“I flipped the face,” she told me—changed its angle from the tutorial in the book, using a field guide photo to help her. I love the work she’s doing with texture and shading here, diving in and trying things out. The speckles on the breast, the little squares on the wing.
So much of my role with Rilla is staying out of her way. Giving her vast stretches of time to draw and play, giving her space to get messy in. (Actually, she’s kind of a type A artist—very precise about her materials and workspace.) And of course strewing, strewing, strewing, the good old Sandra Dodd coinage* that captures the essence of my approach to family life: leave neat stuff where the kids can find it—and be around to talk about it when they’re ready.
She spent half the evening working away at this owl. Yesterday it was a pair of goldfinches, because they’ve been delighting us at our feeders.
Here’s the book that has captured her fancy: Drawing Birds with Colored Pencils. Amazon tells me I bought it in August, 2011. It saw a brief period of use then, with Beanie I think, and has mostly lived on the field guide shelf until now. I don’t know if it was chicken or egg—whether Rilla found the book and decided to dive in, or went hunting for help because she wanted to draw birds. I’ll ask her tomorrow, if I remember. All our drawing and nature books are stashed on shelves in our dining area, right behind Beanie’s chair and directly in Rilla’s line of sight.
*Sandra’s strewing page begins with a quote, “I just strew their paths with interesting things,” captioned “long ago, AOL homeschooling boards.” I was there, reading along, nursing infant Jane, when she wrote it! And now, many strewn paths later, Jane’s preparing to head off to college. We made the first big dorm shopping expedition today. I can still see those early AOL conversations scrolling across my screen—I got my first modem and my first baby in the same month—and thinking, Ohhh, this homeschooling thing has possibilities, I’ve gotta talk to Scott. Amazing.
It seems all that wisdom is exhausting.
Companion to last month’s Galloping Horse. She’s still working hard on getting those legs just so, as you see. I’m loving this chance to watch a young artist hone her skills. She’s made big strides (so to speak) already.
I believe next up is Trotting Horse. All three are from the horse page in the Usborne Book of Drawing.
April 14, 2013 @ 7:03 pm | Filed under: Rilla
Remember yesterday when this happened?
Seven, you guys. She’s SEVEN.
Rilla discovered the search and request features at our library website. Here are the topics she looked up:
BIG BAD WOLF
FIELD TRIP TO THE ZOO
FLEA ON MY BACK
FIFTY HUNDRED FLEAS
FIFTY HUNDRED BALLS
Books she put on hold as a result of these searches:
The Big Bad Wolf and Me by Delphine Perret
My Mom Has X-ray Vision by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Alex T. Smith
Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
Stay in Line by Teddy Slater, illustrated by Gioia Fiammenghi (turned up by the zoo query)
There Was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Steve Gray
(Publishers, clearly you are missing the boat in the FIFTY HUNDRED market.)
I guess this frees up Art Sardine for my new band name.
Rilla: I’ve been thinking. We should have an art club for kids who want to be artists when they grow up.
Me: I love that idea!
Rilla: I wonder what we should call it.
Me, having a Jane Andrews moment: Um, the Art Club?
(Somewhere, Anne Shirley shakes her head in disgust.)
Rilla: No…I know! How about the Art Bassoon?
Rilla: What is a bassoon, anyway?
Me: It’s a musical instrument—here, I’ll show you. *reaches for Google*
Google, beaming: You’re going to love this.
YouTube, modestly: This old thing? Why it’s just a little something I threw together.
We watch in delight as a bassoon quartet plays a Super Mario Galaxy medley. Rilla’s excitement cannot be described. She marvels over the size of the bassoons, their rollicking sound as they play the familiar melodies.
Rilla: Bassoons are awesome.
Rilla: But on second thought, I don’t think Art Bassoon is the right name for our club.
Rilla: I’ve got it! Art Sardine.
Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Robbin Gourley.
My name is Rilla. I am 6. Mommy read Forest Has a Song to me. I think that It Is really pretty poetry and i also think that deer are pretty too. I really love nature. And deer are one of my favorite animals and it said a lot about deer. In the picture of the fiddlehead ferns, I really like the pattern of the colors. And the fossil looks so realistic. When I grow up i want to be an illustrator like Robbin Gourley. And also, i love the Spider poem and the Dusk poem. I love the never-tangling dangling spinner part. And I love baby animals. They’re so cute and fluffy when they’re birds at least.
One of my favorites is “Farewell.” How it says “I am Forest.”
(Doggone spellcheck. She made me correct all her invented spellings—the red dots under her words tipped her off. Then again, “rhille priddy powatre” might have been hard for you to parse. Also, of course, recognizing that a word just looks wrong is a big step toward learning to spell and I can’t very well stand in the way of that progress just because the invented stuff is adorable.)
As for the book, I wholeheartedly agree with Rilla’s review. What a gorgeous, gorgeous volume. The poems sometimes wistful, sometimes whimsical, always lyrical. Beautiful for reading aloud, full of delicious internal rhyme and alliteration. And infectious: I predict a lot of original nature poetry in our future. This collection begs you to take a fresh look at the world around you and see the magic of the curled fern frond, the mushroom spore. Of course I’ve been a fan of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s work for years.
I can’t imagine a more perfect pairing for Amy’s poems than Robbin Gourley’s art. Lush watercolors, rich and soft. I kept coming across pages I’d like prints of. Actually, this is exactly the kind of book where you want a second copy for cutting up and framing. (If you can bear to. I always think I’d like to do that, but the one time I actually bought a spare copy for this purpose—Miss Rumphius—I couldn’t, in the end, bring myself to dismantle it.)
Beanie’s favorite poem was “Forest News”—
I stop to read
the Forest News
in mud or fallen snow.
Articles are printed
by critters on the go…
—which she loved for its intriguing animal-tracks descriptions, its sense of fun, and its kinship with her favorite Robert Frost poem, “A Patch of Old Snow.” (“It is speckled with grime as if / Small print overspread it, / The news of a day I’ve forgotten — / If I ever read it,” writes Frost, perusing a somewhat more somber edition of the woodsy chronicle.)
Wonderboy’s favorite was the puffball poem, and he later wrote (in his customary stream-of-consciousness style) this string of impressions the book made on him: “dead branch warning and woodpecker too dusk burrow in a burrow chickadee sit on my hand and come fly here”…
Truly beautiful work, Amy and Robbin.
Related post: The Poem House