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” [...]
If you did the drawing of how to draw a pumpkin head, you might want to paint it too, so here is a video that shows how I use watercolours to paint my drawings. Enjoy!
I had a lovely day yesterday at Sully Primary School in South Wales. The school is almost on the beach – how brilliant is that? The mother of teacher, Laura Sheldon – who organised my visit – apparently dressed up as a pirate and waited on the beach for a crocodile of reception year children to file down and meet her. They didn’t doubt the truth of her role! What fun.
I also came across JRSOs for the first time. The Junior Road Safety Officers had organised a competition about walking to school. A great idea to empower the JRSOs and give them a sense of responsibility. Also children absorb information from their peers in a way that they don’t when handed down from on high.
Thanks for a great day and sorry if my story made you jump – Mwahahah!
I get asked this question all the time and I’ve never quite known the answer. I believe Philip Pullman says he gets them from Tesco – that’s funny – but not helpful. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about particle physics and neuroscience recently and have come up with a theory about where ideas come from that comfortably fits with my experience.
We are all but energy. Every particle that is us or that we eat, breathe, stand on or touch, in fact every particle that exists in the entire universe, breaks down eventually to it’s smallest component – energy – and that’s what I think ideas are made of.
Energy has a frequency with which it resonates. I think ideas are made of energy. Each idea is made from a mix of frequencies that resonate together in a form of harmony – or maybe dischord, it depends on your point of view!
Every idea that has ever been had and every idea that ever will be had, already exists, floating around in the ether. Ideas are being broadcast constantly, like radio signals, across or through space or are just hanging suspended, waiting to be picked up.
And that is where our brains come in – or should that be our minds? Whichever – as we learn stuff we tune ourselves the same way we tune a radio into the broadcast frequency of a radio station. When we have learned a particular mix and amount of knowledge, our brains, or minds, resonate with the idea that is in harmony with the idea that is floating about, waiting to be had, creating a new frequency or harmonic.
This explains why people can have the same idea at the same time – the zietgeist is the pool of ideas waiting to be had. Often, more than one person tunes in at the same time, but their interpretations of the idea may be quite different.
Ideas exist already and are waiting to be “had”. We are just just the tools by which ideas manifest themselves as physical entities – how ever clever we think we are, we are just the medium – the idea is the clever one hoping to have found a worthy partner. I suppose we benefit each other – humans and ideas. The more I live, the more I become aware that ideas are not really mine, I’m in partnership with the idea, which is often the child of another idea that was in partnership with someone else.
What does this means for the idea of intellectual property? I’m sure ideas want their human partners to prosper, so that they can be realised and built upon. After all, the concept of intellectual property way well be an idea that wishes to protect and promote its friends.
You can work on your brain to receive more and more ideas. Our job as humans is to do something with those ideas. People walk straight past brilliant ideas everyday – they haven’t tuned in and so don’t notice them or realise their worth. Others have too many ideas and so never get to focus and realise one good idea.
Writers have a phrase, “kill your darlings.” It means remove all that you think sounds great – that makes you look clever – and keep it simple and direct. The same can be said for ideas. Just because you’ve tuned yourself into an idea, it doesn’t mean you should wed yourself to it. If you are already working hard on bringing an idea to fruition, starting on a new one will weaken your focus and you will probably fail both ideas.
Ideas are like fruit if I may mix my analogies. You need to thin fruit early in the season. It’s better to have a few plump, sweet fruits, that a whole tree full of small, hard, bitter bullets.
I had a great time at Cheltenham Literary Festival this morning where I filled in for James Mayhew, who has tonsillitis and was not well enough to talk to two hundred and something children.
I took a lot of artwork from my new Axel Storm books. with the aid of a visualiser – a sort of digital overhead projector, I showed hundreds of drawing I did while trying to decide what Axel would look like.
Often I gain insights into my work when asked questions at school sessions. I had one such question today.
“Do any of your characters look like you?” I was asked. It dawned on me where Axel’s “mono eye” comes from. I was born with a cyst over my bright eye. As a teenager I grew my hair to cover it. I remember being quite proud of my cyst, but now I know what teenagers are like, I think I was probably quite self-conscious about it and covered it up. Next to this this early pencil drawing of Axel I had written the enigmatic phrase, “Analyse this!” There must have been something about the drawing that I thought needed further investigation. If you look at the inset photo of me above, black-eyed after I’d had my cyst removed, I think you can see a resemblance. Axel’s hair is over his left eye, but that’s not how I’d see it in the mirror.
So the answer is, Yes! Sometimes I do look like my characters – and the way I write them is often how I’d like to be or how I’d like to think I am!
Now I’m a big Burt Bacharach fan and Burt is a fan of Rumer. So he should be, Rumer is his reincarnation. It’s spooky – Rumer has all his tricks and cadences, but not the lyrics – they kind of sound right, but there’s no content to them.
During Rumer’s choruses, silky backing vocals enhance her voice in a way that seemed very reminiscent to me. After four songs that sounded pretty much the same, I put my finger on it – the harmonies are structured in a similar way to Catherine Feeney. I put her album, Hurricane Glass, on and – Ahhhh! That’s what I want to hear in Rumer’s voice, a bit of passion.
If you’ve not heard of Catherine Feeney, here’s a youtube Video link for you, I’m afraid embedding has been disabled. I had tickets to see her earlier this year, but sadly I was unwell and not up to going.
Catherine Feeney is a wonderful singer songwriter. Her songs have great tunes and beautifully written lyrics that mean something and are sung with colour and passion. Rumer’s voice is clinically perfect but I feel her songs have all been crafted by a computer programme given all the ingredients but not the soul. Like Norah Jones before her – not on my Christmas list.
I was asked this morning if I’d take over James Mayhew’s spot at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, as he’s got tonsillitis and isn’t really up for it. Having spent a lot of my youth and grown up years with frequent bouts of tonsillitis, I feel for him and hope he gets better.
For those of you looking forward to meeting James on Wednesday, I hope I’ll do him proud. It is to be a illustration based talk, so I’m looking out all sorts of things to bring along and show you. See you on Wednesday morning.
My wife and I went to the festival yesterday, on the way home from my brother’s birthday party in Oxford. We went to see the film star, Michael Caine, talk about his new book – not many people know that, (well, they do now I’ve written about it on the internet!)
Fir trees work differently to deciduous trees. They are more pointy! Watch this video and learn how to draw them.