I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
My dear son has passed his driving test!
Okay, I’m trying not to be glass half-emptyish, but it will keep filling up and pouring over the sides. No, not luck and good fortune, but the pond. It seem like it never wants to stop raining this November.
Perhaps, if we believe enough in Christmas Fairies, December will brighten up a bit?
Is it my hearing that is going funny or has the sound on X Factor got even worse?
As Danni says, “is it singing competition or what?”
Each week it gets harder to hear the voices as they are drowned in reverb, positioned way back in the mix and drenched in backing vocals that completely overpower the singer.
It is beginning to sound a bit karaoke. There are a couple of great voices in there, but we are not being allowed to hear them. It must sound fabulous in the studio, but this is a tv show, can we have a sound mix for the tv audience, please?
After I was hacked and rebuilt my website, I decided not to host my blog on my site anymore, as that seemed to be where they gained access to my database. I decided to host my blog with wordpress.com.
This brings you closer to the wordpress community. Almost as soon as I was online again, I saw a link to National Blogging Month. It wasn’t really a blogging month it was a piece encouraging bloggers to write something everyday for a month. I took up the challenge. I’ve been doing pretty well. But now I think it is getting in the way of proper work. I’m going to try a new challenge.
This is my third entry today. I’m going to see if I can not blog everyday!
As soon as a child can hold a crayon, it is mesmerised by the marks it makes. It grows up joyfully interpreting the world through drawing and colouring in.
Around about the age of eleven, the act of drawing gets confused with the business of Art, style and criticism. Just when students could do with some encouragement and formal training in technique that will help them progress their drawing skills, they give up drawing and drawing becomes part of the Art syllabus.
They should carry on drawing, not as artists but as mathematicians, scientists, geographers historians and linguists. The act of drawing switches off the left side of the brain sending the drawer into a state of flow, so necessary for those leaps of imagination that we call creativity. Drawing is a training exercise for the right side of the brain.
All day long we force right brainers to learn language and sequencing techniques – how strange is it that we do not offer the complete exercise and training of the brain as standard?
Drawing is a universal language that crosses all barriers and boundaries. If you can’t read Japanese, the chances are you could decode a Japanese manga comic from the pictures and have a pretty good idea of the story.
The saying goes, “a picture tells a thousand words.” Every institution of power knows this truth and uses it ruthlessly. Why then do we gag ourselves? Why do we say,”I’m rubbish at drawing,”?
Because we confuse Drawing with Art. Drawing is something everyone can do, and I mean everyone.
You would not expect a room of adults to be writing Japanese at the end of one lesson, but you can bring a smile to their faces with just one drawing lesson. Better than that, you can get them to produce a piece of work that surprises them, that they can be proud of and happy to show to their friends and family. Sometimes they are so excited you cannot stop them!
Like learning Japanese, it takes practice and technique to get better.
We don’t teach drawing technique anymore because the artistic establishment has become sacred of influencing artistic style. But if someone doesn’t want to be an artist, who cares? At art college, my lecturers refused to show me any techniques – they didn’t want to spoil my natural style – I didn’t have any, because I’d never been taught any technique. However, they didn’t mind it when I taught them techniques I’d learned as a commercial artist, signwriter and mapmaker before I went to college!
Drawing is not an art – it is a skill that can be learned. Like any other skill it takes practice and perseverance. It’s benefits far out way the effort put in.
They all look grim under the orange sodium lights. None of the jolly, TV antique people here. This lot are out for a bargain, jaws set hard against the opposition – this is a battle of wits and determination. Anyone of those faces could be bidding against you, so don’t show any emotion.
You can spot the newbies, getting all excited and fidgeting as their lot number comes ever closer. They leap in with a bid too high and allow themselves to be pushed beyond the limit they’ve set themselves. Often, as I saw this morning, they are amazed to have won their item. The auctioneer commented, “Yes! You won!” Their round, shiny, country faces beamed.
It’s a bull ring – most of the time it is livestock that is bought and sold here. All sorts crowd in – the country squire type, the mousey ladies, the neck-tattooed ex-cons, the wheelers and the dealers, the collectors, the car boot sellers, some. I think, come for company and the occasion.
The stuff in the bullring looks a lot like tat, mostly because of the setting, but get it back home, polish it up a bit and there are interesting things to be had. I nearly got sidetracked into bidding for a folding case of butterflies – or lepidoptera, as the auctioneer informed his amused audience.
At ten o’clock the auctioneer makes a solemn progress towards his podium, ringing an old school handbell drawing all the stragglers to start of the sale. It’s an almost religious procession. He belts through the lots. Some of it must be fairly good. He goes over £100 a few times and gets over £200 for a cast iron garden table.
Then my number’s comes round. No bids. “Someone give me five.” I flash my card – he sees another movement first. I get in at eight. It goes to ten… twelve… I come in again at fifteen. I’m considering wether to go any higher when the gavel comes down and I’m the winner.
A pair of tatty, japonaise style cane tables. One will fit perfectly in the space my daughter has reserved for a bedside table. We’ve been looking for something that size for a while.
I get it home, clean it up with vinegar and water. It’s not quite as bad as thought. With a little polish, it looks okay next to her bed, be-lamped and covered with bedside table bit and pieces. I take a photo and send it to my daughter who is away for a couple of days.
The phone rings – a happy girl on the line. “You got it!” she squeals.
It was worth the effort.
Lovely tiled signs on the Cardiff Central Station. Look at the way they curved the tiles around the corner! And the spacing on the Cardiff sign works beautifully, even though each letter is on its own tile. The typeface has an Eric Gill feel to it – a bit Joanna semi bold. Nice to know it hasn’t been demolished in the Cardiff City clean up.
I’m writing a series at the moment about some seriously rich people.
Is there anyone out there so seriously rich that they think they can impress me show me what they can do because of their wealth?
All replies treated in strictest confidence, unless you want the publicity!
Having checked that it’s okay to post work done by year five of Whitchurch School, where I’m working on an extended writing project, I can now upload some of the drawing they did after I showed them how to draw Dark Claw.
I suppose it would be interesting to find a control group and get them to do a drawing from a finished version without me, and then get another group to draw with me and then see what the differences are. If I did two different drawings and swapped around, that would be fair. I guess I need a two form entry school to practice on!
Anyway these are lovely drawings. They now have sketchbooks, which they are filling up with ideas. Some are quite amazing. I’ll take some pics next week.
I’ve just been reading an article in the Times by Sir Bob Balchin, pro-Chancellor of Brunel University, pointing out the futility of the Queen’s Speech guarantee of a right to a “good” education. Isn’t this what the Government promised us in 97 and have spent billions on in the meantime. One paragraph made me gasp.
Of this country’s 75,000 pupils on free school meals who took A levels last year, only 79 boys earned three A grades and thus a chance to get into of one of the best university courses; by the most stark of contrasts, 175 boys at Eton College gained the same marks.
How can this be so after twelve years of a government that has micro managed education with such anal precision? The system is broken and needs fixing.
It looks like SATS may finally disappear – the argument against them is well won. Now it is only time and the need to save political face before they go. I hope that the teacher assessments that replace them are of more use to the education of the individual than the bean-counting mania of politicians.
Reading and writing skills have deteriorated in the last twelve years. How can this possibly be, with the emphasis we have seen put on Literacy?
Literacy in primary years should be about reading and writing. But these two skills are hard to neatly tick-box, so grammar and comprehension became the focus of literacy because they are easy to test and rate.
When did you, I’m assuming you are an adult, last write something – a wedding speech, a letter to the tax man, an office report? Did you conceive, plan, write and edit it in forty-five minutes? Of course not. You took days, thinking, planning, writing, re-writing and editing.
Why on earth should we test our children’s writing skills on what they can knock out in forty-five minutes? The test only proves that one teacher has managed to train a bunch of monkeys to hit the right buttons on a particular day. It does not test real writing skills. Now they are even talking of essays being marked by computers. Well! Writing is a craft that improves with practice, it is not a trick for churning out appropriate text during an exam.
Literacy is about being able to read as well. This is achieved by providing great stories and brilliant non-fiction material, by storytelling and inspiring the children to research for themselves – not by analysing abridged texts. Reading is a skill that improves with practice. Who wants to practice with deadly dull texts which may not even have the beginning or the end attached!
At the moment Britain is educating its children for a sweatshop future. Our children will be the worker monkeys of the world. To stay ahead in a rapidly changing, technological world, we need children to grow up with vision and imagination. Our slide down the international scales of literacy and numeracy is a national scandal.
It’s time that Education was focused on the education of our children and not the self-engrandisement of here-today and gone-tomorrow politicians. We either need a central body like the Bank of England, divorced from political interference to bring some stability to a system that is giddy from years of turbulence or power and self-determination should be ceded down to those who do the job best – the schools.