I’m excited that Sue’s book Collage Paint Draw will arrive very soon to the F+W warehouse. I know Mary Beth Shaw is as well because she recently tried some techniques from the book and will be sharing what she learned in a very cool online live event next week—Mary Beth Shaw’s April Book Club April with Sue Pelletier. (And actually, if you want an advance look at the book, check out this bundle offer. You can purchase the ebook and online event together and save some money.)
It’s a lot of fun hearing from an author exactly what the book publishing experience is like. I recently asked Sue a series of questions about the process of writing her book and here is what she had to share with us.
Writing My Book by Sue Pelletier
During the process of writing my book, I discovered I’m much more organized than I ever thought I was. Organized to the point that my zip lock bags of supplies for my step-by-step photo shoot had smaller zip lock bags of supplies inside them. Often I go through life “winging it” a bit. There is literally no “winging it if you are writing a book.” It is not just the deadlines that have to be met; it is the details, the details the details. It is like putting a puzzle together everything has to fit just right.
At one point, I had a moment of panic when I thought I had lost everything on my computer. I bought a new computer after I began the book, but I realized I liked my old one more. I felt a bit Jack Keorac writing my manuscript on my ancient computer (sorry Jack, not typewriter); it just felt right. But then it literally died one night. At the time my fabulous book editor, Beth Erikson, had everything I had written up to that point, but I panicked because you keep going over everything you write and create and I really needed it on my old computer. Both computers went to the shop and I was able to get all my work transferred from the old computer to the new computer—images, documents, everything. I have since fallen in love with my new computer so it’s all good. However, I would still be writing away on that old one if I could . . . .
In practicing the “art of letting go,” I felt lighter after I relinquished control over the final design and visual impact the book would have. Although it is all my artwork, the design team and editor really put the book together so it is cohesive and looks like eye candy. My book had three different covers and two titles and although I loved all three, I feel they really captured what my book is about with the third and final cover and title. So I trusted the design team, but being a visual person, it was tough to do. In then end, they were spot on. I love the way the book looks and feels!
I’d consider it a dream-come-true if a beginner artist told me my book had had a positive impact on him/her. I truly believe everyone is an artist and often you just need to know the right gel medium to use to make it happen.
Publishing this book has inspired me to try something new, which is writing a second book on mixed-media art for children. I have taught elementary school art for twenty-six years and I am constantly inspired with the freedom and joy that comes through in children’s art. I teach K-5 and bamn! Most of them put that brush, ink, marker, whatever down with no fear. That amazes me each and every day.
My hope for the person who picks up my book is that I’ll have changed his/her perspective on having the confidence to use non-traditional materials in his/her work.
I am not a purist. I like to wander the aisles of hardware stores and junk shops and think, what can I add or layer into a painting with? I adore working with plaster and vintage fabrics; there is something very therapeutic about dipping vintage fabric in plaster and warm water and adhering it onto a canvas. I would almost have to say it does not get better than that.
If I could only show others one spread in my book, I would share the acknowledgments and dedication pages. I love all the artwork I created in the book, but without the love of my kids and the support of others I am not sure it would have happened.
One bit of advice I’d give to anyone wanting to write a book would be: Go for it! Since I have been in second grade, I have wanted to write a book. It just took me forty-five years to figure out what it was going to be about. How fortunate am I that I wrote a book, created the artwork in the book and wrote the steps to create the artwork? Full Circle!
My most humorous “behind the scenes” moment writing this book would have to be: I literally use water-based oil pastels on every painting. As I was packing my supplies to head to Ohio to do the photo shoot I kept picking up packages of the pastels thinking, I must have about eight sets of these packed already. When I got to the photo studio and was unpacking my supplies, guess what was missing? Pastels! Thank goodness for my editor Beth was able to make phone calls and we found a store that carried the product I used. Needless to say, now I do not travel without my water based oil pastels.
If I had to write the book over again, I’d spend more time enjoying the process and less worrying about the deadlines. The deadlines were always met, but those dates always in the back of my head stressed me out!
To hear more from Sue, check out this live event:
For more mixed-media inspiration, check out these other North Light titles: