A note from William Rubel
Last week, editor Emma Wood wrote about a painting by "outsider" artist Morris Hirshfield. If you missed that newsletter, please read it here. Emma wrote about the artist's evocative and yet not exactly realistic way of depicting scenes.
Keeping with this theme, this week I would like to offer you this painting of a pond with people and trees that was painted on a wall in Egypt 3,300 years ago.
What I want to remark on is the way in which the space is depicted—specifically, the trees that are painted around the rectangular pond likes spokes around the center of a wheel. This way of depicting trees around a pond has a very strong meaning for me. When I was in sixth grade, in 1963, I painted a pond with the trees organized just like this. I will never ever forget what my teacher said. She said that this was wrong. That the bottom trees should be upright, not “upside down.” And she laughed!
I was so upset. That pond had meant a great deal to me. I had just moved to Los Angles from Washington, DC, and it was spring. I missed going with my mother to the see the cherry trees blooming around the tidal basin by the Washington Monument. When the teacher said that the trees should be upright, I remember thinking, “But the leaves will get wet!”
I vowed at that time to never paint a painting again. And, somehow, I managed not to until I was in college, when I took an art class.
This terrible memory of being bullied by a teacher into depicting a memory the way she wanted me to, and not the way I imagined it, was actually one of my inspirations for starting Stone Soup in 1972—just 10 years after my terrible sixth-grade experience.
So, please, all of you—whether you write or draw or compose music or dance or whatever else you may do to record what and how you see and feel—follow your personal star!
I will also point out that by depicting the trees surrounding the pond in the way this ancient Egyptian artist did, we can see the people in the pond and exactly how the garden around the pond was landscaped. Notice how very clearly you can make out the different kinds of trees around the pond—in other words, this “unrealistic” way of representing the space actually gives us more information that a more “realistic” painting would.
As Emma said last week, “I hope this painting will inspire you to create something similarly strange, striking, and beautiful.”
Highlights from the past week online
Don't miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com!
On Tuesday, we posted Lucinda's second installment in her series 103 Elements and their Interesting Facts. Want to know which element makes up the majority of the yellow surface of Io, one of Jupiter's moons? Or how about what foods have potassium or iron? Read the post to find out! (Plus, read the first post here.)
Have you ever chosen to do something because you wanted to, even though it wasn’t very popular among your peers? Maya describes her experience of magnet-making in the library, and how even though she had reservations about doing something by herself instead of choosing a more popular activity, she enjoyed herself (and it turned out one of her friends did show up!).
From Stone Soup January 2020
By Elyse Bambrough, 7 (Bristol, UK)
Art: Eternal Hourglass by Sage Millen, 11 (Vancouver, BC)
I woke up again yesterday and saw the hammering rain pouring harshly down on my small little house. It was the worst sight I had seen in years! It was quite a boring sight, though I’m used to it, so I wasn’t that surprised. I had another amazing dream. I dreamt that I was in a forest with tropical trees and exotic flowers. There was spikey grass and even tigers! I guess it didn’t come true.
I had to try to tidy the rubbish by sifting and sorting, burning and burying, but it didn’t work. However, while I was sorting the rubbish, something caught my eye. It was a tiny tin flower! Suddenly an idea planted itself in my head. The idea sprouted and grew roots. Day after day, the idea got bigger. While I was feeding on the rubbish, a forest emerged under my hand. It was not the forest of my dreams, but it was a forest just the same. In the forest, there were tigers, toucans, tree frogs, and even butterflies! I was still a bit disappointed because it was a very dull forest with no color at all. As I walked through the forest, my heart was aching with emptiness.
Stone Soup is published by Children’s Art Foundation-Stone Soup Inc., a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization registered
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Stone Soup's Advisors: Abby Austin, Mike Axelrod, Annabelle Baird, Jem Burch, Evelyn Chen, Juliet Fraser, Zoe Hall, Montanna Harling, Alicia & Joe Havilland, Lara Katz, Rebecca Kilroy, Christine Leishman, Julie Minnis, Jessica Opolko, Tara Prakash, Denise Prata, Logan Roberts, Emily Tarco, Rebecca Ramos Velasquez, Susan Wilky.