Mary Beth Sallee
Reporter, Hart Co. News-Herald
When Dominique Gonzalez was just a child, she developed a strong interest in art of all kinds.
“My mom always bought us kids art supplies growing up, so from a young age I have been painting, drawing, and sculpting,” Dominique said. “I love creating things! I am relaxed and in my element when I can create. Whether it is drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, or even playing Minecraft with my son, creating something from nothing or something from materials presented makes me smile, and I enjoy my life more when I have an outlet for my creative energy.”
In combining that creative energy with a passion for art, Dominique now works as an Artist and Art Instructor with ZseDenny Grace Studio. In this specific line of work, Dominique helps others develop their artistic skills through paint parties, socializing events, and even private lessons. This includes various artistic mediums such as painting, sculpting, carving, and even jewelry making.
Dominique has also illustrated previous book and book covers, as well as a music album cover, business logos for rebranding, and artwork for medical journals and nursing manuals.
Now, Dominique can add yet another accomplishment to her career: being the illustrator of a children’s book.
The book, Yes! I’m a Military Child, was written by Laura Ackerman. This is the first children’s book that Dominique has illustrated.
“Once in a while, when business is slow, I look through the site Thumbtack for people who are looking for an artist to hire,” Dominique said. “There are many listings, but once in a while something will catch my eye that makes me smile, and that’s who I contact about work. Laura Ackerman is a delightful woman who has not only raised her kids in the military family-style but took the time to put into words what it is like to be a military child.”
“I grew up as a military child my whole life, and though I loved it, the lifestyle is not an easy one, and it’s not for everyone,” Dominique continued. “My favorite part of the (illustration) process was talking with Laura and collaborating on this book. We each have our favorite pages. She told me hers is the boy in the boots because it gets her every time she sees it. My favorite page is the one that shows the military man being presented with a shadow box with his loving wife by his side because that’s my parents…I absolutely loved illustrating this children’s book, not only because it hit so close to home, but also because working with Laura was fun and this accomplishment is another step in my dreams coming true.”
Laura referred to Dominique as a “saint” who was very patient as the book took a long time to be published.
“I was a little paralyzed with a bit of the fear of the unknown, but she (Dominique) was quite a foundation all the way through,” Laura said. “The minute I saw her pictures, I fell in love with them. Being a brat herself, she told me that her pictures are from her family and their adventures (of) all things military. Each time I see her watercolor of the child with the boots, it brings me to tears as it reminds me of my own boys missing their dad and all the other children I have worked with who have had this same experience. These kids go through so much, and I’m hoping the book comes across as a great appreciation of them. It’s a cool club to be a part of, but so hard to do at the same time.”
Laura also stated that she is happy that her path crossed with Dominique for this project.
“I really needed someone who could truly understand what I was attempting to portray, and her talented hands brought it all out,” Laura said. “I am so thankful for Dominique!”
From the art studio to creating illustrations for books, Dominique looks forward to accomplishing additional goals and also helping others through her artistic abilities.
“I have many dreams for my future, and creating art of all forms features prominently in all of them,” Dominique said. “I dream of an art studio so complete that it could even become an accredited institute or university. I dream of being an author and illustrator to dozens of my own books, as well as illustrator to many other people’s books to help their dreams come true. And I dream about traveling to share the world I grew up seeing, thanks to the military, with my amazing husband and son…I love changing people’s lives through art, and I look forward to every opportunity I get to do that.”
Dominique is also currently writing and illustrating her own graphic novel style book that will be a spin-off to a full series of books of which she has planned.
Yes! I’m a Military Child is currently available for purchase on Amazon. However, a new version of the book is set to be released very soon as revisions need to be made, including adding Dominique’s name as illustrator to the front cover.