Saturday, May 18, 2013

How Pictures Work

I wanted to share with you a little about the book, How Pictures Work by Molly Bang. It was one of many I checked out of the library when we began reading about writing books. I hadn't heard of it before, but it was in the right section, looked vaguely interesting, so on the stack it went.

A few days later, after having read the more straight-forward of the books, I decided to look at this one. I will admit that at first, I wasn't really sure about it. There were a lot of pages at the beginning about shape and color, which was vaguely interesting, but not really compelling. And then we got to the fairy tale. The author then takes some of the concepts she outlined at the beginning of the book and uses them to tell Little Red Riding Hood... using just shapes and colors. So Red Riding Hood was a triangle and her mother was an oval, for example. You have to trust me that it works. (I really wasn't quite sure myself when we started on that section.) What became fascinating to me and D. and TM (the only ones who could really follow what was going on), was how each shape and color changed how we 'read' and felt about the picture and the story. I recommend it if you have older grade schoolers on up and they are interested in drawing.

I didn't think much about it after that until I started to think about fairy tales and the quote from Vivian Paly. And I remembered something that I thought was interesting at the time, but was now seeing it through a new lens. In the section about Little Red Riding Hood in How Pictures Work, there is a page where the author takes the wolf (which she had made fairly scary on the page before) and showed how by changing one element (his eyes) she could make him look ridiculous instead. All of us enjoyed looking that the change, but TM really liked it. Really liked it as in he had to keep flipping the page from the scary wolf to the ridiculous wolf more than a few times. There was something that struck him as deeply satisfying about the change and even after we had put the book away, he would get it out again just to look at the transformation.

At the time, I thought it was just appealing to his color and design sense (which is very strong), I'm sure it was, but I also think it satisfied something deep inside of him. It was as if it was the glimmer of the idea that scary doesn't have to stay scary beginning to grow in him. I want to encourage this idea as much as possible.

We've been busy gardening this past week, so we haven't done a lot with well, much of anything else. We need to get back up on that horse in the coming week. I'll keep you posted.

There. One blog post written before 8:30 am, though I was really hoping for 8. It's a work in progress. It's been interesting to see how much real working time on the computer I need. If I want to write as well as delete/reply to emails, it is looking as though I will need to schedule an hour and a half each morning. I will say this whole no-computer-on-during-the-day-thing has had many positive benefits. I will need to blog about it soon. Don't be surprised if I start recommending the same level of unconnectedness to you. Which is slightly ironic since I write a blog which I will essentially be telling you not to read. A conundrum.

Enjoy your weekend.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Hi Elizabeth - this reminds me of that scene in a Harry Potter book in a Defense against the Dark Arts class where the prof has them each practice turning their scariest thing into something ridiculous and thus disarming it. Do you remember that one? - Rebecca Gallo

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