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?


  1. Mom this was incredible to read. I couldn't be happier that you've spent the last two years immersed in something you love and at the end all the work (if you even can call it that) has paid off. Your art has been making people smile for far longer than you know, I'm glad you finally got to see it first hand!

    1. Thanks, Dan. Thanks for reading my blog, and for being such a positive guy. It truly is a fine thing to spend time and resources on something that you have always wanted to do. I feel very blessed. I have also been humbled by the reality that I couldn't have done any of it without Corine or, today, my little brother. Anything worth doing takes love.