Friday, May 8, 2020

Cover design for Hamlet

Do you like the cover of your copy of Hamlet? Often, they put a painting or photo of the melancholy Dane on the cover. What makes a nice looking book? Should this be a nice looking book? What's important about this play, that should go on the cover?
Design and draw your own paperback cover for Hamlet. It should include at least the title and author. Send me a copy.

Revising Your Poem

     Is your poem boring? Would a random person find it interesting to read? If not, it needs some help.  Don't let it lie boring and limp and helpless! Let's plump it up and breathe some fresh life into it. Help it along with a prayer that it would be to the glory of God.
     From the excellent book we've been working through, The Roar on the Other Side by Suzanne U. Clark:  "After you've produced a draft and worked it into a shape you're fairly pleased with, get your pen-knife out and start cutting. Delete careless repetitions and wordiness, as in the following first draft by student Emily Windes:

     A potato is rough, brown, and wrinkled,
     It's lined and wrinkled like an old man's face,
     The skin looks like dirt or an elephant's skin
     It sprouts, it looks like little trees are growing out of the dirty skin.
     The sprouts are green, with hairs and bumps.
     A sprouting potato looks like and animal with crazy legs.

Here's her final draft:

     The potato--rough, brown and wrinkled,
     Lined like an old man's face.
     The skin looks like dirt or an elephant's hide.
     It sprouts little trees with hairs and bumps.
     A sprouting potato is like an animal with crazy legs.

     Clark continues; "What changes did she make? What words did she eliminate or find synonyms for? Notice, too that the basic poem was there, in the first draft, like a face in a slab of marble. The sculptor must chisel away the stone that is not the face. The writer must cut out words that are not the poem."

     Please take one of your poems. Cut out the parts that don't earn their keep. Breathe life into dull descriptions with imagery or more interesting sounding words. If you have cliches, think harder about your subject, and find your own way of describing the particular aspect you're trying to convey. Type it up and send me the first draft, along with your revision, to share in class on Friday.

Make Yourself a Drawing Kit

Make a drawing kit for yourself. The best one is the one you have with you when you want to draw, so keep it simple and small.

It can be: 
your very favorite fancy markers and easel and pens and ink and paints, only if you will get out there and use it!
 (drawing kits from the Artist's Guide to Sketching by Gurney and Kinkade; 1982)
It can be your plain ordinary sketchbook and a pen or sharp pencil, in a chair by the window,
or a spot where you can draw someone cooking in the kitchen, or playing in the living room, or curled up on the couch.
It can be in a bag you take for a walk or sit and watch people walking by with their dogs. 

This is the sketching satchel of my dreams. I stock it differently, depending on what I'm going to use it for.
These days, it contains:
-jack knife for sharpening pencils
-walnut ink and brushes and dip pens
-pens I can grab and draw quickly with
-portable watercolor box with trays for mixing colors, a water brush that has water for painting inside of it, and a scrap of cloth for cleaning the brush and switching colors

It can be any kind of little notebook that fits in your pocket. 
This is my pocket notebook. I fill it with handsewn folios of art paper, and it holds shut with a leather thong, so the pages don't rub and smear if I carry it around in my bag or pocket. It's refillable.You can see more of my watercolor supplies, and another beloved satchel, in an older post on my setup.

 This is just index cards clamped together with a binder clip.The index card stack, sometimes called the Hipster's Personal Digital Assistant, actually works great. Fits in a shirt or jacket pocket, or cargo pants pocket.
I've also done the index card stack with a strong rubber band like the kind that holds brocolli together when you get a bunch from the grocery store.  
An advantage of this simple setup is you can keep a pencil under the rubberband.

 Any suitably sized box or tin can hold your supplies. I hold this shut with a broccoli rubber band.
It can't be:
-a notebook that you don't know where it is
-a pen that doesn't write well
-or a pencil with a broken point and no eraser.

 The best drawing kit is:
-the one you have with you,
-that you take out,
-that you like to use,
-and that you actually do use!
 Take whatever you have,
start where you are
and do what you can!

You will turn your simple paper and pen or pencil into a world-class drawing studio!

 An entry from my Drawing Diary, clockwise from top left:
-my empty plate after pancakes with knife and fork
-close-up of Paul, in the car
-trees next to the porch, 
-from a book I'm reading; "Writing a story isn't about making your peaceful fantasies come true. The whole point of the story is the character arc. You didn't think joy could change a person, did you? Joy is what you feel when the conflict is over. But it's conflict that changes a person. You put your characters through hell. You put them through hell. That's the only way we can change." -Don Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Or, you could be like E. H. Shepherd, illustrator of Wind in the Willows and Winnie The Pooh, and draw on every envelope and greeting card and advertisement and bill that comes your way. Draw in the margins. Draw what you see. Draw what you hope. Draw what you imagine. Draw on on the front and draw on the back. 

Your assignment today: Make yourself a drawing kit. Set it up to use it, and make an entry in your daily drawing diary. If you already have a kit you like, draw a picture of it in your diary to share with us!

Friday, May 1, 2020

May 1-8 SciWriFri poems and bits

Okay, my copy of Hamlet may have seen better days, but it's Now a Major Motion Picture!
Posted for my students studying Roar on the Other Side. Normally our class meets in person and we work straight from the book, but now on Quarantine we have to make do electronically:

From my own Nature Notebook.

God's Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
     It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
     It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
     And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
     And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell; the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
     There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
     Oh, morning, at the brown brink
        eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
     World broods with warm breas and with ah!
         bright wings.
                       -Gerard Manley Hopkins

Attend, a papercut from Nikki McClure's 2019 calendar
 Song for Wood’s Barbeque Shack 
      in McKenzie, Tennessee
 Here in mid-winter let us begin
 to lift our voices in the pine woods:
 O sing praise to the pig
 who in the season of first frost
 gave his tender hams and succulent shoulders
 to our appetite:praise to the hickory embers
 for the sweetest smoke
 a man is ever to smell
 its incense a savor
 of time bone deep:
 praise for Colonel Wood and all his workers
 in the dark hours who keep watch
 in this turning of the flesh
 to the delight of our taste:
 praise to the sauce—vinegar, pepper, and tomato—
 sprinkled for the tang of second fire: 
praise we say now for mudwallow, hog grunt, and pig squeal
snorkle snout ringing bubbles of swill in the through,
each slurp a sloppy vowel of hunger,
jowl and hock, fatback and sowbelly, root dirt and pure
 piggishness of sow, boar, and barrow.
            -Jeff Daniel Marion

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pretty, happy, funny, real, advent!

I pulled it together and made our prayer place prettier. I cleaned it up. It is simple, but works. We went out in the snow and gathered greens on our morning walk. Well, I did while thhe kids clobbered one another with snowballs. I would like to add some cedars boughs. Sure we can find some soon. I have candles in the roght colors, and a beautiful Christmas candle with mother and child I made last year that will suffice for one more year.
I put the home made animals over by the potted plants (which in itself is a little corner of charm I pulled together in the front window. Potted up herbs before the garden froze!) and little hands moved them back to the prayer place, so somebody really cares about them. Some were broken when friends came to play recently, so maybe we will make a fresh batch?

So happy to be doing an Advent devotion daily! I just love it! The middle son told me this week that he likes our little prayer things, and some children have begun chiming in on the prayers, instead of just reading them. So, I will count that as pure joy and call it happy indeed.
I am also so happy to be using the Charlotte Mason educational methods. This framework of ideas is just the right level of structure for us, and we are beginning to see the fruits of our labors. It is adding up to joyful learning! All the little, humble pieces fit together and become a bigger, beautiful whole.

Eldest said yesterday that he likes seeing people's eyes more, now that it is winter. He said everyone is squinting in the summer. I like that way of thinking of it. Here, in these dark, perhaps drear days, we have our eyes wide open. We are watching. At least until the blinding, icy sunshine of January!

Thinking hard about trying to get the house more ready for hosting holidays. Tumbling it around. We are quite hopitable in certain ways, and not in others. Great in having folks over for special dinners on regular weeks, not for any fanciness at all.
So wondering what is next. I do avoid certain types of work, while embracing others. Taking to simplify more... What can be shed to be more ready? Which are the damp, dreary places that need attention next, and what ruinous corners can we nicen and reclaim, to the glory of god?
I caught a renewed vision for the valor of handwork, order, and the faithful fight against encroaching chaos on our trip in Appalachia. It is a real and difficult work.
Also real: I cannot seem to upload pictures from my tablet to blog. There must be some simple solution, but it has stymied me for the moment.