Monday, October 25, 2010

A Gratifying Message

I received a message on Face Book today from the mother of a young girl who had received a copy of my Jumbo Book for Girls from her grandmother.  I eventually made the connection.  The grandmother's sister in law had ordered three books; one for herself, one for her sister and a third for her sister in law-- the grandmother in question.  Talk about a complicated chain of events! 

The message was brief.  The mom said her little girl loves her Jumbo Book so much she has traced her favorite pictures, drawn more of her own, and is busily creating her own original Jumbo Book. 

I wrote right back that this is the best possible outcome! 

My main goal and hope was that the format of the book and the overall spirit of fantasy depicted in the drawings would invite little girls to enter the world of imagination and draw their own pictures on the blank pages. I did not anticipate that the spiral binding also would makes it very easy to trace the drawings.  I am always amazed at the innovative genius of children.  They will always come up with a thousand ways to play with something that were never intended by the manufacturer.

I have heard from customers that the spiral bound format and sturdy cover stock pages make it easy for little kids to color in their laps or even in bed.  (A bonus for a child who is not feeling well!)  This feature might make Kat Green Coloring Books a useful diversion for a child who has to be hospitalized or who is recovering from a serious illness or injury.  I wished, as I read that, that the drawings might transport a bed-ridden child, in imagination, far away to a happy, interesting place.

I had no sooner had that thought than a friend in Los Angeles asked me to contribute a "Princess Package," including coloring books, book marks and party favors, to an auction and fashion show to benefit City of Hope.  I could not be more excited for this opportunity to make a tiny droplet of difference for a City of Hope patient. 

I wish I could thank everyone in person who writes to Kat Green Store for their generous words and great ideas. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shopping for Glitter Glue

Kat Green Store is providing book marks for a Microsoft Halloween party.  We expect around 30 kids, so I have downloaded fairies, princesses, knights and the Kat Green Cat with a pumpkin, for the kids to color and thread with ribbon as book marks.  (Please follow the link to Kat Green Store, choose free downloads and take a look at the bookmarks if you'd like.) 

I will provide markers, glitter glue and ribbon, and a hole punch.  I decided this is a great opportunity for me to compare various brands of glitter glue.  I made a few discoveries that I thought might be useful to others who are buying craft supplies for kids.

The top row is Elmer's 3D Glitter Glue. It's a little more expensive than Crayola Bold Acid Free (second from bottom) and quite a bit more than Creative Hands, bottom.  But it's very easy to use.  It has a pop cap and comes ready to squeeze.  The second row is American Girl Sparkly Markers.  These are not 3D, and they offer more control, but they have to be primed for 20 seconds.  Very young kids would need help, and they're the most expensive. They also have a simple pop cap.

Crayola Dazzling Color, row three, is my favorite all-around, because it is very easy to use, comes ready to squirt and has a screw-on cap which I think is likely to be more air-tight than the others.  The colors are delicate and phosphorescent under normal light. 

The two least expensive, Crayola Bold (acid-free), row 4, and Creative Hands, row 5, have the same downside.  They are sealed with a small inner plug that has to be pulled by unscrewing the spout, and replaced after each use.  The cap is vented, so it will not prevent the glue from drying out. This little plug is tiny-- far too delicate for a child to manage.  I am very certain most kids would not be able or willing to replace it after each use.  I dropped one of them and had to search for it on my carpet. Creative Hands come in a pack of 15 colors; a good buy.  An adult would have to remove all the plugs, secure them in a baggie, perhaps, and replace them after the kids have finished.  Kids could use Elmer's or Crayola Dazzling colors with no supervision.  An older child or adult would need to get the American Girl markers flowing, but young kids would enjoy them after that.  Bold or Creative are definitely going to require grown-up oversight.

Elmer's 3D Glitter Glue Fred Meyer 2.99 5 .356 fl ozs 0.60 each
American Girls Sparkly Markers Michaels 9.99 6
1.67 each
Crayola Dazzling Colors Michaels 3.49 5 .35 fl oz 0.70 each
Crayola Bold (acid free)  Michaels 4.99 9 .35 fl oz 0.55 each
Creative Hands
Michaels 4.99 15 .3 fl oz 0.33 each


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Images for "Basics for Kids"

Add a cloudy sky, for fun.  Notice that the sky gets darker as it rises from the horizon?

Add other things in the background.  Maybe some trees.

Think about making things in the foreground larger.  And decide what should be in front and how much should show of things that are in back.  The orange isn't really bigger than the bunnies' tummies, but it's closer, so it looks bigger.  It hides one of the pink bunny's feet.  The pink bunny hides some of the box.

You can make your picture look more real if you decide where the light is coming from, and make everything a little lighter where it is closest to the source of the light.  Places that get almost no light are the darkest.

You can plan your "negative shapes" too.  Sometimes the empty space between parts of your picture also has a shape of its own.  In this picture, the negative shapes make two fairies.

You don't usually give away the secret of what is in your negative shape, but it's fun to think about what it might be.  In the picture below, there's a duck under the angel's right arm.  Can you see it?

Basics for Kids

1)       First, what about the background?  You can add a cloudy sky for fun, or throw in some trees or some interesting buildings.  If your picture is indoors, what could you add in the background?  A pet, or some toys or maybe some food?  It could be fun to put a bowl of goldfish on a table or a pair of shoes under the bed. 

2)       Second, you can make things look closer or further away depending on the relationship of size.  Something very close looks much bigger than something further away.  You can also decide which things are in front of or behind other things.  The things in front look bigger and they also block your view of part of what is behind them.  Your drawing gets interesting as you arrange the parts by size and decide what’s in front and what’s behind. 

3)       Third, you can show depth by deciding which direction the light is coming from in your drawing.  The side of everything that is closer to the light will look lighter, and the parts of the drawing that will get hardly any light are much darker.  You can think about that before you start coloring or painting and decide where the very darkest spot should be.  It will be something that gets almost no light—maybe it’s the tiny spaces between the fingers, or maybe it’s the nostrils.  If you hold your fingers together, it looks like there is a line between them.  There really isn’t, of course, but it looks like it because no light can get between them, so it seems like a dark line. 

4)      Fourth, you can make your drawing happy or sad or scary by the colors you choose.  You could make a garden very bright with yellow-greens and bright flowers and maybe a bright turquoise sky, or you could make the same garden spooky with dark colors and a black sky.  Maybe the spooky flowers are dark purple or blue, or you could leave them white so they seem ghost-like.

5)      Fifth, you can leave empty spaces that have an interesting shape of their own.  If you curve your fingers and put your two hands together at the heels and the tips of your curved fingers, you can make a heart.  But the heart is just the empty air between your hands.  That’s called a “negative space.”  It’s not an object, it’s just the shape in between two or more objects. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Collective Unconscious

Doing a bit of light reading about fairies, I found this painting on Wikipedia. 

It was painted in the 19th century, and I had certainly not seen it before I drew this simple picture for my Fairies coloring book.

I'm sure a Jungian or a depth psychologist could come up with a lot of fun theory about our universal recognition of forming a circle for no particular reason, or for fun, to play a game such as "Run Sheep Run" or "Ring Around the Rosy."  The fairies in the painting (the painter calls them "elves," a notion that was interchangeable with fairies in the earliest available lore), look like they might be playing "Go In and Out the Window," another simple circle game we used to play as children.

Actually, they are probably writhing in misery or enacting a sinister ritual, since fairies were originally associated with various spooky fears.  The playful fairies ushered into our modern consciousness by Tinker Belle, are a happier and much more upbeat community of imaginary characters.  To me, the emphasis is on "imaginary."  Coloring fairies is an activity that is completely fanciful.  They can be any color, and assisted by their magical powers, they can do anything they please.  Mine are playful and busy but not mischievous. It's one of the advantages of the 21st Century mindset. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Random Joys of an ADD Web Merchant

I won't track all the way back to the beginning of the cycle that made me late. I'm just not particularly linear in my approach to life, and I accept that.

Suffice it to say I began the day by madly rushing to get a coloring book ready to ship to a new customer.  I bundled everything into my computer bag and raced for the bus to my day job at Microsoft, and everything was relatively fine.  Well, OK.  I forgot my security badge; but our building receptionist is very understanding.

Every new customer is a monumental delight, and the thrill never abates; so the fact that I forgot, in my rush, to attach my cute Kat Green Store return address sticker, designed by my brilliant web designer, was only a gentle wobble on my otherwise serene journey to the nearby FedEx store during my lunch hour.  I cheerfully stuffed tissue paper around the bow on the gift-wrapped coloring book, sealed the box and regretted only mildly the blank upper left hand corner where my sassy stylized cat should have perched.

Just then, I heard another customer ask the clerk if he had any tissue paper.  "No, I'm sorry.  I don't," he said.  I had a fat wad of it, in an array of pastel colors.  I scampered right over to the lady and said "I have tons.  Here you go."  I enjoyed watching her out of the corner of my eye as I surrendered my package to be weighed.  She wrapped her gift in multiple layers of tissue and used several more sheets to cushion it in the shipping box.

The clerk smiled too and said, "What were the odds?"

Walking back to my office in the crisp Seattle sunlight, I remembered a Catholic lady I once met who said "Any time things work out smoothly, that's God.  Anytime they don't, that's you."  I got a kick out of that, and I have thought of if often through the years.  Maybe the lady who needed tissue paper was a good Catholic.