Artist and writer Wayne Simmons, an University of Mississippi graduate, will sign his new book, “The Story of Jules Verne, a Watch Pocket Dog,” at Square Books Saturday at 2 p.m.
Having lived in Shreveport, La. with his family since his college days, he now resides on a farm near Ellison Bay, Wis. and stays involved with the arts.
Since he holds a double major in English and art extended, Simmons has, for the last four years, been strictly immersed within his artistic aspirations.
Before this creative epiphany, Simmons owned an Advertising and Public Relations agency for 32 years. This is his first book.
“Because of what I did for a living, I had ample opportunity to use what I learned at Ole Miss,” Simmons said. “For the past four years I have been a full-time painter and writer.”
And for Simmons this artistic escape has been essential.
“The story, the art, the recollections, they are all mine and in many ways they represent a substantial part of one man’s adult life… with one dog being the thread that binds it all together,” says Simmons.
His specialty is dogs, he claims, going on to state that he also illustrated his book as well.
“Without a doubt, my favorite subjects are dogs, and a very ‘special dog’ just happens to be what my book is about,” Simmons said.
Along with dogs, Simmons specializes in sporting art, landscapes and portraits.
Some of these distinctive images have been made into prints.
One image named “Rainbow Bridge” will be given out as a companion gift along with his book during the signing on Saturday.
“I believe this companion ‘gift print’, which is featured on my website, will be an appreciated and welcomed memento of the occasion,” Simmons said.
Simmons admits that returning to his alma mater after 40 years for a book signing is an emotional conglomeration of interest, stimulation and intimidation.
“Working with the folks at Square Books has been terrific.” Simmons said. “Everyone I’ve come in contact with has been delightful to work with and most helpful.”
“Jules Verne” traces an “outdoorsy” young man’s relationship with his dog over an entire decade.
The story deals with Wayne Simmons’ dream of owning an outstanding hunting dog. However, the less-than-marvelous canine Simmons ends up receiving is quite different from what he had expected.
Even so, owner and pet develop a special relationship throughout the years.
“You’ll find that the story’s not just for hunters – it’s strictly G-rated, family entertainment all the way,” Simmons said.
The book consists of a collection of stories that aim to capture the singular bond between man and mutt, as well as showcase Simmons’ own creative spark through his artwork and words.
It’s a collaboration of two arts juxtaposed against one another, working together to create a truly original work.