Behind the Scenes

The Everlasting Forest has been many years in the making. We believe the seeds were planted when we were children playing among the trees. Lanvi has been creating a vision for the Everlasting Forest Friends from her home in Virginia. I have been focused on sharing how trees hold the stories of our shared roots from my home in Oregon.

In the summer of 2021, I received an email inquiry from Lanvi. She introduced herself to me and sent me some of her drawings of Super Spruce, Truthful Tea Leaf and Blissful Bodhi. I instantly fell in love with Lanvi’s energy, immense talent and her adorable Forest Friends. When she asked me if I would be willing to co-create with her, my answer was an instantaneous “Yes!” It soon became obvious that we both wanted to create a children’s book that could tell the story of the Forest Friends and the Everlasting Forest.

We began by focusing on character development. We shared our thoughts for creating new Forest Friends that spanned the globe as well as fine tuning the ones already created. We created names, clothing and accessories, along with the unique environments and cultures where each Forest Friend lived.

An initial concept for Hawthorn & Bodhi.

We created new Forest Friends such as Oracle Oak, Caring Cacao, Bountiful Baobab and Curious Coconut, while fine tuning Brave Bonsai, Graceful Gingko, Magical Maple, Healing Hawthorn, Optimistic Orange and Cosmic Cypress. To round out the cast, we developed four Cosmic Creators: Wise Old Owl, Solar Fire Fox, Misty Moonbeam and Little Light Bear.

I developed an initial storyline that would introduce our entire cast of characters in one book. This became the foundation for “The Worldly Adventure”. From there we began to create images and words.

Lanvi creating watercolor paintings for backgrounds.

Lanvi brought the story to life through her unique illustrative style. In her creations, she incorporates pencil and ink drawings on vellum, raw materials from nature for texture, and watercolor paintings on 300 lb. Fabriano cold-press paper. A very traditional art making process is used to capture dimension and depth, ensuring that each image speaks of movement and liveliness. Using digital software, Lanvi layers all of these visual elements with her extensive body of photographic work (which has been featured on Planet Waves) to create stunning images of the Forest Friends and their environments.

Pen and ink drawings by Lanvi.

While Lanvi was crafting her visual masterpieces, I imagined their voice. As the ambassadors and caretakers of the Everlasting Forest they had a lot to say. My goal was to showcase the joyful enthusiasm of our Forest Friends as well as the environments in which they lived. I spent time connecting with the trees on a botanical and spiritual level to bring each Forest Friend to life.

Laural connecting with the Forest Friends.

What came out was lyrical in nature, as rhymes seemed to flow naturally from their personalities.

Laural’s words in Lanvi’s handwriting.

My experience as a creative director came in handy as Lanvi and I worked together to refine each illustration. We worked long hours, sharing our ideas and revising in real time over Google Docs, merging my words with Lanvi’s images, and visa versa. Even though we lived on opposite sides of the continent, it felt as though we were sitting next to each other as dear friends.

The entire cast of 17 can be seen in this one image.

Just before the Winter Solstice, which was our target date, we both felt our first book was ready to go to print for proofing.

Eric Francis, from Planet Waves, was kind enough to invest in our first set of hardcover artist’s proofs. Allowing us to hold a copy in our hands and to see what we might want to improve upon.

Our first set of artist’s proofs.

We have made a few adjustments from our first proof and are currently in the process of ordering a limited run of revised proofs. Soon we will begin our search for a publisher who can help us take our vision to the next level.

We see The Everlasting Forest – A Worldly Adventure as the first book in a series of fourteen books. Each book will feature a lively adventure with one of our dear Forest Friends.

So stay tuned, there’s more to come….

We’re just getting started!!

Sincerely,

Lanvi and Laural

Copyright © 2021 by Lanvi T. Nguyen and Laural V. Wauters. 

All rights reserved

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