Recording Day!

Today, BETWIXT and I begin a bit of a new journey.  We’ve been working on this new project for a while, mostly individually, but, we are bringing it all together today for a recording session.  Our goal is to eventually pitch our work to PBS or some other children’s network as an animated series.  Unfortunately, none of us knows animation.  But, we’re not letting that stop us.

Awhile back, I rewrote Sylvia McBye Learns To Fly, as a script instead of a children’s book manuscript.  And I grabbed 3 of my children for the parts of Zack, Paxton, and Sylvia.  One of my kids, the oldest boy, was stricken with a huge case of very dramatic stage fright combined with the issues that go along with being 14.  Seeing as it wasn’t worth the fight, I “fired” him from his job–he was thrilled–and “hired” a friend of my 11 year old son to fill the part.  It was probably a wise choice anyway.  The 14 year old’s voice was deepening quite a bit, so he may not have been the best Paxton.

Yesterday, I got my cast together to do some run-throughs.  And it’s funny.  The 8 year old girl is much louder and more emotive than two 11 year old boys.  After coaching and cajoling, however, I think it’s going to work.  TJ and Jared of BETWIXT will be here this afternoon with recording equipment.  I will send the 14 year old and the dog to the movies (or someplace) and we will capture these kids doing what they do–I wish I could say “on tape” here, but it doesn’t work that way anymore.  Digital is the name of the game; there is no tape to be found in this process.  So, I’m going to stop blogging right here, and pick up this afternoon when we have finished the recording.  Hang on…

Several hours pass….

Hey there!  I’m back!  4:30 in the afternoon, and the recording is done!  Overall, it was a great day of work.  Sailor seems to channel Sylvia straight from my imagination (or maybe I wrote the character with Sailor in my brain) and Starson and his friend Michael really delivered on Paxton and Zack.


Even my Corgi, Sophia Loren got into the act by barking a voice for Flash.  The only one who was really not into the deal was Soda Pop, who normally meows loudly when you touch his tail.  Today, he was strangely silent except for one very pronounced hiss.  Oh well.  We’ll get him next time.

He was having NONE of it.

He was having NONE of it.

So, besides eating a bunch of vegetarian pizza and chocolate chip cookie bars, we accomplished the recording portion of our “pilot” project.  Jared and TJ did a great job helping the kids understand the process and get into character, and Jared totally rocked his professional recording abilities ALL OVER my photo studio.



You can even notice Flash watching the proceedings from behind the children as they read their parts.  In the next couple weeks, I will have a sample of what we did that day, perhaps with a couple new illustrations for our storyboards, and some of Jared’s score backing it all up.  It was a good day.  As most days in Inclement are.

Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities.  She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end.  There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride!  You may learn more about Tracy here.  You may follow her on Facebook here.

Come With Me To Inclement….And Pack A Bag!

Today, I’m taking Inclement on the road.  Not in a big way, but still, I’m going to be out there talking to kids about my town, reading a book to them, and doing a couple illustrations.

eas_4716 copy

This isn’t one of our Creative Collaborations that I do with BETWIXT–gosh, I REALLY have to do a blog post on those guys.


No, this is just a simple half hour at a Family Fun Night at a school nearby.  But although I will be there just half-an-hour, it is an important night.  You see, not only is Inclement just about my favorite place in the world to spend my time, and a place that provides so many ideas I don’t have time to write about them, it is also business for me.  And an important rule in business is that you have to get the word out that you ARE in business.  You have to let people KNOW what you do.  In half an hour, over the course of maybe two books, I hope to say something or do something or read something that sticks in those parents’ and childrens’ and teachers’ minds.  Perhaps they will buy some books.  Perhaps they will hire BETWIXT and me to do a Creative Collaboration at the school.  Perhaps a Mom or a Dad somewhere will sit down and draw something with their child instead of telling them to go play video games.  Whatever happens, whatever the outcome of half an hour, it can’t be bad.

Half an hour is a very short time.  In the scheme of the universe, it is like a baby-biscuit nano-second.  But the process for preparing for that half an hour is huge.

Here is my list today:

1. Pack computer equipment.  When I read to large groups, I do so with a laptop and a digital projector.  Makes it MUCH easier for everyone to see the illustrations in the books.

2. Pack the cords for computer equipment.  This is a biggie.  If I forget the cords, what is the point of having the computer?

3. Pack my illustration supplies–easel, BIG PAPER (sheets of 3 feet x 4 feet), chalk pastels.

4. Trim 150 bookmarks to hand out.  I printed them yesterday, and today, I have to trim them.  I hate trimming.  Oh, and I have to pack these, so I don’t forget them.

5. Money.  I have to get change and pack the cash box.  People may want to purchase books.  Can’t forget this.

Wonder how it will work for MY fiscal crisis...

Wonder how it will work for MY fiscal crisis…

6.  BOOKS.  I can’t forget books.  This is probably the biggest pain as far as packing goes.  I have 7 book titles now, and I’m going to take some of each.  Which leads to 7 different boxes of books, and I never know how many to take of each, so I always bring more than I need….

7. I forgot this in the first part of the list–check to make sure all the book presentations WORK on my computer BEFORE I pack it up.  If the book doesn’t run on the computer, there is NO POINT in bringing the computer.

8. Babywipes.  No, I don’t have a baby.  But, they are very handy in cleaning my hands after I use chalk pastels for 10 minutes or so.

9. Water.  I always get thirsty.

10. Carry everything out to the truck.  This is where my 14 year old son comes in, AND his father, after he gets home from work.

11. Get ready myself.  See, I have to tell myself to do this, because I get out of the house so infrequently.  I planned my wardrobe last night, fortunately.

12.  Oh, another thing I forgot–my camera.  I have to pack the camera so I can get pictures of me doing what I do, so I can BLOG about it tomorrow to whomever might be reading this.

13.  Eat.  When I get busy like this, I forget to eat.  Then I get really hungry during my presentation, and sometimes I feel like I’m going to “lose my cookies”, and that isn’t fun when I’m reading to families.  So, I must eat before I leave.

Tastes just like chicken...

Tastes just like chicken…

I think that is it.  Lucky 13.  All of this, to get Inclement out there, in front of families, to hopefully enchant them a little bit, to make people see what I see when I visit that little place in Southwest Iowa, from which all magic and wonder flows–at least for me.


So, tomorrow, I may have a tale to tell about my brief half hour.  Perhaps I’ll have a booking for a Creative Collaboration for next fall.  Perhaps I’ll have a new idea for a book.  I will definitely be working on Soda’s Valentine.  Finishing layout, so I can turn the file into a pdf and upload it!  Yay, getting closer.  But for today, my focus has to be on this half hour that occurs around suppertime tonight.  Think happy thoughts for me!  And pray I don’t forget anything.

Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities.  She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end.  There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride!  You may learn more about Tracy here.  You may follow her on Facebook here.

31 Days of Halloween–Day 1

Yesterday, I began the Halloween celebration we decided to call 31 Days Of Halloween. My goal is to post an art/craft/writing project daily for kids and adults to enjoy together as we approach my favorite holiday. And, of course, we are focusing a bit on Soda Pop, the main character from my new children’s book, I HATE HALLOWEEN. He is a black cat who has serious Halloween issues. You may find out more about the book and purchase it here.

Soda Rolling in Leaves--From "I HATE HALLOWEEN"


Yesterday was, of course, Project 1. We spent time doing a simple coloring page based upon an illustration from the book. Kids and adults like coloring pages, because it is something they can put their minds around. I personally think coloring pages can be fun, but aren’t the most artistic activity we could be doing.

The coloring page---right click, save, and print!

But, we are starting SLOWLY with this ambitious October art-fest. I had my children color two versions–one with markers, and the other with crayons. When finished, they said they enjoyed the crayon versions better, because they could blend the colors more easily. Then, they pasted leaves that they had gathered on an early morning walk on top of the coloring page, to make a mixed media collage of sorts. I really think this process elevates the coloring page to a much better project, so, if you are doing this one with a small child or a group of children in your class, try to make a point of doing this part.

Our projects...we stuck them onto some cardboard for stability...

You can introduce some science into it, talking about how the leaves fall in the autumn, why they change colors, and you will be surprised at how delighted kids are with the different colors and shapes of leaves that you find. Have fun with this one, and go for a walk in the crisp, fallen leaves. Art is about process, not product, and the process for THIS project should be all about capturing the feeling of rolling in the leaves, just like Soda Pop does.

Follow Bug Summer on Facebook to see all of our projects, day-by-day and to post photos of your OWN art endeavors!

Murder Your Mini-Me

Biting off more than I can chew is like a religion with me. It is part of my belief system, as important to my process as eating and breathing. I’ve always done it, I don’t know why, but I simply can’t imagine a life without a list of things to do, and mental plans to do even more. Is this medicate-able? Probably. Would I really do anything about it? Never. But yesterday, I found a guy who does the same thing. I watched a Netflix documentary about an artist in South Carolina. And I’ve never seen anything like it.

The link is an article about they guy, Pearl Fryar.  He is my new hero.

His garden. I SO want to photograph this myself.

This is one image of his garden (Creative Commons under Wikimedia).

Now, this guy isn’t a trained artist. He isn’t a trained horticulturist. He worked in a factory that makes cans. CANS. He simply decided to grow this garden. And so he did. Just like the little red hen.

This speaks volumes to me.
People tell me, some in my own family, even, that I’m trying to do too much. That I should just not be so busy. That I cause myself stress when I’m trying to do photography (main source of income, and I like it, so I’m not stopping THAT) gardening (not on the level of Pearl, no, but again, I like it, it makes me happy to dig in the dirt, AND I use my garden in my photography work, so there) homeschooling (I am going to do what’s best for my kids, not bending on this one) and my writing and illustration (I am NOT going to stop doing that either, folks, it brings me too much pleasure and satisfaction). I’ve been told I’m crazy for starting to blog. But again, I’m finding that I really enjoy writing small pieces for grown-ups to read.

It baffles me that more people DON’T try to do the things that they feel some sort of inner drive to do. Maybe they talk themselves out of it. You know, the little person living in your mind that says “You’re never gonna accomplish this, no way, you’re not good enough”? Everyone probably has one of those little people. Sometimes they resemble a parent, or a teacher who discouraged you, but in MY head, I think that little guy is a miniature ME, a negative mini-me that wants me on the safe straight and narrow.

Jeeze, have I got the bugeyes or what?


The key is to lock that chick up in some sort of mental padded room where I can’t hear her. I would like to take a pillow and smother the little jack-wagon, but I don’t think critters like that stay dead. They rise again to torment, like a mental zombie, ready to eat at my self-confidence, my ambitions, my dreams.

That chick sucks. Really. I hate that chick.

I think we all have that guy riding around in our heads. Think of how many wonderful things WOULDN’T happen if people listened to their mini-me’s. All of the amazing, creative things in the world WOULDN’T even exist! There would be no televisions or computers or movies or books or great tasting food or waterslides. Imagine a world without waterslides.

I cannot live without waterslides.

All the good stuff in life, all of it, came from someone who smothered that little mini-me long enough to hold the courage to imagine and actually create. All of it. All the glorious richness we see around us, all the inventions, the Apollo program, the art in museums, the books on the shelves of the library (and on the Kindle, don’t forget that nifty gadget) and literally EVERYTHING we see around us. All of it is the result of creativity ignoring negativity. In fact, I believe creativity is the polar opposite of negativity. Creativity is positive thought in ACTION. And ACTION is the key.

I have a hard time going on vacation. Not actually BEING on vacation, but the anticipation of it is HORRIBLE. I feel like I’m going to die leaving my business behind. After we get on the road, after we break the inertia of our little small town, then I’m more than fine. I’m WONDERFUL. I’m picking out things to photograph, to write about, to remember. I add to my mental art files, broadening my base of sources for the next book, the next art piece. So, even my vacations are feeding my creativity. And, when I get back, I’m busy.

So, I don’t sleep a lot. I don’t nap. Sometimes I forget to eat. I walk the dog. I do my photography work. I homeschool my babies. I dig in the dirt in the yard. And I find time, maybe only half an hour a day, maybe sometimes a WHOLE afternoon, to do my thing. To write and draw and blog and imagine and create.

I am not where Pearl is. Yet. I love the fact that he isn’t trained in any of the work he does. I love that because I’m not either. I do it because I love to do it. I learn from doing it. I value learning from a process rather than a book. I teach my kiddos that—to find something creative that they love to do, and just DO IT. Don’t think about it. Don’t worry about it, even if all your results aren’t great. That is the process. Just keep at it, be patient with yourself. The work, and you, will get better and better and better.

Grab a pillow and suffocate that little negative mini-me hanging out inside your head. Squash him and all his negativity.

This feels GOOD. REAL GOOD.


Keep your boot on him and don’t ever let him get up. Do the work, whatever THE WORK is to you. Be patient and watch it grow, just like Pearl Fryar does.

I bet he buried his mini-me deep in his garden.

Good for him.