Drawing on your genes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2004

RUSSELL, Ky. - What does famed clothing manufacturer Levi Strauss and Shawnee State University student Michael Mayne have in common?

Both have magic in their "genes" - no matter which way you spell it.

No, Mayne is not working on a new line of pants, but the 18-year-old drew from the creative genes he gained from both sides of his family to illustrate, "A Wild Ride," a children's tale that was written by his maternal grandmother, Pauline Biggs of Ashland.

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Creativity seems to be in abundance in the Mayne family. In addition to his maternal grandmother's creative side, Michael is the grandson of Don Mayne, former Ironton Tribune editor who was renowned for his storytelling flair, and Dott Mayne, the long-time Festival of the Hills organizer.

Art always just came natural to him, said Michael, a fine arts major at SSU who plans to specialize in video game simulation and design.

"My Dad got me started drawing a bit and of course my grandfather was Don Mayne, the editor there," Michael said. "I started drawing when I was 2 or 3, so says mom."

His grandmother, or "Mamaw" as he calls her, penned the tale of a young boy's dream adventures as a class project years before she ever gave it to Michael. It sat untouched for quite a while until he decided that a hand-made, illustrated version of her story would make "Mamaw" the perfect Christmas gift.

Michael sat down, pencil and pens in hand, and began to bring the characters to life. It took him about a month once he set his mind to it. After the initial drawings were completed, Michael utilized some 21st century know-how to computer color the art in vivid, pastel-hues.

"I really liked doing it. Not only could I do something I had never done before, but I was able to illustrate the characters that were creations of my 'Mamaw,'" he said. "I thought that was really fun."

For Biggs, her grandson's art perfectly captured the essence of her children's tale.

"Yes, I was thrilled with it," she said. "The artwork is what is really good about it."

The rest of the artistic family was so impressed that they decided to have the book printed last week. Published by Avant Garde, the short story retails for $12.95. It can be purchased through the Jesse Stuart Foundation's Web site at www.jsfbooks.com, at Lynch's Frame-up Gallery in Ashland, The Education Station in Russell or at the Festival of the Hills event this weekend at Ohio University Southern.