It's been about three weeks since our campaign ended and I've been working away on our Little Foxes project! The first big super boring, not photo-friendly but very important step was to get the book written and storyboarded! This involved a fair amount of research about recycling, reading other children's books on the topic so I don't cover any territory already claimed by one of my esteemed colleagues, and making a long list of words that rhyme with green. My plan for these updates is not to go into detail about the specific text of the book, but touch on topics and behind-the-scenes studio shots. The images above and below this paragraph show some of the flora and fauna I've been working on for the first few pages of our story, where we establish that foxes love to run and play in the forest and that's why they want to keep the earth "very green."
Later in the book, we see a little fox enjoying some alone time in the forest knowing his paper recycling is making a difference:
Of course, I will have all of these scenes professionally photographed so everything will be lit and focused perfectly.
My goal is to have all of the figures made and ready for the photo shoot by mid-April, so I'll check back in at the end of the month to show you my progress.
Looks like we pretty much made the goal to make Little Foxes into a softcover book, so THANK YOU all who pledged and/or increased their pledges to help me get there. If you haven't pledged yet--click here because you're running out of time to get a great deal on an original fox figure or other lovely rewards! (See bottom of this post for information about add-ons)
As promised, I'm back to show you a few of the finished pieces I've been working on in the past week! Yesterday I spent the day watching a few of the Oscar-nominated documentary films and did a preliminary layout of two of the pages I showed you last week in update #5.
I plan to adjust the arms so they aren't so curvy and possibly change that yellow paper bin to something more object oriented to represent paper or maybe even plastic, but this is the general idea of how this page will look. The text layout also needs a little more flow to make sure it's read in the correct order, but this is the way I want the page to feel.
Here's the page with the foxes with the recycling and garbage bins. Those of you who know the original song by Malvina Reynolds that Little Foxes is based on will appreciate the reworking of the lyrics.
I also was able to finish up a few of the other foxes I drew for the book dummy. Above is one of the many foxes I'll make for the "green transportation" page. In addition to the skateboard and roller skating critters, I'm also planning to do walkers, runners, hikers, bicycling and tricycling foxes, jump ropers, dog walkers, scooter riders, and......feel free to leave your ideas in the comments for this post if you have your own ideas!
Last, but not least, I finished up a fox with a cloth shopping bag for the section of the book that will cover food procuring and composting as green options.
I'm excited to be working on a book that integrates my figures into a narrative, so it's great to see the pages start to come together. My next steps will be to finalize the text and layout so I can finish up the figures and have this book ready to publish this summer! The Kickstarter campaign ends tomorrow, so if you're still hoping to grab a fox figure, bandanna, or a discounted book, pledge now! Here's that add-ons chart again if you want more than one of any of the aforementioned rewards. This offer is only available while the Kickstarter campaign is alive! Thanks again for your support of Little Foxes!
I've been working really hard this week to make some finished foxes to show you before the campaign ends! The image above is a batch of finished heads, which I've been working on in the past few weeks when I've had a bit of time here and there. It has helped a lot to have this labor-intensive step done, and I should be able to show you at least 12-15 completed figures on Monday.
In the meantime, I am closing in on the $5000 goal, so I decided to add a few more reward options to sweeten the pot. At the $65 level, you can now get a sitting fox figure with any message written on the sign! I prefer "Foxes against Fascism," myself, but you can go with anything your little heart desires if you choose this pledge.
I also added several examples of the poses you can choose from for your basic fox figure:
a fox looking to the left or the right
a curious fox looking down at something
the basic fox, or one in play posture.
And here's a bit of good news! If you're already pledging for a basic fox figure, you can add another $45 to get additional figures in any of these poses! In fact, I'm making add-ons available for anyone. If you want to add a bandanna or dish towel to your pledge, I'll cover the postage. Depending on how many foxes you add or where you live, I might even cover the postage for a fox figure. Oh, and that reminds me, I opened up the pledging to include Canada, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand. If you're reading this and from another country I haven't included, message me and I'll add it. Here's the handy dandy add-ons chart. All you have to do is go into your pledge and add the amount for whatever you want. I'll ask you at shipping time exactly what you want me to send you.
I even added an add-on for the softcover book, since it seems likely I'll get close enough to that goal to just do it. It seems a lot less likely that I'll be able to do the hardcover edition unless a miracle happens between now and Tuesday, but this will be better than nothing!
Thanks again to all of you who have pledged to help me take on this new project in 2017! I'll be back on Monday to show you some of the finished critters, but in the meantime, enjoy this sneak preview.
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.)
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.)
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!