I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell –
my designs sell out!

Saturday, October 5, 2013


I often think that kids are too entertained.  My childhood was perfectly boring most of the time, and yet it gave me enough material to blog about week after week – and I’m mostly cherry picking happy stories.  What will today’s kids blog about when they spend their days glued to TVs?

One time a friend and I were talking, and I said that kids don’t spend any time in contemplation. Or maybe I said reflection, meditation, rumination, or something when her son popped out of his video game long enough to ask for a definition of the word.  We described it as having time to think about things in a quiet way.  “Yeah, I don’t want any of that!” he said, and went back to his video game.  We all laughed because he was funny, but I still hold to my original point.  We need quiet time to reflect.

I looked at “underwater” and thought about my perfectly boring childhood by the river, and thought that I have too many choices to just pick one.  There was the time my sister got caught under the ice, or when my brother almost drowned in a lake, or when the ice broke in the spring and the water rose so fast I had to turn around and run to get away from it.  There was the year the whole Glen was underwater in the spring flood, or the year the neighbor drowned by the dam, or the other neighbor committing suicide off the bridge and laid facedown in the river until my sister turned him over.  Or, when I read in a book about a spy breathing underwater through a hollow reed and I found my own reed and spied on teenaged boys – but the teenaged boys were kind of dull and I went off to catch crayfish or something instead.

Maybe if I’d had playmates I wouldn’t care about reflecting time, but since I had more time than I knew what to do with, I spent a lot of time thinking about stuff and observing.  I also had the freedom to run around and find stuff to observe since I wasn’t bothered with pre or post school scheduling and my parents severely limited TV time.

I picked up a long blue heron plume from the water one day and stuck it in my hat and felt like D’Artagnan.  I posed for my niece, and she complained that I always find all the good stuff.  I told her that it comes from looking.  See how the water moves?  See how things collect at certain places?  Rocks and heavy things will land there, and feathers and light things will land here.  Fish will collect beneath that rotten log leaning over that still water, and it’s a waste of time to cast into the fast current unless you let the current take your hook to where the fish live.

I talked to my mom once about intuition, and she wondered whether or not intuition is really just observation.  There might be some truth to that even though I don’t think it fully explains everything.  I noticed that my boss’ color was bad the morning she died.  She was a little gray-yellow, and had on a lot of makeup.  Nobody else noticed, and it didn’t tell me that she was about to die, but it did explain something to me once she was gone.  No one else noticed the color of her skin because they didn’t spend so many boring hours looking at water sliding by.

Observing is a big part of art, but it’s an art in itself.  The more you look, the more you see, and the more things you see, the more it informs your life and improves relationships.  Or helps you catch fish and find the best feathers.


  1. Indeed, Linda, an insightful piece of writing and beautiful illustration. I couldn't agree more with you.

    De-glue kids from screens, take them to the meadows and woodlands and learn them to see. Yes, nowadays you need to give them a helping hand with seeing stories in landscapes, stories in fallen trees, and stories in footprints.

    We need to get our youth to appreciate nature, being bored and getting into contact with the Muses of the Arts, Nature and just being in the here and now.

    Your call is heard here, Linda.

  2. Hey, Linda, you and I are around the same age (I may be a bit older), but I spent a huge portion of my childhood glued to the television. I turned out okay. Sort of.

    And I blog about it, too.

  3. I enjoy your blog too Josh, and yeah, I watched a lot of those tv shows too. Okay, maybe kids are getting something out of their tv time? I still wish they'd go out and play. I wish I would get out and played more now. Thanks for the comments!

  4. Josh and Linda, I kind of did both. Watched TV, and then imagined that I was Danno of Hawaii Five-O on my next case as I walked to school. I think kids do not have enough time for rumination because we no longer let them walk to and from school on their own. That is when I did most of my ruminating.

  5. I sometimes think kids would be in better physical shape if they walked to school, but more rumination time sounds good too. When I got to watch tv, I mostly looked at handsome men :)

  6. I pick up almost every "clean" feather I find. Just not the poopy ones!

  7. You know, I totally agree with you, Linda. But at the same time I have lately pondered about whether this thinking that kids nowadays have it too easy - and don't need to think or be imaginative or contemplate about life, if this is just how it has always been between one generation and the next. I remember by parents and grandparents complaining about exactly the same. So it's made me realise that maybe it's just that I am not the young generation any more, this thinking that everything was much better before. I am sure the new generation - our kids - will find their own way and a meaning to life. And, yes, maybe I am completely wrong...

  8. I have a feather collection at work. I guess some things never change. I can understand what you're saying Otto, but it makes me sad that children don't go outside and play any more. Sometimes I think that people my grandparents' age were more inventive and self-sufficient than my age group, and way more so than the people younger.

  9. Bravo for your post! You could be describing my childhood (though the setting was different). I spent a very lonely adolescence in the country with my horse. But those same years were filled with almost unspeakable joy--loneliness and joy. My brother and I were allowed one hour per day of television, and the rest of the time I pretty much filled myself--riding my horse in the woods and across the countryside, looking at trees, playing piano, reading books. My family was very quiet, and everyone pretty much did their own thing. But I can't imagine having spent a childhood and adolescence any other way.

    It really really bothers me how my students act like they can't live five minutes without looking at their phones. I took them all out into the woods today to commune with nature (and perhaps write some, seeing how I'm an English teacher). Some of them had never been in the woods before. I sat on a rock while they disappeared down a trail, and while I was sitting, a copperhead came along....

    I don't know why I'm even saying this now. But I was very moved by your post. I think kids today are missing out a whole lot. I'm really glad we kept our kids away from electronica until they were well into their teen years. My boys spent their childhoods running around the neighborhood with friends, playing legos and reading. That seems just fine to me.

  10. I'm glad I could say something that moved you and reminded you of your childhood. I used to think that writing about my childhood was narcissistic, but then I realized that my stories are just a window for other people to look at their own memories. Good for you for taking the kids out to the woods. Maybe they gathered some memories too!

  11. Another great post. Totally brought me back to my own childhood memories..............

  12. Based on the posts you've written about your childhood (Did you climb a water tower or something like that?), I would say that it was certainly not boring...but that's hindsight, isn't it. It's funny how we appreciate some of the things of the past more than we did while in the midst of it.

    It is SO hard to get kids outside for a substantial amount of time these days. However, what I notice is that if they are with good friends, they are more likely to enjoy hike or a bike ride. It's something about a parent making a suggestion like that that makes them put it in the boring category.

    Very enjoyable post to read. :)