Come ye thankful people, come!
I walked into the girls’ bathroom yesterday and casually flipped on the light.
Instantly my eyes were drawn to this sight:
Is it obvious what they are?
Maybe not, unless you have little children who are fond of balloons.
And water-filled balloons.
And Sharpie pens.
From left to right, they are:
Squeezey, Squirt, Squishy, and Strawberry.
Aren’t they delightful?!
Although they are limited in where they can be played with – since they tend to leak no matter how tightly they are tied – this little “family” has already provided hours of enjoyment and fun to my little family.
They have been well loved.
And often squeezed.
And even though their time with us is most likely going to be brief, since water-filled balloons do not last forever, the time they have here will not be lacking in fun and frivolity. Fond memories are being made.
They are also a sweet reminder of the “real” friends and loved ones we love to be with, and with whom we are making fond memories day after day. The ones we are thankful for every day, and especially this week when we are celebrating our blessings with special Thanksgiving.
And I think it’s true…
we all need a little bit of “squish” now and then, don’t we?
What a weekend!
It was more than any of us expected.
Friday night was the most crowded night, with people practically shoulder to shoulder for the first two hours. There was someone playing an old black upright piano throughout the night, there was punch and a table filled with delectable appetizers, and there was art.
Beautiful, colorful, diverse, glorious art.
Kate and her friend Laurabeth were thoughtfully placed together (most likely by the art show director who realized they were friends). They were both happy about that, chatting and drawing throughout the evening, as well as walking around a little to look at the other artwork.
Well, that is when they weren’t being asked alot of questions by other artists and patrons. (Kate did turn her chair around so people could see the portrait she was working on.)
Because it was Kate’s first year as an exhibitor, she was allowed two portraits to be hung.
“The Russian Girl” was on the wall to the left as you entered the exhibit.
She looked beautiful.
She drew a good deal of attention, and since Glenn and I spent most of our time walking around, trying to give Kate some space, we were able to see how many people stopped to admire her. Throughout the evening, I saw small groups of people going into the room where the girls were sitting, and many times I heard, “Only 14!!”, exclaimed, as they came out or were walking around.
Laurabeth’s beautiful zentangle cards were in great demand – they sold like hotcakes.
Amazing, aren’t they?!
I loved her beautiful zentangle vase. It was incredible!
The first two hours of the exhibit were for the sponsors only. These are patrons who have pledged a dollar amount and their intent to purchase something at the show. Although they may certainly buy as much as they want, they are given a red card which they can give to the artist of their choice, with the words “Purchase Award” on either the artwork or at the artist’s display table. Kate received two awards!
One was given by the patron who bought “the Little Dreamer”
and the other was for “the Russian Girl”.
We were so excited for Kate!
Glenn and I were able to talk with many artists and patrons throughout the weekend. We learned a great deal about all different kinds of art, and we also realized more fully that Kate does indeed have a unique gift.
It was one thing when we looked at her drawings at home, and they would make the breath catch in our throats. But it was quite another thing when artists and art teachers were telling us that they can’t draw people the way she can. That she has a unique ability not only to draw proportions and details accurately, but that she captures something of the spirit, or “essence”, of the subject in her portrait. Something which they said just can’t be taught.
By the end of the weekend, I think we all felt a little overwhelmed.
Inspired and encouraged to be part of something which promotes beauty and creativity, in a way that crosses the boundaries of time. Warmed by good conversations and engaged by excited artists eager to share their gifts.
One slightly older gentlemen who told Glenn and me he has been an artist all his life, and draws and is active in the art world, said that in his wildest dreams, he will never be able to draw like Kate does. And he said it makes him mad that she is only 14! :) Another artist told Kate her work is already on a professional level, and yet another art teacher told Kate that she could pick the art school she wanted to attend. That if she gathered up her portraits and took them to the art school, they would accept her immediately. And so many more gave her words of encouragement and approval and told her to “trust her instincts.”
The older gentleman talked to us for quite a while. He talked about how after WWII, the appreciation of beautiful art – which had always been considered “Good” art, was turned upside down. And that “perversion, brain junk, and ugliness” became “Good” art. He named a couple of artists, whose names I forget right now, which led the way in this trend. And he talked about how art schools have followed this trend, essentially not teaching that what is beautiful is “Good”. He said what Art needs is artists like Kate. Artists who will be exposed to “bad” art, yet have the strength to not follow along in the trend which has prevailed. But instead, to continue to pursue and create beauty in their art, and turn the tide in the art world so that once again, what is beautiful, is good.
It was a vision for the future.
Kate was interviewed by a journalist from the paper that night. After several questions, he asked if there was anything else she would like to say.
She paused. Then she said, “I know that any ability to draw I have is a gift from God. I want to do my best to always draw in a way that will bring glory to Him.”
By the end of the weekend, Kate had sold 3 of her portraits, and another was bought by the library for their own art collection! They said they had a small budget allowed and so many people loved Kate’s work, they decided to buy one for themselves while they could still afford her. She was invited to participate in another art exhibit next April at a Plainfield gallery, her business cards and flyers disappeared, and especially exciting was the offer by a famous Indiana painter, Rena Brouwer, to display both Kate’s and Laurabeth’s work in her art gallery in Delphi. Ms. Brouwer wants Kate to do a demonstration in December, and she plans to promote the girls and their art. She is sending a contract for Kate to sign.
And what about “Chelsea”?
In the end, Kate couldn’t bring herself to part with her.
She will stay with us.
Excitement is tangible around here! For the past few weeks, Kate has been drawing diligently in preparation for the art exhibit in which she will participate this weekend.
The exhibit is an annual fundraiser held by a local library. This is its 34th year! It is a highly regarded event, and includes the work of around 100 artists from Indiana and nearby states. Three teenage girls are included among the artists, one of whom is a close friend of Kate’s, Laurabeth. At 14 and 16, Kate and Laurabeth are the youngest artists in the exhibit. Laurabeth has made many sets of beautiful note cards, each card in a set drawn individually and with painstaking attention to detail. She has an amazing and beautiful gift! I wish I had a picture of them to show you – hopefully after the exhibit I can post some.
Because this is Kate’s first year as an exhibitor, she was told she could display one or two portraits on the wall, and the rest would be placed in a browse bin for people to look through to purchase.
The two she chose were our favorites: “Chelsea” and “The Russian Girl”.
Not only should they be her best works, but they need to be something which will catch the eye from far away. These both seem to do that pretty well.
We thought that slender, but detailed frames would best enhance the drawings, without taking attention away from the portraits themselves. I found two similar frames at Goodwill, size 16x20. Although one was wood and the other plastic, I planned to finish them with gold Rub-n-buff to give them an elegant gilded appearance. I used an old sock and applied the paste until the frames were evenly covered, but still had some dark crevices here and there which made them look a little old and dirty. But in a good way!
Here’s a peek at them with one of the portraits, “Chelsea”, in place. Notice that pretty detailing on the edges?
After Kate drew the portraits, she would take each one and spray it with a Fix-a-tive spray to prevent smudging. She sprayed them on a towel-covered chair in our closet, so they would be out of the way while they dried. Plus, the spray is amazingly stinky – like spray paint, and the fumes were a little less pervasive inside the closet.
Once they were dry, they needed to be matted. Because it would have been around 30 dollars to double mat each portrait, since they would need to be custom cut, Glenn and I decided to purchase our own mat board cutter. I talked with a Hobby Lobby employee about it and he assured me we could do it ourselves. After looking at the 3 levels of cutters at HL, I chose the least expensive one, because it included a book and DVD about how to cut the mats, and I felt it would be sufficient for what we would need now and for Kate’s commissions and even projects of our own. Thanks to their 40% off coupon, it was affordable.
Here you can see the various pieces I was using to mat. The actual cutter itself is the small silver and black piece under the envelope. It has an angled edge to get that beveled look of a mat. I ran it carefully alongside the metal support strip on the cutting board, mat upside down, and when I turned it over – voila! A beveled mat.
The mat boards are available in large sheets. We bought 1 or 2 a day, using a 40% off coupon for HL, or a 50% off coupon from Michaels, until we had enough. For the smaller size portraits, the boards were fairly economical, but since most of Kate’s needed to be cut to a 16x20 frame, we were able to cut only 1 double mat from each sheet of mat board for the large portraits.
My cutting board came in handy to lay the mat boards and portraits on while measuring them with my yardstick. The long rectangular thing to the left of the picture is the the cutting board. Also, in this picture you can see my measurements for one of Kate’s portraits.
Of course Glenn was a huge help in getting me to see initially how the measurements needed to be taken. First I cut the mat board so the outside edges would fit into a standard frame: 14x18, 16x20, 11x14 were the most typical. Here are my scribbles, organized under the names of each portrait, with the outside measurements, minus the measurements of the actual portrait, the inner mat measurements, outer mat measurements and the extra 1/4 inch per side between the 2 mat layers. Can I just say it was time consuming? It took me about 45 minutes or more per portrait to double mat and attach a supportive back. But it was also incredibly rewarding to see the portraits surrounded by the black mat. They looked so professional and beautiful.
Here’s Georgie Henley with her inner mat. I have thin pieces of double stick tape around the edges, which I used to adhere the top mat to the inner mat.
It takes a steady hand and careful eye-balling to attach them. I found it was best to keep my eye on the thin 1/4 inch strip between the mats and get them proportionate, rather than lining up all the outer edges. Once I pressed it down, there were no re-do’s!
The next step was to attach a supportive back to the portrait. Something that would keep the whole thing from bending when picked up. We tried a few different mediums, but in the end we liked heavy poster board best. It was economical, but sturdy enough to do the job.
Next the portraits needed to be put into clear sleeves for protection and marked with a price and inventory number. This was yet another way we tried to be economical and professional. We bought cellophane wrapping paper and created individually sized sleeves for the portraits, folding the bottom half up over the top and placing a strip of double stick tape between the layers and along the sides.
Kate designed and made business cards to include with the portraits, and for the library to hand out to patrons who might be interested in contacting her for commissions.
She also made flyers to hand out, with examples of some of her portraits, and with her contact information via her blog, www.portraitsbykate.blogspot.com, and FB page.
A good friend had given some old frames to me a few months ago and I decided to use one of the frames as a way to display Kate’s information at the exhibit. I gilded the frame with Rub-n-buff, and painted the glass with chalkboard paint.
At last, they are ready to go!
Here they are laid out in their sleeves.
One final look for all of us, at the fruit of Kate’s labors..
And off they go!