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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Diane Groenert, a local author, signs a copy of her book for Liz Monnier after her lecture Sunday at the History Center.

Monday, April 03, 2017 1:00 am

Artist tells how she created her book on historic homes

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne artist Diane Groenert still has the scraps of paper that helped make the overwhelming task of creating a book doable – even if it took 10 years.

Each scrap had a handwritten instruction – including “get $” and “scan all images” – that broke down her goal into manageable steps. She brought them Sunday to the History Center, where she spoke to a few dozen people as part of the George R. Mather Lecture Series.

The free series, which runs from October to June, began in 1993, making it one of the History Center's longest-running programs, executive director Todd Maxwell Pelfrey said.

It is presented by the Dunsire Family Foundation.

Deciding which speakers to feature can be challenging because organizers want the schedule to highlight a variety of topics, he said. This season included lectures on first ladies, the city's three rivers and the state's all-time greatest sports stories.

Groenert's lecture, “Birthing a Book; From Sketching to Self-Publishing,” summarized her efforts to turn her West Central Neighborhood house portraits into a self-published book.

“This was the beginning of my book,” the 68-year-old said, holding one of the scraps of instructions.

Publishing a book allowed Groenert to showcase her art, she said.

She displayed several paintings, explaining that she tries to capture some of the owner's personality by playing with color, perspective and lines. For example, she said, she tried to make one home look like it was “up on its toes” because its owner was exuberant.

“I like architecture because it sits still,” Groenert said.

Her book, however, is more than her paintings. It includes text about each home, which required research and fact-checking, she said.

She borrowed books from the Allen County Public Library to learn about self-publishing, raised money for printing expenses and – after many stops and starts – had her first book signing in September 2015, she said.

Her book – “Two Centuries & West Central, House Portraits & Diane Allen Groenert” – isn't a “big moneymaking venture,” she said, but it gives her satisfaction knowing her work makes others happy.

Go to www.dagroenert.com for more information about Groenert and her book.

The lecture series will end the 2016-17 season with “Northern Indiana … at the Crossroads of Many Cultures” by Melissa Rinehart on May 7 and “When the Past Reappears: Imagining People and Places of Northeast Indiana through Poetry” by Shari Wagner on June 4.

asloboda@jg.net