic that is happening all around, and has the potential to breathe life into our incredible and short lives.

Many thanks and gratitude to the fantastic Debbie Dean.   I will keep you guys posted about her next upcoming art show.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Self Publishing a Children's Book

Act 1: Conception and Fleshing Out; I'm totally stoked on the act of self publishing a book. I did a lot of research in how to make the book great, and that involved talking to other people. I had a classic concept in mind, and knew that I wanted very small children and adults to enjoy it together. This character Moon Bunny came to me, and he was grateful to be alive. So I just listened to the fun stuff he liked to do, and drew him acting them out. Then I took the writing skills I have been developing and threw rhyming words to the actions. That was the easy part.

Act 2:  Revealing the Book, asking for Criticism;  I asked multiple people to read the text, look at the pictures and give me reviews.  This took years of attending SCBWI conferences, Press Expos, festivals, and sharing with people who were in the publishing industry.  I turned this idea of Moon Bunny into a 12 page calendar postcard set and vended to my friends and family.  They got back to me years later with stories of how their grandchildren, children, and even aging parents cherished the little cards and wanted to know what Moon Bunny was up to next.  This is where things get juicy.  Getting feedback from people who love your work is fuel for the fire.  And bookstores would buy Moon Bunny postcard packs, but  more and more they wanted a book.   

Act 3:  Reformatting;  I spent another year or so reformatting Moon Bunny to make him into a 32 page picture book, and having researched layout, cover design, copy editing, etc..the book came to be.  I had a Create Space account on Amazon, and ordered my first proof for quality checking.  I received more help from people who filmed promo videos and took photographs for the release of Moon Bunny.  And once the final copy had been approved, I informed my social media platforms that something exciting was coming their way.


Act 4: Selling and Sharing;  People bought my book and left awesome reviews on amazon.  The ball was beginning to roll.  Since I have trouble distributing the book on a mass scale, I still rely on expos, festivals street fairs and craft shows to sell.  So while I'm working on becoming a bestseller for children's books ;) , for now I enjoy the faces of the people who buy my book, hearing a class of kindergartners laughing at my pictures and getting letters from little kids.  It is something I get to enjoy for as long as I live.  And the book is forever in my family and eternally on the web.  And I'm sure I left out many other details about this process, but my main point is to give people inspiration to go for it themselves.  Happy researching and follow your heart!