Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sunni Brown: Doodlers, unite! | Video on

This is for Debbie and me and everyone else who shakes their head when someone asks to see what you're drawing and dismisses it with a 'it's just a doodle'. Heh. Turns out it's an innate way of thinking and an important way to process information. Well worth watching. :) And maybe we can all just have more fun with our doodles. Thanks to Karen McVey for pointing this one out to me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Non-Digital Sketch

Inspired by the Illustrator Intensive at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA, I've been experimenting with non-digital (*gasp*) sketching. Paints are a very small/portable Windsor & Newton travel watercolor paint kit that Jeff bought me. The line work was done with a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, which was recommended by David Small during the Intensive.

Apologies for the slightly blurry photo -- I was experimenting with the Squarespace app on my iPhone, and I think I jiggled the phone a bit when taking the picture. The monster water container in the back is a handmade pottery piece created by my friend Luisa and painted by me. I have a bunch more one-of-a-kind pottery pieces that we made to put on Etsy; it's just a matter of finding the time.

Anyway, I had fun with this quickie sketch! I'm still way more comfortable with digital but figure it's good to always be learning new skills.

- Debbie

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Everything On It

There's a new book coming out of poems by Shel Silverstein, for anyone who hasn't heard about it yet. NPR books has an article about how it came about.

His family gathered together once a month for quite a while and read poems out loud to each other to winnow the 1500+ poems down to a manageable number to put into this new book. It's being lovingly designed to follow in the look and feel of previous books.
And it will include gems like this one, which you need to read out loud to get the best effect, just like all of his poems:

Italian Food
Oh, how I love Italian food.
I eat it all the time,
Not just 'cause how good it tastes
But 'cause how good it rhymes.
Minestrone, cannelloni,
Macaroni, rigatoni,
Spaghettini, scallopini,
Escarole, braciole,
Insalata, cremolata, manicotti,
Marinara, carbonara,
Shrimp francese, Bolognese,
Ravioli, mostaccioli,
Mozzarella, tagliatelle,
Fried zucchini, rollatini,
Fettuccine, green linguine,
Tortellini, Tetrazzini,
Oops—I think I split my jeani.

 My guys have grown up on Shel Silverstein, so they're going to love this one. But they still think Shel was a little scary-looking in his pictures. I told them I saw a picture of him laughing once and he had a great grin.
You are missed, Mr. Silverstein. I'm glad we get to have another book of your poems.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Creativity - a Ted talk by Ken Robinson

So this Ted Talk is moving, funny and really very important. Sir Ken Robinson talks about schools and what we value and how we teach our children to be afraid to make mistakes and how we kill their creativity. It's moving and powerful and even if you don't have kids I'm betting we all can relate to what he's talking about. Have a look, it's really worth it.

How do you encourage creativity?
Listening to kids and encouraging their interests, of course. Counteracting at least some of the messages they carry home about what's cool and what's a success and failure from school is also important, I think. Parents now were kids who went through the same system of squashing original, troublesome thought, though, and it's hard to break out of one's own programming to encourage wild creativity in your kids, especially when it gets you calls from the principal's office because your kid just has to get up and dance around the room when she's thinking, or draws wickedly rude, funny caricatures of his teacher or corrects the teacher's bad spelling in front of the class or yells at a mean kid who won't stop bullying a friend or bursts spontaneously into a loud song about Mr. Data's cat Spot during quiet time or writes a story about pioneers and kills off the main character at the end and makes the teacher and principal worried about why he didn't write a happy ending and he tells them it just had to end that way because the characters demanded it or...

So what is a solution for kids?

Well, I had a long rant about the school system here and the horrible budget cuts and the under-appreciated teachers and how parents are expected to make up the budget shortfall and what about the promise of free quality public education in this country of opportunity and all that. It's a fact that kids from lower economic levels get fewer opportunities than rich kids. It'd be so great if their schools could have the resources to encourage them, even if their parents don't have the means to pay for music or dance lessons and sports and all that. It's really crazy-making for a parent with limited resources, and when it comes right down to it, there are more and more of us in that boat than before.

But. Ranting here won't change it, won't fix it. Listening to the kids, encouraging them in whatever excites them and grabs their interest, that helps no matter what their circumstances may be. And it may not be much, it may not be enough, but it's better than nothing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Doodle Questions

I've been thinking a lot lately about happiness, enjoyment of life, what is fun for me. I started thinking up questions to ask myself and doodling naturally took over. It's amazing what sorts of questions come out when you tell yourself you're just going to draw them for fun and stop worrying about whether you have to answer them or not. ;)
 I've been drawing silly and serious questions and letting them carry the same weight and the big questions keep sneaking in there.
Uncomfortable questions, things that we don't usually say to other people, secret stuff. I think maybe these belong in a private journal, I'm just not sure if it's a private journal of questions that anyone else might want to doodle around and write in and work on answering honestly or not, or whether it's just me in my own little run-around world who finds them interesting.
Why do you love that particular food? Why do you eat too much at one time? Why do you eat when you're feeling depressed? How do you change all of those things? Being uncomfortable isn't a bad thing, really, if you can look at those things honestly and let your inner observer and questioner speak up. It tends to be that quiet little inner voice that we often are so well-trained to squelch. What happens when you listen for it and let it speak clearly?
I think maybe if the questions are put in a fun, non-threatening way maybe they could become a real path for self-discovery. Of course it could be argued that its just another navel-gazing exercise in self-absorption, but I'm going to choose to believe that view is just that harsh inner critic trying to squelch the fun-loving, self loving voice.
We follow all sorts of rules all the time. We do things we hate because it's expected of us. We work jobs that suck because we need to make the money to buy the stuff and make our way through the materialistic world we live in. We teach our kids to behave, control themselves, eat properly and do their boring, rote homework and sit still and color within the lines.
What would happen to the world if we all colored outside the lines?
So I'm doodling more questions. If you think of any you want to add, just add in a comment here and I'll draw them up. :)