Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fellow Artists at Heartland Pagan Festival and Resources for Artists

Dan and I are having a wonderful time at Heartland Pagan Festival hosted by the Heartland Spiritual Alliance outside of Kansas City, the land is just gorgeous and the people are fantastic!  Heartland is one of the largest and oldest Pagan Festivals in the United States, we're delighted to be here.  I'll post more about our adventures at Heartland (and photos) later next week when we get back.

I did a workshop on Friday afternoon about creating fantasy/fairy/Pagan art, and I got to meet many other artists, some just budding and some well on their way.  I discussed my artwork, and how I add magic to my artwork, and my journey as a magical artist. I shared some inspirations, suggestions and tips on how artists can hone thier skills and get their work out there, options for producing their own prints and merchandise, as well as how to get started with publishing their art.

I wanted to share some of resources here that I mentioned for easy access for those who attended the workshop so they will have them at their fingertips and anyone else interested for that matter.  Clear Bags is a great resource for packaging products for prints, cards, bookmarks, and they carry backing boards as well.  The bags I like are the protective closure bags, they're acid free and a great way to display and sell your prints.  Cafe Press is a great way for an emerging artist to offer really cool merchandise featuring their art without the start up cost of the equipment needed to make your own merchandise.  You upload high res art files to the site, choose what merchandise you want the art on, and they sell it, make it, and ship it for you.  You earn a percentage off each item sold on their website.  Zazzle is another service similar to Cafe Press, I haven't used it, but I know many artists who have with success.  PS Print is an online digital printer, the offer brochures, business cards, postcardes,and even posters, an artist could get lots of ideas for promotional materials here.  Watch for their sales which they run frequently so you don't have to pay full price for their printing.  Gimp is freeware "similar" to Photoshop.  If you can't afford Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (either of which I highly recommend) this is a decent alternative and does much of what you would need as an artist on the web. Stitch two part scans of your images together, resize for the internet, and add watermarks to help protect your work and ensure credit when others use it on thier website.   I'll post tutorials later for some of the basics, but there are many all over the web to get you started.  Deviant Art is a website where you can showcase your artwork easily without designing an entire website, you can also network with other artists and give and recieve feedback.  My art, step by step on my website, for those interested.  Homestead is where I designed and host my website, it's pretty simple to use even if you don't know html code (which I don't) you can easily design and manage your own website.  They have lots of easy to use tools.  The "free" offer is only a 30 day trial, so don't get all excited about it being free, but you can do alot with this system.  Uline offers shipping supplies, for large prints that won't fit into flat rate envelopes I like the Stay Flat heavy board kraft envelopes.  Their boxes all ship flat for easy storage.

Thanks to everyone who attended the workshop, I really enjoyed meeting you and discussing art and magic.  Now for more fun this weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Creating Voice of the Trees Cost: Late Nights, Hard Work, Frozen Pizza- Rave Reviews: Priceless!

Well Readers, it's been a long time since I started this journey writing about and creating a deck of cards based upon the Celtic Ogham that we now call Voice of the Trees.  It's been a journey of ups and downs, I was nervous about how it would be recieved, this being my first attempt at writing an entire book.  Any creative person who says they aren't at least a little nervous to put their work out there, is a big 'ole liar. 

I had originally set out to create a deck about the Celtic ogham and write a book about it.  I wanted it to be something that would bring the Celtic tree ogham to life, make it more accessable, a system with an old background but updated for the modern reader.  I wanted to stay true to the history and magic of this system.  Had I done what I set out to do?  I thought so, but time would tell.  

 Well, my copywriter (the person who writes the ads, and the descriptions on the back of the book) at Llewellyn recently told me to gather together some blurbs for the book.  Blurbs are those little quotes that you see on the back or inside of a book.  they are generally written by other authors who have read your book and they say what they think of it.  The art's been on my website for some time, and I've gotten great response, but the book had been seen by very few people.  I'm still working on the edits that my editor sent, so what was sent to the other authors was not the revised version to be printed.  I went through my list of people I thought would be wonderful to give their opinion on this topic and hopefully would.  They're all experienced and well respected writers and one accomplished writer/artist as well.  Then the manuscripts were sent out. 

I held my breath.

I wondered, hoping no one would fall on the floor laughing, or worse yet groan, "How cute, you tried, but you should go take a class or something."  These are the things that flit through your head late at night, alas.
And by one... the reviews began to come in. 

Advance Praise for Voice of the Trees: 

"The Ogham alphabet of Irish bardic lore plays roughly the same role in Celtic tradition that the runes have in Norse and Germanic spirituality, but there may be a hundred people who've cast the runes for every one who has even heard of Ogham. This may be the deck that changes that. Capably researched and sensitively rendered, Mickie Mueller's Voice of the Trees is an attractive and accessible oracle based on the Ogham. It will be of interest not only to contemporary Druids and Celtic Pagans, but to anyone interested in a divination system that has, if you'll pardon the pun, deep roots in both the living Earth and the Celtic past." 
   Ancient Order of Druids in America
   Author of the forthcoming The Celtic Golden Dawn

A beautifully illustrated journey of guidance and meditation through the ogham forrest. Mickie Mueller's Voice of the Threes will speak to you with wisdom and guidance to aid you when facing the crossroads of your life.
- Christopher Penczak, The Inner Temple of Witchcraft & The Three Rays of Witchcraft

"Mickie Mueller provides us with a fascinating look into the wisdom, lore and beauty of trees. Based on the Ancient Ogham system, this unique and gorgeously rendered presentation serves as an inspiring reminder of the powerful influence trees have on all of our lives."
~Lisa Hunt, author of Animals Divine Tarot and The Fairy Tale Tarot

"I was thrilled to read Voice of the Trees.  This is far more than another tired tome on Celtic tree lore.   The spectacular artwork alone is worth having for deeper trigger they provide into understanding a divination and belief system often not treated so thoughtfully.   Mickie Mueller's kinship with and understanding of Celtic sacred trees not as often honored delves into still more areas not often explored by modern Celtic Pagans.  What she created is a tool to serve our community reaching far beyone mere divination practices."

Edain McCoy, author of Celtic Myth & Magick: Harness the Power of the Gods and Goddesses

Gasp!   Needless to say, I'm over the moon.   All my hard work was worth every late night, every last research book scattered about, every outing missed, every frozen pizza dinner!
Well, I had to share because I'm delighted, and so very grateful that these talented and busy folks were kind enough to take the time to read my manuscript and contribute blurbs.  Back down to earth I must go, finish the edits and work on the next few projects that await me on the old wooden art table. 
Come oooon September!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Would Anyone Like to Hire a Slightly Used Illustrator?

Well, it looks like I'm going to spending a lot more time at the old wooden art table soon.  Long story short, the company I'm working for is is probably going to have to lay me off.  No one wants this to happen, but it's out of our hands. *kicks at the dirt with foot*   Blah.   We knew this was coming for quite some time, that's one of the reasons I had been working so hard at my day job, and have been sporadic at best on the Internet.  We had lots of extra work doing reports, answering questions, compiling facts and figures and doing sales pitches about why we are a great multi award winning display company.  But alas, it was all to no avail.  While we do very big displays for major ad campaigns, we are a small company. Anyway, it looks like soon I'll be looking for other sources of income.  I don't know how long, it could be next month, or I might have a few more months to go, I'll stay as long as I'm needed. I'm looking at this as an opportunity, and I'm really excited to have more time to create my art which is what I love to do! So I'm getting all my ducks in a row as they say.

Here are my ducks, below!

 I'm really excited and have just set up a new profile at  (see above, cool right?)  So while one door closes, another opens, as is life.  I should have time to create lots of new and exciting items for our Etsy shop, new fairy art, commissions, work on my new book, and yes, even pick up some freelance illustration and freelance copy writing jobs.  I did both digital rendering and copywriting at my previous day job, so why not, right?  I already have a CD cover I'm working on.  I'm especially interested in picking up some book illustration assignments, since I've done many for Llewellyn lately, and really enjoy it. 

Instead of getting down about the situation, I'm looking at it like the future is wide open, let's do this thing!  I've always been a "glass half full" kind of gal, so we'll see if my philosophy will agree with my bank account.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Proof Pages For My First Book Have Arrived

My wonderful editor Becky Zins sent me the proof pages for Voice of the Trees, whoa, it makes me feel like a "real" writer!  Now, keep in mind my friends, I know, I've been getting paid to be a writer since 2007 when I first submitted an article to Llewellyn for publication and I've been writing articles for them every single year since, and have even written articles for trade magazines and copy-writing for my day job.  The official rule is, if you receive money to do it, you're a professional.  Yes, I've seen my work in print and in the bookstore, which is a really cool feeling, but to see this whole manuscript all laid out with the illustrations in place, elegant titles, and especially the page with all the legal info, well, it brings this project to a whole new level of real!  After all, it's my first frikkin' book, and I think the writing bug has bitten me!
So is my work as a writer of this project over?  Hardly.  The next step is to pour over the proof pages and pick and polish every last aspect of this book and adjust things addressed by my editors notes, so that when it falls into your waiting hands along with it's accompanying deck, it will be perfect!  That is why we need editors, they have a great eye for noticing anything that's amiss, so she sends notes along with the manuscript for minor changes to consider, double check a piece of research, change a redundant word, switch a sentence around for clarity, that kind of thing.  I don't know what we would do without editors, I have many other authors that I consider my friends, and they all agree, sometimes when you look at that line that's been underlined in red you say, "What was I thinking?  Yep, fixing that right now!"  Sometimes we look at our own work for so long, it needs a fresh set of highly trained eyes to catch things.

So is it a daunting task?  Partly yes, but mostly no.  It's been awhile since I wrote it so it's fun to revisit it again, and Becky was my dream editor so I'm honored to work with her and actually looking forward to digging into her notes and tweaking the book.  You can learn so much from a good editor!  The good news is, it's not an overwhelming amount of edits, so I guess that means I did alright, and every author has edits.

So the press date is June 1, so I have to give this project my immediate attention.  I'll be a busy gal, sounds like pizza for dinner this weekend guys!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Beltane Visitor

Late last night while I was sleeping, my husband discovered a lovely Polyphemus Moth that had fallen from our oak tree and landed on our porch.  My son and I were taking out the trash this morning and we found that it was still there, right in front of the door.  I took a few pics, and noticed it wasn't moving, so I tried to pick it up, and it flapped a bit, but did allow me to carefully cradle it in my hands.  I was worried it may be near the end of it's life since it didn't fly away, so I placed it in my pot of rosemary on the deck.   Apparently they only live a week, and I figured if it was preparing to cross over, at least it would be more comfortable there, and safer too. 

This is where we found her this morning, the males have much bushier fern like
antenae that the females, so I think this one is a female.
I've been keeping an eye on her, so I got to thinking that perhaps she's a messanger of the faeries, and I wondered about what message this moth may have for me to have gotten my attention on this Beltane morning?  I'm going through a transitional period with my employment right now, and find myself trying to decide what direction to turn in for my day job.  Moths have similar symbolism as butterflies; change and rebirth, reinventing yourself,  but moths of course are nocturnal which gives them some slightly different symbolism, more philosophical, being creatures of the night, and the moon, dealing with intuition.
The moth has no trouble making it's way through the darkest hours, and we can learn from that. We can use our intuition, dreams, and our inner knowledge to get us through what may seem like the dark hours of our lives. The moth also indicates a knowing that your needs will be met.
We placed her in the pot of rosemary on the deck.

The moth also is drawn to light, whether the light of the guiding moon, or the dangerous flame, her faith and determination draw her ever towards the light in the darkness.  The moth reminds us to remain determined but careful not to fall victim to blind faith. The moth also reminds us to adjust our course if needed, rather than driving onward ignoring signs along the way. 

I love her sweet little face!
I hope I've made my Beltane visitor comfortable in her pot of rosemary.  I intend to listen to her messages, as I work through these changes in my life and know that all will work out for the best.

Go out, green the fields, live in the now, and enjoy the earth as life bursts forth!