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?