I recently spoke at CAREER DAY at my daughter’s school- as an ARTIST.

I had a hard time sticking to the “JUST ARTIST” theme…as those who know me may have imagined….

I took tons of props (as you can see in the photo)
starting with my projects from interior design school…
I used to LOVE to do renderings…and perspectives…

I shared that as an artist I can work for designers, creating boards and renderings,
finish schedules, floor plans…. (actually I AM a licensed and registered interior designer but didn’t want to get off the subject of artist because there was already an interior designer there…as pointed out by my daughter)

I shared a wallcovering collection I helped create at a company in Jackson, Mississippi…as a coloration/design consultant, selecting colorways…working in the actual factory where the wallcoverings are produced….
We would take inspiration from all over the place…
I learned about color…and how color is dictated by a “Color Expert Committee” that selects the color for the year eight years before we ever see it…
but a hint is that we can see it first in fashion about three or four years before it hits the home furnishings market.

I shared with them that when my daughter, now 12, was two, I had the urge to publish two books…so I formed a publishing company, The Oaks Publishing Company, and I wrote, illustrated one…hired an artist to do the other….because of her incredible talent with pastels….and went into the publishing business.

This was way before Print on Demand…wow would I have loved to have known about THAT…writing and publishing a book is about like birthing a child!
Once it is out there…there are about…depending on your “discount frame of mind” and mine was 5000 copies of each…to get that price for EACH down…ha
(publishers are chuckling as they read that knowing EXACTLY what I mean) and not realizing I had to WAREHOUSE, take orders, ship, and do accounting for these babies!

I did this right as the big publishers were emerging and were squashing the small publishers…1997…and as I watched CSPAN’s publisher debate, their great idea was to “tap into the gift market audience”….well I was a designer…I was already going to the largest gift market in the Atlanta…
so I got a temporary booth…set up with a friend who painted glasses, vases and pie platters…and took orders in Dec. of 1997 and with the help of market began filling orders for over 1000 of the books and prints that I also sold with the books.
I signed every book, shipped them, and still had about 3000 books by the time I moved to the gulf with my “then husband” after being in Montgomery for 8 years.

At that point, you don’t just “move” a publishing company…there is registration with R.R. Bowker, for ISBN…with Barnes and Noble, books a million…all of the address changes…so the books resided with me in my families beach house…until about three years ago…. I didn’t know what to do with them…they still had my “previous name”….so what the hurricane didn’t destroy, we threw them away…

so Print on Demand…is an option…I can re-edit the books…and have them available if I want to promote them again. With this option…they are filed in a computer…and as a person orders them, they are shipped and I am paid for the order AFTER they are shipped and printed “on demand”. Pretty ingenious…no inventory…although the glossy cover has to be shopped or you end up with a cookie cutter looking product…

Book publishing…even the book publishers are not too sure about how to make a go of it!

I also wrote (this year) Birmingham Sketchbook…someone elses book, their idea, their baby…and I was hired to write the history “for hire” and submitted one painting…even though it is a large publishing house’s book…
that book is currently being promoted by ME… at least in Birmingham…
the person who was carrying the ball…jumped ship…
so sometimes…something you love, whether a foster child or your own…
still becomes a BIG endeavor that you have to sink your heart and thought into!

Either way, self published or other…you find a connection that can’t be explained…

See it at the link to Birmingham Sketchbook.

Then I talked about how my being an artist, led me to the writing of the book…as the promoter was looking for “artists” I ended up interviewing to be the WRITER.

That book led me to a freelance job writing for Southern Beauty Magazine, which I am currently doing and am working with them on the SOUL Section of the magazine where I write about inspiring women who dig more into their life purpose.

I have interviewed some incredible people, including Marty Dunn (a brain tumor survivor with young children), Beverly Gardner (she and her husband have had over 100 foster care children in their home and have 14 children they have adopted or had),LeAnn Rimes, Emily Proctor and most recently Debbie Reynolds.

This job has been the most rewarding of any I have ever had, as it is fulfilling something inside me that helps bring together all of my core interests and so far with EACH and every interview, there is something that is directly reflective in my life at that time.

I was mocked recently by my ex-husband’s lawyer …because I “don’t make enough money” at what I am doing… (mainly because it affects the 380 odd dollars my ex contributes to each of his children each month and am asking him to contribute more)
I tell them and I explained to the children “you are living in a community where there is 100% parental participation…fathers and mothers….live in this community because the schools are incredible…that is the most important thing you can do in your life..offer your children a great education and be there for them as they grow up.”

I know it is not always easy…when my oldest two were young…I was climbing some “ladder that was against the wrong tree”. As I have grown older, and start again with a three year old…I know how awesome, growing up in a small town myself,it is to walk through that door at three and just go play in my room, or jump on the trampoline or play in the creek. Those are memories you don’t get in daycare or after school programs.

Being home for my children at 3:00 when they walk in the door, or call on their cell to see if someone can come over, is the biggest gift that I can give them.

I don’t have a full time job, I don’t drive a fancy car like my ex…in fact I select my car by the number of passengers it can hold (but I have NOT been able to do the MINI VAN…I know they have all the tables and cool doors…but I haven’t personally been able to go THERE…ha)
but where I am now is my priority…and I want my children to understand that.

I don’t know where this path will take me, but I have worn many hats, but they all come back to the artist…

I showed them paintings, and talked about the ways you can sell artwork…
but I also talked about other ways you can use your artistic gifts.
I painted the cover for the Symphony Orchestra Picnic fundraiser invitation, I have designed the last three years of t-shirts for the Hughes-Brinkley Memorial Fun Run at the Emmet O’Neal Library, I painted the mural for both of my children’s school plays.
I did not do any of these for “hire”, I did them because I CAN and want to.

At the end of each session (and I repeated my speech 6 times) I took the group up to the music room where they each grabbed a paint brush. I showed them how the mural was sketched and with each group, the mural came alive. They all wrote me thank you notes, and the highlight of their day was to put their prints on that mural for the sixth grade play.

Sometimes being an artist is just all about helping others find the artist within themselves…..and that day…you couldn’t have paid me ANYTHING to miss THAT.

(mural shown in the basketball photo above)