Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Loopy Cat and Rainbow Swirls

Django the Art Cat seemed to go into a bit of an artistic decline over the summer. Perhaps his "mews" had departed for a vacation; perhaps he just succumbed to the laziness and inertia to which he is so supremely adapted. Or perhaps he'd just wearied of the media he was forced to work with--paper towels, hair bands, receipts, and the like. It was time for something new.

But first, something old.

Back when my daughter was in her final year of preschool, a favorite activity involved encouraging the kids to draw and then soliciting information about the drawing from them. This would be dutifully written down and the artwork slotted into the children's binders.

For some reason, my child decided that this was an ideal opportunity to just scribble. Scribble, scribble, scribble in loop-de-loops in multiple colors all over the page. Well, OK, that's fine. She's five, she's playing with color and pencils, plenty of time to stay in the lines or draw recognizable objects in the future. Or just scribble. Think of all the scribbly canvases anointed as Great Works of Art hanging on the walls of museums and in expensive lobbies and mansions.

Anyway, this was a preschool co-op, where a "free to be you and me" atmosphere reigned. Unfortunately, sometimes this meant "free to be a little self-centered monster" and "grown-ups should be all-accepting ciphers," but I digress. It was a fine atmosphere for encouraging creativity.

However. The loopy scrawls, which came to be known as "rainbow swirls," began to test the patience of even the heartiest of the "aren't children precious and amazing at absolutely all times?" portion of the parent squad. Because not only was my child producing page after page of swirls--many other kids began to churn them out, too. The swirls swept through the class like a rotovirus.

Even the teacher--the calmest, most stoic, long-suffering, and unflappable woman I'd ever met in a childcare setting--tilted her head during "sharing time" and suggested that my child try her hand at drawing something else. (Which she did, producing a tedious series of works entitled "Rainbow Swirl in the Grass," "Rainbow Swirl in the Sky," and the like.)

If I were really in step with the parenting atmosphere of my fair city, I suppose I would've crowed about the latent talent exhibited in the swirls: the intuitive sense of balance and form! suddenly jarred by a jagged streak of maroon! pent-up energy contained, yet unleashed but respectful of negative space! Like any sane parent, I just uttered things like "Look at all those colors" and "You sure used a lot of colors."

So. Fast forward nearly a decade, and right now the living room is a rainbow swirl of potholder loops. My daughter and a friend are an absolute hurricane of potholder-making activity, weaving loops on small metal looms while watching TV or listening to music. Stray loops are fair game for Django. They've encouraged him to try his paw at water-bowl installations again. And the results are looking a lot like Rainbow Swirls.

Sadly, his most colorful piece (which incorporated about a dozen loops) was destroyed by a well-meaning individual who cleaned it up and then refilled the bowl with fresh water before it was photographed. Perhaps Django intended for that to happen--maybe he was making a commentary on the brevity of life, the ephemeral nature of water, or something.

But here's a work in progress. You can see how the rigors of giving birth to a new concept have worn out the poor cat, who needed to have a little lie-down mid-production.


  1. Hurricanes! That's what she was drawing. Especially if she made the swirls in a counter-clockwise direction, given that we are in the northern hemisphere and all. The second picture looks like a model of an atom. This is what she was drawing:

  2. Your daughter and your cat are both geniuses. Brilliant post. I always look forward to whatever you write! When Django next creates, please hobble the creation destroyer so you can capture the opus on film!