As I was driving home from quintet rehearsal this morning, listening to cute little Theodore getting progressively better (and louder) at playing my piccolo horn from the backseat, I guess I started to think about kids, education, and children’s books. All those thoughts tangled up together and reminded me of this, a rare treasure presented by Rainbow & Pink Ponies Productions. It’s a first edition, signed by the author/illustrator.
Bearly Bearable, written and illustrated by Ninth Grade Me, first hit the shelf in 2002, when I brought it home from my honor’s English class. The book, inspired by one high maintenance sparkly pink bear, combines a heart-warming tale and a wonderful moral, making all its readers smarter than the average bear.
Here’s a look inside.
The coolest part about this project was not in making the book. We spent weeks working with third graders from a local elementary school. We each had a buddy, and we helped our little buddies to write and illustrate their own books. My third grade friend was one of those quiet ones. Smart, funny, mature, and with dreams of becoming a real author one day. He was even very good at illustrating spaceships.
This is my favorite part of the book. The End. Because while it was the end of our work together, it was the beginning of my picture book career, and of his. I don’t know where he is now, but I always knew he would do wonderful things, no matter what they were, even from that short time that our paths crossed. This little book is a great souvenir of things that were and things that will come – of beginnings coming from endings. So, there you go. The End. And The Beginning.
I’m almost twenty-seven, and these are a few of my favorite things:
- drawing, sketching, and otherwise doodling
- building dollhouses
- climbing trees
- exploring toy aisles
- reading picture books
- building blanket forts
So I guess I’m the child who survived, all the while singing Julie Andrews songs in the shower.
As a kid growing up, if I couldn’t have the thing I wanted, I would either write it or draw it into my life. Usually those things were swimming pools and ponies and, on the occasion I was feeling particularly adventurous, haunted houses. I found out early on that I could actually create my own happiness.
Now I’m all growed-up, and I find myself doing the same thing. Some people think I’m sweetly naive. Some people look surprised when I tell them I went out and earned degrees in art and in music. I’m sure a lot of people don’t really understand why there’s a permanent blanket fort in the bedroom or why I climb trees barefoot or why I carry a sketchbook everywhere I go, or even why I’m still collecting children’s books and lalaloopsies and building them little houses and bunkbeds (for their comfort, of course).
But this is the thing. I know who I am and I know what I want my life to be, and I know that I can create that life. That doesn’t mean that I’ve settled on:
- opening my own comfort food cafe
- becoming an architect
- working toward a career in interior design
- buying a zoo
- working as a professional hot air balloon pilot
- writing and illustrating books
- playing in the London Horn Sound
- saving dolphins
- starting an art therapy program
- becoming the first whimsical President of the United States! (maybe not)
- etc. etc. etc.
It just means that I’m comfortable making life what I want it to be, whether it be all of these things or none of them.
If you want to know what in the world I think I’m doing, I’ll tell you. I’ve drawn hope into my life, and I want to draw hope into the world. That’s all. And while I’m being overly mushy (I got a degree in that as well), I want to thank my family and friends and my husband and all the kittens and puppies in my life for being so supportive of my wild and crazy dreams of never actually growing up. Everything I do, I dedicate to you!
It doesn’t matter if you’re two years old and your medium of choice is Crayola’s “Tickle Me Pink” Crayon, or if you’re 26 going on 27 with a big bucket of “Slightly-Wrong-Shade-of-Sage-Green” latex paint, trying to fix the fact that you missed a word halfway through the scripture. Either way, if you’re doodling on the walls, you will get a lot of attention.
Off and on over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of being tasked with painting the walls around the Cathedral of the Rockies. Starting in the choir room, and slowly branching out from there, I’ve been writing scripture with paint that is roughly the color and consistency of melted milk chocolate chips. This proves to be not only a welcome challenge, but also a true test of my sanity and/or focus (as much as I almost drink my paintbrush water, I do hope I can keep from absentmindedly licking “chocolate” paint from my fingers).
Mostly, I’m very thankful to be able to give back to such a beautiful church in this way – to use my gifts to give. I’ve received so many kind thank you notes and emails from congregation and choir members, and I think you should all know that you’re the reason I love doing what I do. I love art because it’s shared, and sharing with you is awesome.
P.S. A new mural has been added to my list, and it’s one I’m very excited about, even though few will see it. It will in the coffee closet, and it will say: “And on the eighth day, He made coffee.”
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting this happy couple in my kitchen oven. Becky and Stu, I wish you a lifetime of laughter, fun, and joy together. Play nice. =)
Just a little painting to help pass the time and brighten the office.
This is just a little of what I’ve been working on over the past few weeks. It’s a rather large painting – approximately 8×8.’ It’s going to be the backdrop for a lively and fun Boise High jazz concert this Friday evening.
This is the first scribble.
Smearing and finger painting
Below is the poster for Christmas at the Cathedral 2012, Light Eternal. If you want to know why it is what it is, I’m telling you now.
The making of the piece – from paper to screen to paper again. There is a light that glows out from behind the stained glass, just in case you see it in person. =)
When I hear the words “Light Eternal,” I have to reflect back on the magnificent architectural characteristics that bloomed from the early Byzantine empire. The floating domes and stained glass – artists’ use of light to create a forever-kind-of-beauty – began to shape cathedrals as we know them today.
Light was (and still is, by many) considered the image of God, escaping definition and transforming space into a spiritual vision. Have you ever stood in awe at the beauty of stained glass, or simply at the vibrant colors which are reflected on the walls or floors nearby? The way the sunlight spills through, being filtered and transformed into something greater than itself? Hugh of Saint-Victor said this of stained glass: “Stained glass windows are the holy scriptures…and since their brilliance lets the splendor of the True Light pass into the church, they enlighten those inside.”
But what I love so much about stained glass is that the light does not only flood gently in, enlightening those inside – it also shines out.
I imagine a winter evening. The sun set long ago, leaving a clear and peaceful darkness blanketing the world. Snow is gently falling outside the rose window of the local downtown church. And what is happening inside the church is spilling outward, illuminating the quietly falling snowflakes. There is music, warmth, hope, and light shining in the darkness. There is the presence of God among us. And it’s spreading from the church out into the world. My hope for us, as we go into this holiday season and new year, is that we share the light, together, for one another. Let’s be a part of the golden chain.
And please join us for Christmas at the Cathedral this weekend. Experience the magic with us.
This one is about…everything, probably.