Pedal Love Coloring Book

Why I'm Drawing a Coloring Book - Part II

Kittie Knox has a fascinating story that I want MANY more people to know about.

Kittie Knox has a fascinating story that I want MANY more people to know about.

I'm interested in creating culture shift. How about you? I'm interested in people of all ages and all walks of life being able to have easy, safe, fun opportunities to replace short car trips by biking, walking and taking public transit.

Why? Because it could not only vastly reduce pollution, but it's great for the mind, body and spirit. Oh yes, and it saves you money.

So I'm drawing a colouring book.

I'm also drawing a colouring book because I love the story of the bicycle as an empowerment tool for women and girls from any background. Just last week I realised that the Pedal Love Coloring Book needs to be called Pedal Love: Girls Ride colouring book. And as a storyteller interested in elevating the voice and impact of women, my colouring book needs to celebrate female change agents in bicycling and equal rights and other realms.

I need this first book to tell the story of some of the very first groundbreaking women who rode bicycles like Kittie Knox.

I found out about Kittie about six months ago when I decided I wanted to draw one of the first female suffragettes who bicycled. I was working on my talk as part of a storytelling jam I was giving at the opening of the National Bike Summit with other Pedal Love Council Members last March.

I Googled the term and up popped images of a young woman I'd somehow missed - Kittie Knox (also known as Katie Knox). Was Kittie a suffragette? I don't think we know for certain, but I can't imagine she wasn't. Nonetheless, her story is still very inspiring and needs to be heard by a much larger audience. The Bike League, Bicycling Magazine,  and the Boston Globe have all written about her. Actually, she's been in the Boston Globe more than once.

But I believe her story deserves to be a movie. So I'll do what I can with my colouring book to get the word out. Would you like to help make that happen? You can donate to support my creating the book here.

Kittie was from Boston and very active in the bicycling scene there. She was a card carrying member of the League of Bicyclists (then The League of American Wheelmen), and known for placing well in road races even when competing against men. Her story went nation wide when she tried to attend the national League of American Wheelmen;s national summit in New Jersey in 1895.

Kittie was turned away, not because she wasn't a member, she was, but because she was biracial.

The inspiration comes from the fact that Kittie didn't go away quietly. While her friends from Boston worked to get her in - after all she had been a member of the League since before they'd passed the color bar - she stayed outside the entrance riding her bike. She intrigued the media with her masterful bike moves and her story caught on like fire. She was only 21 at the time.

Sadly at 26, she died of Kidney disease. Her family's financial situation was such that they couldn't afford a marker for her grave at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Her grave didn't receive a marker until 2013 after bicycle advocate and writer Lorenz Finison came across her name and images several times when working on the history of cycling in Boston.

Intrigued? You can learn more in this insightful piece in The Boston Globe.

I've drawn Kittie once but I'm redrawing her for the colouring book because I want to set a scene and create an illustration that will be more fun to colour. It's not easy to capture her because the images I have aren't very clear. But I'm doing my best. What do you think?

 

 

Why I'm Drawing the Pedal Love Coloring Book

The colored in version of my Pedal Love Girl illustration wearing a Pussy Hat is available as t-shirts, mugs and other nice things on our Pedal Love online boutique at Zazzle.com. She'll also be available for you to color in yourself in the upcoming Pedal Love coloring book.

The colored in version of my Pedal Love Girl illustration wearing a Pussy Hat is available as t-shirts, mugs and other nice things on our Pedal Love online boutique at Zazzle.com. She'll also be available for you to color in yourself in the upcoming Pedal Love coloring book.

The idea for drawing a Pedal Love Coloring book slowly started to form in my mind after my sister gave me a set of beautiful Japanese watercolor pens and The Enchanted Forest adult coloring book for Christmas in 2015. While I loved the adult coloring world the talented young Johanna Basford (creator of The Enchanted Forest, Lost Ocean and other gorgeous coloring books you need to check out if you haven't already) has created, I realized I would actually enjoy creating and coloring in my own drawings more.

So I pulled out my old tablets, pencils, pens and colored pencils and began making some bike friendly illustrations. My first few attempts were fun if a bit awkward and not quite up to what I'd like them to be (and I drew the chain guard on the wrong side at times), but I noticed very quickly that I adored the creative process of trying to capture the ideas that were forming in my head. (At right: one of my early bike-friendly drawing attempts).

Moreover, I really enjoyed the social media conversation I was engaging in as I asked friends and family scattered across the U.S. and farther (even Canada and Italy!) what they thought of who I was drawing, and more importantly - what she should wear!

It was also a marvelous surprise to realize that even on some of my toughest fatigue days I could often still draw. That felt like such a delicious accomplishment, to be able to sit in bed and still be creatively productive even when I was too exhausted to take a shower.

Also, the whole adult coloring book phenomenon totally fascinated me. Talk about a growth market! In December of last year U.S.A. today reported it's a trend that isn't going to disappear anytime soon. It's such a wonderful form of stress relief in our busy busy lives.

As I drew more I decided to move to larger paper so I could create more detailed pieces, and that's when I really started to get my illustrating groove back. And idea started to form...

Was there, I wondered, something in this fun that I was having with drawing that I could harness for Pedal Love? Could I possible draw an entire coloring book that would capture the celebration of how bicycling is transforming people's health and well-being not just here in the U.S., but around the world? The truth is that I'm actually better at drawing than coloring my drawings in.

Could this journey to create this book in turn not only help me in my own physical healing, but to help to create financial wellness for myself and Pedal Love as well? Could I create a low cost residual income stream to help support myself financially so that by 2017 I can focus solely on Pedal Love - and pay my creative team as well?

It felt like a crazy bold idea, but so very very fun. My ego (whom I've named Cassandra) both applauded the idea, and then turned around and told me I was getting to big for my britches.

But wasn't this exactly the kind of "Permission Slip from God" moment I encourage other people - especially women - to give themselves? Was it perhaps time to return to my childhood and teen dream of being an artist? After all, I'd recaptured my childhood and teen dream of being a writer, hadn't I?

Could I follow through for myself on this? I did some research and found that on Blurb.com I could create a really beautiful 24-36 page soft cover book that would be very affordable to produce and still allow me to raise money to help support Pedal Love.

That's a lot of illustrations of people riding bikes. It takes me about a week to create a complete drawing on a 14"x17" piece of paper - large enough for me to get very detailed so that it will be actually fun to color in.

"Flights of Fancy" is the drawing I'm working on today. This is my second version of it. This is a shot from my iphone, next week it'll be professionally scanned so I can include it in a   downloadable pdf   as of May for National Bike Month.

"Flights of Fancy" is the drawing I'm working on today. This is my second version of it. This is a shot from my iphone, next week it'll be professionally scanned so I can include it in a downloadable pdf as of May for National Bike Month.

Can I do this? I'm not sure. But I'm willing to try. I'm going for it. It not only means I need to really focus on getting the drawings done, but I need to be courageous and bold enough to fund-raise while I'm drawing so that I can keep focusing on drawing rather than take on other freelance projects to pay the bill. If this is capturing your fancy please take a look at the fundraising levels we're offering. Yes, there's something for every budget. I promise.

Whew. Yes, it's pushing a lot of my deserving buttons even as I write this. But I've given up a lot on myself and my dreams in my life, how about you? I've often set aside my most creative, adventurous, active, curious self in order to fit in and do what society told me was a safe should that would make my life financially successful. Does this have any resonance for you?

What I learned in 2000 (along with many others) is that the Internet was turning the world upside down.  While it began to give us a an extraordinary platform from which we could connect with people all over the world easily, creatively and inexpensively, it also so shook up how we work and what we get paid for, and how we find that work, that many (like myself several times) have often been left under employed and worse.

Over the past 17 years the more I've either dusted off, or dug deep to learn new creative and artistic ways to connect digitally with others, the more I've thrived. My art and creativity, which my parents discouraged me from pursuing professional for fear I'd starve, has been the very thing that's given me any edge to succeed.

So is an adult coloring book that's sold on demand really that crazy? What do you think? And how is your creativity helped save your life? I'd love to know.