little red jottings

when a little red pen wanders off the page

Tag: art

Slow day

The Rabbit is home with a sore tummy, and I am trying to slow down. I’m pretty shit at it, to be honest. I started the day by writing a mega list of all the things I wanted to get done, then I cleaned the bathroom, made the beds, looked at some work stuff, got dressed, let the chooks out, made morning tea, and finally, finally sat down with my boy.

“I want to draw a picture with you,” he said.

“I have this big list — wouldn’t it be fun to look at it together and work out what we’re going to do next?” I said.

“I want you to put ‘draw a picture with Rabbit’ on your list,” he said.

“Okay, I get it now,” I said.

20160616_111948We decided to draw a rabbit, and he had a wee freeze about being able to draw, which is such a sad thing, children suddenly being unsure of their abilities. We talked about being able to try things and rub them out, and about how I like kids to start drawings because I have ways I’m used to doing things and it’s always interesting to see how a child would draw something before they get stuck on copying an adult’s picture. He liked the rubber idea, and once I’d put the ears in, he was off, with only a few worries about how to do eyes and whether rabbits have whiskers.

20160616_113213I like so much about this picture. I like the fur and the heart. I like the brown tail and the detailed caption Rabbit dictated to me. I like the note to the Rabbit-on-the-picture. And I like the dedication, for which I had to close my eyes because it was a surprise. Most of all, I like the time it took, the concentration and the conversations it generated. I like the reminder about what matters.

Thanks, Rabbit.

 

Update: While I was making lunch, Rabbit was very busy. Then he brought me this. A rainbow rabbit! Exactly what I needed.

Fourteen things

One: Going home
Vincent O’Sullivan has written a 14-episode account of Ralph Hotere’s journey home. The number recalls Hotere’s use of the number, his referencing of the Stations of the Cross and of his 14 siblings. Frustratingly, the full version is only available to subscribers (when did the Listener change that?).

Two: Favourite birds (my son will be so cross that I haven’t used the proper full names, but the truth is, I can’t remember them)
godwit
kingfisher
pelican
spoonbill
robin
shag
plover
kea
bellbird
crane
heron
mandarin duck
black cockatoo
superb lyrebird

Three: Books that got me through my childhood, and my children’s
Corduroy, Don Freeman
Any of the Frances books, Russell Hoban (illustrated by Garth Williams)
Tell Me What It’s Like to Be Big, Joyce Dunbar (illustrated by Debi Gliori)
Mr Gumpy’s Outing, John Burningham
Big Momma Makes the World, Phyllis Root (illustrated by Helen Oxenbury)
The Ramona books, Beverly Cleary
Big Sister and Little Sister, Charlotte Zolotow (illustrated by Martha Alexander)
Virginia Wolf, Kyo Maclear (illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault)
Come On, Daisy!, Jane Simmons
The Raft, Jim LaMarche
The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the Mog books, Judith Kerr
Dogger and everything else, Shirley Hughes
far too much by Noel Streatfeild
Anne of Green Gables and all the rest, LM Montgomery
bonus: Kitten’s First Full Moon, Kevin Henke + about a hundred others

Four: Authors I’ve found myself consuming in bulk
George Perec
Italo Calvino
Primo Levi
Laurence Fearnley
Janette Turner Hospital
Nigel Cox
Sara Maitland
Jeanette Winterson
Maurice Gee
Philip Pullman
Ann Patchett
Jim Crace
Michael Ondaatje
(see the children’s list above)

Five: Foods that make life better
avocado
pistachios
chocolate
smoked salmon
salad, lots of it
roast chicken, then chicken soup
oranges
peaches
eggplants
poisson cru
tomatoes
fennel seed and olive oil biscuits
bacon
lasagne

Six: 14-letter words

Seven: What I want in a house
a chair by a window, just for reading
a kitchen that I can eat, cook, talk, and read in
a space for the kids to play
a front porch
a sheltered space to eat outside
plenty of trees
a glasshouse
vegetable patches
a workspace
bookshelves in every room
a woodburner
insulation
flowers
light

Eight: Condiments, loosely interpreted
lemons — fresh, juiced, zested, preserved
honey
mustard
fennel seeds
yoghurt
parmesan
sea salt
pepper
tomato sauce
mint
coffee
a book
a friend
quiet

Nine: Punctuation that makes text prettier
fanciful ampersands
the Oxford comma
double quote marks
em-dashes
en-dashes
ellipses
semi-colons
full stops
question marks, sparingly
well-placed commas
accents
tidy, well-aligned bullet points
parentheses, occasionally
spaces

Ten: Plants I like to have in my garden
tulips
crocuses
sweetpeas
roses
azaleas
ferns
mint
thyme
sage
peas
beans
lettuces
zucchini
potatoes

Eleven: The elements of a fine day
rain
sun
a small boy’s arms around my neck
that first cup of coffee
a shower
a walk, run, or yoga class
music
writing
banter
a kiss
friends
seeing something through my children’s eyes
lunch
supper

Twelve: A 14-year-old dancer

Thirteen: Colin McCahon’s Stations

Fourteen: A sonnet, of course
Not in a silver casket cool with pearls
Or rich with red corundum or with blue,
Locked, and the key withheld, as other girls
Have given their loves, I give my love to you;
Not in a lovers’-knot, not in a ring
Worked in such fashion, and the legend plain—
Semper fidelis, where a secret spring
Kennels a drop of mischief for the brain:
Love in the open hand, no thing but that,
Ungemmed, unhidden, wishing not to hurt,
As one should bring you cowslips in a hat
Swung from the hand, or apples in her skirt,
I bring you, calling out as children do:
“Look what I have!—And these are all for you.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Ralph Hotere

Ralph Hotere died in Dunedin yesterday.

The world feels emptier.

The news

What it means

From the north

Biography

With Hone Tuwhare*

Hotere Garden Oputae**

Documentary, 1974

Documentary, 2001

Images

Tuwhare’s poem

* Janet Hunt. ‘Tuwhare, Hone’, from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 30-Oct-2012. URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/6t1/tuwhare-hone/page-3

** Malcolm McKinnon. ‘Otago places – Otago Harbour’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 15-Nov-12. URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/22753/hotere-garden-oputae

More than the sum

This video features Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler talking about how they have worked on children’s books together over the last 20 years. The conversation has a really gentle, reflective tone — just the thing if your day’s a bit frazzled. Partly it’s the voices, partly it’s Scheffler painting as they talk. Like a good children’s book, the combination of words and art is more than the sum of its parts. Magic.

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler on A Squash and a Squeeze

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