I've been in search of how-to books for my favorite mediums for almost as long as I've been drawing and painting. The first books in my collection were the old Walter Foster books, beginning with the How to Draw Horses book. I kept all of those books until my 40s and referred to them periodically. Sometimes just to look at the excellent illustrations.
As my skills advanced and my style took shape, I began looking for books written for artists who wanted to paint in a realist style, using classical methods. Add to that my interest in colored pencils at a time before colored pencils were cool, and I had great difficulty finding art how-to books that addressed all those requirements.
Eventually, I decided to write my own books for those artists and would-be artists who were following in my footsteps and looking for the same kind of help I once (and often still) look for.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've been keeping an art blog since 2004 or 2005. The posts that were the most popular were the step-by-step posts describing my working process with oils and, later, colored pencils. The most popular page on the blog is currently a rather detailed step-by-step for a colored pencil drawing.
It was a short step from that demonstration to writing art books.
As an established blogger, it was an even shorter step from publishing via a blog to publishing books independently. You might say it was the next logical step.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Discovering Smashwords was the final factor in deciding to go indie. The formatting style guide was instrumental in the process and an invaluable tool. The Smashwords process was so straight forward and easy that the same week I published my first two books ("Colored Pencils: The Complementary Method Step-by-Step" and "Colored Pencils: The Direct Method Step-by-Step"), I began planning the next books.
For me, the entire process is as much fun as drawing or painting. Another creative outlet that I'm happy to have been introduced to.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
For nonfiction books such as my art books, the biggest thrill is knowing that I'm able to help other artists achieve their goals. Hopefully, I'm providing for them the same kinds of tools, tips, and information that I was so hungry for in my early days.
It's also a great validation of the years I've spent at the easel to have artists and non-artists alike purchase my books and read my blog. My thank-you goes out to each one of you (you know who you are). It wouldn't be possible without your support.
What are you working on next?
Books, books, and more books.
And the artwork to illustrate them.
At the moment, the next book to be published is a book on oil painting. Specifically, painting an autumn landscape. I'm hoping it will be available for pre-order by the end of February 2014, with a release date sometime in late March or mid-April.
Beyond that, another colored pencil book is finished at the first draft stage and I'm getting started on an oil painting that is dedicated to an oil painting book on the umber under painting method.
Aside from art books, I'm working on a writing book for writers and my first novel.
All very exciting stuff.
Who are your favorite authors?
When it comes to art books, my favorite authors are Ann Kullberg, Arlene Steinberg, and anyone else who draws in a realistic style. Janie Gildow has an excellent book called Colored Pencil Solution Book, which I highly recommend.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Literally? The cats. We have a six-month old raised from day one after being orphaned and an eleven-year-old. Neither one is the least bit shy about waking us up when it's time to eat.
After that, drawing and painting and writing are the three things at which I spend most of my time. Quite often, I go to sleep at night thinking about one of those things.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Non writing time is pretty evenly divided between the studio (that is my day job, after all) and leisure time.
Studio time is spent on portrait work, doing illustrations for twice-monthly articles with EmptyEasel.com, and the artwork necessary for future art books. I also need to keep up with illustrations for blog posts and painting for exhibits and competitions.
What is your writing process?
With art books, the process is pretty simple.
I work on whatever drawing or painting the book is about. At the end of each work session, I record what I did in great detail. Colors used, methods used, special tools, solvents, mediums, techniques, whatever. I try to record everything because you just never know what might be important.
The first draft of the book progresses at the same rate the artwork does. When the artwork is finished, so is the first draft of the book.
The next steps are revisions and editing. Sometimes three or four rounds of each. When it's finished, it goes to an editor. When it comes back to me, I make whatever revisions might be necessary, then do the formatting and the rest is up to Smashwords.
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design is a matter of finding the right image to indicate the medium coupled with an image of the finished artwork. I try to design covers so that readers and potential readers will have a good idea what the book is about without the words.
The entire process from drawing or painting to writing is a creative process for me. Cover design and processing the illustrations are just other ways to be creative.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.