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By ANNETTE HARVISON
When Leakesville resident Loretta ‘Sissy’ Bray began working on her latest children’s book, “You…Make Me Complete,” she had one person in mind to do the illustrations. Bray wanted none other than local artist Jean Garretson to create the art and said she couldn’t be happier with the results.
“It has been an honor to do this project with Mrs. Garretson,” Bray said. “She is so talented and a local treasure.”
“Being able to work with an icon like Mrs. Jean is a blessing and I think the work she did on the book is fabulous.”
Both Leakesville ladies will be available for a book signing this Saturday, Dec. 8, during a long list of planned festivities in Leakesville.
Garretson’s art can be found all around the local community, the state of Mississippi and in other places as well. Garretson has been creating her art for many decades.
“I started with pencil drawings,” said Garretson. “I did prints from around Greene County. I did only black and white for four years.”
Garretson said most of her original prints have been donated and are housed in different locations around the state. She has donated some of her work to Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus. She has done work for the Agriculture Museum in Jackson as well as having been commissioned to create the art in several banks in Mississippi. Garretson has also sold her work to private collectors.
She got her start in book illustrations in 2002 when she was asked to illustrate for a writer in Lucedale.
Since then Garretson has been enjoying the world of book art. She has illustrated other works, including several for a lady in Idaho. She has written her own collection of stories that were passed down by her father. Garretson said she published the book of stories only for family, though
she was thrilled with the end result.
Bray approached her around two years ago to work on “You… Make Me Complete.” The book is published in Mississippi, and Garretson said she was excited to be a part of it.
“I try to do what I think the children see when they are reading the book,” Garretson said.
She has enjoyed the task of illustrating Bray’s work, as well as the many other projects she has done. She said she likes being part of the children’s work.
“Art lets the focus of children be on something more important than just the world around them,” said Garretson.
Garretson treasures showing the world from a different perspective. What started out as pencil sketching has turned into her life’s work. Her medium of choice these days is watercolor. She said it’s hard to be a professional artist, but the passion keeps her going.
“I love [painting],” said Garretson. “It gives me a lot of joy and a lot of pleasure.”
Garretson hopes to have some of her current works in progress on display at the book signing Saturday.
She said she has a few finished paintings she will bring with her as well.
Bray and Garretson will be on hand Saturday, Dec. 8, to answer questions and to sign copies of “You…Make Me Complete.” The signing event will be held at the Greene County Courthouse from noon until 2 p.m.