Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Self-Portrait #3

This one doesn't look like me.

I did it without a mirror at my desk on the piece of cardboard at the end of the memo pad with magic marker and white-out. That's right. Office art.
How I used to make that white-out and those bright pink post-it notes work for me! I made tiny flip books. I photo-copied my face repeatedly. So did a friend of mine, and she faxed one to me with the words, "Help, I'm trapped in the copier!"
Not very funny, I know. We should have been doing our jobs. Answering phones. Filing. Even filing our nails. But we just couldn't resist the lure of too many notepads, staplers, markers, date stamps and paper clips.
I'm sure some of you have used your valuable work hours to make art (and you know who you are!) You could call it a shameful indulgence on someone else's dime.
Or you could call it an act of rebellion.
So how 'bout we have an online exhibition. Of all the ways you let your creativity burst out while trapped in the copier.
I'll start with this piece.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Meet the Hubby

My husband's a great musician. And I admit that's partly why I fell in love with him. When I first met him he was playing the bass. What's sexier than that? When I met him the second time around he was playing guitar. And uke. And steel guitar. Sometimes even the drums. And then he bought a trumpet. And then (it only gets worse) a banjo.

Living with a musician is not as fun as seeing a musician at a gig. All that jamming on licks and riffs on his axe (impressed with the musician lingo yet?) It's the same notes over and over and over and over while he's learning a song. Sometimes lots of other musicians come over. It gets pretty loud around here. And let's not forget the incessant whistling. And humming. The guy practically sings in his sleep.

So I wrote this poem:

Oh What a Noisy Daddy!

My Daddy is always whistling
or clapping or humming or singing!

Oh, no, here he comes with his banjo,
Please, daddy dear, can you play so-low?

Our house overflows with his trumpets
basses, ukeleles and drum kits!

He’s even got two ancient sitars,
and goodness knows how many guitars!

Says Dad: Understand my position,
It’s not my fault I’m a musician!

So now he's teaching my daughter how to play the uke. I may have to build myself a sound-proof room. In the meantime, they're pretty cute playing music together. Adorable, actually.

Sometimes they even let me sing along.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Meet the Muse

Yes, I'm one of those moms who had a kid and started reading kids books and said, "I can do that!"

Not that "that" is that easy! And not to disparage moms. My critique group consists largely of moms who write. At writers conferences and in SCBWI chapters across the country--moms who write. These are some tough and talented moms we're talking (and you know who you are).

So sometimes your kid is your muse. Mine certainly is. Just look at her. Put a bowler hat on her head and a whole new world is born.

She gives me new ideas daily. Yesterday it was The Grouchy Kitty. When I pointed out that sounded a bit like Bad Kitty, she said, "Oh, this kitty isn't bad. Just grouchy. All he really wants is a hug."

One of my stories evolved from when she was three, stomping around the house and banging an imaginary drum. Suddenly she stopped and said, "But that wasn't enough music for those monsters!"

Another time she showed me her drawing of a boy with a cape and swirls of color coming out of every body part. Who's that? I asked. "Mom!" she replied, shocked at my ignorance, "It's Colorman!"
Of course, not all my stories are based on Madeline-isms. One came out of a dream I had where I was playing catch with a squirrel. We had a lot of fun, that squirrel and me.

Who is your muse? Or how do your kids inspire you?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Here is the second in my self-portrait series. I thought it would be great to search through all my many sketchbooks and find my self-portraits and organize them so I could say, this is the first self-portrait I ever did, when I was four years old, this is the second self-portrait I ever did, when I was four and 1/8 years old, etc. That sure would have been great!

Unfortunately, even though I'm a hard worker, I'm also extremely lazy (you know what I'm talking about!) so while sitting at my computer and thinking---- yes, I really should organize those drawings.... I glanced down at my nearby bookshelf and saw this old sketchbook sticking out and Voila!

So, no, this is not the first one but it's from 1996, when I was 14 years younger than I am today and a wee bit thinner. It was the days of olde before I had my daughter, which was basically another lifetime (I see some of you moms (and dads!) nodding your heads)

Also done with rapidograph. This was not a very happy time in my life as I think you can see. I never actually noticed it before. I just thought it was a pretty cool drawing.

But looking at it now, I can see the dark cloud over my head. And that might be one of the great things about drawing and specifically about self-portraits. A way to make a visual journal of your life. The good with the bad. And I'm not going to say It's all good! because some of it is awful. But it's your life, so better pay attention.

So how about doing a self-portrait of your own self? I'd love to see it!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Of Turtles and Snails

I find myself writing about slow-moving animals. I have two picture books featuring snails (and a turtle makes a cameo in each of these) Plus there's a poem My Turtle Ran Away. And also How to Serve Banana Slugs.

I don't like creepy, crawly, flying things and they're never welcome in my home (and you know who you are!) But if I'm stepping onto my first step to step up onto my porch, and there's a slug, I have to look down and say, "I know how you feel."

Have you heard the one about the guy who hears a knock on his door? He opens the door, looks down and sees a snail. So he picks the snail up and hurls him out to the street.

Two years later, he hears another knock. Opens the door and there's the snail again, saying,
"What was all that about?"

Now let's not forget turtles. They look like they've seen it all and know much more than you do, right? When I was a kid, I had a poster in my room that said, "A turtle only gets ahead by sticking out his neck." Now I never was big on sticking out my neck. But I liked looking at that drawing every day.

A couple of years ago I bought a small painting by Asheville artist Moni Hill. It's got a sweet little turtle on it and the words:
We have very little time. We must move very slowly -Zen proverb

It's been hanging on my daughter's door ever since, and, even though it has not slowed my little girl down one bit, I like looking at that painting.
So if you see me around town, moving very slowly, now you know why.
Now tell me what animals you like to draw or write poems about or see on your porch.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


My first drawings were of the rock stars on those great big cds they used to make (they were called albums back then)--Cat Stevens, Mick Jagger, Elvis Costello.

Later I got into self-portraits, which are still some of my favorite drawings. Whenever I find myself feeling foggy and confused, which is increasingly often, I go down to my studio (meaning, drawing table) and draw myself.

This is a new one. Drawn with a new rapidograph. I loved my rapidograph in high school and all through college but gave it up for my brushes, pencils and paints. Recently I bought one again. Feels a little technical, but okay.

I've always thought it would be way cool to have an exhibit of all my years of self-portraits--- from my teen years to my mature self. So maybe I'll start that exhibit right now. Right here. With this drawing from December 2009.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Where is Mt. Crumpit, anyway?

Just north of Who-ville, as I'm sure you all knew! Welcome to the first day of my first post of my first blog. Ever! Named for my favorite line in children's literature:

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mt. Crumpit,
He rode with his load to the tip top to dump it!

from How The Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss, as I'm sure you all knew!

One of my favorite lines. There are so many to choose from. Like:

And the Banderilleros were mad and the Picadores were madder and the Matador was so mad he cried because he couldn't show off with his cape and sword.

From The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf-- you knew that one, right?

Speaking of literary references, I found this fascinating line from an oft-misquoted Emily Dickinson poem:

How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Blog -

I didn't even know they had blogs back then!
Okay, Emily Dickinson did not have a blog. But don't you wish she did?
So, gentle reader, here is my question to you: whose blog do you wish you could read? I mean, if you could go back in a time machine and invent blogs so long ago that even Jane Austen could have had one, if she wanted (and you know she would!)

Thanks for visiting my first blog. Ever!