Note: Henry County artist Marilyn Witt spent her career with the U.S. Postal Service, and then found a new adventure as an artist. She is on the go as she collects ideas for her art, then paints in her home studio or with other artists in New Castle. She also participates in competitions, and does all involved with her second-act career. Marilyn has created the cover art for all three of my books, including the new one, There's a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go. Enjoy a visit with Marilyn.
Q: Marilyn, what do you enjoy about being an artist?
A: Knowing that I am responsible for making someone else happy is one of the most fulfilling feelings a person can experience. Having the ability to move people intellectually or emotionally through something you have made.
It is a good feeling to witness my artwork making others feel or think something; watching someone respond to my artwork in a profound way is one of the best feelings for an artist.
By being an artist, I get to feel the invigorating energy of creativity. You are surrounded by beauty. You get to be surrounded by a community of other artists who share in your experiences.
Whether someone is learning how to become an artist or the artist has been creating for years, an artist community is filled with artists of all ranges and styles. What they have in common is a passion for the act of creating something new that adds value to your world.
And last, by being able to place a monetary value on your creations, you see the worth of what you've made in a dollar amount. Knowing someone will pay money to have your artwork is a special feeling.
Q. Were you artsy earlier in life before the empty nest?
A. I guess in a way I was artsy. I was always doodling, even on my school papers, which wasn't always appreciated by my teachers. I thought more about being a musician or singer, though, when I was younger.
I played the piano and violin and still play the piano. The only thing I considered when younger in the visual arts was being a dress designer. I still wish at times I had pursued it. I drew and cut out outfits for my paper dolls, even sewing or gluing on them bits of lace, rickrack, or tiny beads.
Then when I began sewing, I made clothes for my dolls, and for my cats. I always enhanced my own clothing and my children's. I also designed and made costumes for community theater for the Guyer Opera House.
I didn't begin painting until my children graduated from high school and I began taking art classes at Indiana University East.
Q. What's it like being a cover artist?
A. One of the purposes of a book cover is to draw the attention of curious readers. The book- cover artist needs to be sure that each book cover created is both representative of the contents and spirit of the book and also be attention-grabbing when surrounded by all the other books.
It needs to capture the attention of the reader.
It is interesting and fun to create and design a cover that coincides with the author's visions for their work. I enjoy the challenge of working with the artist and learning their thoughts. Besides, you get to be the first one to read the book.
Q. What was the experience of designing There's a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go like?
A. This is the third book cover I have created for Donna. I enjoyed them all, but this one has been the most challenging, stressful at times, fun, and I think, the most rewarding experience for me, as an artist, of all of them.
It needed to be a unique design and include all the features in the attic to express the mood of the author's writing and the essence of the story.
Coming up with the items for the cover attic that were in the stories in the book was a lot of fun. Next was to design them in a way that is representative of the contents of the book and attention-grabbing when readers are skimming the bookstore shelves.
I wanted a "wow" factor. I think that was the lady with her hands on her hips wondering what in the world she was going to do with all this.
Donna gave me the idea and I had to make her just right. Maybe the hardest thing for me was making sure I didn't overload this one and make it too busy. After all, nearly anything can be in an attic, but this was one particular attic. Or maybe the most difficult was those rafters.
The most enjoyable part was working with the author. Donna knew what she wanted and shared her vision.
I was able to develop a few ideas too for how the cover should look. In the end, I think it was a great experience. I hope for both of us.
Note from Donna: Yes it was, Marilyn. And I can't thank you enough. It is an honor to work with you.
Marilyn is a member of numerous national and local art organizations. Her paintings are in various private and corporate collections in numerous states. Her work may be seen in the Brown County Art Gallery.
Married to Dennis, the couple farm near Straughn. Their family includes a son and a daughter along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Marilyn is active in her church and community.
Connect with her on her website, marilynwittart.com or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.