My experience writing ‘DIY Watercolor Christmas’
The dream of writing a book
Way before I became a full time artist, I worked in the publishing industry designing and managing manuscripts and corrections. I flirted with the idea of publishing a book several times and even had a couple of attempts writing, illustrating and self-publishing children books, but I never managed to find a publishing house interested in them and they never saw the light apart from a few copies bought by friends and family.
Painting a Christmas Wreath for the project 'Traditional Wreath'. This is also the artwork used on the cover of 'DIY Watercolor Christmas', Ingrid Sanchez 2021.
On December 2019 editorial DK invited me as a collaborator on the book ‘Watercolor Techniques for Artists & Illustrators’ (you can get a copy here) where you can find three tutorials detailing some of my best known techniques. However, the big surprise arrived a little later in February 2020 when I received a call from the publisher David & Charles asking me whether I would be interested in writing a watercolor book with Christmas as its main theme.
I was of course very excited about it, but hesitant at the same time because for years I had envisaged that if I were to publish something it will be floral or botanical related. On the other hand,I thought that it would be a unique book, a fun way to teach and introduce some of my techniques with a different approach. Not only the opportunity to publish my first solo book, but an incredible learning experience as well.
Writing a book in pandemic times
In March 2020 I signed the contract, we started planning the content of the book, scheduled a visit to the publisher’s offices and the meeting with the photographer… and then COVID-19 happened. Not only the UK but the whole world went into lock down, I got what is now called long COVID and I was sick for over ten months.
|Trying to capture the step-by-step process
||Painting glass baubles with a galaxy texture|
This book will always be in my memory as a lifesaver for my mental health, something that allowed me to look forward in one of the darkest years I have ever experienced. It was so challenging from the very beginning but at the same time an amazing experience and I wanted to share the journey with you.
To start, my first in-person meeting with the team was cancelled multiple times and we decided to do it via Zoom (something unusual back then but very common now!). When the date of the call arrived I could barely talk as I had lost my voice. It turned out to be most unusual meeting I have ever had - luckily the team was great and managed to get through it ok!
The next challenge was that the photographer couldn’t be with me, so I tried to take the photos myself but I soon found that it was a near impossible task. Try holding a camera and painting at the same time! The next challenge was to capture the step-by-step process without the need for photography. The obvious answer was to scan each step, the problem is that I work with a lot of water and wet on wet is one of my favorite techniques, making scanning rather difficult. My solution was to paint the same thing four, sometimes six times, so I could scan the steps.
Once the first lockdown was over and I had enough projects, the publishers proposed to send the photographer to my studio. We settled on the first week of November 2020 - he spent the first half day setting up all the equipment, but then we learned that we were going into a second national lockdown and the rest of the session was cancelled. He came by the next day, but only to dismantle and take away the equipment.
And I did it!
|Photography session at David & Charles offices||Taking photos of my art supplies
When I finished writing the text, it was time to work with the proofreader. What a great experience having someone catch all the little mistakes and make sure my instructions were clear. Keep in mind that English is my second language and never had I imagined that I would be writing a book that was not in Spanish. It was also amazing to think that I painted and wrote all that text while fighting constant brain fog and body aches. With inhalators at hand and in between a couple trips to the hospital in an ambulance, I did it! I wrote a whole book... in English!
|Books for the pre-release
||Holding the first copy!|
By December 2020 the text and the projects were ready, but we still had no photography and as a result they started talking about delaying the release to 2022. After all the effort we had put in, my heart was broken. But then a miracle: Between moving to a new house and a third lockdown the publishers found a well ventilated studio in Exeter where we could finally do a photo shoot. I hopped on a train but with all my excitement missed the stop and arrived into Exter late at night three hours later than scheduled. The city was empty and there were no taxis anywhere. An adventure from beginning to end!
‘DIY Watercolor Christmas: Easy painting ideas and techniques for cards, gifts and décor’ finally came together a year after we started planning it. This book is not what I thought I would be publishing as a first book, but life is never what we think it will be. And I am so grateful for it, so incredibly fortunate to be alive and sharing this story. The first copies arrived this week and my heart glows with happiness.
I loved creating this book because it made me think as a beginner again. I couldn’t teach workshops during 2020 but I wrote something that will help a larger audience, and having taught so many classes in the past has given me good insight into the needs of those wanting to learn. The theme doesn’t matter, the medium behaves the same way no matter if you’re painting flowers, galaxies or Christmas wreaths.
I hope this book speaks to you and helps you discover a medium that has brought so much joy to my life. And of course it is a big plus if you love Christmas!