These kids are wading in my same canal, but under the watchful eye of several parents. During my youth, our mothers kicked us out of the house early in the morning and told us to stay out until lunch. Then we would stay out all afternoon, too. I remember the signal when to come in was when we started hearing the neighborhood parents calling for their kids. It could be very embarrassing for kids to be called by their pet names like "Sweetie," or "Honey Bear." My dad just whistled for us and we came a running even if we were many blocks away.
Freedom for Exploration
Yesterday I took a walk down memory lane -- literally. When I was very young, our family lived next to an irrigation canal. The houses near us got rights on certain summer days to open the little gates to allow water to run from the canal down the hill and onto our gardens and lawns. During the summers, us kids played along the canal bank. We floated little boats, chased the water skeeters, lost our flip flops, and sometimes dammed up the wide place so we could swim. The most fun was swinging across the water and dropping in from our Tarzan swing.
Well, I hadn't visited that canal path in many, many years. I knew that changes had been made, but until yesterday, I didn't know how it had changed. The once rustic and natural canal with a dirt trail has been remodeled into a classic, upscale jogging path complete with police call boxes every few yards. It is beautiful! But it has nearly erased the precious memories of my youth. So, I decided to write a new series of stories documenting some of those cherished moments. (My girls get worried, though, when I tell their children what a feral life I led in my youth.)
So whether my daughters appreciate it or not, I intend to write some stories for my grandchildren about what a fun and free-spirited life I led as a child. Oh, how I wish that more children could know that kind of freedom for exploration.
Learning to Draw "Personality"
Many creative people have had their avenues of expression completely halted during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic "shelter in place" quarantine. That's why so many singers and composers are posting their musical renditions on social media. They simply need to have somewhere to perform. I feel so sorry for the students who have practiced and prepared and looked forward to concerts, recitals, plays, dance and sports who now have nothing to look forward to --- for who knows how much longer! Visual art may be a little different, but not much. Artists and writers spend many hours alone creating their masterpieces. But they, too, feel the need to get their art in front of an audience.
I am one of those creative folks who absolutely must CREATE. Directing choirs and singing are problematic in this time of social distancing. So, I have had to channel my creative juices into other avenues. I have been writing and illustrating a new Picture Book. After coming up with the initial story and plot ideas, I started designing the characters and settings and layout. Herein lies the challenge.
The story is about two young sisters who have different playing styles and yet must find some way to play together. PLOT --- fairly straightforward. Now how to give the story some humor and charm? The SETTING is mostly in the girls' bedroom for the first third of the book. Do I clutter up the focus by adding pattern and texture in the backgrounds? Hmm... So that leaves the burden of interest squarely on CHARACTER. One or the other or both of these girls are featured on every page. The story takes place all in one day, so it doesn't make sense to change costumes, hairstyles, or age in the drawings. So, my only choice is to get really good at drawing PERSONALITY. (Not so sure if I am doing very well.)
This project has been all-consuming and rather frustrating. I start off with pencil sketches, progressing on to ink and watercolor paintings. But then in order to set the book layout with text, I need to scan the images into the computer. My scanner doesn't do a very good job of capturing the nuances of the watercolors. So, my only option is to "fix" them in Photoshop. Unfortunately, the paintings lose a lot of spontaneity with all of this "fixing." Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for such powerful tech tools to help me self-publish these little storybooks. Just wish I was more tech savvy so that I knew how to use these tools better.
Meet Kathryn and Carolyn, sisters who (after a day of trial and error) finally find an activity they both enjoy doing together.
My name is Betsy Bailey. I have sung, written and taught music all of my life. I enjoy writing and directing Children's Theater shows. This blog will be directed to topics on creating the magic of Children's Theater. I would love to hear your comments!