Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Quotes, Quips, and Wisdom 4 30 19

Monday Creek Publishing
Quotes, Quips, and Wisdom
Follow us on fb Monday Creek Publishing








Monday Creek Publishing
Quotes, Quips, and Wisdom
Follow us on fb Monday Creek Publishing

Monday, April 29, 2019

Milliron Monday: Hangin' Out With Kelly 4 29 19

Abbott "Pete" Smith, D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010

Photo: Kelly Lincoln with her Mustang "Fiesta"

Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017). A graduate of Colorado State University and a well-known veterinarian in southeast Ohio, Dr. Smith continues to motivate and inspire. 

Several years ago, interviewing former Milliron Clinic employees and clients for Dr. Smith's biography, I traveled with Jessica and Jody to Marietta to meet a longtime friend of the Smith family, Kelly Lincoln. Arriving at Kelly's historical Marietta estate - Fernwood Farm and Studio - we were welcomed into the living room to sit by the fire and talk about old times. There was much to talk about. 

Kelly is an avid equestrian (her work with horses is extensive) and the proprietor of Fernwood Farm and Studio. Kelly holds a BFA from Pratt Institute, New York, School of Art and Design, Print Making. She is a prolific artist, creating fantastic imagery that has been exhibited in museums... and more. Her art is whimsical and heartfelt, embracing life experiences and magical places. 

Kelly designed and created the interior art for Dr. Smith's Tails of a Country Vet. I enjoyed working with Kelly on Tails. Since, we have collaborated with another author, Mark M. Dean, and his illustrations for The Adventures of Coal & Andy: Charlie the Catfish (Monday Creek Publishing 2018). Kelly is currently writing and illustrating her own children's book Snowflake

Besides being an artist and maintaining her estate, Kelly and her husband, Mark, run Fernwood Farm. It is home to their pig rescue and recovery, homing quality pigs for 4-H projects and breeding programs. 

Kelly once worked for Dr. Smith at Milliron Clinic as a vet assistant. After taking her own horse to Dr. Smith for treatment, she became a friend to the Smith family, working at the clinic, and riding (many) horseback trails alongside the Smiths. The story of one of Kelly's encounters with Dr. Smith and how he saved her horse will be in the upcoming Tails of a Country Vet II

These days I see Kelly about every other week and we text at least twice a day. She sends me photos of her Fernwood Farm menagerie - horses, pigs, chickens, sheep. Recently she was featured in The Marietta Times. Read the article here.

Stay tuned for more stories from Kelly and Fernwood Farm as we dive further into the Smith archives. Enjoy the week ahead!

Do you have a story about Dr. Smith and Milliron Farm/Clinic? Send me an email gmcknight11@gmail.com!

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Monday, April 22, 2019

Milliron Monday: Coffee with Jerry 4 22 19

Abbott "Pete" Smith, D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010

Middle Photo: Jerry Hartley, April 19, 2019
Bottom Right Photo: Jody Smith, Dr. Smith, Jerry Hartley, Fritz Bookman

Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017). A graduate of Colorado State University and a well-known veterinarian in southeast, Ohio, Dr. Smith continues to motivate and inspire. 

There is nothing more exciting to see a friend that you haven't seen for several years. This was the case last Friday when Jerry Hartley stopped by the barn. We started talking where we had left off - about Milliron Clinic, Dr. Smith, and all the wild and woolly antics from long ago. 

I first met Jerry on June 4, 2013. He came to my barn office to interview for Dr. Smith's biography. Jody (Smith) was there, too. Jerry and Jody spent hours reminiscing about farm calls, surgeries, endurance rides, trail rides, horses, and life with Dr. Smith.  Jerry, like Dr. Smith and his family, is a horseman. At one time, he stabled over 20 mares, along with an award-winning AQHA stallion. 

Jerry's horse stories are the best - one of my favorite stories is about Junco, the beautiful white New Forest Pony who was the prize stallion of two sisters from Rockbridge, Ohio, but destined to become the star of Milliron Farm. Jerry tells the story best...

     A man from Rockbridge purchased New Forest Ponies directly from England. He had the only herd of New Forest Ponies in the United States at the time. The man died and left his ponies to his two daughters. 
     Junco, one of their stallions was up for sale. When I went to see Junco, the sisters told me he was a bit wild and sometimes difficult. The sisters were surprised when Junco loaded right into my trailer without any hesitation. 
     I had the stallion for several months when a woman from Canada called and said she wanted to buy Junco. I sent her pictures and agreed to sell him to her. The Canadian woman came to see Junco and she really liked him. He was a beautiful horse. The woman said she did not like Junco's mane, his tail was not perfect, and his hooves were not right. 
     Well, the woman was trying to convince me that Junco was not worth the price I was asking. I was upset; Junco was perfect the way he was and for the woman to degrade the stallion in that manner was unacceptable! The woman went up to my house to get a cup of coffee. I picked up the phone and called Dr. Smith. "Pete, what are you doing tomorrow? Set me up an appointment to castrate Junco." 
     The woman overheard my conversation with Pete. She said, "No! I want to buy Junco the way he is!" 
     I said in a loud voice to her, "Ma'am, I have never sold a horse that bad to anybody in my life, and I'm not going to sell it tonight!" 
     The next day, I took Junco to Pete for castration. I gave Junco to Jody that day. Jody broke Junco to pull a cart. She will tell you that Junco was one of the best horses she ever had. 


Jody and Junco spent many hours together through Milliron Farm and the surrounding trails. The team placed third in the Senior Division of the Ohio State Trail horse championship when Junco was 28 years old. He lived to be 35. 

I can't wait to visit with Jerry again. So many horse stories. All over coffee with Jerry.

Do you have a story about Dr. Smith and Milliron Farm/Clinic? Send me an email gmcknight11@gmail.com!

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

An Interview with Children's Literature Author Kaitlin Kulich


Kaitlin Kulich is the author of Pawpaw is My Favorite Flavor! Launched in 2018, Kaitlin’s book is available in hardcover with beautiful illustrations by Ohio artist Laura Dobrota. Graduating next month from Ohio University, Kaitlin has a lifetime of writing and creativity ahead! With the success of her first book and plenty of charisma to propel her career, we wish Kaitlin all the best as she follows her dreams…

GM: Your new children's book Pawpaw is My Favorite Flavor! is adorable! How did you come up with the idea?
KK: I have come to really love the history and culture of Southeast Ohio. That being said, I really wanted not only to showcase this beautiful part of the State but give back to the community that I fell in love with ever since I arrived here my freshman year at Ohio University. I have always loved reading and writing thanks to my mom who was an elementary teacher for many years and I have always loved working with for kids at various camps I have been a part of. So I developed this dream to one day to write a children's book but I didn't know what to write about until I went to my first Pawpaw Festival. After learning about pawpaws and tasting them I wanted more people to know about this fruit and to encourage kids to try new ( and healthy) foods. And I thought a book would be a perfect way to do that!

GM: Reading to groups of children, attending book signing events, and sharing your book with the world is rewarding. To date, what venue have you enjoyed the most and where is your next book event?
KK: Reading to classrooms and libraries has been such a blast! The questions and comments I get from kids after reading them my book, showing them some pawpaw seeds I have collected, and teaching them a pawpaw song are just amazing. It's so wonderful to see how interested the kiddos become about pawpaws and how excited they get when they tell me they have written short stories of their own. I enjoy every event I have done but one that stands out the most is when I read to a crowd of about 200 kids at the Stark County Library in Canton, Ohio. The kids where such great listeners and they asked so many questions and even wrote me thank you notes! I go back and read those notes often and they instantly fill me with joy. My next event will be April 11th at Near West Intergenerational School in Cleveland Heights!

GM: Writers are always writing, coming up with new ideas. How do you maintain thoughts and ideas for storylines?
KK: I really like pairing characters who are different in age. In my book, the two characters are a little boy and his grandpa. I myself feel like I learn a lot and connect really well with people who are younger and older than me. Writing about people with different ages and backgrounds allows for a wide range of people to connect with the story. I also read A TON of books ( I never leave my house without a book in my purse just in case I have downtime during the day to read). So, reading other people's stories also keeps my mind thinking about how certain plot lines and ideas can make for great stories.

GM: What are you currently writing?
KK: For lent this year I have decided to write letters to people in my life I really care about or who I feel I need to reconnect with. I have found the letters are not only enjoyed by the people I send them to but allow me to really dig deep within myself and discover what challenges I am facing currently and what challenges I have been able to overcome. I also have an idea for a new children's book! I haven't started writing it yet but it will involve a young girl, her grandma, and a fishing trip on Lake Cable ( a lake I grew up on in Canton, Ohio).
 
GM: Who is your favorite author?    
KK: This is so hard! Right now I would say my favorite author is Fredrik Backman. He is the author of many books - A Man Called Ove and My Grandma Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry are just two. Many of his books are about relationships between a young child and an older man or women (what I like to write about too!). He is able to touch on some dark themes while still being able to incorporate humor charm.

GM: Do you have advice for novice writers?
KK: Don't let anything make you feel like your writing isn't good enough. I have dyslexia and for most of my childhood, I was ashamed of my writing and embarrassed to show even a simple school paper to my own mother. But I have built up some confidence and have seen the importance of letting other people see and criticize my work- it has only made me a better writer and all around more confident person. Spell check was made for a reason! 

GM: List 10 things your fans may not know about you...
KK: 1) I have PKU. A genetic disorder that hinders my ability to break down certain proteins. But thanks to modern medicine, I'm able to eat more food ever since 2008.

2) Pigs are my favorite animal and I really want to have my own one day!

3) I'm vegan (so my pig will not be eaten). Having PKU made it easier for me to give up meat and dairy since I couldn't have those foods until  turned twelve

4) I love hiking and have hiked part of the Balkans Trail through Kosovo, Montenegro, and Albania

5)I'm currently a reporter for WOUB TV in Athens and love creating stories about Southeast Ohio for our nightly TV news show

6) I was born in Atlanta Georgia on July 6th, the same birthday as President George W. Bush

7) One of my first words I spoke was chien, which means dog in French. My mother was a French teacher and she spoke French to me as a baby

8)My favorite TV show is Golden Girls and my favorite Golden Girl is Rose Nylund ( AKA Beatty White)

9) I can do some pretty good bird calls- especially the Quail

10) When I grow up I want to work for PBS Kids and continue to write books for children!

Connect with Kaitlin…
Twitter   Instagram    




Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Monday, April 15, 2019

Milliron Monday: The Rainbow Bridge 4 22 19

Abbott "Pete" Smith, D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010

Animals are great. 
Greg Gutfeld

Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017). A graduate of Colorado State University and a well-known veterinarian in southeast, Ohio, Dr. Smith continues to motivate and inspire. 

Recently one of my close friends lost a pet. Even though the pet was elderly and had a full life, the trip to the veterinarian for a sad diagnosis of a fatal disease was not easy. Many of us have experienced this trip - an ill pet on the car seat or floorboard, in dire need of medical care. 

Over 57% of USA households are pet owners. We are lost when one of our pets dies, but I wonder how often we stop to think how many times a veterinarian must tell a pet owner that their pet will never recover. 

Losing a pet is never easy. If you're facing the loss of a pet, don't hesitate to find counseling to deal with your loss. We have comfort knowing our pets have crossed the Rainbow Bridge...




Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Milliron Monday: Visiting with Nancy 4 8 19


Nancy Bonnett riding Midnight Blue Lad (Laddy)
Abbott "Pete" Smith, D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010


Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017). A graduate of Colorado State University and a well-known veterinarian in southeast, Ohio, Dr. Smith continues to motivate and inspire. 


A long-time client and friend of Dr. Smith, Nancy Bonnett knows horses. An award-winning equestrian, Nancy has accolades, trophies, and ribbons for all of her hard work with horses. But, most of all, she has a common sense approach to horses and being an equestrian - she is wise and a friend to horses.

Nancy lives in West Virginia, a good jaunt from Milliron Clinic in SE Ohio. Last week, Nancy traveled to Ohio and we had a nice visit. We talked about her horses, her family, and Dr. Smith. Most of the time when vetting in West Virginia, Dr. Smith would take Nancy on farm calls to assist. Nancy has seen just about everything - from the perils of critical equine ailments, to the birth of beautiful horses, to Dr. Smith refusing to surgically "cut the nerves" in a show horse's tail so the tail doesn't move.

The photo above is Nancy riding Midnight Blue Lad (Laddy), Nancy’s prize stallion. Laddy was the star of Rolling Hills Stables, a once-in-a-lifetime horse that every rider envies. A quiet disposition and kind heart, Laddy will always be remembered. He is buried in the pet cemetery down the road from Nancy’s stable. A stone proudly marks Laddy’s grave, along with a sentiment of love from Nancy.

You will find Nancy in the deep hills of West Virginia, maintaining Rolling Hills Stables with her husband Jim, loving her horses, remembering Laddy, and reminiscing about Dr. Smith.

Read Nancy's memories of Dr. Smith in Milliron: The Biography. See more photos of Rolling Hills Stables here.

Thank you, Nancy, for your friendship.




"A dream came true when we found each other, my beautiful and majestic friend. Most important is love of the horse. A horse will overcome it's inborn shyness and gain confidence; the fundamental foundation for mutual understanding with the person whose love it feels."
Nancy Bonnett for Laddy

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Stone Horses: An Interview with Elaine Stone by Gina McKnight

Elaine Stone of The Peter Stone Company: Stone Horses

Stone Horses: An Interview with Elaine Stone
Archived from the March 2019 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No Duplication Without Permission

Attending Equine Affaire last year, I ran into the booth of Stone Horses. They create stunning likeness of horses. Hand-painted and life-like, each model horse has a unique flair that reflects the creator.

In 1951, Sam Stone began creating model horses. In 1966, Peter, Sam’s son, became the proprietor of Stone Horses, carrying on his father’s tradition of quality craftsmanship. Based in Shipshewana, Indiana, USA, the Peter Stone Company, aka Stone Horses, customizes and hand-paints every horse. Their Portrait Horse Program replicates your favorite horse. The Design-A-Horse Program lets you create and design your own horse. Elaine Stone tells us more about the process and creating the perfect model horse…

Welcome, Elaine!

GM: Your creations are beautiful! What are the steps in creating a Stone Horse?
ES: After research and thought about the breed and how the horse should stand, we commission an artist (we use some of the 'best' equine artists in the world) to sculpt a resin model, 1/9th scale, in a pose often selected by the hobbyists, sometimes the artist, and sometimes with the help of professionals that work with a particular breed.

After working with the artists to capture the body and mood, the finished resin is sent to the mold maker where an injection mold is made which produces two halves that must be bonded together.  Intricate fixtures must be made to cool, soak, and cement these parts.

Then, unless the model is modified and customized by one of Stone Horses' plastic surgeons, legs are straightened, masking material applied, then sent off to the paint room to have, often, many thin layers of color applied by our specially skilled and talented artisans!

GM: How do you select a breed and pose to become a Stone Horse?
ES: Molds of different breeds have been selected over the years for many different reasons. These days our model horse collectors are screaming for a draft horse foal, for instance. So, you bet that is one of the next molds to appear in our lineup!

GM: How do they transform into a mold? What are they made of?
ES: From the mold maker...to the molder! The raw horse figurines, molded of Cellulose Acetate (a wonderful high quality vegetable based plastic) come to the Stone Horses factory with raw edges along seams and other imperfections that must be first ground off and then triple washed by hand in an Acetone bath. 

GM: A delicate process, finally, the horse gets painted. What is the painting process...and how does someone become a Stone Horses artist?
ES: Special paint is used that adheres to Acetate.  The depth of color and realism is AMAZING! We also have lots of fun painting and decorating (some to look like precious stones--no pun intended--such as turquoise, opal, etc.), and fun creating fantasy horses too--Unicorns and Pegasus!

There are many steps in between, but one of the final steps I feel important to mention, after finish coat is applied is the 10--15 steps to painting the horse's eyes! This final step breathes life into the horse!

GM: How do you find creative artists and talented painters?
ES: Blessed to have amazing talent...some of which have come to us that way and others that have developed their skills over the years working at Stone Horses...we are always looking for new painters, as well as customizers.

GM: Where is your next big event and how can buyers connect with you?
ES: We have several events during the year…one coming up in Shipshewana during Mayfest...called Stone Horses Country Fair.  Our theme this year is Mad About Plaid! You can find out about this fun event and others by becoming our Facebook friend--the Peter Stone Company-- or by visiting our website--www.stonehorses.com.  All are welcome to visit Stone Horses, take a tour to see "HOW" the horses are made and visit our store right in Shipshewana.

Connect with Stone Horses at major equine events throughout the USA. Visit their website to create your own custom model horse.

Gina McKnight is a freelance writer from Ohio USA. www.gmcknight.com







Tuesday, April 2, 2019

An Interview with Fine Artist Erica Magnus


An Interview with Fine Artist Erica Magnus
by Gina McKnight

In 2018, I had the great opportunity to work with Fine Artist Erica Magnus. She designed and created a full-color book cover for new author T.W.Harvey, for his historical fiction Seeing the Elephant: One Man's Return to the Horror's of the Civil War. After many months of research, sketches, collaboration, and hard work, Erica finished Harvey's cover, which is dynamic in all respects, representing an historic scenario from the Civil War. 

Erica, an author and illustrator of her own books, shares her biography in brief...

Erica Magnus majored in Painting, earning her BFA from The Minneapolis College of Art & Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota, during which time she also studied Painting and Sculpture abroad for two years at Atelier ’63, Stichting Academe, in Haarlem, The Netherlands. She went on to complete her MFA at the School of Art in Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, where she had first moved to work with Buckminster Fuller’s World Game Workshop. Her professional careers span multiple years of applying her art to freelance work in publishing as author and illustrator of children’s books and book covers, as well as graphic novel design and development. In Los Angeles she worked in pre-production art for film and television as storyboard, concept, and creature design artist and illustrator. Throughout her years of freelancing she consistently taught, and continues to teach, art classes to students of all ages with the majority held in art centers throughout the country.  She also teaches private art lessons to gifted children and highly motivated art students of every age.  Sharing her skills directly in collaboration with other professionals and teaching others how to develop their own skills have always brought and continue to bring her a great sense of fulfillment and enjoyment.

Welcome, Erica!

GM: Erica, I adore your art. When did you realize you wanted to become a full-time fine artist?
EM: It was never a decision made in my mind; it was an inner recognition of something that was Real with a capital R; a connection of what was outside me with what was inside me. I had no name for it. Very simply, I drew pictures as most kids do, with crayons on whatever paper was around. When I was about to draw I felt scared and excited and full of wonder, like anyone facing the unknown, which is what the empty paper held. Pure potential. Then I would choose intuitively which color was inside me and make the colors move across the paper so I could see them outside me. That potential and I would play together. I felt very real, very whole, and in touch with something that came through me and was me at the same time. That feeling was something I never wanted to give up so I stayed with the activity of drawing which later became painting so I could keep finding it again and again. Still doing it, so I guess that could mean I am still a “full-time” fine artist, but like for most people I didn’t have the luxury of full-time focus on just my artwork; Life has her own purposes for us, and the more I live the more I agree with Her. But earlier, when that felt like an interruption of my own plans and I lived with people, to meet my basic human needs, and contribute something others needed, I chose to apply my art skills as a freelancer. I said yes to anything and everything that would let me keep drawing. It drew on my skills and helped me learn new skills which I also value. But applying your skills is not the same thing as directly engaging them and building a relationship with the act of painting, drawing, or with any of the art forms we know. As may who make this choice discover, if that original personal connection is neglected, it can gradually be starved of its oxygen and sometimes it may seem like you have “lost it”. I don’t believe that is true, but I recognize the fear that it is. You really have to put yourself back in the relationship and work with it. Its sort of a combination of a reclamation project and panning for the gold of your own life with only your own self. Maybe it is a kind of alchemy.

Now, after a lifetime of freelance artwork supporting and giving form to the visions of many, many other people, I can say that it feels really good to have made room in my life again for this original relationship I felt so powerfully at three.

GM: The book cover you designed and painted for T.W. Harvey's Seeing the Elephant: One Man's Return to the Civil War is stunning. What mediums did you use to make the cover? How long did it take you to finish the artwork?
EM: I appreciate the kind words about the cover design and artwork. However, I am very aware that no matter how well done or beautiful the art for a cover is, it is only a step in the process of making a book, and in the end is only good if it helps sell the book. In publishing the cover is a marketing device charged with drawing attention to the book, attracting the interest of potential readers, and encouraging them to buy it. If the author is well known his or her name appears in big bold print of some kind and illustrations are rarely used because the author’s reputation already sells the book and the name recognition is all that is needed.

The choice I made for the book design; a wraparound cover was specifically done to draw attention to a first-time novelist’s book in the very crowded genre of American Civil War literature. I decided that it had to be a work of fine art and not an illustration because the personal nature of the source material would be important to get across clearly and at a glance. The Editor agreed with me that a full-color original drawing to be used as a wraparound cover rather than a single front cover generic image of southern and northern soldiers clashing would draw the most attention and invite people to take a closer look.

I felt watercolor with watercolor pencil on a 300 lb. watercolor paper would be best. My experience with that medium showed it translates well to printed materials and can be very flexible when changes and adjustments might be needed. This turned out was very important as the way of making the cover. Over the course of preparing the book for publication, the editing of the initially large manuscript continued to change the original dimensions of the spine width initially provided me. It took the editor much longer than originally expected, so while I had completely worked out the cover art in thumbnail form, I could not complete the final art until the spine width was firmly established. This is because the spine width would determine the final placement of figures on the front and back of the cover. Quite tricky when you have committed to a wraparound design and probably why you don’t see it done very often. Once the final dimensions were given I readjusted the layout of all the figure placement so finishing the final art took almost a month.

During the months I waited to get the go ahead to the art, I continued to do many thumbnail sketches based on extensive research into all things civil war; the clothing, equipment, weapons, buttons, insignia of both sides and more; on every detail that would make the scene the most believable. Even though most of it would not appear in the final art, I knew I had to be very aware of the details so as not step on those many civil war enthusiast’s toes who are extremely knowledgeable on this subject.

GM: Spending days at the library and online researching your subject(s) is evident in the final art. The cover is definitely a perfect fit for the manuscript and readers will recognize the scene after reading the book. What type of character/scene research was required?
EM: The author had chosen the subject he wanted to see used and I completely agreed it was the best choice for the cover art. He provided me with several manuscript pages that described the moment of the Union surrender to the Confederate Army at the 2nd Battle of Winchester in Northern Virginia. Everything I included on the cover was based on his two manuscript pages and some of his notes regarding rank, dress, and ages of the main characters. This included descriptions and insights on his relative, the Union 2nd Lieutenant, learned from the letters he had found. He was very helpful throughout my process, answering many questions I had on details of dress and equipment quickly and to the point.

From this manuscript platform however, I had to take a free-fall dive into very unfamiliar territory. My family came to America in 1923 and as a first-generation American of Norwegian immigrants raised to be European and with plans to return there, I had very little knowledge of and no Southern or Northern allegiances based on a Civil War legacy as many people here do have.

In all my work involving illustrations from children’s books to TV monsters, I do massive amounts of research and this cover demanded far more than anything I had done before. I was overwhelmed with the sheer volume of people who are involved in this sub-culture that clusters around this important event in America’s existence. Realizing this put me on the spot to get more than one man’s personal story visually correctly but everything else that it touched upon. The characters were not limited to the ones in the book, but included the time of day of the actually historical event, the weather, the landscape and the placement of the soldiers within it, what stage of the war had been reached and how that determined how each army, each soldier within that army might look at that point in the conflict, to name just a few. You always research much more than you ever use and I worked hard to keep the focus on the concept the book is bringing to readers. In this case, everything I chose to include, and all the things I did not include, had to work together to keep the context of the story clear for potential readers. I did an enormous number of quick sketches, thumbnails and character studies throughout my research.

GM: Describe your studio...
EM: Oddly, this winter I now have studio spaces instead of working at my actual studio in the Amesville ACRE (Amesville Community Resource for Entrepreneurs) building, which is too big for me to heat and hovers around 34ยบ F in the winter months, The wonderful wall of old single pane glass windows goes from waist high to the ceiling and the north light is great…once it warms up sometime on May. The cinderblocks hold in the cold for quite a while, which can be a plus in a hot summer and I can work well in there throughout the fall. Now not so much! It was originally the Amesville Elementary School and I have met quite a few local people who went to school there. My room was once the first-grade classroom. I really love being part of the Amesville community and still consider myself a “resident” (as once I was for six months when I had only my studio to live in).

One of my other studio spaces is my tiny home which I call my “cabin” where I live between Athens and Amesville about two miles from Strouds Run.

GM: Who is your favorite artist(s)?
EM: I will limit my response to favorite visual artists.
No matter if the artists are well known or unknown, I am most attracted to works that let me feel I can breathe. I mean by this they create a believable space I can enter, either a physical, imagined, or emotional place where the language of color supports the context in which it appears.

I am very fond of Alice Neel’s paintings; many of her works are oil portraits. She seems to paint the inside of people as she experiences their energy. I really like Edvard Munch, a Norwegian painter whose color palette really captures the light, the feel of that country. I also like seeing how his work changes and becomes freer, more exuberant in his later years. When I saw pieces of Japanese sculptor Isamu Naguchi’s beautiful simple stone pieces; so elegant and serene, they resonated deeply with me. The Ohio University Art Professor, Abner Jonas prints, and many other local artists around the country as I moved with my family, have made art where that special connection shines. However, in all honesty, I have to say that it is the work of Hermine Magnus, my mother, that has affected me the most profoundly as I watched her painting throughout my childhood. On visits in those years after I left home, and over the span of her lifetime of painting, I witnessed her whole journey as an artist so intimately. It helped me understand how art is a relationship with one’s inmost self and is not a smooth road She was a powerful and passionate painter who suffered her own deep self-doubts, as a woman and as an artist. who lived 101 years, Her work can hold its own anywhere even though she did not get involved with galleries and gave most of her art to family members. Because painting was my own choice as well, living with her did not make anything easier and often increased my own self-doubts. Still, having watched her painting process my whole life I will have to say as I live and keep working, the benefits of this personal exposure are now outweighing the problems it brought me earlier in my life and she is way up at the top of my favorite artist list.

GM: What are you currently working on/creating?
EM: I am happy to say I am clearing away old mostly paper debris from my art spaces which include past freelance work and taking a fresh look at a number of paintings already started to see if I still want to work on them.

As for what I am currently working on, from the many years of signing book, film, and television contracts, I got in the habit of not discussing actual works in process. That habit has set in so to speak, especially when I am at the beginning of a new piece or series. Suffice it to say I am happy to be returning to my original passion for drawing and painting and re-grounding myself in a fine arts direction after decades of freelancing were the focus necessarily had to be on developing and manifesting the visions of other people through the skills I have acquired so far.

GM: As an art instructor, where are you teaching and do you have room for new artists?
EM: I’ve been spending most of my time this year developing several painting and drawing classes for the Dairy Barn Art Center in Athens. The Education Director there, Lyn Stanton, has done a brilliant job helping me find ways to present what I can offer in ways that reach people throughout this region. I am currently teaching a new portrait drawing class as well as repeating the painting class form the winter session in their spring session.

I am also teaching private drawing lessons including but not limited to gifted students in the Athens area. Several have been junior high and high school teenagers wanting to qualify for summer art programs offered by art schools around the country. Other very driven students know they want to get into an art school and are deeply committed to honing their skills. I teach them strong foundational drawing basics based on an initial assessment of their artwork; everything from doodles to paintings, ceramics;, whatever they choose to bring to the meeting. I work with them in the skill areas I feel they need to strengthen to produce a good, solid portfolio where their work will stand out with confidence. I am impressed with every one of these focused creative people.

I am not teaching in the summer but will continue to offer painting and other classes at the Dairy Barn during their fall, winter and spring sessions. Private lessons will also be available as requested and often people find me by word of mouth. I was fortunate to teach in the excellent space available at Arts West which a parent rented for our two-hour drawing lessons that worked well for the family’s needs, and mine. This solved the problem of little space at their home, the current heating logistics at my studio in the winter months, and provided a convenient central location for the student who went on to other commitments after our classes.

Currently, I have been asked to help set up an exciting new series of “how to” workshops with Village Productions in Amesville, some of which will include several skills based on my publishing experiences with books, film and television preproduction work and Stills.

I count myself very fortunate to live in this beautiful area and to be surrounded by so many people from all kinds of backgrounds, so rich in every kind of experience and motivated to innovate. Teaching allows me to keep affirming this quality in people as all of us work to value and express our humanity and build respect for the resourcefulness of humans and our human resources.


GM: You have written and illustrated several children's books. Do you see another children's lit in your future?
EM: Ideas for books do keep popping up from time to time, and I still have several proposals that might see the light of day eventually, but I have no immediate plans to go in that direction at this time. If I do decide to publish again, I would go through the submission process I know best and send my work to the established trade publishing houses as I have done in the past.

I recognize that the online publishing world moves very quickly and has many ways to put work out that can draw the attention of far larger audiences at a phenomenal pace than the one worked in as an author and illustrator. It has certainly had very big repercussions in the established publishing world, on everything from marketing and distribution. But in the end, all I care about is putting out the highest quality of work I possibly can, working with good people of integrity who also want to make the very best book or film or painting or anything that they can, individually and collectively, in any creative collaboration.

GM: Do you have advice for novice artists/illustrators?
EM: My advice is to not load yourself up or down with too much advice, including mine. I can share what works for me but I don’t pretend that I can advise anyone else on how to approach their work. That said…

I recommend you jump in completely with both feet and use whatever tools, including crayons and paper bags that are handy and already available. We never asked these kinds of questions when we were kids, right? And, that is exactly the “you” that you need to get in touch with. I am not talking about “imitating” the way you perceive kids draw, but really get in touch with the feeling you had when you were first just drawing because you felt like doing it.

The art process of each person is so personal and connected to the individual’s experience of themselves and their lives, that I believe they probably have the best advice inside their own selves, meaning their real authentic selves, not their egos. accessing that will pull you to the right information, the right class for you, or some media that feels right for how you want to express whatever it is you feel you have to say.

On a practical level, if you are already committed to making art, here is a bit of what works for me.

If you are involved in drawing or painting and either have never done it before or are trying to restart after an absence from it, I find that to begin, setting aside a minimum of two uninterrupted hours a day works. Ideally, you have a studio space or room in your home that you have to yourself. If that is not possible, claim a space for the two hours you will be focusing on what you want to do and make it clear you should not be interrupted. Just be with the activity, even if nothing seems to happen. Set up some objects to draw, like a bowl, a fruit, something from nature. Or just doodle and see what comes out of it. Sticking to this, even if you do not like the results, or don’t believe anything will come of it, will keep that door open. You are creating the habit of working consistently. Think of it as flossing your art skills and before long three, then four or more hours will fly by. You are building a relationship, a partnership with your materials and the process is just as much the medium telling you what it wants as it is you steering it.

Connect with Erica...
Monday Creek Publishing
Biblio.com
www.ericamagnus.wordpress.com/
Scholastic
Ohio University Swallow Press