Monday

Finally, the sneak peek you've all been waiting for!


 
Hello Beautiful People! 
With one week left in the Kickstarter campaign, I'm back to give you an inside look of how the project will look. I've been designing it as a book first and foremost because I have a am hoping be able to reach the push goal to at least publish this as a paperback. It will be easy to use the same ideas to make the animation. The text is not finalized yet but the way I work is to create the book dummy (mockup) with very rough sketches of the figures I will make in 3-d, and how the layout will work. The text will be fine tuned until I'm ready to submit it to the publisher. Here's what I've written so far, and I'll list the figures I will make below the images of each page spread.

 
 This page will be bordered by images of foxes using all kinds of non-motorized transportation, including bicycles, tricycles, skateboards, cargo bikes, jumprope, walking, running, roller skating, etc. All the original figures will be under 6" high, and photographed and scaled to work with the text and layout. 

 
 This page will have close-ups of foxes holding different recyclable items, including bottles, compost, cardboard boxes, milk cartons, aluminum cans, and paper. 

 
 Foxes rolling recycling bins

 
 Foxes shopping for groceries, holding shopping bags, and little produce displays. This makes me think I should add a reward of a canvas shopping bag! 

 
 Foxes cooking, cleaning and gardening. The fox in the bottom right corner is lying on his back eating a fresh tomato. There will be about 8 pages after this that talk about plastic recycling, paper and trees, water conservation, and mending clothing.

 
 Bringing the book to a close, I want to inspire people to spread the word about what they learned in Little Foxes. 

 
 The foxes in the left page will be holding signs that say things like "go green" etc. I'm thinking I'll use the image on the right for the back cover as well. There will be a few pages after these that include a glossary and a bio of Malvina Reynolds with emphasis on her song that inspired my book.
So that's where I'm at now! My plan for this last week is to start making figures based on what I have designed so far, and I'll have something finished to show you before the campaign ends on February 28! I've been squeezing in shaping some of the elements to give me a head start (see below.)
Thanks everyone who has helped me reach my initial goal--fingers crossed that I can reach a push goal to make the book happen! Here's a link to the article that came out in the Portland Tribune last week, and I got an inquiry yesterday from the Huffington Post, so I'm hoping for the best. If this is the information that inspires you to pledge to support the project, click here and make me a very very happy girl. 
TO THE STUDIO I GO! 
take care,
Hilary

 

Saturday

Malvina, Janet, Elga and Me.

Hey Beautiful People!
I've been on the road for the past week, but used some of the travel time to start nailing down the lyrics for the video...and...hopefully...Little Foxes BOOK! I'll be ready to reveal our cast of characters in a few days, but first, let's learn a little bit about the ladies who inspire this project!

We'll start with Malvina Reynolds, the grande dame of Little Foxes. I grew up with parents who played a whole lot of Pete Seeger's music in the house and on road trips, so he was definitely a portal to Malvina and my general folk music and humanist education. There aren't a whole lot of people who become famous later in their lives, but Malvina, the daughter of immigrant Socialists, was moved to start writing/singing/performing when she was just shy of her 50th birthday. According to Seeger, her earliest output wasn't very polished, but her tenacity to learn and evolve paid off. I found a really great 30 minute documentary about her online that was made about a year before she passed. In the film, you hear Seeger talking about the moment she wrote "Little Boxes," the song that she's most remembered for, but here's a more personal quote from her daughter: "My mother and father were driving South from San Francisco through Daly City when my mom got the idea for the song. She asked my dad to take the wheel, and she wrote it on the way to the gathering in La Honda where she was going to sing for the Friends Committee on Legislation. When Time Magazine (I think, maybe Newsweek) wanted a photo of her pointing to the very place, she couldn't find those houses because so many more had been built around them that the hillsides were totally covered."

 Now to introduce the gal I'm recruiting to perform my version of "Little Foxes," Janet Julian. I met Janet through her beautiful artwork and later found out that she was also a singer/songwriter who regularly performs at coffeehouses in my neighborhood. When I thought of this project, I knew she was the perfect one to perform "Little Foxes" because she embodies the folk spirit and humor I was looking for. Here's a video of Janet singing a mildly famous Patsy Cline song.
Another inspiration for this project was my kindergarten teacher Elga Brown. It's crazy that I can't find a photo of her online because this woman was a lifelong inspiration to me and hundreds, if not thousands of kids in the town I grew up in: Eugene, Oregon. She's even written a few academic papers and was cited in this article about early childhood education, but I could find no online photos of this amazing woman. It seems that a road trip is in order. One of the most memorable parts of the class was when we would all sing a little song as we cleaned up the room at the end of the day. The act of singing and working as a group made the un-fun activity a lot better. I still sing that simple song occasionally, and one of my dreams for the Little Foxes video is that children would learn and sing it while they recycle or perform other earth-friendly chores. 

 
 So now we come to the ME portion of this post. The timeliness of the Make/100 challenge by Kickstarter pushed me into realizing this idea I'd had for years. In addition to the fact that just yesterday our new President has successfully inducted a known anti-environmentalist to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, I am feeling the daily shock of watching my government transforming into something unimaginable. The only thing that's made me feel centered in the middle of this past few months was peacefully participating in the Portland Women's March on January 20. Within that week, I knew that working on a book that promoted a simple, but progressive voice towards our future was my new mission. Little Foxes WILL be a video and (hopefully) a book that will talk about all the ways that one person can make a difference by recycling, composting, bringing a bag to the grocery store or choosing human-powered transportation. Malvina, Janet and Elga are empowering me to push forward with this and more books that teach our future leaders how to put the world back to order. We have a little over a week left, so here's the link to make your pledge if you haven't already, and if you know of anyone who loves foxes or recycling, help me spread the word!
faithfully yours,
Hilary

 
 (You can barely see one pink ear of my gray and pink pussy hat that my dear friend--and Little Foxes supporter--Kristin knitted for me in the upper right corner.) 


Tuesday

Love is Love is Love is Love is Love


 Hey Beautiful People! 
 I've hit the slow middle hiatus of my Little Foxes Kickstarter campaign (folks usually pledge the beginning or at the last minute) so I thought I'd bring some foxy love into your life. There's not a ton of art making to show, since I am in the research phase again wanting this to be a book, but I just found out about this amazing Fox Village in Japan that can help us all live vicariously for a bit:

 Thanks to all of you who have supported the project already, and don't forget to tell your fox loving friends about my push goals to get to $5k to make this video into a softcover book, and $8.5k to make it a hardcover! I passed the $3k mark last weekend, so I know it's possible!
One last bit of good news--I was interviewed today for The Portland Tribune, so that may help push me over the goal mark when it comes out next week! Woohoo!
take care,
Hilary 



P.S. The images at the top and bottom of this post are pieces I recently finished and are all available on the Bunny with a Toolbelt Etsy site!

Sunday

The Little Foxes Bandanna!

Hello Beautiful People! 
Thank you all so much for your quick response to my latest Kickstarter project: Little Foxes. I'm over 60% funded already, which is nice!
This update is to discuss the design of the $25 bandana reward a little better. I'm really excited to have this component with the project because I'm a huge advocate of using soft cotton hankies over kleenex and love my personal collection. I designed my first bandanna a little over 20 years ago in one of my first classes at Oregon College of Art and Craft. I'm guessing this was a reject because I notice that the registration is a little off. I think this was my idea of a feminist design...or something like that....

 The bandannas I'm making for the Kickstarter reward will be printed differently. I'm going to use a company called Spoonflower to print the fabric--I've had great success with them in the past doing tea towels and other fabrics. Here's a little mockup of the direction I'm thinking--to take the classic paisley design but foxify it:

 Please remember this is only a sketch--I'll make sure the background is perfectly aligned, etc. but the idea is still there to use photos of the orange fox figures to create a complex repeating pattern in the spirit of the classic bandanna. 
The way I have my rewards set up, the bandanna is a separate thing, but if anyone who is already pledging for original fox artwork wants to add $25 to their pledge, they can also get a bandanna! 
I'll be back in a few days to show you some fox sketches to whet your appetites for the 100 original foxes I'll start working on this week! Thanks again to everyone who pledged! If you haven't pledged but want to grab one of these sweet bandannas, click here!
Hilary

Wednesday

Is Catabet coming soon? I've got PROOF!

Woohoo! I returned from my annual camping trip to a little heatwave, but more importantly, to discover the advance copy of Catabet waiting was for me! That means it's only a month until I have all of the copies in my hands and can start sending them out to you, along with working on your rewards for those of you who added original cat art to your pledge!
As a reminder--I'm going to have the official book launch and one-time-only showing of all 26 cats made for the book at my open studio event this October 8, 9, 15 and 16! If you're in the Portland area, get your tour guide to visit me and over 100 other artists during the beloved Portland Open Studios event by clicking here.
I'll be back in late September to wrap things up around here. Thanks again for your support of this project! 
Hilary

....and off to the printer's we go!


Hello Beautiful People!
I've just spent the better part of the past week putting the final touches on Catabet so it could be photographed by our reigning champ Dan Kvitka, proofed by my longtime friend Janet Harris, and sent off to the printer by the end of the week! I took advantage of a heatwave we were having earlier this week, and sat near the air conditioner while laying out the pages and working on the glossary. I am forgoing the dedication page in this book and having four glossary pages at the end of the book, so that I can provide information on each designer and clothing item or fashion term used in the book. There are even a few pronunciation aids for some of the more difficult words. 
One nice benefit of having mostly anthropomorphized cats for the book is that I could easily have a group shot taken, which is going to be used on the back cover! 

The only major change I made to the book was changing the name of our W character from Wallis to Woody, after discovering in my glossary research that Wallis Simpson was a buddy of Adolf Hitler. W is for Whoopsie! That was a close one! Woody is named for the much more palatable queen of punk fashion, Vivienne Westwood, pictured below. 

Getting it to the printer this early will ensure that I'll have it in my hands much earlier than last year because the plan is to launch the book at my open studio event in October! Mark your calendars for the weekends of October 8&9 and 15&16 when I'll have books and all the original cats on display! This will be my second year participating in Portland Open Studios, a lovely event where over 100 artists in the Portland area invite you to see their workspaces. I usually have festive beverages and mini ping pong as well. The only thing missing is YOU! 
And with that, I'll return to my kitties.

Tuesday

The final three cats for Catabet!

Hey Beautiful People!
Are you ready to see our last three Catabet characters? Of course you are..... 

 H is for Heidi,
whose hoodie sweatshirt
had an intricate pattern
to hide all the dirt.
H! A Himalayan wHo Hoarded Houndstooth!
Heidi is named for supermodel and host of my favorite guilty pleasure tv show, Project Runway, Heidi Klum! Here she is in a classic houndstooth ensemble: 

You think I'm kidding, don't you? It actually is Heidi in a halloween costume that I found on the internets when I was searching for her wearing houndstooth. Here's a better image of how she looks on a normal day: 

As mentioned in the rhyme, Heidi is a Himalayan cat. 

Boy oh boy, did I set myself up for a challenge here, having to figure out how to paint a houndstooth pattern on a 3-d object. Fortunately I found, of all silly things, a tutorial on how to paint the pattern on your fingernails, which was very helpful.  It's not perfect, but no too bad, if I do say so myself: 


 Now we'll move on to R: 

R is for Ralphie,
who loathed getting wet
'til he found the right duds
at the raingear outlet!   
(alternate ending could be on the internet)
Ralphie is named for the Prince of Polo, Ralph Lauren. Oddly enough, it was hard to find an image of him actually wearing a polo shirt, but this is a classic: 

 Ralphie needed an umbrella, which I fashioned out of a little turned bowl, which you see sitting next to the other found wood I used to make the figure: 

 I was happy to be able to make a Russian Blue cat for this letter, as my family had one when I was a kid named Greylock, after a book my mother had as a child: 

 So here's our Ralphie in his yellow Raincoat, Rainboots and Rainbow umbRella!

 Last, but certainly not least, we come to our final character in Catabet--the letter T: 

 T is for Tommy,
who cared not who knew
that he danced all day long
in a hot pink tutu!
T! A Tiger who Twirls in Tuille!
Tommy is named for....you guessed it....fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, (who's also a fan of houndstooth!)

 Making a tutu out of wood was one of my challenges, which I decided to do by layering concentric scalloped circles: 

 Figuring out which ballerina pose was most iconic (and doable!) was the next challenge. 

It would have been nice to have Tommy be en pointe, but I settled for the classic 5th position. 

 So.....that's it. I did it! Woohoo!  
Thanks to all of you, once again, for your comments and words of encouragement, but most of all, for your financial support to make Catabet a reality. Knowing I was funded early really helped me push to get these figures done while the Kickstarter campaign was still alive.  Sometime tomorrow, you'll get an email from Kickstarter saying this project has successfully funded. You probably won't hear from me again until I schedule the photo shoot this spring, and I'll contact those of you who pledged for custom figures or original pieces from the book closer to the launch date for the book. 
Speaking of which, I am planning on having an open studio event this October to show all 26 of the original cats at once, so if you're in the Portland area or want to come, mark your calendars. If you're in the Los Angeles area, there's a possible show in the works that might include figures from Catabet AND Alphabird, so I'll let you know more details about that once we've finalized them--probably late this year.  
If you're reading this and haven't pledged yet, it's now or never, folks! Click here!
take care,
Hilary

Sunday

P, D and Z

Hey Beautiful People!
Sunday's always been my favorite day of the week. Mostly because it's such a peaceful day and even though I usually get a little work done on that day, I don't feel the same kind of pressure that I do on other days to accomplish anything. Well, on this particular Sunday, I am excited to release three more of our furry friends, which feels like a BIG accomplishment for the day. 

 P is for Pierre,
whose unique pedigree
includes pirates and poodles.
(that's the truth, mon cherie!)
P! A Pussy who Proudly Pairs a Pirate Hat and a Poodle Skirt!

 P is named for French designer Pierre Cardin, known for some pretty avant garde designs that I LOVE.  

 the white fur has a very subtle off-white painted on top, to emulate the long fur found on a Persian cat.

 Moving on to D now..... 

 D is for Donna,
whose old dungarees
still fit pretty good,
though worn out at the knees.
Donna is named for another fashion designer with a long career behind her-- Donna Karan

 My studio process shots for this one are kind of boring, so I'll just jump right into showing you the finished piece. 

 Donna is a Devon Rex, which is a cat breed that comes in a lot of colors, but all have a very angular face and big eyes.  I came up with the t-shirt slogan to honor a rare but notable 70's shirt that's been on my mind recently after reading this article in the New York Times. Is this too obscure for the book? No. That's what the glossary is for! Gotta raise a new generation somehow.
Last, but not least, we have our Z cat: 

Z is for Zac,
whose pinstripe zoot suit
made him look super cool
(Don't you dare call him cute!)
Not sure I like this rhyme, so don't be surprised if it's evolved by the time I send the book to print.  I really like the figure though! It was a big challenge painting those pinstripes so they didn't look wonky (I should cut back on my caffeine consumption maybe?) 

 Looks like the hat could use a little more shaping as well....
Zac is named for the young and adorable Zac Posen, by the way......

 So now we have three more cats left and I am well on my way to finishing them and will come back in two days to present the H, T, and R that will conclude the book! And then early Wednesday, the whole Kickstarter campaign officially ends.  Woohoo! 
Thank you all again for your support in helping me bring this book to life in record time!
If you haven't pledged yet, time is running out! Click here to see my Kickstarter campaign and be a part of Catabet!