Tuesday, July 16, 2013

She'll be Comming Around the Learning Curve in a Week or Two



I haven’t had much time lately to update my blog. I have however found time for reading, writing, painting, quilting, and making stuff with cardboard…unfortunately my blogging and ukulele playing has been on the back burner for a while…boo-hoo-hoo! – Moving on….


I recently participated in Habitat for Humanity’s Artist Showcase.  I was given a dollhouse kit and told, “have fun…follow the deadlines and post pictures.”  Deadlines and I aren’t friends (see the updated release date for The Adventures of Abby and Sofia, for example), but I managed (miraculously) to meet their dates – although I could have used another month to fine-tune things.  This week, I thought I’d write about the experience.


In planning the design for the house, I decided to stick with Habitat for Humanities’ motto, “Home is where our story begins.”  The title comes in part from the name on the dollhouse box, “Imagination House” and together with Habitat’s motto, helped me to shape the concept and visual narrative of the story and the house itself.  I thought long and hard about what to do with it: build it into some MC Escher house (although I don’t know enough math to pull that off), use each piece as a separate canvas, make it extra fancy in an American Gothic style, or…the one I almost went with, a tribute to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (the idea of a Jabberwocky in the attic made me giddy with delight).


The one thing I knew I wanted was to keep the house practical (as a functional plaything).  (Who says art has to be hands off anyways?)  Since the people who like to touch stuff the most are children –my favorite people, by the way – it was a “no-brainer” to make it with them in mind.  So, I ended up combining most of my mediums – storytelling, painting, quilting, and cardboard sculpture – and made the house interactive.  The accompanying book, “Sam and Claire’s Imagination House” is a short story that takes brother and sister on an adventure to overcome summer boredom and find treasure and requires them to follow clues in and out of the house.  It was a lot of fun and a giant learning experience for me – especially the creation of the physical book itself, which uses photos of the finished house.


When a creative idea hits me I have to follow through on it…maybe it’s a superstition thing or just a compulsion, I don’t know.  Either way I find a way to do it.  This can be difficult when I have no clue on how to execute a particular project…like using computer graphics or organizing an illustrated book.  Having never made an illustrated book before, I thought, “why not take it a step further and make it a comic book?” yet another foreign medium.  But thanks to my friend and mentor (and comic book genius) Phil Yeh’s honesty and brilliant words of wisdom (“What? You don’t have enough time…think about it.”), I decided to go another route, and settled on a blend of photographs and cardboard cutouts for my characters.  Then, I decided to set the text and put the pictures and cut-outs together using graphics software (another first) which would hopefully result in a book someone would want to read (and enjoy).


Easier said than done.  Gimp (an open source Graphics program, and the first one I started with) seems to be designed for people with psychic computer abilities – which I don’t possess.  So again I banged my head against the wall until I recalled one of the few skills I acquired in college: PowerPoint.  It felt odd and somewhat cheesy to construct a book in PowerPoint, but a month isn’t that long and there was a lot of work to be done, so I forced myself through the multiple learning curves.  Besides, feeling inadequate tends to be a norm for me (I know, “boo-hoo-hoo” again!) and helps keep me motivated – go figure.


I’ve loaded “Sam and Claire’s Imagination House” so you can see it.  Also, if you have some time and are in the area between August 4th through 30th, please stop by the Riverside Library, “Sam and Claire’s Imagination House,” along with dollhouses by other artists will be on display.  And if you are feeling generous, the houses and plaques will be auctioned off with all proceeds benefitting Habitat for Humanity.   

The link to Sam and Claire's Imagination House:

Lastly, I thought I’d share some wonderful books that I recently read.  I didn’t have time to review them (yet?  Maybe I still will…we’ll see), but these four books both humbled and inspired me – I hope they do the same for you.


Add“Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston caption
“The Giver” by Lois Lowry



“Moloka’i” by Alan Brennert
“Caddie Woodlawn” by Carol Ryrie Brink


Thanks for reading my blog!


*Thought for the day…we need an adult “Reading Rainbow”…don’t you think?





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