How To Be An Artist*

My friend is an elementary school teacher. She invited me in to her 1st grade class to give a lesson about art. The entire school (except 4th grade.grr)  is doing a study block on Great Masters of Art.  I had nearly free reign (no nudity or gore, these people are 6).

It was pretty hard to decide what to do, but I settled on an activity where I gave directions and they followed the steps and we’d see how alike or different they turned out.

After that I gave a short talk about some important things you can do to be an artist. I drew up some pictures to go along with it.

Here they are:


Ask questions.

Look at stuff. Figure things out.

Take things apart. Put things together.

Don’t forget the other side, the back, the top, underneath.



Be brave.

You don’t have to be superhero brave, just regular brave.

Someone might tell you that they don’t like your artwork because “you did it wrong.” DSCN4619

Maybe they think that the sun in your drawing shouldn’t be red.

But, art is mostly about your ideas and your imagination,

so you get to make up your own rules about what you put in it.

So be a little brave and tell them,


“I appreciate your opinion, but I like my sun red and I’m going to keep it that way.”


Be passionate.

Play. Dance. Sing.


(So you can improve at doing the things you love doing.)

Try new things.


Fill up your toolbox.

Take lessons.

Go to school.


Try to fill up your brain’s toolbox

so that you have lots of things in your imagination

to use in your art

and in your life.


The most important thing you can do to be an artist is to be you.

Robots don’t make very good artists,

because they can’t make decisions

and show their feelings in new and exciting ways.

As one of my favorite artists, Dr. Seuss, says:

“Today you are you,

that is truer than true.

There is no one alive

who is youer than you”.



*These are also good tips on how to be a human.

Lightning Flashes, Thunder Crashes!

This afternoon we were treated to one of those quick, but intense, summer storms. The clouds rolled in. The sky opened up and let loose. There was thunder and lightning.  In fact, there was one clap of thunder that was so loud it was practically in the house. It blinked off the TV and startled the kid and I to the point of hugs to make us feel better.

A few minutes later I happened to glance out the back window….

To see that the lightning was as close as the clap of thunder had made it seem.

It was just a little fire, so I thought I’d just bring a hose as far as I could reach and do a little bucket hauling the last little bit to put it out before it got any bigger. I figured that would be quicker than calling the fire department.

So I put on my shoes and started dragging hoses and buckets up the hill. My son was supposed to be helping but was not really.

When we got about a third of the way up a fireman magically appeared up by the fire. (Actually they just came up from around on the side of the hill where they could park their truck closer.) My theory of my speed vs. their speed having been shot down, I was more than happy to let them do it. It saved me the trouble of hauling my keister the rest of the way up the hill. In the mud.

He came down to tell me that, thought it looked like it would have put itself out, they were going to take care of it. He also said that I needn’t worry about any threat of danger or damage to the property. (Which was nice, but I wasn’t worried.) Then he returned to the job at hand.

Not being occupied with putting out the fire myself, I returned to my usual role of photographer. These photos are slightly misleading, though. I have a reasonable zoom on my camera, so they aren’t quite so close as this makes them out to be.

or you may be able to see better in this next photo that I adjusted for brightness and contrast. It was taken from my back porch.

They put out the fire.

We watched.

and then, nearly as quickly as they came…

They were gone.