Sunday, May 13, 2012

Coloring with Mom

Do you recognize this harmonious group?


It will not surprise you that I have a lot of vivid memories of coloring.  It was and still is one of my favorite pastimes, especially with a little grandchild at my elbow. 

Mom and I got to travel all by ourselves one weekend while I was in grade school, and stay in a hotel.  The only thing I remember clearly about that trip was that Mom bought a Lennon Sisters coloring book for me, so I would have something to do in our room.  We colored together, and Mom showed me that pink and red can, in fact, complement each other in an accessorized outfit. 

I haven't particularly followed the Lennon Sisters' career, and I don't think I would try to pull off a pink/red combination in an outfit-- but I will never forget my coloring book, or coloring with my mom in that hotel room.

If you haven't colored a picture since you were a tittle tyke, but you have kids or grandkids with whom you'd like to make a memory, you know I am an advocate.  In a world where kids might have 20 hours of virtual experiences for every twenty minutes of actual reality, I think it's up to us to make sure they are getting some face time-- some human interaction and no-tech activity-- to anchor them to the physical world and the timeless bond of a mother's or grandmother's love.

Nutritional advice for multiple generations of heart health:  Put a box of crayons on your grocery list. :)

Happy Mother's Day to us all, with special thanks to my glamorous, colorful mom.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Princesses Ride Again!!

Some days are just packed with joy.  They make me wish I were a singer or dancer, so I could broadcast happiness like people throwing candy from a float in a parade.  The sun is shining in lovely Bellevue today, and I have spent the morning shipping Kat Green Store coloring books.  It has been just a little under two years since my rock star daughter in law created my website, my printer finished my first three products, and I took a deep breath and told myself, "OK.  Now it's up to me, to figure out how to market these.  Let's see what happens."

Are all merchants madly in love with every customer who places an order?  Honestly, I want to call down the most opulent blessings of heaven on every soul who places an order on my website or finds me via another channel.  I wonder if I will ever get over that.  I hope not.

Today I met with a beautiful, effusive young woman who works as a fundraiser for Seattle Children's Hospital.  She noticed my table at last week's Seattle Cup Cake Camp and contacted me to ask me to donate a Princess Paper doll and  Paint and Press gowns; a coloring book; and a pack of Buddy Posters to an upcoming auction.  Of course I was absolutely thrilled to participate.  It was a perfect day to meet her and wander around downtown Bellevue in the bright sunshine.  She says their next fundraiser will have a princess theme.  You can bet your bottom pair of glass slippers that Kat Green Store will be all over that.

My older brother's dear, lifelong friend George Goetzman, an iconic Coeur d'Alene, Idaho photographer, has agreed to shoot a couple of images for me in a high enough resolution that I can have them professionally produced. I am really, really excited about that.

I sent my other daughter in law some samples of the Princess Party cupcake toppers I made for last weekend's event, and asked her to figure out how to do the skirts.  She's a professional baker who has been featured in Cup Cakes Take the Cake, a New York blog about cupcakes.  I can't wait to see what she will come up with!

Meanwhile, I plan to spend the rest of this magical afternoon working on a colored pencil rendering of the topper, as shown in the last blog.  I think all she needs is a cute, edible gown. 

Some days, you just feel like life is shining down on you specifically and individually.  I sincerely hope you are having a day like that too, because you are a person who visited my blog and read the WHOLE DANGED THING!!!  You should be rewarded for that, don't you think???

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cup Cake Camp

Wow.  We did it!  After three years, I got to participate at last.

My best friend's husband once gave a memorable speech about preparation, which I often think about.  I joked to my little brother this morning that I was prepared to a factor of about 30 times for this morning's event: But I don't feel as if I overshot. In a moment I'll share a laugh with you about some of the things I did that were not necessary.  It's OK if you chuckle. 

First, I'm not sure it's ever a mistake to pursue an idea that captivates you.  As long as you are working passionately toward something constructive, that is an end in itself.  Why would you not spend your time so happily engaged?  Of course every choice carries an opportunity cost, but I'm not busted yet.  I have found what I definitely want to work on for the foreseeable future. 

For that matter, I don't have a lot of "future" left, so I should be fine either way.  That's the best thing about my decade of life.  If you take a wrong turn, it isn't as if it will derail your life.  You have already spent most of it, so a wrong turn isn't all that critical.  That is a lovely, freeing thing.  You can take any reasonable risk that seems attractive.  What have you got to lose?

I have always loved art, and dreamed of being an artist when I grew up.  Now I get to try it.  Yay me!

Second, I have seen for myself, this morning, that mothers and their children like my products.  That does NOT mean that I know how to sell them, but it means I am not quite delusional-- although I hasten to add that delusion is not necessarily a negative state for an artist.

Those of you who have been with me from the start will recognize everything in this picture.  I have been working on most of the elements since March of 2010.  I doubt it would have occurred to any of the folks at this year's Cup Cake Camp that I painted all of my display myself, but it was a rewarding thing for me to see people's eyes light up when they first saw my princesses.  Almost everybody smiled when they first viewed the display.  What a human thing that is!  It makes every hour I have spent working on my art these past two years, worth it.  I loved the work itself, but seeing a viewer smile spontaneously in public is like coming home to a warm house on a cold day.  No matter how much you might love the solitary, personal expression and focused skill development, another person's smile is still the ultimate gratification.

I'm going to add a front and back view of my little "princess party" cupcake toppers, because I want to illustrate my point about skill.  You will see that I have finally learned how to represent curly hair with colored pencils.  It didn't take too awfully long-- it just took a lot of close observation and "successive approximations."  (That's a psycho-babble term that describes a way of overcoming an irrational fear.  It means that you get just a tiny bit closer to the thing that terrifies you each time, over many attempts, while working on coping skills, until you can confront the phobia-inducing thing like a person who is not phobic at all.)  I did not fear the prospect of drawing hair.  But I did tackle it enough times to figure it out.

Here are the fronts, which you have seen on facebook:

And here's a close-up of the back:

Even with the flash "washing out" a section, you can see I can draw hair now.  That's a silly, small thing, but I hope it's instructive for the moms who are reading my blog.  Kids who like to draw or color have a priceless opportunity to learn the "law of the harvest."  You reap what you have sown.  If you spend your time working on something you care about, you will get good at it.  The Law of Karma is very similar. 

It comes back to Larry's powerful speech about preparation.  Anything we plug away at, with intent, is leading us to a conclusion.  We can guide that result by choosing our behavior.  It's that simple.  We can never know what the outcome will be; but we can always choose our behavior and drill the skills we want to master.

I promised to poke a bit of philosophical fun at myself.  As I obsessed over today's event, I tried to visualize a transaction.  I sell a paper doll, for instance, and a repositionable press-on gown.  How do I present that purchase to my customer?  I decided I would need a bag of some kind.  so I scampered down to the fabric store and bought ten yards of pink nylon net.  I MADE bags.  Just in case.  (I know.)

As it turned out, every attendee was given a shopping bag with the Hope Heart Foundation logo.  Oh well.  If I ever need 12"X18" hot pink nylon net bags, I'm loaded for bear.

One more observation from today, for the moms.

One little girl was with her dad.  I asked her if she would like to make a bookmark, and she was all over it before I completed my sentence.  As soon as she started, it was clear she had a design in mind.  I remarked to her dad, "Wow.  She knows what she is doing!"  Her dad bent my ear for probably a good five minutes about what great artists his daughters are.  This little tyke was completely immersed in her task, and did an exquisite job.  Which do you think came first:  her dad's sincere approval, or his children's enjoyment of art?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Getting Ready for Cup Cake Camp

I spent a week making do-it-yourself report covers for my buddy posters, which I will offer for sale at my booth at the Seattle Cup Cake Camp next month.  Eventually I remembered that my fairy buddy posters are Christmas scenes.  So I am doing new ones for spring.  One scene is our familiar Kat Green fairies stopping to smell the roses; the second shows the fairies lounging in the branches of a cherry tree.

I'm getting really excited about my Kat Green Store Princess Party at the Seattle Cup Cake Camp.  I hope my princesses and fairies will add some magic to the day for all the little girls who attend.  I think I will bring Princess Power Packs too, just in case.

Here we are in a rose bush

And lounging in a blossoming cherry tree

I'm just a big kid who loves to color.  As soon as these are back from the printer, I'll color a set to display.  

If you have checked at Kat Green Store, you know that these will be cut into two 8.5" X 11" halves, to be colored separately by two buddies, then taped back together into a collaborative poster. If I had had a set of these when I was a kid, I would have plopped all my friends down to color with me, like it or not. If there are kids like that around now, I hope their friends are in the mood to color half of a poster!
Happy spring!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Kat Green Store has spring fever.

I have submitted my application to man a table at the Seattle Cup Cake Camp on April 16; I'm waiting for my form to become available to man a table at my daughter's kids' grade school carnival on March 10, and (gulp) I sent in my money to apply for admission at Coeur d'Alene's Art on the Green the first week in August. 

The first two events are a done deal.  I just heard from Carrie Middlemiss, the sponsor of Seattle's Cup Cake Camp, and I assume the school carnival will take all comers who are willing to pay $50 for the space.

So, while I wait for the beautiful covers for my Princess Power Packs, I'm sprucing up my mini fairy canvasses for spring. These are tiny-- about the size of a post card; just right to work on for a few hours in the evening at my little utility table.  I started them last summer during my mandatory leave from Microsoft, and now I'm adding the gardens and fiddling with the proportion, perspective and form modeling on the fairies.  They're never finished, but the second layer of work is always an improvement over the first.

Here's the update on the Princess Power covers:  My smart, resourceful daughter in law photographed the drawings (posted in an earlier blog, below), and asked her printer to print them for free, as they are going to be donated to St. Judes and Seattle Children's Hospital.  That's our Corine.  I'm really excited to receive them and get the Princess Power Packs in the mail, but meanwhile I am merrily painting, looking forward to spring.

My daffodils have sprouted and the upstairs lady has set out her primroses.  Spring comes early to Seattle, and the sunshine is always welcomed with jubilation.  In Seattle, we don't have to wait for April showers-- we're thoroughly drenched year-round.  On a sunny day people practically go leaping down the middle of the streets, whooping for joy.  Today was a day like that.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Into Each Life Some Sweat Must Fall

Small stuff is not worthy of perspiration, per the old adage.  Therefore, I have steeled myself against the disappointment of the covers of my Princess Power Packs.  They are not usable, so I am a few bucks out, and discouraged because I hoped to ship them tomorrow.

I took a deep breath, made a firm decision not to freak out, and began to consider options.  My first thought was to send my originals to my brother's childhood friend George Goetzman, a second-generation professional photographer in my home town.  I know George won't touch a camera that cost less than a late model foreign car. (By "foreign," I mean Italian or German, and by "camera,"I mean something other than "Sony Cybershot.")

George could photograph my cute little funky colored-pencil drawings in his studio, where he has perfect light and an exactly flat angle and that sort of thing.  I ruminated on the Goetzman Solution while I ate my veggie artisan sandwich at Starbucks and struggled to get a grip.  (Note:  I think a "grip" is actually a guy who carries the camera for a film crew--a happy coincidence of alternative definitions in this case.) 

Then I remembered my daughter in law recently bought a new camera for her web design work.  It's probably a slightly less evolved creature than George's, but again, how much technology does it take to photograph a drawing that will print in a reasonably high resolution?  What do they use for "O Magazine?" One of those things the size of a Coleman stove with 40 or 50 gears, levers, dials, buttons and other troublesome members?  I'm just a simple senior administrative assistant.  I can barely work my Sony Cybershot.  Is Kat Green Store doomed?

The Starbucks was noisy, so I nipped down the block to Safeway and bought a Pepsi, still mustering the courage to butt heads with my latest set-back.  I weighed the daughter in law option until I got too cold.  I suspect they keep it chilly in the cafeteria area of Safeway to discourage bums like myself.  Feeling adrift, unloved and unresolved I hunched my shoulders and strode into the rain to my car, cranked up the heater and forged ahead to my favorite hideaway, Bellevue's eclectic and non-snooty Crossroads Mall where all squatters are equally welcome to stay till closing if they feel like it. 

By then I had reconciled myself to the option of bundling up the project and shipping it to Corine.  I know she will come up with something exponentially better than my attempt, and very possibly at least as good as George's.  I finished Snowflower and the Secret Fan, but found a P.G. Wodehouse book in the second hand store that I had not read.

I don't need to tell my readers (if any) that my mood is now healed thanks to Bertie Wooster, and the covers of my Princess Power Packs are ready to ship to Arizona for plastic surgery.

It's a minor set-back.  An annoyance.  Drat.

Another Tiny Princess Step

A creative facebook friend suggested one of the princess poses for the Princess Power Pack should be princess palls experimenting with scarves and turbans.  I decided that should definitely be in the pack.  Here are the colored version, which will be one of the covers, and the line drawing for a child to color.

Seattle Children's Hospital has also agreed to use the packs, so now I'm prepared to spend quite a bit more money on these.  I clearly do not have a businesswoman's DNA.  I am thrilled that I don't have to worry about selling these for enough to cover the cost of production.  They are a donation, which completely resolves all of those annoying profitability issues.

The weather has warmed up, so now I can get to the printer and get these things in the mail.  This is one of those little turns in the road that take you into unknown territory.  I am old enough now that I have learned my dreams are just that, and once past that hurdle it became easier for me to make an effort without weighing the reality that it will probably fail.  The future is now spread enticingly before my strong, smart grandchildren.  My own is well spent and no longer at issue; so I can draw for joy and sincerely admire the superior work of artists who draw for money.  If a little girl somewhere spends a contented hour coloring princesses who, like her, have lost their beautiful hair, that is my success.

Princesses palls all don scarves for solidarity

Here's one to color.
Ha!  Do you see what I left out?