Sunday, May 2, 2010


By Christy Hartman

I’ve always loved the whimsical world, don’t get me wrong I love realism as well but for some reason I truly enjoy the whimsical side of life. Who couldn’t resist the work of Walt Disney. The imagination and originality that it takes to bring a cartoon to life, whether it is animated in the traditional sense or done via computer, has always just fascinated me. To be able to bring something that is obviously not real in our adult minds to life and give it a personality takes someone who understands the intricacies of non verbal communication and human dynamics. Then to be able to portray that personality through facial expression, gestures, as well as the spoken word is a master of their craft.

Maybe that is why I chose to be a teacher in my professional life; children truly live in the whimsical world. Recently one of my Kindergarten students told me that the minute cut on his hand came from a shark bite. He had the entire story with all of the detail added to it; including when his mother told him to get out the water otherwise he was going to get bit by that shark. He told me this story as he entered the Art Room for his twice weekly art class and in a matter of literally seconds he drew me in, had me as a captive audience for the few moments that it took to relay that story. I now ask him every time that he comes to the Art Room how his day is going because he always has an incredible story for me. Is he lying? It depends on how you define a lie; I choose to wonder at the incredibly creative mind that this child has. Someday he might be the next great author or illustrator of his generation. I’d say that most animators and book illustrators have only lost a portion of that childlike creativity that exists when we are young. As we age and the demands of life take over we tend to lose that childlike wonder and creativity that children possess. As I so often discover, isn’t it fun to escape back into that creative world, if even just for a few minutes as a child relays some fantastic story to me as he walks into my classroom.

When I begin to design a project that is going to be based on a whimsical theme I immediately begin to imagine the story that could be told. Sometimes they start as a doodle as I am sitting in a meeting, watching TV in the evening, or even talking on the phone. More often than not they remain a doodle and go into the trash but occasionally something appears that I like and I file it away for future reference. That recently happened to me as I was beginning a plan for a new pattern that was to have a spring theme. That “Aha” moment occurred when I remembered the bugs that had started out as doodles. Could they possibly work into something for spring? As I began to envision this project I remembered a Burl Ives song from years ago called the “the Ugly Bug Ball” and thanks to the wonder of Google I was able to find that song and an animated version of it. The clip was short and the animation was obviously from years ago but from that I began to imagine bugs out for an evening with their special someone. You can now see that pattern on my website

Sometime things have a life of their own and the ideas for these bugs began to multiply. I thought why not design cards using the buggy characters to send out to friends throughout the year. I’ve included a simple plan for the “Night Light Bug” that I’ve put on a card for you to enjoy as a free download on my website.

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