News - Grundy County

Minooka teacher, cousin create Gutsy Girls series

Minooka art teacher illustrates book series written by her cousin

Minooka Junior High art teacher Beverly Wines shows off the first in a series of books she has created with her cousin, author Amy Sullivan.

MINOOKA – Creating art is something Minooka Junior High School art teacher Beverly Wines has done her entire life.

Today that passion is present on the pages of the book “Gutsy Girls,” which she created with her cousin Amy Sullivan. The first book in what the duo intends to become a series has the subtitle “Strong Christian Women Who Impacted the World,”

“I have always loved art. It was the reason I wanted to go to school,” Wines said.

Growing up Wines and Sullivan were friends, as well as cousins. Wines was the artist and Sullivan was the writer, even as little children.

“Growing up, I wrote. That’s what I did. I wrote terrible angst-filled poems. I wrote a community newspaper for my trailer park. I wrote fiction that was bad and nonfiction that was worse. I wrote on windows with my finger and on bridges with spray paint. I wrote,” Sullivan wrote in a blog post.

“Growing up, Beverly created art. Beverly painted green vines along her bedroom walls. She molded sculptures out of clay. She painted on mirrors and rocks and shoes. She made wall hangings and ornaments and of course, she created on canvas. Beverly made art.”

At a family gathering, Sullivan approached Wines and asked if she would be willing to illustrate a book series Sullivan was writing with a goal to empower young women.

“I was honored that she asked me,” Wines said. “She’s been published. I haven’t.”

The first book in the series, “Gutsy Girls Book One: Gladys Aylward” tells the story of Aylward, a missionary who worked in China in the 1920s and ’30s, whom the author describes as “just plain ordinary.”

The book tells about how plain she was and how short she was, and how people saw nothing extraordinary when they saw her.

Drawing Aylward proved a slight challenge for Wines as she read the story and worked to depict the plain and simple subject.

“I thought about what they wore during that period and what colors were used,” Wines said. “After reading the story of her struggles, I started to portray the struggles and feelings through color and visual effects.”

Wines, who typically produces large-scale paintings in acrylic, used pencils to sketch out the ideas, erasing and changing as she went.

Sullivan, who lives in North Carolina, and Wines sent ideas back and forth, both offering suggestions and making small changes.

“Everything I drew was not used, and she suggested small changes. She was so supportive,” Wines said.

A hidden nod to 1975, the year the cousins were born, is on a train ticket used in one of the illustrations.

When the final illustrations were approved, Wines said she was given artistic freedom to bring them to life with Prism markers and Prism pencils.

“I was able to enjoy the process,” she said.

Wines worked on the images from January through August, staying up late and working feverishly to finish them in time for the book to go to print.

She has used the steps in the process to educate the students at Minooka Junior High, and has shown them what it takes from beginning to end to illustrate a book.

“I tell them that people have always been a struggle for me in my art, and it can be overcome,” Wines said.

The book, which was self-published, has caught the eye of publishers, but Wines said the cousins would like to keep control of the books for now to grow “Gutsy Girls” into something bigger than a five-book series.

“We would like to see a ‘Gutsy Girls’ mini-conference, which will empower girls to be gutsy,” Wines said.

The book starts with the definition of gutsy, an adjective meaning brave, courageous, daring.

“Showing determination even when your heart beats fast, your hands grow sweaty, and you fear failure,” reads the opening to the book.

Wines said the cousins already are working on a second book that will center around forgiveness and will tell the story of Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who helped many Jews escape the Nazis.

The first book is available on Amazon, and Wines said the due hope to have it available on Barnes & Noble’s website soon.