Bringing WHEN YOU LOSE SOMEONE YOU LOVE to Life

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hi Everyone,
Those of you who have been reading the Zenspirations blog for a while may remember that in October I launched my first-ever Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to self-publish,When You Lose Someone You Love, an illustrated book of excerpts from the grief journals I kept after my husband died unexpectedly three and a half years ago. The pages of the book I’m about to self-publish all started in one of my grief journals… expressing my feelings by putting pen to paper was both cathartic and healing… and something I continue to do. The photo below shows some of the journals I kept. I wrote all the text with my favorite tool– a Pigma Micron 01– in a series of Moleskin Reporter’s notebooks.

I’ve started to get inquiries about when the book will be available, and as I’m nearing the end of the redesign process, I wanted to share a progress report. Much to my regret, it has taken me significantly longer than I had originally anticipated to make these changes, which has delayed my being able to send the book off to press. One reason it has taken longer than I thought it would, is that in addition to adding color I have also been tweaking most of the pages… sometimes I’ve made changes to the layout, sometimes I’ve cleaned up (or totally redone) the lettering; occassionally I’ve combined the text from multiple pages onto a single spread.On several pages that were originally text-only I added an illustration to enhance the design.
I’d like to share how the pages of my grief journals have evolved into the pages of When You Lose Someone You Love. For example, in the photo below you’ll see the original unretouched drawing in my grief journal on the bottom, and a comp of the final design on top.

As another example, below is a photo of the unretouched lettering from my journal.

And here is the final design with digitally cleaned up lettering… although it looks simple, it took several hours to adjust the letters on this spread.

The next page of the book, which I consider pivotal, provides a good example of how I tweaked the lettering and added an illustration to enhance the design. It’s after this page that the book starts to get a little more hopeful. The top piece is a photo of my original, unretouched journal, followed by the final version of that page.


I’d also like to share the evolution of one of the spreads at the back of the book where I added color. I have names for most of the spreads, and I call this one “Life’s Journey”. The image below is a photo of my unretouched journal.

As you can see, the illustration is kind of messy, so I scanned my journal, and then cleaned up the line art digitally to get the design below. I made a deliberate decision not to include the leaves on most of the trees, in order to underscore the bleak mood I was trying to convey.

When I set the stretch goal to add color, I was thinking about this spread in particular, because I wanted to visually show the themes of transition and hope, and I thought color would be a good way to do achieve that. I knew I wanted to incorporate a washy edge into the illustration, and tried at least a dozen different techniques before coming up with something I thought had possibilities.

But in the end, I decided that I should depict the world as being grey before the transition, and then add soft color which would gradually become more vibrant to help underscore the transition in my life’s journey.

I left the star out of this version, but am wondering whether it would be a stronger spread with the star. I would greatly value your feedback on this, and would appreciate your leaving me a comment to let me know if you’d like to see the star, or if you like the page the way it is. Feel free to share your thoughts on any other aspect of the book. I’m in the middle of doing the final production, but can still make changes before I send the book to press.
For those of you who backed my Kickstarter– THANK YOU!!! I truly appreciate your support (and your patience!) and am hoping the book will touch your heart. And for those of you who are new to the blog and didn’t get a chance to back the Kickstarter, the books will be for sale on my website (as soon as I redo it!).

Stay Zenspired,

Joanne

36 thoughts on “Bringing WHEN YOU LOSE SOMEONE YOU LOVE to Life”

  1. I love your blog and look forward to your book! Seeing your process inspires me to keep working through the tough times that this type of loss brings to us. Thank you for your honesty and sensitivity. PS. I like the star! For me, it's my sister watching over the journey. 🙂

  2. Dear, dear Joanne…the expression of your innermost thoughts and feelings that you create with your art capture my heart.
    Thank you for the most careful way you are tweaking your pages…they are stunning.

    I like the star. To me it represents our loved one "out there" shining brightly, still there for us.

    I pray and trust that there will be heaps of blessings for you daily.

  3. Dear Joanne, I feel that you have bared your soul with your words and your art. What you have shown here is a beautiful expression of your feelings. The care you are taking with all the little aspects of this book are worth the wait. Thank you for your honesty and your dedication. I too like the star on the page. 🙂

  4. Joanne, first I want to say that I'm so sorry to hear about your husband's passing. I have only been following Zenspirations for a few months. Although I love your art, I was unaware of your history.

    I love your journals and think they would definitely help someone else going through the grief process.

    I think the star should be added on the page as it represents hope to me.

    Thank you for sharing your lovely art!

  5. Your book is going to be beautiful and brave. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your process. I like the star. To me it represents your loved one watching over you or a light to guide you – possibly the North Star. I also like the color in the heart of the second layout. You are amazing!

  6. I like the star. When I lost my mother over 12 years ago, a friend shared the Eskimo Legend with me. It brought me such comfort and it totally fits here with your star!!

    "Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings in heaven where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy."

    This is a beautiful book and I look forward buying your book when complete!

  7. Your pages from your upcoming book have touched my heart. You are very brave to share these thoughts, Joanne. I'm sure they will bring comfort to people who have experienced loss and grief. Keep on. Your work is beautiful.

  8. Joanne…it is just beautiful in every way. I can imagine this book being such a blessing to so many who have lost the loves in their lives.
    I love the strong colored heart in the tree. To me it represents the strong love that will be forever in your heart and live on in all of the members of your family tree. If you do use the star, also, I wouldn't let it outshine the heart in the tree.
    I look forward to your final rendition.

  9. Joanne – such beautiful thoughts and images to honour such a stunning loss – your star reminds me of my own time of loss. After my son, a young actor, was killed in an accident, two of his friends added a star to their stage set; and in their program, dedicated their work to his memory and identified the star as a reminder of his life. Your star is too precious to remove from this important book.

  10. Joanne – such beautiful thoughts and images to honour such a stunning loss – your star reminds me of my own time of loss. After my son, a young actor, was killed in an accident, two of his friends added a star to their stage set; and in their program, dedicated their work to his memory and identified the star as a reminder of his life. Your star is too precious to remove from this important book.

  11. This book will be lovely and inspirational. I would put in the star – not only is it a reminder of our loved ones but it is also a symbol of hope. I have to say that while your revised pages are beautiful, I love your original pages too!

    I look forward to seeing this precious book. Even reading the pages you post bring me to tears but…I feel better afterwards.

    Thank you

  12. When I saw the star, my mind immediately went to our son, who we lost when he was only 19. Although I did not get this book for myself, I think the person I got it for, will have the same feeling when she sees the star and take her mind to her husband, who she lost recently.

  13. I, personally like the star—–it seems to tell me that the person that we have lost is still looking down on us as we start that new journey
    I would love to get this book for my daughter who lost her 23 year old son 11 months ago.

  14. Joanne – My deepest sympathies for your loss. I have just started to follow your blog. And it is the first time I have seen an artist share the details of the creative process so openly. I greatly appreciate how you're sharing your journey.I await final publication! We lost our mom a little over a year ago and it is a never ending process of acceptance…..Annette

  15. God bless you, Joanne, for your dedication and inspiring work on this book. I was sorry to read about your loss of your husband. I have only been following your blog recently. You have encouraged me and so many others through your artwork, and your sharing. God bless you as you continue on the path to publication of your amazing book. I vote a big YES on the star…it gives the feeling of your hubby's presence with you yet, even transcending death. He is there in spirit, and the star conveys that.

  16. So moving……your words and your art touched my heart, unexpectedly. Thank-You 🙂 May God bless you and keep you,

  17. Love your work and really look forward to this book. I've had my own bereavement of hubby, father, mother, and 2 brother-in-laws during the past 5 years, and it's tough sometimes to look forward with hope as I know we should.

    Thank you for sharing so much. And huge, huge hugs.

  18. I honestly can't wait until I am able to purchase this book. I have to share something …. I know it will help many of those that have lost someone to death. I have lost my son to the most severe autism that you ever could imagine. Please don't get upset. I know he is here and breathing – but he suffers everyday and it is excruciating to watch. Not only does he have the severest form out there – he can't talk – he does not understand spoken language – he also has profound mental retardation making it hard for him to learn and to retain skills – so when I am able to reach him – he loses it the next day – it is like a horrible do-over every single day and some days more skills are lost than others. He also suffered with seizures and headaches that make him scream with pain. No medicine has ever worked. He has had headaches from when he was two- he would bang his head and if I rubbed it – I knew he had a headache because he sought out pressure to his head…. He has been ill for most of his 21 years and not only do I grieve but I grieve in cycles – every single birthday – every holiday – each one being harder than the next b/c things get worse as he gets on in the years – he is 21 now and through his eyes you can see how much pain he endures – he also suffers from acute back pain (he fractured his tailbone awhile back and the pain just keeps getting worse)… in lieu of sitting – he paces – even though he takes medication to sleep – he doesn't sleep – he paces…. I think this book will help – I know it will – one day at a time – one page at a time – I pray it will give me some sort of acceptance (for the future)…. thank you for reading….

  19. I would like for you to keep the star. I lost someone I loved 38 years ago, not to death but to divorce. It was the death of a 17 year marriage that was to be forever and that had brought me 2 lovely children. But I see myself on your pathway to the star and I reached my star 30 years ago. He is my present husband, my soulmate, my love, my hero, my everything. I didn't know 38 years ago that he would be waiting for me at the star. I wish I had had a book like this at the time I went through my divorce. But I am happy to say, I survived to experience the greatest love of my life.

    To Sue, your story was so heartwarming, my past troubles are nothing compared to what you have had and are still experiencing. How you have survived 21 years of forever giving love to someone who can't return it makes you a hero in my book. Only Joanne has the words to express my admiration and compassion for you and your son.

  20. I must agree with everyone else. I think the star should remain on the page. It gives the sense that there's a "glimmer of hope" after such a difficult time of losing a loved one. You work is always very touching and heartfelt. I'm looking forward to the published book. Thank you for always sharing your heart and your art with us…….Linda E.

  21. You have done a wonderful job and please don't worry about the time it is taking….it will be finished when the time is right. Blessings to you and thank you for sharing your journey.
    P.S. I like the star!

  22. I love your book. I love the star! After my son died, some of my favorite quotes are about stars. Keep the star!! the book is beautiful and so touching. Thanks for writing and drawing and sharing your feelings. peace

  23. Hi Everyone,

    THANK YOU all for your kind and supportive remarks… they mean a lot to me. I will go put the star in to the final version! Quwatha, I do not think I could have said anything to Sue that is more beautifully put than what you just wrote. One of the things I am looking forward to with the new website is the ability to communicate with everyone who reads the blog– and I hope that you will all be able to communicate, inspire and support each other.

    Making a difference– isn't that what it is all about?

    Stay Zenspired,
    Joanne

  24. I re-read my comment and there was a huge typo :
    It read: I know it will help many of those that have lost someone to death.
    It should have read: I know it WILL NOT HELP MANY OF THOSE THAT HAVE LOST SOMEONE DUE TO DEATH…
    PLEASE FORGIVE ME… this was a horrible typo….

  25. Dearest Joanne,

    Everything you do is done with such love, tenderness and heartfelt compassion, I am always uplifted and inspired
    by your words. I look forward to being able to share your book with others that have suffered a loss, I know it will touch their hearts.
    I also like the star, to me it represents the source of our guiding light and a visual reminder of our loved ones.

    Hugs to you

  26. Your book is well worth waiting for. I love how you have shown us the changes. Great way to learn more about design. I really like how you extended the path over the hill in the redesign. That represents carrying on. I also love the star. As others have said it represents our loved one looking down on us. Thanks so much Joanne.

  27. Thank you for sharing your journal with us. I imagine it must be quite hard for you revisiting some of these, if not all the pages. I think you should add the star as it gives a hint of our loved ones still looking down and "being with us" and is a sort of symbology that people understand. I love the colouring of the tree in your latter image as it lifts the mood and really does imply hope for the future and moving on. However, I love the greyness of the ground and overall mood in the first spread as this does resonate bleakness/loneliness. Could you include some of this overall greyness gradually reducing this towards the final tree? Whatever you decide – it is beautiful and will resonate with and help very many people. God bless.

  28. WOW. Wonderful. I just lost my husband of 42 years on Sunday, and although it was expected, he'd been on Hospice for nearly 3 months, it was a shock still. You definitely have captured something wonderful to share – besides the artwork – just the text of thoughts is fabulous. Can't wait for the completed version. thank you.

  29. The book will be outstanding, and so very moving and heartfelt. I too, find the star has a special meaning to those who will treasure the book.

  30. I backed your kickstarter campaign and am excited to see how things are coming along. Art takes as long as it takes.

    Congratulations and blessings on this heartfelt journey.

  31. Joanne,
    It's so moving to read and look at your images. I feel that this should be required reading for anyone- child, parent, friend, spouse or ANY relationship where they have suffered a loss. And it doesn't matter how long ago it happened, because the more you loved someone, the longer the pain and feeling of loss remains. Your pictures have already helped me.

    I too, feel like the star has a different special meaning for everyone. We look up for answers – never down the ground.

    Take your time. I know when it is ready, it will be truly ready. And in the process even more of your artistic creativity and soul will flow into the final product.

  32. Oh yes, the star represents such hope and symbolizes something different for everyone. I hope you decide to add the star. I'm so looking forward to receiving the book. I know it will be done at the very right time for everyone! Thanks for taking the time to see your vision through. Thank you so much, Joanne for this labor of love and beauty that is going to comfort and bring hope to countless people!!! Love Ya!

  33. Joanne,
    Oh my! Your book is exactly what I need at this time. It is exactly what two families I know need at this time too. I can't wait until it is in print and in my hand! I am so glad you are keeping the star. It makes me feel like they are still part of the new path the family on earth must take. That shining star is what is leading everyone to their right path. Thank you for being brave enough to write this book and share your pain…going down your new path. Like Linda E said, "The star is a "glimmer of hope" after such a difficult time of losing a loved one."

  34. Hey Joanne,
    Is there any possibility that we will be getting the copies we ordered any time soon? I have given up hope on the idea.
    I was hoping to hand deliver them to people that I know who need this as much as I do, but since I moved, that won't be happening…

    Sandee J

  35. I love the star. It always makes us look up. I also wish your original artwork could be that of the published book. It looks so much more personal and less like just another “hallmark” book.

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