Archive for October, 2007

My head is swimming.  All week, I’ve been inundated with ideas and thoughts for books and essays, projects and theories, even a half dozen art pieces.  I planning hand-embossed art cards for the winter solstice, of all things.  I’m never planning that far ahead.

No, actually, I am and do that far ahead, but not like this.  I’m on eBay looking up 1.5 inch Gothic wood type letters.  Never mind that I don’t have a press (or rollers, or any real idea how I’m going to make this idea work) I’m out there.  Bidding even…

Then someone came into the store asking for a middle grade reader on haunted houses, not fiction but non-fiction.  Now, there’s an idea!  Why isn’t there a hip middle grade reader about the Amityville house or Sarah Winchester’s mystery house?  Hmm, something to research…

Ooo, the music I requested on inter-library loan came in.  Time to work up that ska/reggae disc for the girls.  What’s the best order to blend these songs, old and new, fast and slow…

What am I doing for Halloween?  I haven’t dressed up in years, but I really feel like it this year.  Saw a giant plastic pumpkin head at the drug store a couple days ago.  I think I’ll be a pumpkin-headed scarecrow!  Let’s see, I need a raggedy pair of tweed pants (I can sew on some patches of calico), a vets, collarless shirt, a hand-held battery operated fan for keeping my head cool inside that plastic head…

If you detected a commonality throughout all this it might look something like… I haven’t been working on the YA novel.  I’m probably a third done and in the process of merging various loose chapters into the main manuscript to get myself ramped up and back in the flow.  What I’d really like is to have hammered out the first completed draft by the end of the year.  But then…

I’d really like to work up some supplemental material for the novel, newspapers and bits of ephemera that will help me nail the mood and later (gotta plan ahead) be part of the on-line documents…

I wonder if there’s some way I can hand mint my own coins, like pirate doubloons?  There’s gotta be a how-to somewhere out there…

What was the name of that theatre I used to hang out at as a kid?  The Fox Venice?  Right.  I wonder if those calendars are available on eBay…

Movies.  Didn’t I want to incorporate them into my non-linear non-fiction essay?  How would that work…

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stick figures

When people hear I once taught art their first response, no matter what age, was “Oh, I can’t draw.  I can’t even draw a stick figure.”

Let me get this out of the way up front: If you feel that way, then the educational system has done an excellent job of beating your innate creativity out of you.

Small children don’t need to be taught how to draw or create, just set them down with some materials and they go at it.  People who grew up to be brilliant scientists, doctors, lawyers, people who work at gas stations and mini marts, people who groom dogs and fight fires, everyone started out at the same place in life messing around with finger paints and gluing bits of paper down and giving it a name, a story, giving it life.  As our education progresses the time allotted for art continues to get cut and eventually gets folded into a sociogram for a social studies unit, a cover for a book report and finally, when the system has completely beaten the art out of you, doodles on the cover of your binder.  It ceases to be a valuable and legitimate subject worthy of exploration

If you spent the same amount of time in your life drawing as you did reading you might be surprised at how good an artist you really are.  The problem is, there’s no value in art, so there’s no point.

My point today is that I recently saw that they have repackaged some of the Ed Emberley Drawing Books thematically — currently a Halloween book caught my eye.  In looking through at the way he teaches young artists how to build stick people, animals and common objects step by step from little boxes and stems I realize that there is no earthly reason why adults cannot learn to at least master Emberley’s stick figures.  There is no harm (and no shame) is taking ten minutes a day to sit down and explore the visual, to revel in creating amusing little drawings for ourselves, to joyfully confuse the left- and right-brain functions, to play.

Play.  Let’s all go out and play.

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To those of you making the journey to fomagrams from my other blog, the excelsior file, welcome. Come on in, pull up a chair and sit on the floor as we used to say.

Basically, this is where I’m going to be talking about everything that isn’t a straight review of children’s literature. For the next couple of months topics are going to be fairly general, a veritable dim sum of whatever is rolling around in my brain. As things creep into 2008 I expect a certain amount of grad school to take over, and with it my concerns as a student, as a writer, in addition to all the other stuff.

Feel free to show yourself around. This is a blog in the very early stages, a bit wobbly on it’s feet perhaps but aren’t all newborns? I’d appreciate any and all comments, suggestions, brickbats and bouquets (brickbats and bouquets was a possible title for this blog, as was whim-whams).

Right now I’m trying to post here once midweek and once or twice on the weekend. The frequency may bump up and down a bit as things are ironed out. I’m also working at not being so damned wordy!

Thanks for dropping in. Come again when you can stay longer.

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