Artist Spotlight: Ollie Singleton- Author of the new book, A Woman’s ART by Her Grandfather’s Hands

We were excited to speak with Ollie, a longtime Whimsical artist who sold her upcycled clothes at our shows way before upcycled clothes were all the rage. We learned a bit about her new artistic adventure, her book!

Congratulations on your book!  I would imagine this must have been a labor of love.  Tell us about the journey to deciding to write your own book!

The “labor of love” coincided with or overlapped with a few other things that were going on in my life. One was successfully coming through a health scare that forced a pause in my art work, and caused me to re-examine where I was going with my art life. Another event that was happening at about the same time was the opportunity to reclaim the wood from a 100+ year-old repair shop that remained on my deceased grandfather’s farm in Anson County, NC. I won’t go into much detail about it here, but this is where the title of my book comes from. 

So, as I started to pull older art work out of closets, shelves – you name it, I saw how prolific an artist I had been. I had left so much of my pictorial art stored away while I created wearable art – upcycled clothing – for 7 years. While I had photographs of clothing that had been sold, I still had many pieces that had not been sold. I am known in the Whimsical Women community mainly for my upcycled creations.

During the many years I worked in public education and the corporate sector I felt that my creative core was stymied. So when I left those careers behind and moved back to North Carolina I went “hog wild” with the art. “Prolific” is not hyperbole; on shelves and in closets I had stored mixed-media collages, paintings, silk screen prints, clothing, accessories, and most recently – wood art which I created using the reclaimed wood from the farm. 

 How would you describe your book ?

This book may well be the first of its kind – a visually appealing fusion of a memoir, a chronicling of artistic achievement, and the beauty and inspiration of a coffee-table style book. These fused-together elements synchronize adroitly with the telling of a great story that explores the gene-related origins of my predominant creative style. While this exploration was not planned, it was inevitable given my long-time attraction and subsequent attachment to one thing on my grandfather’s farm – the 100 year-old repair shop that he built.

Featuring more than 900 stunning full-color photographs, my book will entertain, inspire, and educate. It will take you on a journey through the many facets of my art life. Not surprisingly – because of my love for other people’s art – I have included some of their art work that I have in my collection. Some of these artists are Whimsical Women.

One would be hard-pressed to peg me – as an artist – in any one particular genre. I have not included in the book my latest forays into abstract painting- mainly using oil paint. I’m really comfortable in this space and the previous art forms and mediums I worked in prepared me for my latest. I consider the art in the book as well as any art I do going forward my legacy to the world.

Whether the book is a gift to yourself or someone else, it is a book to be treasured and picked up time and time again. 

What was your favorite part of the book writing/putting it together process?

I cannot say that any one aspect of the process of putting together the book was my favorite. I did enjoy reminiscing about the period of my life when I was creating certain forms. For instance, silk screen printing was done over a period of a few years after I moved to New Jersey from Texas. The first painting I ever sold was to a long-time friend back in the 70’s. She still has it and loaned it to me to photograph for the book. These were the kinds of memories that were provoked as I rifled through my art work I had put away for a future time.

Putting together the book was a full year of very challenging work. The entire book – cover to cover – was done remotely and digitally. Amazingly I never met face-to-face with my book designer or printer. I am not at all what one might call “a techie.” My book designer is. She used the Adobe InDesign application. I had the vision but she had the tools and the know-how. I supplied her with sketches of how I wanted the layout to look and she made it happen. I guess if I had to pick a favorite part of the process, this would be it. Sending files (using a large file uploading service) and seeing what she did with them in return was magical!

Any advice you might have to offer to another artist contemplating taking this journey of writing a book like this?

Any artist contemplating taking the journey of putting together a book like this should:

  1. Write down thoughts and memories of what was going on in various periods of your life. You might not end up using it all or any of it but it will trigger other thoughts and memories that you may end up using. This should include writing notes and clipping them to certain art pieces.
  2. Learn how to use InDesign. You’ll save a ton of money by doing it yourself. (It would have taken me a dozen years to learn and do the actual software piece. I opted to pay an expert.)
  3. Document and photograph your work. I had never imagined I’d be someday putting my artwork in a book. If I had I might have taken better photographs or invested in a better camera years ago.
  4. I confess I am not an organized person. Lacking organization will make the job tougher, especially when you need to make changes, corrections, etc.
  5. You should definitely have proofreaders and editors. At the 11th hour when the files were about to go to the printer, a friend discovered a simple typo that was not there earlier. Somehow when the designer went into that page to do something, she inadvertently added an “s” to growing and it became “growsing.” Weird accidents like this can happen.

We cannot wait to see the book! How do we purchase your new book?

You can purchase my new book at olliesingleton.com.

Ollie is just one of our talented artists that make up the Whimsical Women community.

Click here to read more Artist Spotlights!

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