When Katie Henderson pondered her entry in the 2012 Chattanooga Times Free Press Wrapping Paper Contest, she was seeing stars.
The 9-year-old had recently heard about the North Star and was thinking about stars as a symbol of Christmas. When she put thoughts to paper, what emerged was a field of green covered with yellow, six-sided stars and green and red ornaments filled with red and green stars.
Her design is the winning entry in the contest, and a sheet of wrapping paper with her art is included in today's newspaper.
Her work also outdistanced nine other finalists in an online Readers Choice poll in which nearly 400 people voted.
Rodney Van Valkenburg of ArtsBuild, a contest judge, says Katie's design "was clean and popped out on the [printed] page."
The Thrasher Elementary School fourth-grader says she used a Sharpie marker to draw outlines of the yellow stars and ornaments and a stencil for stars inside the ornaments. She colored in the images with markers.
Katie, the daughter of Robbi Henderson of Signal Mountain and John Henderson of Red Bank, says she had lots of inspiration for her artwork.
Her art teacher, Nancy Stagmaier, "makes the coolest art assignments," she says, so cool, in fact, Katie does "not want to leave Thrasher" when the time comes.
Kim Craft, who Katie affectionately refers to as an aunt, is an artist whose works include paintings, signs, found-object art, door hangers and other custom-made items.
"I got a lot of inspiration from her," the wrapping paper contest winner says.
A third encourager, Katie says, is Melanie Underwood, who has been her teacher at Signal Mountain art camps.
In her spare time, Katie likes to draw and paint animals and cartoon characters like SpongeBob SquarePants.
"My favorite things to paint are probably owls," she says.
As contest winner, she receives $25, tickets to Chattanooga Ballet's "Nutcracker," a six-month membership to the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, anytime passes to the Chattanooga Theatre Centre and the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra and a gift certificate to Hunter Museum of American Art.
Co-sponsors of the contest are ArtsBuild and Chattanooga's Kids on the Block.
Honorable mention winners also featured on the wrapping insert in today's paper are Taylor Donen, 7, of Thrasher Elementary School; Jocelyn Parker, 11, of Nolan Elementary School; Ty Hampton, 11, of Boyd-Buchanan School; and Taylor Davis, whose age and school were not given.
The top 10 designs will be exhibited at the Creative Discovery Museum through December. In addition, representatives of Chattanooga's Kids on the Block will be wrapping gifts at Hamilton Place mall with Katie's design through Dec. 24.