From the Print

Kathy Moulton, who draws animal characters from her studio on West Center College Street, most recently wrote and illustrated a series of children’s books. She will read from them this Saturday, July 16, from 3 to 6 p.m. at Village Artisans. (photo by Megan Bachman)

Moulton to read from her new book

Kathy Moulton, best known for her playful drawings populating Yellow Springs locales with animal characters — birds flocking to the Little Art Theatre, hyenas laughing it up at Ha Ha Pizza — has published four new children’s books starring rabbits, kittens, raccoons and kids.

The local artist, illustrator and author will read from and sign her books on Saturday, July 16, from 3 to 6 p.m. as part of the Yellow Springs Experience. The event takes place in the lobby of Village Artisans, 100 Corry Street, where her books are now for sale. Children are encouraged to attend.

Just as the drawings in her local series were inspired by her Yellow Springs life, Moulton’s stories also have local roots — one was originally a story for her then-boyfriend when he left for Antioch College, one based upon a quilt in her daughter’s bedroom and another inspired by Antioch School children struggling to tie their shoes.

In fact, some of the ideas for Moulton’s self-published books, A View From You, Six Small Rabbits, Calico Kittens and You Have to Get All of Your Toes In!, have been with her for decades. It was only when she traded in pen and ink for a computer and digitizer pen did they begin to take shape. For Moulton, it’s like creating a diorama in two dimensions.

“When I started drawing and coloring on the computer, my work took off,” Moulton said. “So I went back to these stories.”

A View From You, on seeing the world from the perspectives of others, was Moulton’s first book, which she made by hand and mailed to her now-husband Hayes Moulton when he went off to Antioch College in 1969. The story stars a young and miniature Moulton crawling over the ears and eyes of children to try to understand their inner life. The book changed in theme and look after Sept. 11 to explore diverse ways of looking at the world.

Six Small Rabbits, which was originally completed in pen and ink, was inspired by a children’s literature course at Antioch that Hayes was enrolled in. In it the rabbits grow large and explore the universe. You Have to Get All Your Toes In! features Rodney Raccoon and his sidekick, a blue footed booby, teaching the proper way to put on socks and shoes.

Calico Kittens was completed on collage and follows what happens to a quilt in the bedroom of her daughter, Rachel, when Rachel goes off to college. The quilt, as it turns out, wanted to turn into calico kittens and with a pattern provided at the end of the book, so can the reader’s own quilts.

The books have the same signature look as Moulton’s local series, My Town: The Musings of a Not-so-Vocal Local, with colorful characters and backgrounds drawn and arranged on her computer. The process begins with a background on which Moulton can place and move around her hand-drawn characters, a staple of her art from the beginning.

“I loved Walt Disney and the cartoons,” Moulton said. “I was always doing silly characters.”

Moulton’s breakthrough came when she discovered the possibilities of the computer. She drew house plans in town for 15 years, including for the Park Meadows development, before combining work and pleasure. Now her art is full time. And besides a short stint at the Dayton Art Institute, she’s largely self-taught. But it has been a long process coming to terms with her inner silliness.

“I always did cute stuff and for a while I fought that,” Moulton said. “I’ve accepted it now.”

Accepted it she has. In a new series of drawings she puts her animal characters throughout the world — pandas at the Great Wall of China, squirrels clutching buckeyes at Ohio Stadium — and even produces animal parodies of famous paintings — the Meowna Lisa, Abearican Gothic and “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” populated with geese.

It was at a 2007 show of Moulton’s at the Winds that she became locally-known for her animal tableaus of famous spots in town. Because of the success of these drawings, available in note cards and prints, she is now self-publishing a hardcover book containing fan favorites — including shoe-donning owls at Antioch College, inspired by a phrase in the Antioch handbook that “shoes must be worn at graduation,” and farm animal peace protestors on Xenia Avenue holding “no sprawl” signs. The book will also include bits of village history and personal experience.

With a new confidence, Moulton continues to produce new work. Also on the drawing board are more local animal drawings, this time in front of historical Yellow Springs locales, a new book about how to treat and how not to treat a cat, inspired by her cat Phyllida, and an exhibit at a Fifth Third Bank in Dayton in the fall. Moulton will also be a stop on the Yellow Springs Studio Tour in October to demonstrate her unique approach to creating art.

“I was always shy to say I was an artist,” Moulton said. “But the response has been great — people like it.”

Visit www.kavooom.com to see Moulton’s work.

 

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