It all started when my agent Jeanie suggested I post character studies of my throng of characters on my blog to garner interest in my yet-to-be-published novels. I didn’t start rendering them in pencil and watercolor straightaway. You can blame it on Officer Lafayette A. Tillman, the second African American on the Kansas City Police Force. Since he shows up in FROM SILT AND ASHES and becomes an influential person in the life of Lev Gitterman in AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN I naturally wanted to post a character study about him. There are photos of him online but the only ones I could find were copyrighted. That’s when it occurred to me to paint a portrait of him.
Fast forward to two novels later with one on the way, my publisher wanted to know if I’d be interested in putting together a coffee table companion book. “Let me think about that a minute…yes.” For going on two years, I’ve worked to make that book upwards of 220 pages. In addition to the sepia portraits of the characters, I’ve been painting watercolor scenes from each of the books. I hate to call it ‘work’ though. To be honest, I’m having the time of my life. 😉
This brings me to three months ago when I was introduced to Alexis at a place in Blue Springs, Missouri called Print Graphics. It had been suggested to me that I have prints made to sell. A festival in the area called Corks & Canvas would be a good venue, I was told, to market, not only my novel trilogy, but my artwork as well. So the games began!
My husband Jan was excited at the prospect of my finally showing my artwork. Maybe those student loans to the Kansas City Art Institute would finally pay off. At any rate, he was totally on board with purchasing the display racks and tables. He used his Academy Sports employee discount to buy a purple tent and matching chairs. (You expected, maybe white?)
I didn’t think I’d have much to show, but thanks to Alexis, who is an artist herself, my stack of prints grew. My office/studio took on the appearance of an explosion in an art gallery. We found thrift stores to be wonderful places to find gently used frames, some with pristine mats that were the perfect size for my prints.
When the time came, Jan, bless his heart, spent most of Friday packing the truck so there’d be little left to do Saturday morning. We lucked out. After a month of stifling heat and humidity, the temps dropped and we had pleasant weather. We were on site by 8:00 am and set up by 10:00.
I enjoyed friends who showed up to support me and meeting new friends. One young Jewish woman stopped and we chatted for a long time. She was drawn to a couple of the paintings because they reminded her of her grandparents. While she didn’t buy anything, she said she would definitely get back with me. I hope she does.
If Corks & Canvas is any indication, it seemed to me that the artwork sold the books and visa versa. Financially, it was a successful day and makes us want to combine book signing and art display at other festivals.
Who knows where this will lead?
Click on photos to view larger versions.