A FACE painter from Stanhope and an author from the Netherlands may seem like an unlikely pairing.
But in the world of Kym Patten and Nina Koevoets, it is one that makes magic.
A chance post in a Facebook group in March this year has led to a collaboration on a children’s storybook.
Armed with her watercolors, pencils, a pristine eye for detail and a vivid imagination, Kym has brought the story to life.
“I saw Nina post in a Facebook group she was looking for an illustrator. I thought I could give that a go. I’ve always loved to draw and really felt like I had nothing to lose,” Kym said.
“I find drawing incredibly fulfilling. This project has made me realise now more than ever that this is what I really want to do,” she said.
And do she has, with the stunning storybook ready to go to print – first in Dutch, then in English.
“It’s been a real dawning moment for me. This is what I am passionate about, and I’m lucky that I’ve been able to grab this opportunity and make it happen,” said Kym.
But it’s not all been coloured pencils and rainbows.
“It’s certainly been a steep learning curve,” Kym said.
“Nina has specific ideas in mind about how her characters should look, and collaborating with someone else creatively, much less on the other side of the world, has had its moments.”
The story follows the adventures of little Stella, who is stung by a bee and shrinks down to the size of a flower.
Able to communicate with the animals and plants, she goes on a grand journey on the back of a friendly bird and learns about the forest and why it is important.
Happily, the focus on sustainability and education for children is another of Kym’s great loves.
“I used to have a poster on my wall as a teenager that said ‘When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realise that one cannot eat money,’” she said.
“Without our natural environment, we are nothing. It’s our reality and it’s important we take care of it.”
And nothing makes preserving the natural environment more important than her two little girls, Mayley and Evie.
They couldn’t be prouder of their mum. “Mum’s really good,” seven-year-old Mayley said.
Kym might seem familiar, and that’s because she has probably painted your child’s face once or twice.
Creative flair has landed her a number of gigs face painting at events and shows in Echuca, Moama and Kyabram.
It’s a big leap from face painting to illustrating a book, and like any creative pursuit Kym hasn’t been without her self doubt.
“The joy of following my passion overrides the fear and doubt,” she said.
“You might still be scared, but if you follow the joy and see where it takes you, it’s entirely worth it.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help publish and distribute the book. You can find it by searching ‘Stella says: Love the forest’.
Kym’s face painting can be found by searching Fun Faces by Kym on Facebook. She also takes commissions for portraits — see Instagram: @kymeberleyjp.