“Here’s the first illustration,” I say to my son. “What happens before this?”
“The mighty bear snatches the children and hoists them to his shoulders. Suddenly the minor god Zangboolantar appears and tells the bear that he must sacrifice the children on the top of Mount Grabfalder. Two giant purple lightening bolts blast out of the skies and incinerate the children into dust.”
My favourite web site right now is Brain Pickings. The curator of this information believes in the idea of Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity, an idea that resonates with me like nothing else has before.
It’s the answer I’ve been looking for all my life, to everyone who’s told me that there are no new ideas, that everything has been thought before. This has become like a block in my head, especially with the explosion of the internet – you start wondering if all of humanity is just a blog of breathing, eating, shitting nothingness, repeating memes over and over, each new generation regurgitating the same thoughts, jokes, revelations, loves, hates. You start wondering if there is any point to attempting any sort of art at all.
Largely, the ideas of networked knowledge, when applied to the facebooking masses, just scare me. I don’t understand it and I don’t want to understand it.
But when I start reading Brain Pickings, I start to feel a sense of calm creep over me and the stress rush out. And then a sense of excitement and inspiration flows into the empty space. There’s a peace in just accepting that there are no new ideas, but that all ideas build on everything known and learned and thought before.
Brain Pickings curator Maria Popovich describes it this way, “Now, implicit to this idea of combinatorial creativity is the admission is that nothing is truly original, at least not in the sense of being built from scratch, and that can be hard. There’s a lot of resistance in the creative ego to that idea. But there is plenty of evidence for this ecosystem of influences and inspirations.”
Recently, Brain Pickings posted an the amazing speech by Debbie Millman, delivered to the graduating class at San Jose State University. You can listen to it, or read the full transcript here.
She says exactly what I would say to my own children, who are finishing up high school and about to pursue paths of their own. My daughter is about to move to Toronto to study Comic Book illustration. If anyone can make a success of this challenging and exciting career it is my daughter, who is driven, like no one I’ve met before. It brings out all sorts of pride and awe in me, because like Millman, I think I’ve chosen the simpler path in my own life. I’ve “determined what was possible even before is was impossible.”
Millman says, “Our abilities are limited only by our perceptions … Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.”
Finally, the Yermit everyone has been waiting for: The Yermit waldof Doll:
I know what you’re saying: That doll look like all the other Yermits.
Ya, well, see, I looked up “waldorf doll” in the interwebs, and here’s what I found in wikipedia:
Traditional Waldorf dolls are made from cotton interlock knit fabric and wool stuffing. They are often entirely natural. Typically the trademark long hair of a Waldorf doll is made of mohair or boucle. Some doll makers use alternative hair material such as wool, rayon, and cotton. The facial features of a Waldorf doll vary with the maker. Most Waldorf dolls have small suggestions of noses, their eye and mouth colors are generally varied with each doll.
The bolding is mine. (But please don’t mention that the Yermits might not have “small suggestions of noses” because they’re kind of sensitive on that point.)
Oh hey, here’s a great article about about Waldorf dolls and doll makers. Yup that’s me. Oh but wait, some people in the comments of that article are disagreeing. Colour me shocked.
So, I know what you’re wondering now: When is my child ready for the Yermit waldorf doll?
Well let’s see. According to waldorf mythology, a child is ready to READ when they can reach their right arm over their head and touch their left ear. (I know, I thought it was a joke too the first time I heard it, but go ahead, google it)
It stands to reason that a child is ready for a Yermit waldorf doll when they can grab the Yermit’s left leg and swing it over their right shoulder (says one helpful family member.) (Or when they can change the batteries in the TV remote, says another of my helpful family members.)
No seriously people. My readers need an answer, I tell my helpful family members.
Develop a REAL waldorf doll, everyone says. You mean, I say, a fabric doll with variable facial features and alternate hair material?
Oh, here are some more Yermit waldorf dolls. They come with dogs. And their hats comes off and your children can put them back on and this teaches the children how to work their fingers better so they can change the battery in the TV remote more easily. (I know what you’re thinking…)
EDIT: One of my family members just walked by as I was surfing waldorf dolls on pintrest and said, “Those are butt-ugly creepy-ass dolls”. Harsh. But I can’t say I disagree.
Ok, well not really abroad. Just down there in the USA. The awesome Leeanna Butcher snagged herself a Yermit Santa for Xmas, I think that Santa really hit it off with some of the other plush in her collection. With her permission, I am posting the following as evidence:
Here’s what Leeanna told me about the photo:
“I had a lot of fun setting up that photo shoot. Evil Burt is actually Merv the Muppet Reporter-a muppet puppet that my husband had made when he was in NYC. He sure does look like Burt’s evil twin!”
Leeanna is pretty damned talented in other ways also. Here’s some of her creations…
If you live near New York you’ll be able to find her at the “Stitched” plush art show: April 13th- May 4th @ Clutter Gallery, NYC
I think this time of year, I get a strong urge for some colour and fun. I’ll be posting them for sale over the next few days.
This weekend I spent some time drawing as I kept my daughter company. She has also been drawing, working on her portfolio for art college.
I only drew bears.
There were a few complaints from the other side of the table that all I know how to draw are bears, and did I really want to grow old only ever drawing bears?
I said, I know how to draw boys too.
I tried drawing a pig and a cat, but they both ended up looking like bears. So maybe it’s true and all I can draw now are bears.
I’m just glad I don’t have to work up a portfolio for art college. It’s rough. My daughter has to draw hands, and rooms, and characters from all side. I drew a bear from all sides.
She has to draw perspectives, and shapes, and expressions.
She has to do self portraits, and figures in action.
I can draw bears forever and who will ever care?
The awesome Plush Team is having a holiday ornament sale in their shop. Every day new oranaments are added. I’m afraid you’ve already missed the chance to buy my Yermit Santa Head ornament as it’s on it way to, ah, somewhere south of the border.
But there are some other cute one of a kind plush decorations for the snatching.