I painted an unauthorized portrait of a playful cat that I’ve met courtesy of a dear friend. This portrait is titled “Wholly Bent” and is 10 x 8 inches. This is me just playing and working towards future art exhibits.
Here’s a closer view of “Wholly Bent” it is 10 x 8 inches, ink, gouache and collage on board.
As you may remember I’ve been reading “The Annotated Arabian Nights” by Horta and Seale most evenings. I’ve been struck by how much the book talks about being true to yourself – accepting that you’re “bent” in your own ways- while also being an ethical contributing member of a community. So I’ve been pondering ethics in my sketchbook.
The above photo shows my spouse’s homemade blueberry lemon scones. Seriously yummy… but I digress.
These thoughts reminded me of an eon ago when I asked my adopted mom how to know when someone is “for real” i.e. ethical, honest, kind. Her response was “watch what someone says and does over time.” In my art journal I recorded a conversation we had on that same topic years after I’d asked the question originally.
Those notes from my art journal eventually became an ebook and then a printed book titled “Dr Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit“. Many of the concepts in the book speak of ways of being true to yourself and being an ethical participant in a community aka feeding the good wolf.
In my last post I showed a hint of an art print project I’m working towards that I can’t talk much about yet… but a sneak peek is here (the grid of 6). Now I’ll wait to see what happens.
My last post also talked of book banning, a topic I’m following… well, on the attempts to ban books (and a thrilling subtext) there’s this article which reminded me of the skills I learned to use when dealing with people in Oklahoma who were in my face wanting to ban my artwork (see a prior post for details). This page below from Dr Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit gives details about the skills.
Speaking of coping skills: some students in Missouri are suing the school board because of the book bans. (Article here.) Sometimes standing up for your right to read anything you want is neccessary. As said in the article “The lawsuit alleges that the district’s decision to remove books was based on the “dislike of the ideas or opinions contained in the books by policymakers, school officials, community members, or a combination of those.” Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that the district’s removal of books violated the students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights “by restricting their access to ideas and information for an improper purpose.”
I’m proud of and inspired by the students and their efforts to maintain a wide intellectual world. Restricting access to ideas and information can have serious negative consequences for both individuals and society. The larger our intellectual world the better we’re able to cope with whatever comes in life and then, having coped personally we’re then able to help our community cope – and the people in our community are better able to help us…
Also the more expansive our mental life is the more fun rabbit holes there are to explore that can also help one personally as well as one’s society.
Anyway, here’s a post from Austin Kleon that reflects my feelings about the importance of taking time to read widely and pursue the rabbit holes of your own making.
On a related topic I also read this article about how our attention span is not a product to be bought or sold. Our attention isn’t solely a vein of data to be extracted by a corporation. Our attention isn’t something to be controlled or abused at the will of someone else’s religious or political ideology. Our attention is a precious gift that deserves to be treated respectfully. And it’s up to us to protect, preserve and defend our attention as well as to carefully curate and cultivate it.
Having wide access to ideas and thoughts – lots of books – is how we learn over time what is worthy of our attention. Our attention span is ours to exercise and explore throughout life. What we get for our payment when we “pay” attention is the power to choose.
I find that having a wide range of books to read helps me stimulate and cultivate my own ability to pay attention where it nurtures my creativity the most. My sketchbook is where I practice noticing/tracking (accounting?) where I pay attention and how helpful it is or isn’t. It’s where I play with ideas and cook up my own “good wolf food”. It’s where I live and work with the questions. It’s where I “stick around and find out”. 🤣
As a creative person I want to be respectful of my readers/viewers time. So I enjoy creating “short” things: art, stories or poems that can be understood in a glance yet there’s more to be seen if a reader chooses to take the time to look. (My Monday blog is possibly the longest form I work in… 🤣)
Speaking of sketchbooks and reading: I feel a sense of urgency to create more books for children that are “artsy” and perhaps a little “different” from the usual kids books. So I’ve been reading about poetry in two books: “Writing incredibly short plays poems stories” by James H Norton and Francis Gretton and “The Intimate art of writing poetry” by Ottone M. Riccio. And I’ve been brainstorming in my poetry sketchbook (the orange book in the foreground) some visual poem ideas for my new “experimental art book” category on Storyberries.
Both books about poetry cover techniques to keep things short. I’m translating in my mind the advice in the books regarding writing words into what may also work when I’m making visual images. As you see in the above photo of my poetry sketchbook I’m thinking that the poetic concepts of rhythm, rhyme, repetition and surprise can work within images too. But we’ll see how it goes… more in upcoming posts.
Dinner recently was a favorite potato soup recipe from a favorite cookbook. Even in the solitary pandemic days I love reading about community being formed around shared soup.
When there’s a yellow sticky note on a page in one of the cookbooks in our collection … that’s a reliably good recipe! Add a star and the phrase “Judy likes” and you’ll know it’s a real good one. Then there’s the penciled in variations and now you know this recipe is a great one! It has consistently proven itself over time!
We had mugs of soup with a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich split between us. Yum!
For fun I’ve added James Thurber to my evening reading. He too talks about ethics and community while also being whimsical.
Thanks to a friend on Twitter I’ve just learned about a genre called “Hopepunk” – here’s one of the articles I read about hopepunk that defines the genre and has examples (book list!) of literary works within it. To quote from the article “…Hopepunk says that kindness and softness doesn’t equal weakness, and that in this world of brutal cynicism and nihilism, being kind is a political act. An act of rebellion… Hopepunk is a reaction to our times, an insistence that a hollow world built of hatred and financial ambition is NOT the norm. It is stories of resistance, stories that celebrate friendship and truth and the things that make us human.”
I have more to learn but I’m feeling like I’ve found another genre that possibly fits me and my work well! Discovering the “hopepunk” genre feels exciting like my discovery of the “miniature art” and “gift book” genres! With my creativity I do want to share whimsy and hope while also being thoughtful and real.
Yes, I’m finding it good to know more about the ways I’m wholly bent and to be able to find books and people bent in ways I enjoy.
Thank you for honoring me with some of your attention. I hope you have a playful week of more or less your own design, a week bent in all the ways you find fun. See you next Monday?
14 thoughts on “On playing with books, art and being wholly bent”
You always have such incisive thoughts and thought-provoking perspectives to share with us. I am grateful to have my mind expanded through my friendship with you.
And I am very grateful for your friendship too!! I look forward to hearing from you and enjoy it whenever it happens! Thank you for being such a good friend to share with!
This post was very “nutrient-dense,” as the nutritionists would say! I love the shades of purple in “Wholly Bent.” I’m also a big fan of potato soup with cheese. Speaking of potato soup and children’s books, have you ever read “The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup” by Terry Farish? I always did like James Thurber. I should reread him at some point. I’d never heard of hopepunk. Where is it showing up? (I found the hashtag on Instagram and just followed it.)
Thank you!! I’m delighted to hear my post was “nutrient dense”! What a wonderful phrase!! I haven’t heard of “The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup” by Farish – I’ll be looking for it now! Thanks for that too!! Re hopepunk the link I gave in my post has a book reading list as well as other relevant links. It’s quite a fun rabbit hole. I’ve been realizing that many of my favorite books fit within this subgenre… like “Whisky Galore” by Compton Mackenzie. Or “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Shaffer and Borrows. Some, not all, public libraries are beginning to have hopepunk as a genre to be searched for within their system. Bookstores too. I literally just learned about it via another literary friend on Twitter and am still learning. 😊 Off to look for Terry Ferish’s book now… thanks again!!
You’re most welcome, Sue! I’ll have to keep an eye out for hopepunk now.
I found a video of Terry Farish reading “The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup” and I loved it!! Thank you for tellung me about it!!
I’m so glad you found “The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup”! I thought you would. Terry is a New Hampshire writer. I hired her to teach years ago when I was at Granite State College.
Wow!! That’s wonderful that you know Terry and hired her!! I loved her story and the way she read it and what she shared about it! ❤ Thanks again for the book recommendation!!
You’re welcome, Sue! I’m always happy to recommend a good book!!
I love the idea of Hopepunk, and I suspect I write some. Hope, kindness and empathy permeate my stories. They can have some good doses of reality, but always these themes are valued.
I enjoyed the sneak peek at your 6 panels and look forward to reading your next post which I have saved in my email notifications. Have a good week, Sue!!!
Thank you so much!! And Bravo to you for writing hopepunk!! We need all the hope we can get!! Glad you’re enjoying the peek… and I’m honored to be saved in your email box! ❤💕
There’s a lot packed into this post! From Wholly Bent to words of wisdom and soup. That dome with the chick on the cat’s head is full of symbols. And I also like the shades of purple there.
Thank you so much!!