This past weekend was an epic road trip adventure through the incredible state of Alabama.
Friday started with my book, Amazing Alabama, being used as decorations for the Alabama Society Daughters of the Revolution state conference on Friday afternoon. I was so incredibly honored, and the ladies all LOVED the centerpieces.
After the DAR conference, Maggie and I were joined by our friends, Shannon and Avery, and we headed north! The first stop in our trip was the Florence Lauderdale Public Library for a book talk. We really had a great time learning about Alabama, the history of coloring, and we even learned some new coloring tips and tricks!
After the book talk was over, we enjoyed some local Florence flavor at Trowbridges (who is celebrating their 100th birthday this year). If you eat there, you have to MAKE SURE you get the pineapple orange ice cream, which is on the list of 100 Things to Eat in Alabama Before You Die. It's super creamy and delicious! After filling our bellies, we went to see Leo III and Una, the sibling lions on the campus of UNA, the Rosenbaum house (Alabama's only Frank Lloyd Wright house), and Ivy Green, birthplace of Helen Keller. We even got to see the infamous water well where Annie Sullivan taught her "water".
The next day we drove through Cullman on the way home and stopped at the Ave Maria Grotto. This is one of those hidden gems in the state that everybody should go see at some point in their life. The dedication and artistry of Brother Joseph was incredible.
Backtracking just slightly, I wanted to say that throughout our entire trip, we had fun getting our Past Ports stamped. If you don't have one yet, you can get them HERE. If you don't know what they are, you can learn about them HERE. It's a really cool booklet that's $10 and you can go around on your own epic Alabama road trip getting stamps from all the 67 counties! In fact, you can use it in conjunction with your very own copy of Amazing Alabama - get your Past Port stamped and color the county you're visiting.
Maggie and Avery already have 3 stamps (I've got 4)... how many do you have?
Back before Christmas I had the privilege of meeting Midge Putnam, from Bullock County, at a meeting in Opelika. Midge is like a one-man-band, and I get the idea that she's really good at what all she is involved with! She works with the Red Door Theater, the Tourism Council of Bullock County, she's a Spanish Teacher at Conecuh Springs Christian School, she's an active mom, and she's also really involved in the local Girl Scouts! Anyway, we started talking about ways she could get me down to Union Springs for a series of book talks. It started out small (I was just going to come to a local bookclub and talk), but I had no idea how incredible this day would turn out to be!
Several weeks ago, after she and I had already nailed down our plans for the bookclub talk, she sent me an excited email saying that ALL the 4th graders in Bullock County were getting their very own copy of my book, and would I mind coming a bit early to visit the schools.
We visited 2 schools that day - the first one being Union Springs Elementary School Those kids were so excited and they asked really incredible questions. They quietly looked through their books and followed along as I talked about several of our state's 67 counties. Their Principal, Marvin Lowe, really should be proud of his smart, excited kids who are so eager to learn. And at Conecuh Springs Christian School, we were joined by Debbie Collins' sweet 4th grade class to learn all about Bullock County, coloring, the Bicentennial, and a whole host of other things that our state's 67 counties have to offer!
A HUGE "Thank You" to people like Midge who see how endless the possibilities are when it comes to educating our youth and getting kids EXCITED about learning. I know Amazing Alabama is a coloring book, but if I can get just one person to show a new interest in something they learn about our incredible state, then I think I've done my job!
Y'all, I LOVE seeing your gorgeous coloring pictures from Amazing Alabama. It's so exciting to see how much everyone is enjoying coloring in their books. Whether you color with crayons, colored pencils, markers or felt tip pens... I would LOVE to see your beautiful artistry!
Please tag #amazingalabama or @alabama.pen.paper if you post to Instagram or Facebook so I will definitely see your fun colored Amazing Alabama county pages!
There's something cathartic about sitting down with a box of colored pencils to color. Not only does coloring relax the soul, but it's really a wonderful experience to see something come to life on the page in front of you.
Something different altogether is coloring with a child. I wouldn't say that coloring with my 11 year old is exactly RELAXING. Yes, she may ask 50 questions per minute about what color I'm using, or what shade of blue she should use here, or how she should blend this section, but it's definitely a sweet bonding experience.
Last Saturday she woke up and asked me for her very own copy of Amazing Alabama so we could color together.
Cue the waterworks...
So for a large portion of the morning last Saturday, she and I sat on the back porch using my "good colored pencils" and coloring... together... talking... spending time together.
Last week was "week #1"...
I have to say, NewSouth Books is an AWESOME indie publisher who knows the value of grassroots marketing. They have come up with some SUPER ideas to promote the book! Last week we started out with an Alabama Living Magazine interview, an interview with Fred Hunter of Absolutely Alabama, and the Good Day Alabama morning show (WRBC Fox6) in Birmingham.
After I left WRBC, I headed to the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest for a kid's after school coloring party! We had so much fun learning about different kinds of colored pencils, gel pens, felt tip pens, hatching/cross hatching, stippling, and we EVEN learned how to turn your Crayola markers into watercolor paints (yes, the paper is thick enough in Amazing Alabama that you can even PAINT in it without bleed-through)!
Toward the end of the week I was in Huntsville at the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism Association's annual meeting at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. That facility is gorgeous, the grounds are immaculate, and the food was incredible (especially the cupcakes).
It's always nice to find a community of like-minded people. In my case, being a work-from-home freelance designer, it's something I've been craving! A creative space with other creatives. Artists and artisans to share ideas with and sell our craft.
On June 1, 2017, my dream came true.
Welcome to The Local Market in Auburn, AL! Owner and fellow artist, Lauren Duncan, had the same dream I had when she breathed life into this wonderful gallery/marketplace. It's an incredible space filled with artwork, handmade jewelry, clothing, woodwork, pottery, local yarn, farm fresh produce, pickles, paper goods - you name it! All of it is from artists around the great state of Alabama.
All of us commit to work several hours here-and-there, and it's really fun to see what's new. The Local Market has been a great way to make new friends and learn about other people's craft.
The Local Market has classes that range from after school painting classes to morning art classes for tots to beginning watercolor to floral arranging, pickle canning, travel journaling, and so much more. There is really something for everyone - beginner to seasoned artist.Last Saturday we had a free coloring party with a custom coloring sheet I did of the Local Market. It was SUCH a great time!
Here is a little of what I have for sale at The Local Market. On November 1, we're having an after school Amazing Alabama book launch party and signing - with lemonade and cookies. I hope to see everyone there!
I've been working diligently on a project for the past year that I'm super happy to FINALLY be able to talk freely about!
Amazing Alabama: A Coloring Book Journey Through Alabama's 67 Counties has definitely been a labor of love and I have thoroughly enjoyed driving around the state and researching to find just the right image(s) for each county. Each one of Alabama's 67 counties has its own individual page - full of drawings (about their history, architecture, topography, plants, livestock, etc.) and a little bit about the history of the county.
I'm working with New South Books based in Montgomery and I'm excited to announce that my book will be available November 1st. Check out the press release here. EEEK!! I have a PRESS RELEASE!! More on how to purchase at a later date, but I know you will be able to purchase from New South's store.
I'm going to leave you with my bio page from the back of Amazing Alabama
So, I usually try to avoid drawing people. I don't know why, but it has always been something that doesn't come too easy for me. I usually gravitate toward buildings or organic subjects like flowers, trees, etc. Lately I've been trying to break out of my comfort zone and try my hand at drawing things I'm not that comfortable with.
This past December I decided to draw our Christmas Card. It's increasingly difficult trying to get all of us together (smiling, dressed appropriately, etc.) for a photograph, so I had the bright idea to draw us. Now since there are 6 of us (plus 2 animals) you may think I'm either crazy or a glutton for punishment... but I think it turned out pretty well! Nothing fancy, just simple line drawings and a bit about each of us.
After that success, My publisher decided she wanted a caricature for the bio page in my new book, Amazing Alabama. Well, I tried several iterations (DEFINITELY had to have the body in there - the "floating head" wasn't a good look) and settled on this one. And I'm even "wearing" the same thing I did in my photo shoot the other day! LOVE!!