About the Book & Creative Process
What if Your Stuffed Animals... Came to Life?
Wouldn't you be less scared at night knowing that the sounds and creaks you hear in the dark are just friendly animals playing (instead of scary monsters)? Animals Under the Bed! is a magical "tail" about friendly, funny stuffed animals that come to life! This is not a typical children's book, because the artwork preceded the writing. This book is for adults who love artwork, children who love magic, and young souls who want to feel inspired again. Recommended for kids at reading levels 4-8 years, this 30-page, 8.5x8.5" hardcover book is filled with vibrant acrylic and watercolor illustrations completed over the course of 3 years.
Let me tell you how I unknowingly got started on this very special book. Years ago, I decided to participate in a personal creative project to take my mind off work. It was called "The 100 Days Project," and is hosted yearly by The Great Discontent. This project challenges creatives of all kinds to make something (anything) every day for 100 days, and post your daily "creations" to Instagram using #100DaysProject. I wanted to teach myself how to use acrylic paint, and I immediately fell in love with the rich colors and complex detail achieved from layering brush strokes.
What I didn't expect is that my followers would fall in love with my paintings and encourage me to keep up the good work. The fun thing about the 100 Days Project is that you post your progress on Instagram every day, regardless of how it looks. Since I was just learning to use acrylic paint, I felt very self-conscious posting some of my progress pictures, but everyone was so kind and motivated me to keep going!
My dog, Ziggy, often made an effort to pose with each painting as I was taking a picture of it (see pictures below). No, I did not pose him like that. Yes, he is a very strange and adorable dog. If you'd like to see all of my in-progress paintings, search the following hashtag on here on Instagram: #100DaysMegSmiley
The video below is from my book's kickstarter campaign, which was funded by 319% thanks to my amazing supporters!
By the time the 100 Days Project was over, I had spent at least 300 hours painting 10 uniquely whimsical animals. I have always loved to write, and had always dreamed of writing and illustrating my own children's book anyway, so I knew it was time. Customers often ask me how I thought of the story, but it honestly just came to me. I felt like I already knew these animals from the hours I spent leaning over their detailed faces.
I created a Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of 100 books. I thought my journey with the book would end with my family and friends, but Kickstarter Staff chose my book as a "Project We Love" and it was funded by 319%, sold to followers in over 10 different countries, and raised over $7,300 (my original goal was $2,300). After the kickstarter, I had at least 100 people on a waitlist who still wanted the book, so I decided to keep going. I have now sold over 500 books and I'm just so thankful for the amazing supporters who have brought all of this magic into my life.
Each spread contains a large (8.5" square) acrylic animal painting as well as a smaller, more "sketchy" painting of the animal created with micron pen, ink, and watercolor. I painted the watercolors after writing the book to showcase the animals' personalities in relation to their part in the story. To make the book feel even more "magical," I decided to make the watercolors look as if they were still in the process of coming to life on the page. I wanted them to look like they were still being filled in with paint, from the tops of their heads down to their feet, so I only painted with color on the top 40-50% of their bodies (see exampled below).
Being Silly &
The best thing about painting and writing Animals Under the Bed! is that this book has truly been an expression of my own sense of wonder and joy in the creative process. Even after years of work and hundreds of hours, I am still surprised when I finish a painting and it has taken on a life of its own! I usually sign my books, "Stay silly!" because I wholeheartedly agree with the quote by Pablo Picasso, "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."