By June Mathews
As a youngster, Amy Grimes would look at picture books for hours, soaking in the artistry of the illustrations and dreaming of the day when she, too, might share stories through art.
Now that she’s a grownup and her dreams have become reality, she uses those very same books as sources of inspiration.
“I still have them,” she said, “and I keep them open to my favorite pictures.”
An artist who creates “story paintings,” Grimes often writes stories and uses them as springboards for creating free-spirited, whimsical paintings that appeal to the light-hearted side of young and old alike. Her goal is not just to tell a story, but to use her art to set her observers on a path to creating their own stories, if only in their imaginations.
An encourager by nature, Grimes also hopes to produce art with the potential to be a shining light for anyone experiencing dark times. In fact, “light shining out of darkness” is a favorite and most recurring theme in her work.
“What I want my paintings to be are an encouragement – to everybody, really – but especially to anyone going through difficult times. My paintings are hopeful paintings,” she said. “I believe that artwork reflecting goodness and truth can bring light into people’s lives.”
With the conviction of that belief as motivation, Grimes created an enchanting picture book called “And the Light Comes In,” published last year. Rich in color and filled with charming illustrations of its theme, the book not only serves to encourage and inspire, but to put smiles on faces and happiness in hearts.
Each illustration is accompanied by a brief story and related questions designed to awaken curiosity and spark the imagination. While some people buy the book for the artwork, others want it for the stories, Grimes said, and its appeal isn’t limited by age.
“I wanted to do a book because a lot of people can’t afford to buy a big painting,” she said. “This makes the paintings available to everybody.”
Grimes and husband Russ, a graphic designer, chose the self-publishing route for “And the Light Comes In” so they could maintain control over the project. To pay for producing the book, they sold the originals of the paintings created for it at a publishing party.
“It’s been a real adventure,” said Grimes, admitting to some initial unease about publishing a book of her paintings. “But if you feel like you have to succeed with everything you try, you’d be afraid to try anything. And it’s always worth trying to do something beautiful.”
Grimes will have copies of “And the Light Comes In,” as well as some of her prints, notecards and small originals available at the Mountain Brook Association’s Holiday Art Show at Brookwood Village, Dec. 2-17. A big reason she enjoys being a part of this event is the element of encouragement she finds among its participants.
“The older artists in the show are very encouraging to the younger artists,” she said.
For early shoppers, Grime’s books and paintings are available online at www.storypaintings.net/store.
“Voyage to the Star Kingdom,” a book on which Grimes collaborated with her cousin, writer Anne Riley, is available on amazon.com.
Grimes is working on two other books.