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Author Spotlight: Ratindra Das

Posted on: June 16th, 2014 by Publisher Services

We asked our clients to share their self-publishing journey and provide suggestions for new authors.

Author: Ratindra Das
Book: Watercolor Beyond Obvious Reality- a workshop in a book



Please tell us a little about yourself and what prompted you to write a book:

It was one of my lifetime dream projects. I have been teaching watercolor painting classes and workshops for almost twenty years. I have been an artist and made a living as an architect and have always enjoyed teaching. Teaching is part sharing of your knowledge and part learning from students. Writing a book is one way of sharing with a large audience.  With the thought of writing, I have been writing and compiling materials for over ten years. The content of the book did not receive much encouragement from the big time publishers. I waited and waited until time came to be able to publish with a reasonable cost. I needed to change the format and made it attractive to readers and artists without compromising the contents. However, I had to eliminate lot of materials . Perhaps another book will cover those parts.  Like all artists I am mostly self-taught. I was able to make a successful living as a licensed architect. Somehow I kept the passion of art and teaching alive. With many unexpected turns and twists I became serious about becoming an artist and then throw all my energy in teaching and communicating my ideas in a book. From a modest local art organization, with encouragement from other artists and teachers, I started joining competitive exhibition and eventually became a signature member with Dolphin Fellowship in the American Watercolor Society. Approximately sixty plus members in the entire world can claim that status. It was well beyond my dream. I have taught workshops all over the US, as well as in Mexico, Italy, China and India. A number of articles in art magazines have been published over the years, and a DVD has been produced by a leading company.My paintings are included in museums , corporate and private collections.

Please tell us a little about your book:

This is my first book,, and with a bit of luck won’t be the last! The book is on watercolor instruction in a coffee table format, hard cover with texts and over 250 images (paintings, sketches and photographs).There are many books available for instructions in usual formats. The format and the concept of my book  is quite unique in its content and may be one of the very few published with extensive visuals. It is not intended for beginners who are just interested in some basic techniques and “how to’s”. There are many excellent books written in that area, although this book will inspire many beginners. The book is divided in four chapters- first three consists of essential elements of painting – shapes, value and color, and the fourth chapter is on Design where all these elements come together. The book is a result of acquired knowledge from others and explorations and personal experiences as an artist. There are  images that include sketches, photographs, paintings, illustrations and helpful hints with easy to understand texts. Introduction and foreword are written by my teachers and  advisors who are very well respected in the field. Large images make it attractive for readers.

How long did it take you to finish your book?

The project had been in my bucket list for almost ten years. I kept on changing as new ideas emerged. Teaching workshops for the last ten years gave me valuable insights as to the needs of students-their delights and frustrations. I tried to address all the relevant issues. Due to lack of interest by usual publishers I took it upon myself and started serious writing and editing in May of 2013 and was ready to sit down with the printer and layout designer. All books were delivered at my door in the first week of December.

Do you offer your book as an ebook? No

What has been the most challenging aspect of self-publishing and what suggestions would you give to a new author?

The subject of painting requires skill of painting demonstration and verbal communication. I didn’t realize that it requires tremendous amount of  writing ability and express ideas clearly which are easy to understand. I didn’t have an editor. An editor is useful to keep all materials organized, not to mention grammar, syntax etc. This was the most tedious part of the job. I suggest to have an editor on board to keep the author in line. The second difficulty was to be able to satisfy the printer with the quality of images. Many of the images of paintings were in 35mm slides and with not so good quality of resolution. Many of the paintings were no longer in my collection and as a result could not rephotograph. Now that we have digital cameras, I suggest anyone taking up a project like this take every potential picture with a large file (no less than 1MB) and then make a copy in a smaller file in jpeg. Images should have a separate folder and no texts. Texts should be in separate folders. This will save lot of time and money. I could have easily saved two weeks of pain. Have the copyright permission well ahead of time. Sometimes it is time consuming. Working with a reputable printing/publishing company is worth every penny. I have been a happy camper!