Mackinac Island is an increasingly inspiring spot for both artists and writers.
Michigan BLUE sat down to chat with the dynamic duo of artist Kate Dupre, watercolorist and owner of the island’s Watercolor Café, and Katy Klimczuk, a Grosse Pointe Farms-based writer, who recently published their first book (hardcover) together, “M is for Mackinac: A Nature Alphabet.”
BLUE: How did the idea for “M is for Mackinac” come about? Did your children (ages 7 and 9) influence you at all?
Klimczuk: I knew I wanted to write something about Mackinac, with the setting being the island. Over time I started to think about highlighting the nature of Mackinac, because there was a hole in the market for this type of book. I started writing it in the summer of 2021, and I think during the pandemic I was influenced by the fact that we were spending more time outside. That’s the year I started to home-school my kids, too. We became more nature-focused. So, every few days or weeks I’d write (the copy for) a couple of letters (the pages feature each of the letters of the alphabet).
BLUE: How did you find an illustrator?
Klimczuk: I had seen Kate’s work online and I had reached out to her about another book idea, and then when this one came about, I knew I wanted watercolor. I wanted to work with someone who has a presence on the island — a unique point of view.
BLUE: How was the publishing process?
Klimczuk: We worked with Mission Point Press, based in Traverse City. They guide you on a self-publishing journey.
Dupre: I’m really picky about how things look printed, and I was racking my brain on how to do this economically. I used a printer/scanner by Canon and it captured everything so well. I tweaked the scanned paintings digitally, and then laid the book out with the text.
BLUE: How did you work as a team on this?
Klimczuk: We hadn’t even met each other in person! It was all a collaborative effort through emails and such. We tried to represent the whole island.
Dupre: For the most part, Katy gave me artistic freedom.
Klimczuk: I love the night scenes — the N page, Northern Lights; and the U page, Under the Stars. Being quiet on the island and seeing the sky at night is so nice. I also love H is for Horses. There’s a tandem bike on that page, and it’s kind of like my mom and me on a bike.
Dupre: T is for Trillium. I’ve always loved painting wood scenes, and I love wildflowers and trillium. They signal that the busy season is about to begin.
BLUE: What’s it like to see your idea come to fruition?
Klimczuk: The first time I received some of the images from Kate was when I was on a family trip. I was so excited, I had everyone look at them. When it came out, my son kept telling me this is the best book. My kids saw the whole publishing process. My daughter loves to write, too, and writes her own plots all the time.
BLUE: Kate, is this the first book you’ve illustrated?
Dupre: Actually, my first one came out in 2018 and it was called “Goodnight Mackinac Bridge,” written by Emily Havlena and published by Mackinac Jane’s Publishing Co.
BLUE: Kate, what do you do besides paint?
Dupre: I’m focused on running my Watercolor Café during our busy season here on the island. It’s a café by day and an art studio open to students at night. We have a lot of different classes taught by me and other instructors in everything from making jewelry to painting. Off-season, I live in Florida and focus on commission work and other projects, both in watercolors and acrylics.
BLUE: What does the future hold?
Dupre: Katy is going to write more books. She’s one of the most self-starting, organized people I’ve ever met. As for me, I just wait and listen for what’s next, and water any seeds that come my way.”
“M is for Mackinac: A Nature Alphabet” is available at the Island Bookstore, Mission Point resort’s gift shop, and the Watercolor Café on Mackinac Island. Order it online at katyklimczuk.com, or you can check it out at the Mackinac Island Public Library.