Books

Make/Play/Watch/Read: Find the Artist Within

As a GeekMom, there are many subjects I am eager to share with the spawnlings. STEM covers most of it, and I’m fairly confident with history and literature. However, there is one area I feel more comfortable “phoning a friend”: creative arts. Now, I can draw a fair stick figure and even progress to some rudimentary superheroes, but I would never claim any skill to “Be the Artist.” When I lamented this to some friends, apparently there is only one thing stopping me from being an artist: I don’t believe I am an artist.

So, I’m dedicating this week to those who support and encourage artists. You are amazing people. YOU are the cheerleaders who help struggling artists overcome their inner doubt and go on to create beautiful things. Artists don’t make beauty with every attempt. Oh no, art takes time and practice. Do you think they just woke up and were suddenly that good? No. They have to make, play, watch, read, and most of all PRACTICE all the time. And every time something doesn’t look exactly like they imagined it in their head, they also really appreciate someone nearby to remind them, “you are still an artist.”

BTW: It’s a lot easier to do this with our kids. The featured image was produced by our 7-year-old daughter today. I was shocked when she thanked me for supporting her. And then I realized: it is far easier to support my kids with their art than it is to believe in myself. I think we all need this reminder from time to time. 

Make: Be the Artist With GeekMom Lisa Tate

Big shout-out to fellow GeekMom Lisa and her summer series, Be the Artist. Every summer for many years, Lisa has shared her artistic skills with a series of articles detailing a variety of techniques and styles. Personally, my faves are the ones with a geeky twist.

Each year, Lisa keeps a theme to her articles: world art, time travel, and design. This year, her focus is on vocabulary and understanding the language used in art. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to finally understand some of the terminologies! I’m feeling a little more confident to try some new things like batik. Having someone take the time to talk through the basics has made a huge difference to both my confidence and my skill.

Credit to Lisa Tate

While I may not have my own “Make” project to share here, you are far better off heading to Lisa’s bio and reading through her Be the Artist series. There are plenty of ideas and guiding articles to read. It is the perfect summer project, and Lisa does it every year. Thank you, Lisa!!

Play: Chicory: A Colorful Tale (PS5/PS4/PC)

This is simply the cutest game to encourage anyone to be an artist! Chicory: A Colorful Tale is an indie-developed game from Finji studios. It’s a top-down adventure game about a dog wielding a magic brush bringing back color to the world. As the player, you can explore this new world, solving problems and making friends while restoring magic through the power of art!

Chicory first came to my attention through LudoNarraCon as a fun friendly narrative-driven game. I have since played it with my 7-year-old daughter, and we have both loved different elements in our own ways. My daughter is definitely more of an artist than I am, with a far braver outlook to creative expression with colors and paint. She loved the mission for our little hero, using magic to highlight different things in the game and bring the story together.

On the other hand, I loved the interaction with other characters, using art and color as a way to communicate. Both are significant parts of the game and made it so enjoyable. There are also PS5-exclusive features I was not able to check out myself: Activities, Guided Help, and haptic feedback. However, there was nothing with my Steam experience which diminished my enjoyment. In fact, I now have to share my PC more often with the kids specifically to play this game. Small price for a lot of enjoyment.

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Chicory is a game that will remind you about the magic of art. For anyone who has taken a break and trying to find their way back to the paintbrush, Chicory will soften the path and gently guide you home. It is so beautiful to look at and a simple pleasure to play. The perfect support for anyone to be an artist.

Watch: The Joy of Painting With Bob Ross (Amazon Prime)

I had never heard of Bob Ross beyond the memes. Often, I see his image associated with Fred Andrews and Steve Irwin as another example of guiding influences. For Bob Ross, his name is always associated with creating art. Again, encouraging us all to be the artist we always wanted to be.

I recently watched an episode of The Joy of Painting to see what the fuss was about. And I finally get it. Wow. He was the most calming and supportive person ever! Ross made painting look effortless, with a voice that glides over your doubts in the same way his paint glides over the canvas. You really learn so much from his instruction. Best of all, his dialogue while he paints was so personal and relatable; you really feel like you are there having a personal conversation. And I found this to be so helpful because art is personal.

Ross really did believe there was an artist hidden inside every single one of us. For more of his guiding influence, you can find The Joy of Painting on Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and SBS Australia.

Read: Aaron Slater, Illustrator by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts (release November 2, 2021)

Add this to your pre-order list: Aaron Slater, Illustrator is scheduled for release on November 2, 2021. I know it’s teasing because the book isn’t released yet, but you do not want to miss this. Put it on pre-order now.

Aaron Slater is the fifth character created by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts as part of The Questioneers series. You may have heard of Iggy Peck, architect? Or maybe his classmate, Rosie Revere, engineer? We shouldn’t have favorites but I always have a soft spot for Ada Twist, scientist. And I am yet to meet Sofia Valdez, future prez (but I have heard only good things about her).

Aaron Slater is from the same class of inquisitive students. Aaron is a storyteller and dreams of sharing his stories, but when it comes to writing, he struggles to see the words. He becomes disheartened, not knowing how to share his story if he doesn’t know how to tell it. And then he discovers another way to share his story. This is his story, and it is beautifully told from the view of art being a form of communication and inspiration.

They say the book is aimed at 4-7 years old, but I promise you, I have bought this book for me. I love the partnership between Beaty and Roberts, encouraging children (and parents) to follow their own unique style. This book is extra personal for Roberts, being an illustrator himself. It is the perfect way to remind us there is more than one way to tell our story. And sometimes it takes both writer and illustrator to bring the story out.

Is this a glimpse of Aaron Slater, illustrator? (Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts)

The first step to be an artist is to believe you can be the artist. It is hard to overcome self-doubt, especially when the results may not match the image we have in our heads. What we really need is patience and kindness for ourselves. There are plenty of people out there who believe in you giving it a try. You can make anything you want. You may not make it the first time, but there will be something in the first lesson to help you with the second lesson. Give it a go!

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This post was last modified on July 22, 2021 4:23 pm

Evil Genius Mum

Taking over the world from the comfort of her EG Lair Down Under (Australia). She plans to reset the world in her own geeky image - because geeks do it better. From old school superheroes to tech gadgets, EG Mum is all about sharing the geeky world with her spawnlings - Sinister, Nefarious, and Zaltu... if they don't beat her to it.

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