It’s February, a season for dragons. We dug up this rock last summer when we planted the maple tree. I think it looks like a dragon’s face. I’ve watched it in summer, fall, and then lost it in winter. It gradually reveals itself as snow melts. Is it a coincidence the props manager for this season’s children’s theater asked me to make 5 kites, and one must be a Chinese dragon? I don’t think so! I must need dragons this season. They’re here.
Chinese dragons are useful and powerful. Most live in water. Our creek has been running nearly all winter, so unusual. I can hear it from the house though it flows through the culvert beneath our drive with room to spare. Did a dragon bring this on? (I don’t think so.) Dragons bring rain, and probably snow, that’s needed for irrigation and they can prevent floods or stop them. “It is said that the dragon is a large-scaled reptile, which can become dark or bright, large or small, long or short, and fly into the sky in the spring and live underwater in the fall.” Perhaps my rock, which was buried all these years, has lived under snow all winter, a frozen form of water. Maybe it wants us to move it to the creek. We can do that. Fabulous Husband is just waiting for another tractor landscaping project, no doubt.
I welcome the strength of Chinese dragons this season as snow melts and spring appears. “The Chinese dragon symbolizes power and excellence, valiancy and boldness, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity. A dragon overcomes obstacles to achieve success. He is energetic, decisive, optimistic, intelligent and ambitious.
Unlike the evil energies associated with Western dragons, most Eastern dragons are beautiful, friendly and wise. They are the angels of the Orient. Instead of being hated, they are loved and worshipped.” Here is a fascinating site about Chinese dragons. For now, I’ll consider the dragons emerging in my life as donors of some powers I need now, or soon will.
I learned how to draw a dragon here and here. I cut a worn sheet and painted the kites with acrylics. I used wood dowels and string for the frame and then attached the kites to the frame with duct tape, the wonder tool. I found simple instructions for making a kite here. I hope they really will fly when I get them back after the play.
This is my response to the weekly photo challenge: seasons. Share an image evocative of the weather or represent the current “season of your life” in metaphor.
I am making kites for props for a children’s theater performance, magical tales of the Chinese Monkey King. After cutting an old sheet to the measurements, I reached for my acrylic paints. A calendar of Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings lay on the container. I had saved it for inspiration. I liked the center of this black flower so I painted it on a kite. I was thinking of a sea star while I painted. My mind wandered. Oops! I made it with 6 points instead of 5. And I added more colors for fun. When the 4 kites were painted this one just didn’t seem to belong with the others. It’s darker and abstract. The others are bright and cheery like this dragon kite. I took this photo of the dark kite, inspired by art, then painted over it attempting to create a kite that will look more the theme of the others.
Here is the flower center, painted by Georgia O’Keeffe that inspired me. When this project is finished I think I’ll make some kites for my family and friends that really are copies of favorite art. Wouldn’t that be fun to see in the sky?
It just happens that this week’s photo challenge is “Life imitates art.”. The idea is to find inspiration in a piece of art, and go further: imitate it. My painted kite is not quite what I think this theme asks for, but it was inspired by art so this is my entry for this week’s challenge. Oh, and when all the kites are secured on their frames and adorned with tails I’ll show you how they turn out. Please come back and look again.
I study round faces I found on masks and dolls and puppets in Sighisoara and Brasov, Romania last summer. Circles form the basic shape and eyes, nose, cheeks, and chin. Even eyebrows indicate circles. It makes a happy feeling. I’m ready to create masks and dolls and puppets, characters. Starting with painting circles appears easy, but will it be so? This little fellow’s hair grows around his face in a complete circle. What an enigma. I saw this hanging on a wall in a gift shop, just the face, nothing more. I think it would be a suitable face for Baby Brother puppet in a Baba Yaga play I am considering directing.
A bowl full of angels. So cheery! This artist has it down, the circles, the faces. I don’t want to copy, but I think it would be a good practice for me developing my own style, to let it flow and see where it takes me. I don’t have to make angels, maybe I’ll make witches or Yule Boys, those mischievious tomten-like brothers who lick your spoons and bowls and slam doors and peek at you through windows at Yule time. I’m happy to wander through the creative process. Painted faces, can they be as espressive as 3 dimensional sculpted ones?
So simple, yet so effective. I like the pipe cleaners for arms and legs, adorned with beads.
If you follow my blog, you’ve noticed I have not made many posts this fall. That’s because directing a children’s theater play took more of my time than I had anticipated. It’s all done now and I hope to get back to photography and writing daily and posting at least weekly on this blog.
But I have been blogging on a private blog I created for the cast and crew. I’ve made it a public blog now that performances are over and you can see it on the new page I started. Just look up in the menu bar for Children’s Theater or click that text in this sentence. I realized that children’s theater posts on this blog get a bit of interest so I gave the topic it’s own page.
If you have any interest in children’s theater or any performing art I’d like to hear from you. I designed the robe for Mother Earth in Phaeton and the Sun Chariot from a design sent in by a blogger who read my post seeking ideas.
Next, I’ll be getting ready to go to classrooms in local schools to teach performing arts workshops. And in my studio, I’ll be designing masks and puppets, and writing scripts.
Directing the McCall Children’s Theater play “Phaeton and the Sun Chariot” by Wim Coleman, I was inspired to keep costumes simple like the ancient Greeks did. I dressed young actors all in black and adroned them with symbolic representation for their characters. In ancient Greek theater the actors wore everyday togas and wore masks to portray their characters and to change characters so I wanted my young actors and audiences to have a similar experience. I designed the costumes but it was my creative Costume Manager who created these wonderful ornate head garlands. Creative parents crafted the Sun Chariot. I will post more photos and information from the play after the show ends this weekend. I lost control of my blogging schedule as my rehearsal schedule intensified. For more images in the Wordpress Weekly Photo Challenge: Ornate click here.
No argument that the sun did it’s darndest in recent years to dry out the land and burn up forests and grasslands in western America from Mexico into Canada. But what I’m talking about is mythology and tragedy and theater, drama based on real events. Mother Earth in a character in the play I am directing for children’s theater this fall. I need to design her costume and I’m rather stumped on this concept. I know a lot of my followers are artists or writers or gardeners or use fabric in your designs, all highly creative folk. Here’s your opportunity to help design a dramatic costume for Mother Earth, and then more for some other characters if you like!The play is “Phaeton and the Sun Chariot” by Wim Coleman. Phaeton is the son of a mortal mother and the immortal Sun God, Helios. The kid challenges his dad to let him drive the Sun Chariot across the sky to prove his own powers and of course disaster strikes when he loses control and drives the sun too close and too far from Earth. Fires, ice, floods, excessive darkness, regular panic and havoc among the mortals, that sort of disaster. Mother Earth comes on stage in a rage and scolds Zeus for letting this happen as she yells about agriculture, strip mining, and air and water pollution, in addition to burning up the earth. So we need a suitable costume. Actors will wear black tops and leggings/pants (no togas) and use masks as they portray different characters, much the way it was done in original Greek Theater. Mother Earth is an exception, she can have more than a mask, a full costume, as she enters from back stage. She has to look like she’s being destroyed, mostly by fire. The costume needs to be quick to put on and take off as the actor will also be playing other characters in the performance. I want it to give the mood of a supernatural or mythological deity, though she is not a goddess. She will probably be barefoot.
So there you have it. I’m asking for collaboration. I need ideas, drawings (very draft is fine), photos, any images you can send my way, please. What is your muse telling you? Use the comments section below or Contact Me here to send me your ideas. I’ll share them and give you credit. Of course I will post the completed costume after the performances in November. And if you can get to McCall, Idaho, come watch the play!
My son gave me starts of his Zinfandel and Shiraz grapes last March. I popped the twigs into soil and kept them well watered. It takes months before my grape starts usually show leaves so I am happy to see this much growth this season.
Using filtered sun along the deck rail, I sheltered the twigs from the strongest Idaho summer heat. The white table grapes I started last summer grew enough to give shade this summer and even produced sweet fruit. See what I mean when you look in the back ground in this photo. Shiraz starts are small but healthy in the foreground pot while white table grapes vine among the rail posts in the background between the south sun and the pot.
Genoa Basil and Verbena mark north and south. Two tiny Shiraz starts mark east and west. I’m not sure this is true companion planting, but they all seem friendly enough living together. I wanted the pot to look pretty and tasty while waiting for the twigs to sprout leaves.
The Zinfandel start is so big now, I moved it into morning sun. Only one of three twigs produced leaves so far. Happy Genoa Basil and a first year Milkweed keep this grape company. I had to move the Milkweed here after one of our German Shepherds, Ozette, dug in its pot to hide her ball. She’s attracted to some deck pots more than others.
I love the dancing shadow the new Zinfandel casts when I have my first cup of coffee.
This morning I sat with a “Western Fence Lizard” hiding in the shade of the Zinfandel planter. I wonder what it was named before fences came to the West. It looked like it was growing a new tail. I’ve seen plenty of them do that here. But look closer. It’s molting! What a sleek new dark mantle it’s putting on for autumn.
I planted 4 white grape starts last summer below the deck, hoping they would eventually grow tall enough to shade our deck and the two lower rows of south facing windows. A year later it looks like I can start constructing the arbor.
I’m thrilled to find sweet grapes in the first year!
Here’s a great example of non-companion planting. These white grape twigs were planted last spring. Look closely on the left and you’ll see the stump of a huge volunteer Mammoth Sunflower. This spot is directly beneath my bird feeder dishes; you can see them in a previous photo on the deck rail. Here’s proof that certain plants cannot grow near Sunflowers or in soil where sunflower seed husks have accumulated. Why not?
Grape vines will be fun to arrange among camel bells and hanging plants. Notice the smokey mountains in the background? This is a relatively smoke free morning considering the wildfires in our region.
I feel like I’ve been blessed by Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine (agriculture), and Greek Theater. The annual Greek festival in his honor held contests for early playwrights. This mask lives in my garden. I’m using it this week for a mask making workshop for the Greek Tragedy I am directing this fall for children’s theater. Yeah, some kid gets to die on stage! He’s gonna love that!
Many of the best plants in my garden, like these grape varieties, aren’t planned. And they turn out the best! Like artichokes, but that’s food for a future post.
I’m taking the WordPress poetry challenge but I’m not keeping up with assignments so well. I’m an Artist in Residence for performing arts in 4 rural schools, 5 classrooms. (The Robin Hood costumes I sewed are for a different program.) And I’m taking some art classes in the evenings. I’m a little distracted from my poetry assignments so I’ll share what I did with a famous poem instead of composing my own original one today.
Here’s a favorite poem I’ve adapted into a short play for 3rd graders. I left room in this first draft for kids to make changes if they think it will make the play more interesting. You can share this with teachers or youth leaders you know for education purposes. They can contact me for clarification or help, or to contract me to teach children’s theater. I love performing arts and writing plays!
The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
script adapted by Kay Addington MacDonald, M. Ed.
On a sandy beach, clear sky, no birds or clouds, Sun shining with all its might, Moon sulking because the sun had no business being there in the middle of the night.
Props: large sun working hard to shine, large moon looking sulky (might be kids in costumes), 2 or more ocean colored long airy cloths for ocean billows
Stage hands: 2 kids gently waving blue cloth near the floor to represent smooth billows (more hands, kids, could wave a second cloth)
Moon’s off stage voice (can be one of the maids or Walrus or Carpenter)
7 maids (chorus dancers)
Tableau: Sun stands boldly and begins mime when narrator tells its part, Moon stands sulking
Stage hands: create smooth ocean billows with cloth by kneeling and gently waving it
Narrator (off stage voice): The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done —
Moon (in sulking pouting voice): It’s very rude of him to come and spoil the fun.
Narrator: The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead —
There were no birds to fly.
Enter: Walrus and Carpenter walking close together and weeping to DL. Walk slowly and at DL continue miming walking and weeping. Mime looking at all the sand.
Walrus and Carpenter in chorus: If this were only cleared away,’ it would be grand!’
Walrus: If seven maids with seven mops swept it for half a year, do you suppose that they could get it clear?
Carpenter: I doubt it. (shed a bitter tear)
Walrus and Carpenter tableau: crying and looking at beach and maids dancing
Enter: 7 maids in chorus dancing and miming mopping up the beach sand
Exit: 7 maids in chorus dancing and miming mopping up the beach sand
Note: include canon in movements if kids can use more challenge*
Scene: same as Scene 1, but add 1 large rock for Walrus and Carpenter to sit on
Groups of 4 oysters, all the kids are oysters, in groups of 4
Tableau: All oysters sleeping in oyster bed downstage, the Eldest Oyster is downstage center and much larger than the rest; billowing waves are center stage behind Oysters. Walrus and Carpenter are upstage. It should look like oysters in the sea and Walrus and Carpenter on the beach.
Walrus: (Sees oysters) O Oysters! Come and walk with us!
A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.
Eldest Oyster: (looking at Walrus, don’t turn your back to audience) Mime: wink your eye, slowly shake your heavy head NO, meaning to say you do not choose to leave the oyster-bed
All Oysters: Mime chorus movements in groups of 4: brushing your coats, washing your faces, cleaning and shining your shoes
Note: include canon in movements if kids can use more challenge*
Tableau: all Oysters except Eldest, in groups of 4 pose as if eager to get out of the water and go for a beach walk with the Walrus and Carpenter
Stage hands: kneeling, gently wave long airy white cloth to represent frothy waves at the shoreline
First 4 Oysters: eagerly move all hopping through the frothy waves and scrambling to the shore to the Walrus and Carpenter and take their hands. Mime walking on the beach with the Walrus and Carpenter.
Second 4 Oysters: repeat and get in position behind the first 4
Third 4 Oysters: repeat and get into position behind the second 4
More sets of 4 Oysters: repeat until all Oysters are on the beach, miming walking behind the Walrus and Carpenter, except the Eldest who stays in his bed
Walrus, Carpenter, and all Oysters except the Eldest: continue miming walking on the beach until Narrator tells Walrus and Carpenter to rest on a rock.
Narrator: The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.
Oysters: quickly line up in one row
Walrus: The time has come
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.
All Oysters in chorus: But wait a bit before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!
Carpenter: No hurry!
All Oysters in chorus: Thank you so very very much!
Walrus: A loaf of bread is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed.
(Looking at Oysters) Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.
All Oysters in chorus: But not on us! After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!
Walrus: The night is fine. It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!
Carpenter: Cut us another slice: I wish you were not quite so deaf —
I’ve had to ask you twice!
Walrus: It seems a shame to play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!
Carpenter: The butter’s spread too thick!
Walrus: I weep for you. I deeply sympathize.
Walrus: (With sobs and tears, holding his pocket-handkerchief before your streaming eyes, sort out the largest from the smallest, placing he largest closest to the rock. Be careful not to turn your back on the audience.)
Carpenter: O Oysters, you’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?
Narrator: But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.
All Oysters, except the Eldest: Carefully and slowly collapse dead on the beach.
Throughout the afternoon I watched them there,
Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky,
Whirling fantastic in the misty air,
Contending fierce for space supremacy.
And they flew down a mightier force at night,
As though in heaven there was revolt and riot,
And they, frail things had taken panic flight
Down to the calm earth seeking peace and quiet.
I went to bed and rose at early dawn
To see them huddled together in a heap,
Each merged into the other upon the lawn,
Worn out by the sharp struggle, fast asleep.
The sun shone brightly on them half the day,
By night they stealthily had stol’n away.
And suddenly my thoughts then turned to you
Who came to me upon a winter’s night,
When snow-sprites round my attic window flew,
Your hair disheveled, eyes aglow with light.
My heart was like the weather when you came,
The wanton winds were blowing loud and long;
But you, with joy and passion all aflame,
You danced and sang a lilting summer song.
I made room for you in my little bed,
Took covers from the closet fresh and warm,
A downfall pillow for your scented head,
And lay down with you resting in my arm.
You went with Dawn. You left me ere the day,
The lonely actor of a dreamy play.
I looked for a scene to illustrate the poem, a small hill that could be “frail” snow fairies “huddled together in a heap.” Three large chunks of Montana Rose Quartz, each about the size of a football, rest on my deck rail, sending love energy to our home and surroundings. They appealed to me as a nurturing place for the fairies heaped upon them and I wanted to see how the pink would show against white in the overcast sky. One photo looks like an eye peering through the heaped up snow fairies. I got as close as I could with my Olympus E-10 for some shots, and I practiced using my new macro for others. They all turned out good enough. I liked these two for the post.
About This Poem
This poem inspires me to illustrate it and to use it in children’s theater for kids to choreograph creative movement with music.
“The Snow Fairy” was published in McKay’s book Harlem Shadows (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922). Claude McKay was born in Jamaica, on September 15, 1889. His debut collection, Songs of Jamaica (Augener Ltd., 1912), was published when McKay was only twenty years old. He died on May 22, 1948.