Sunday, June 14, 2009

why the bean doesn't draw elephants

it's interesting that the bean doesn't do many representational drawings anymore. at least, none that qualifies in the traditional sense.

she is more interested in doing 'action' art - as she draws, she relates a story, but the end result is often something akin to a cy twombly piece without the calligraphy/graffitti (hey, i'm not equating the bean's output with that from an abstract expressionism icon, but there are similar elements!), where the scribblings will only make sense to the artist, not the viewer.

see an example here that she'd dashed off today, which i shall title emergency rocket ship*:

when i asked her to explain her drawing she informed me that it's an "mergent (sic) rocket ship, mummy" - "it brings people to the emergent (sic) in mars to the hospital".

visual components include: 2 policemen (the blue sperm-like squiggles on the left of the picture) ; a long chain of "prison" cells for the "baddies"; fire from the rocket ship; an area to lock up bad policemen; not forgetting the emergency rocket ship; and a jellyfish.

yes, all quite disparate elements but she has a bizarre narrative going as she drew the picture, all about baddies killing jellyfish and the policemen who put the baddies in jail, in parallel with a rocket ship that flies to mars to help people in an emergency.

anyhow, before she embarked on this 'epic' i had asked if she could draw me an animal, like an elephant, only to be told the obvious, "no-o. the elephant is too big for my paper."

when i asked if she could draw a small/baby elephant instead, she said, "no. it's still too big."

don't ask me about her logic: why rocket ships will fit onto the paper but not an elephant.

then last week, whilst i was cooking she came to the kitchen with one of these 'action' drawings and told me she was going to read me a story. she held her artwork like a parchment, looked at it and then 'recited' a story about 2 children flying all the way from london to visit her in australia.

when i interjected with a question, she paused and said, "mummy, don't interrupt!"

*click on the picture to enlarge

Sunday, June 07, 2009

the bean & her cousins: the trio of cheekiness

we had the good fortune of having the bean's eldest (twin male) cousins visit us from the uk for 3 weeks in may.

i had idly wondered if there would be fireworks when the 3 got together but all fears were unfounded.

they had to share the bean's room (as we have no extra rooms) - the twins on mattresses on the floor. but the bean absolutely loved their company, sharing her toys with them, as well as playing with their toys. she was an eager follower and accomplice to whatever shenanigans the boys got up to.

inevitably, she picked up a few behaviours and speech from them. such as, "cuddlies" for soft toys, and "love" for hugs and kisses ("can i have your love mummy?"), but also more cheeky ones such as the boys' penchant to spout "poo" and "bottom" at inappropriate times.

while she was a willing participant to their games, sometimes she stood her ground. one time, one of the boys declared, "i am going to marry you."

she was indignant and hotly replied, "no! i am not going to marry you!"

i doubt that any of them actually knows what "marry" means or entails* but it was funny to overhear their dialogue nonetheless.

*the twin who was proclaiming marriage had previously told dh that he was going to marry a tree, and later on, a leaf, so marriage to him is not a very exclusive (either species- or duration-wise) arrangement.

the "umungous" jellyfish

i awoke this morning in the bean's bed (having been summoned by her in the middle of the night), and when i turned around to see what she was up to, i found her sitting up already, looking over the side of her safety rail.

without turning round to look at me, she said, "my toys are in the sea mummy. i have to rescue them and put them in the boat."

with that she got out and returned with the few soft toys that were on the floor, placing them on the bed in front of me. fearing that i would be overwhelmed with a bombardment of toys, i told her that her settee was a rock where the other toys could be safe too. she took up that idea and set the rest to safety. then she clambered back onto the bed.

"do you know the name of this boat?," she asked me, and then said, "it's a dinghy." when i posed the question back to her.

she picked up her mini bolster and said, "this is my oar. i can row with it. to get away from the umungous jellyfish. row row row," she puffed before adding, "oh no, it's stuck in the slimy kelp."

i asked her why the humungous jellyfish was chasing us. maybe it's trying to be friendly because it was lonely. but the bean said, "noooo. it wants to sting us." like i was some kind of benign moron.

when her daddy came into the room, she told her daddy to get into the dinghy as we were being chased by the jellyfish. delighted, i told dh that it's a "umungous jellyfish" but he wasn't surprised, telling me that yesterday, she told him, "it's invisible", which is why daddy couldn't see it (of course).

she's been obsessed with the dinghy and the octopus/jellyfish ever since i read her the story, the hidden forest, a well-illustrated australian book by jeanne baker. her previous book was where the forest meets the sea, which i had read to her when she was in the under 3s montessori programme. it's a book that i have been meaning to buy, but always forget.

anyway, in the hidden forest, the young protagonist, ben, is initially wary of the sea and what lurks beneath the waves and when he gets accidentally thrown overboard he imagines that something sinister is trying to grab hold of him. here, the page shows a translucent giant octopus reaching for the dinghy and ben.

the bean can't discern that this octopus is supposed to be what ben imagines and not a 'real' one, so she gets excited when we get to this page.

i recall that her first enactment from the story involved an octopus, but lately it's evolved into a jellyfish.

pink camel



I think the Bean did this drawing a few days ago, but my memory is hazy, and it could've been done a week ago. Anyhoo, I can't remember the context, but she told me that she'd drawn and coloured a camel (in one of her favourite colours). The face of the creature can be clearly discerned I think, and I have marked out where she had put the humps of the camel. The 4 legs are there too, with the space between the limbs coloured in.

It seems to be a kind of progression to a more realistic representation of animals. Certainly a development away from the blobs with stick arms and legs that stood for ALL humans and animals when she first started.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

mandarin in oz

a video of justine clarke singing 'gumtree family' was on the telly just now, which prompted the bean to exclaim, "she's in australia!"
i nodded in agreement, and said, "she's australian."
to which the bean added, "she doesn't speak mandarin."

she's learnt that a lot of aussies don't speak her second language. which reminds me that i've not been using it much on her lately as well. yikes.

going on a slight tangent: it's interesting that there aren't any chinese schools in oz. i mean, there are jewish schools a plenty, and french and german schools, even a japanese school. i had been thinking about this for a while before another mama from the bean's mandarin playgroup class voiced it too. she said that she would be eager to enroll her children in one if a group of parents could set one up.

hmmm...i wonder how difficult it is to organise something like this to set up such a school? chinese parents are notoriously pushy and achievement oriented, so the teaching standards will have to be pretty high. anyhoo, an interesting thought.