Solana Beach artist uses skills to draw children in as she imparts life lessons
After a more-than-30-year career as an artist, Solana Beach’s Sally Huss is now using her skills as a children’s book author and illustrator.
“I want to uplift children using my talents,” she said.
And in just three years, she has written well over 50 books, including several books for adults.
“I just keep going,” she said.
Originally from Bakersfield, Huss studied at Occidental College and later graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s in fine art. By that time, she had already become a champion tennis player, having won the Wimbledon and U.S. Junior titles and been a Wimbledon semi-finalist in the Women’s Division in both singles and doubles.
“From the time of 10 to 21, when I quit, I was a tennis player,” said Huss, who began taking private oil painting lessons when she was 10 years old. “But I also did art in school and really focused on that.”
After college, Huss worked in television and then in films for Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. She later managed Paul Simon’s music publishing company.
But with her brushes and racquet still at her side, Huss returned to both fields.
She started teaching tennis. Around that time, she also met her future husband, Marv. They married nearly 39 years ago and have an adult son.
Together they developed the Aspen Club in Colorado, a health spa and tennis facility. After that, they built 26 Sally Huss Galleries across the country and around the world, offering art, ceramics, clothing, accessories and other licensed products.
The couple opened their first gallery in the early 1980s in Laguna Beach. The pair eventually owned five galleries, with the others in Santa Monica, La Jolla, Pasadena and Palm Springs. Others owned the remaining galleries, with two located in Japan and Switzerland.
“I was always working,” Huss said. “I always had my head down, continuing to paint and design. It was really fun.”
When the recession hit, however, the galleries started closing across the country, with the last gallery in La Jolla closing its doors about three years ago.
“I then turned my attention to what I always wanted to do: children’s books,” Huss said.
Huss has always wanted to be an author. She started writing short stories in the 1970s and has a box filled with unfinished and unpublished books she’s written.
“I always had the desire to do it, but I never really had the time,” she said.
After closing their last gallery, the couple spent a year and a half in Fallbrook, where Huss focused on creating children’s books.
“It was like a retreat,” said Marv, who as the former head of advertising and promotion for Hallmark Cards, helps with business. “She worked seven days a week for a year and a half.”
The couple then moved to Solana Beach at the start of the year.
Since focusing on children’s books, Huss has self-published more than 50 books on Amazon.
“At 75 years old, I am delighted to have meaningful work in my life,” Huss said.
It takes Huss about one week to write one book. She writes the content and creates the images for the children’s books electronically, using a Bamboo Pad along with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
“I was never trained. I learned what I needed to learn to do what I needed to do,” Huss said.
One of Huss’ favorites is “The Princess in My Teacup,” a rhyming picture book that emphasizes the importance of being grateful and helping others. The book focuses on a little girl who gets advice from a princess who pops up in the most unexpected places.
A follow-up to the book, “The Princess in My Teacup Returns,” was later published. The story was inspired by an encounter Huss had with a little girl at Honeys Bistro & Bakery in Encinitas.
“The little girl walks by and she was in a long dress,” Huss explained with a smile. ‘I looked at her and I said, ‘Oh, a princess.” She looked at me and she said, ‘A queen!’”
Many of Huss’ stories are inspired by life experiences or simple ideas. A book called “One Green Omelet, please!” was written after a tip to Honeys — one of her favorite restaurants. The book teaches children about mindful eating.
The books are intended for children ages 2 to 8. Most of the books are written in rhyme. All of the books focus on core values and life skills. They also feature certificates for children that recognize the lessons they learned by reading the book.
“I love to write them,” Huss said.
Print and electronic versions of the books are available on Amazon.
Aiming to appeal to a wider audience, Huss is creating multicultural versions of her children’s books with new pictures and translated text. She also hopes to eventually bring her books to Head Start programs and book fairs at schools across the country.
“I hope children enjoy the books and pick up the little messages that are planted in them,” she said.
For more about Huss and her books, visit www.sallyhuss.com.
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