Tag: drawing

Charlie’s Room: Space Cats

“Tell me a story,” Charlie said. He leaned on Isaac’s desk, and a pen rolled off onto his keyboard.

Isaac picked up the pen and set it in the jar of pencils. “I’m working right now. Maybe later?”

Charlie slumped further and some papers crumpled under his elbow. “But I want a story now. Please? I’m bored.”

Isaac turned to look at Charlie. He knew that Charlie had homework to do, and books to read, and a yard to play in. But, he also knew that since the quarantine started everything was different and strange, and Charlie wasn’t the only one feeling unsettled. “Okay. I’ll take a break and tell you a story. How about some cocoa, too?” He shut down his computer.

Charlie followed him into the kitchen and started handing him the ingredients he’d need. He leaned in and watched the small bubbles form on the surface as Isaac stirred. “Is it done yet?”

“Almost.” Soon enough, Isaac was pouring the cocoa into mugs. He left the pot in the sink to soak. Marianne was in the bedroom on a phone call, so Isaac set her mug aside for her. He and Charlie took their mugs to the living room, sat on the couch, and turned to face eachother.

“What do you want a story about?”

Charlie thought for a minute or two. “Space cats.”

That was different. Space cats? “Alright. Space cats. Are they cat astronauts from earth? Do they live on the space station?”

“No.” Charlie frowned. “They always lived in space. They’re space cats.”

“Okay.” Isaac sipped his cocoa while he thought for a moment. Still no ideas. He needed more information. “Do they look like regular cats? What do they eat?”

“They look like regular cats except they’re purple. And they eat shooting stars, if they catch them. They chase them really fast.” Charlie waved his hand back and forth. “Really fast, like that, see?” He waved his hand back and forth a few more times.

“Got it. I’ll see what I can do.” Isaac set his mug down.

“Once, there was a family of space cats. There was a mom space cat, and a dad space cat, and a brave and smart little boy space cat. They lived in space and took naps on asteroids, unless they were in a hurry. Then they napped on comets and got where they were going really quickly at the same time. They were very smart space cats. The mom space cat was the smartest one of all, of course, so it was probably her idea.”

“But what about the shooting stars?”

“I’m getting there.” Isaac took another sip of cocoa, very slowly.

“Daaaaaaad,” Charlie said. “Finish the story.”

“Oh, alright. Let’s see, the space cats liked to nap on asteroids best, because that’s what they ate, so it was nice to stay close to their food. The type of asteroids they liked best were the ones that were fiery hot. They tasted better that way. They heated up when they go too close to a planet and were pulled through the atmosphere really, really fast.”

“Shooting stars!”

“Yup. But they had to catch them before they burned up all the way, and they couldn’t fly as fast in atmospheres, because gravity made things difficult. The little boy space cat was the best at catching shooting stars because he was the fastest. And then, one day, he had a great idea. He thought that they needed to think of a way to heat up asteroids without going into the atmosphere. And then he looked at the bright, shiny, sun”

“The sun is too hot for space cats,” Charlie said. “They’d melt.”

“Yes, and it wasn’t the same thing at all. But it was on fire without any atmosphere at all. He told his parents that they needed to find a way to set asteroids on fire without chasing them into the atmosphere all the time. They needed to find a way to steal a piece of the sun and carry it around with them. The mom space cat had an idea. She said that she remembered seeing a crystal on the other side of the galaxy that was strong enough to hold a piece of the sun. They rode a comet over and found the crystal.”

Isaac took a long sip of cocoa.


“Sorry, sorry. Let’s see. They got they crystal. And then the dad cat thought that if they sent it through the atmosphere and it got hot like a shooting star, it would be like having a piece of sun to carry with them, but not too hot. But they would have to catch it at just the right time. And who was the best at catching shooting stars?”

“The little boy space cat?”

“That’s right. So they sent the crystal into the atmosphere, and he caught it at just the right time, when it was shining its brightest. Then they took it back to an asteroid and used the crystal to cook dinner. A long time later, when it stopped glowing as brightly, what do you think they did?”

Charlie bounced on the cushion in excitement. “They sent it into the atmosphere again and caught it when it was just right!”

“That’s right. And they lived happily ever after.”

Charlie grinned and drank the last of his cocoa in one big gulp. “That was a good story.”

“I think it turned out well. You had a great idea.”

“Like the little boy space cat!”

Isaac nodded. “Just like him. You should write down our story so you don’t forget it. We can make it into a book.”

Charlie jumped up. “I’ll draw pictures, too. It’ll be the best book! We can put it on the shelf with the dinosaur books, and you can read it to me at bedtime.”

Charlie raced away, and Isaac finished his cocoa. He stood to take his and Charlie’s mugs to the sink. Just then, Charlie peeked around the corner. “Dad?”


“Thank you for telling me a story.”

“Of course.”

And Charlie raced away again, apparently no longer feeling bored and unsettled. Isaac took the mugs to the sink, and smiled when he saw that Marianne’s mug was gone. He hoped her phone calls were going well. Then, feeling less unsettled himself, he went back to work.

Caring for Your Imaginary Friend

One morning, Greta was coloring. She had two hands and wanted to color on two papers at the same time. But the rule was only one paper at a time. Greta had an idea. “Mom, my friend Rose needs a paper.”

“Your friend Rose?” Mom looked around. “I think you’re the only one coloring here today, Greta. And you don’t have a friend named Rose.”

Greta stood up and stomped her foot. “I do so. She’s right here, and she wants a paper, too.”

Mom looked to Greta’s left and smiled. “Oh, I’m sorry. Rose, would you like a paper?”

Greta turned quickly to look to her left. There was no one there. Of course there wasn’t. She made up Rose to get another paper. She forgot for a moment. But then who was Mom talking to? Did it matter? Greta held her hand out. “I’ll give her the paper. She wants me to put it next to mine.”

“Well, if that’s what Rose wants. Here you go.” Mom handed Greta the paper.

Now Greta could do her two-handed coloring experiment. She set the papers next to each other and started coloring. She had a red crayon in one hand and a blue crayon in the other. It was a lot harder than she thought it would be.

Mom came closer to watch. “You’re coloring on Rose’s paper,” she said.

“She wants me to color on it,” Greta said. “She wants it to look just like mine. See?”

“But they’re different colors,” Mom pointed out.

“She likes red. I like blue. The drawings are the same.”

“Okay. Would you like a snack?”

Greta put the crayons down. The lines were starting to not look quite the same, and the papers kept scooting around. It would be good to take a break. “Rose wants a snack, too.”

“All right.”

Greta was thrilled when Mom set two little bowls of pretzels and apple slices on the table. She ate the first one, and then started on the second bowl. She ate the apple slices and some of the pretzels. “All done.” She took the bowls to the sink.

“Didn’t Rose like the pretzels?” Mom asked.

Greta shrugged. “I think she was too full. Maybe she had a big breakfast.”

She went back to her crayons, but she didn’t feel like coloring anymore. She took the papers to Mom to hang on the fridge. Mom hung them up high so everyone could see them.

“Wait, you need to put our names on them so everyone knows who made them.”

“I thought you drew them both.” Mom looked confused.

“But the red one is Rose’s picture. It should have her name on it, because it’s hers.”

“All right.” Mom wrote the names on the papers with a pencil. “Now go play.”

Greta went upstairs to play with her dolls, and forgot all about Rose until the next morning. At breakfast, she saw the pictures and remembered her pretend friend. She felt a little guilty for forgetting about Rose. She needed to be a better friend.

She remembered Rose for most of the rest of the day. She asked her what she wanted to do when there were choices. Then she interpreted for her, because Rose spoke too quietly for Mom to hear. It was pretty easy, though, because Rose always wanted the same thing that Greta did, because they were friends.

Greta asked for two of everything. Chairs, pillows, snacks. She couldn’t convince Mom to let them watch two cartoons though. Mom said they could both watch the same one and share it. Even stomping didn’t make Mom change her mind. Instead, she said, “Greta, if you keep stomping, Rose and I will watch this show together and you will go to your room.”

Great was horrified. “But Mom, she’s my friend. She doesn’t want to watch the show without me.”

“Then you’d better sit down and watch it. No more stomping.”

Greta sat down with a huff. Mom needed to make up her own friend and not try to take Greta’s. She turned to her left. “You wouldn’t watch the cartoon with Mom instead of me, right?”

Of course she wouldn’t. Greta smiled. Having a friend was nice. She told Rose all her favorite parts of the cartoon, and Rose listened. Rose was a great friend.

That afternoon, after eating two snacks, Greta was practicing her two-handed coloring again. Rose was admiring how well Greta could color. Greta wondered if Rose got lonely when Greta fell asleep. Greta had an idea. “Rose, I think you need a pet dragon.”

My Growth Spurt Theory

As children grow, they have growth spurts. Out of nowhere, they are suddenly ravenous. They eat and eat and eat and eat. As a parent, you get used to feeding them extra at every meal, and in-between meals, and in-between the in-between meals.

And then, one day, they aren’t hungry. Instead of wanting seconds, they’re picking at their firsts. Instead of being hungry, they sleep. They fall asleep on the couch watching cartoons. They sleep in late in the morning. They go to bed on time. They sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep.

And then none of their clothes fit, and you realize that all the strange behavior was actually quite normal. They just had a growth spurt.

I think that there are creative growth spurts. Just like kids don’t grow steadily, one millimeter a week or something, talent improves at an inconsistent rate. That doesn’t mean that practice should be inconsistent. Talent relies on regular meals just like children do.

It does mean that when you are drawing along, doing what you normally do, things can change out of nowhere. Suddenly, the lines go all funny and everything just isn’t working right, and all of your self-confidence can go right out the window.

Why can’t I draw anymore? Why does everything look terrible today/this week/this month? Growth spurt. In my experience, if you keep practicing despite the terrible results, eventually you’ll come through to the other side. Everything starts to work out again. Things look better than they have in a while.

At this point, you may feel like you’ve returned to wherever you were before and the bad day/week/month was just you feeling off or rushing through things or something. But, I think if you compare your new normal to your old normal, the new normal may be a little bit better than it was before.

That’s my growth spurt theory. Is it always true? I don’t know. Probably not. There are probably times where you are just sick or rushing things or something.

However, on days when I’m trying really hard and nothing seems to come out right, it is comforting to know that maybe this is just a normal part of the creative process. And, instead of being a bad thing, it may mean good things are coming if I just hang in there and keep practicing despite my current difficulty.

Has anyone else found this to be true? Is it sometimes hard for you to practice when things don’t go well? How do you push through your artistic bad days/weeks/months?



Is Stan…Normal?

Awesome Guy came home from saving the world, happy to see that his wife, Dynamic Girl had already picked up their son Stan from daycare.   Dynamic Girl didn’t look as happy.   “Is everything okay, dear?” he asked.

She smiled a fake smile. “Stan honey, why don’t you go draw something for Mommy, alright?” she said, and sent Stan out of the room.   Once he was gone, she dropped the smile. “I’m worried about Stan.”

“Did something happen?” Awesome Guy asked.

“He’s not showing any superpowers. I think he might be normal,” she said.

“There’s nothing wrong with normal.”

Dynamic Girl flopped into a chair with less grace than usual. “I know,” she said. “But that’s not all. He’s so clumsy. He keeps tripping over his feet lately. I had his vision checked and his eyes are fine.”

Awesome Guy sat on the arm of her chair and put an arm around her shoulders. “Did you take him to the doctor?”

“Yes. He’s, well, normal.” Dynamic Girl frowned.

Awesome guy patted her back and stood up again.   “I’m sure it’s fine. A growth spurt, maybe?”

Just then, there was a loud thump in the next room.   Dynamic Girl sighed. “There, he just tripped again.” She raised her voice. “Stan dear, are you alright?   Come in and let me check on you.”

Stan came running in with his drawing and handed it to his mother with a grin. “I’m okay,” he said, and ran back out, darting around the coffee table with ease.

Dynamic Girl held up the drawing. “Look, he’s written ‘me’ at the bottom. It’s another self-portrait. Do you think he’s becoming a narcissist?” She gasped. “Maybe he’s really a supervillain?”

Awesome Guy laughed. “No son of mine is going to be a supervillain. I think you worry too much. Now let’s see what’s–“ He tripped.

“Honey?” His wife asked with a shaky voice.

He chuckled nervously. “I wasn’t expecting that.” He sat up and saw his son peeking around the door. “Come here, son. Did the noise scare you? I just somehow tripped over my own two feet. But look, I’m okay.”

Stan shuffled into the room and held out another picture. Awesome Guy smiled. “Oh, is this me? That’s great.” He stood and handed the picture to Dynamic Girl. “Look, honey, Stan just drew a picture of me.” She smiled and everything was right in the world. For a while.

A week later and Awesome Guy came home from saving the world, happy to see that his wife, Dynamic Girl had already picked up their son Stan from daycare. Unfortunately, once again, Dynamic Girl didn’t look as happy. “Is everything okay, dear?” he asked. He hoped that this wasn’t going to become a new routine.

She smiled and sent Stan from the room again. She frowned. “Stan seems to be alright, but now the kids and teachers in the daycare keep tripping. Do you think it’s something contagious? Perhaps it’s a symptom of some kind of weaponized virus?”

Awesome Guy sighed and sat in the nearest chair.   “Honey, if it is, it doesn’t seem to last long. And there aren’t any other symptoms, right?”

She nodded and her shoulders slumped a little. “That’s right. Maybe I do worry too much.”   She walked towards her usual chair and tripped.

“Honey, are you okay?” Awesome Guy asked. He hurried over and helped her up.

“Yes,” she said and brushed herself off, looking a little embarrassed. She glanced away and then smiled. Stan was peeking around the door. “Oh, Stan, is that you? Did you finish your picture?” She held out a hand and Stan shuffled over and handed her the picture. “Is this me? Thank you, sweetie!” She gave him a big hug.

“Ouch! Mom, that hurts!” Stan scowled. Awesome Guy laughed and everything was right in the world.   For a while.

A week later and Awesome Guy was on the superhero council organized to try to discover the source of the mysterious wave of tripping incidents. Celebrities from around the world were tripping, and there was no known connection or trigger for the incidents. There was a lot of arguing and posturing on the council, but nothing was resolved.

Awesome Guy went home, having not saved the world. The house was empty, so he left again and picked up Stan from daycare. One of the teachers handed Awesome Guy a stack of drawings. He flipped through them. “These are all people from the tripping case.” He looked at his son and felt proud. “Have you been keeping up with my work, son?” His son might not be a superhero, but maybe he would be a reporter instead. He couldn’t wait to tell Dynamic Girl! And everything was right in the world again. For a while.stan-10-26