They called it Fresh and Ink.
Henry is Ink. His mom is Fresh.
Henry Bright likes to draw.
He's good at it.
His mom likes to sew. That is her business — Owl People — one she started when Henry was a baby, making onesies and baby blocks, branching out to canvas door banners and purses (and, in 2020, lots of masks), and she is good at it.
Kaitlyn Bright and her husband, Erin, have three kids. Henry is the oldest.
He’s 13. An eighth grader at St. Michael’s. Back in March, when they started their 100 Day art project, he was at home Zoom schooling like every other kid in town.
His mom was trying to keep it together.
“The Earth was falling apart from COVID,” Kaitlyn said Sunday. “The kids were going to start having school at home; it was the perfect opportunity to try it.”
That “it” was an international creative effort Kaitlyn had known about for several years. Writers and painters and poets and artists of all kinds who committed to pursuing their art for 100 days running. A poem a day. A painting a day. A page of prose. Song lyrics. Quilting. Collages. Sewing.
“A lot of people try to start in the spring and keep it up through the summer,” Kaitlyn said. “It just dawned on me that I’d never again have the chance to do this with Henry.”
And Henry was willing.
He got out a Micron pen and grabbed a sheet of printer paper. He sketched a head. A punk rocker with sad eyes and a nose ring.
His mom went out into their big backyard and snipped some grass. She gave the sad face a mohawk and a chin beard.
Day One in the books.
“Our first one wasn’t very impressive,” she said.
But the duo blossomed. Henry kept drawing. A leg wearing a tennis shoe. A Game Boy. An Arizona tea can.
His mom bought pansies. Her roses bloomed. Her geraniums bloomed, right along with their imaginations.
The baby Yoda with lamb’s ear and dried leaves.
The hollyhocks flamingo.
The avocado that was made green with hosta.
After each piece of art was finished, Kaitlyn took a photo.
“Everything kind of shriveled right away,” she said. “We had a rule in the house not to touch anything before supper.”
Then the extra bling was stripped away, leaving Henry’s drawings behind.
She’d posted all of the art — day by day — on an Instagram account made just for Fresh and Ink as spring turned to summer. On Day 50, Henry drew those two numbers big as can be, and his mom filled them in with petals and ferns from Grandma’s garden.
“We have been having so much fun with these,” Kaitlyn wrote on Instagram. “It has taken the focus off of the negativity of the virus and provided a chance to harness good, creative, happy energy into our life.”
And Saturday night, Fresh and Ink had an art show in that big Cripple Creek backyard.
She’d taken their collection of photos and copied them onto heavy 5-inch-by-5-inch cardstock. She bought 100 4-foot wooden stakes and glued clothespins to their tops and pounded them into the ground along the fence and flowerbeds.
Neighbors and friends showed up to ooh and aah at the art at the socially distanced outdoor party.
Those that wanted a piece of art of their own affixed sticky notes with their names on their favorites, and, before it was over, Fresh and Ink had sold 100 pieces of art for $5 apiece.
Tara Mackrill was not surprised by any of it.
Henry is so talented, the Bright family friend said. “Just the coolest kid.”
And so is his mom.
Kaitlyn helped organize the first makers market in Lincoln, now a hugely popular event called Love the Locals, she said.
“She’s a person who gathers people, and this is a sweet way to encourage her kids and bring people together.”
And she knows it isn’t easy to commit to 100 days of anything.
“I’ve done some projects where you want to write every day and you get about a week in, and it’s like, man, it’s really hard,” Tara said. “I know it was a major undertaking.”
Kaitlyn’s next-door neighbor knows that, too.
And Pat Polly appreciates it.
“It was so fun to watch the progress of that experience,” she said. “It was something really to look forward to during the whole time we were quarantined.”
She watched young Henry grow as an artist. And she looked forward to what each day might bring on Instagram. Alice Cooper! Hot-air balloon! Peace sign! A short-legged dog, a big-beaked bird, the outline of Nebraska filled in with flowers and blue jay feathers.
It was fun, said Henry, who along with being an artist is a skateboarder and animé fan. (He made sure to include a few in his 100 whimsical and wonderful drawings.)
Part of the money from the sale of prints will be set aside for a new drawing tablet or iPad Pro for Henry, Kaitlyn said. The rest will be donated to a local art program for kids.
“He did work really hard on this, and I want him to know you can sell your art and make a little bit of money while doing it.”
And seeing all of their quarantine creativity, all in one place Saturday night, under the big sky with friends all around, was the best feeling.
“It didn’t seem like that much on the internet, but it was a whole yard full,” Kaitlyn said. “Seeing the quantity and quality of our work was really impressive.”
Mom and son.
Fresh and Ink together in person.
Reach the writer at 402-473-7218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @TheRealCLK
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