My 2 year-old daughter, Bonobo, enjoys colouring in.
Well, I say colouring in, but really it's scrawling random marks across any flat surface with anything that might feasibly make a mark. Crayon, ink, paint, snot, poo, blood, you name it, she seems to be able to incorporate it into her art, and will brook no criticisms, constructive or otherwise, about whether it is "good" or "insightful" or "talented" or "naughty". Just this morning, I found her outside making a delightful print on the patio with the juice from a disgruntled snail.
|Dear Jebus let that be chocolate spread.|
She's like Gilbert & George only, you know, she occasionally does stuff I like.
Obviously, I want to encourage the artistic aspects of her character, but preferably whilst discouraging the accompanying random acts of vandalism to the sofa or fridge door. This involves the purchase of vast reams of paper and imperial gallons of colouring books for her to
I don't normally bother looking at them, other than giving the occasional finished piece a quick glance, saying "well done Sweetheart, I shall treasure it forever" before placing it carefully out of view in the recycling box, but I did flick through this cheap one she got as a gift in a party bag:
|This will end in tears.|
It's pretty standard fare, really. A selection of motifs and tableaux of no particular ilk or order, ready for children to completely not keep within the lines on. It got me wondering how much thought and endeavour go into the creation of such tomes.
They're basically doodles, which are then printed out in book form and sold. A starving artist whacks out a toad underneath a toadstool whilst some sort of large insect, possibly of the order Odonata wearing a bowler hat, sits on top trying to remember where it lost it's other pair of legs:
|Smuggest toad in Amphibiville.|
Opposite, a fairy shows an old sock to a deer with oddly long front legs, perhaps hoping the fawn will be able to track the owner, lost in the woods these past forty-eight hours and causing concern as temperatures are dropping, what with the sun playing hide and seek behind the cloud there.
Sticking with the toadstool theme, the next page had turned the whole concept on it's head by having the toad on top of the fungus, literally as a stool for the toad. Madness. It appears to be being addressed by a bizarre anthropomorphic rodent which sends chills through my spine in a way that Mickey never did:
|"Go on, let me lick you."|
The chameleon on the opposing page was relatively lifelike, if one discounts the expression on it's face which suggests it has narrowly missed being caught doing something both immoral and illegal. Presumably with it's tongue.
After expending vast amounts of efforts on the previous mouse, not only giving it a face but a set of clothes as well, the artist then runs out of time and, almost certainly, inclination for the next mouse-based piece. Here, they are sadly two-dimensional and lacking even a rudimentary mandible, sailing forlornly in some sort of leaf-boat 'neath a bright, croissant-lit sky:
|In the kingdom of the deaf, the one-eared mice are kings.|
As if realising the obvious lack of talent demonstrated by the boat-mice, the artist ups his or her game and does a reasonable job on the flowers and butterfly opposite.
On a roll now, the artist illustrates a good facsimile of a gnu, looking as if it is about to charge any child considering colouring it in pink. Other than that, though, things take a downward turn. The artist has now run out of animals to draw, and is reduced to portraying some sort of wallaby/teddy/dog hybrid about to be grabbed by a six-fingered, thumbless hand, presumably for the crime of simply existing.
|"What am I? WHAT AM I?"|
Towards the end of the book, impetus seems to be dwindling, and rather than draw another toad or existing creature, the artists wazzes off another example of whatever the hell that thing is, only this time the freak is attempting to hide it's shame behind an oversize flower. Good thing too:
|Don't look at me, I beg of you. Look at the whale.|
The finale of the book, which in my opinion you might expect to be one of the better pieces of work to leave the audience with, is of a stunted whale, gaping mouth half full of vomit, spurting juice out of it's head-hole like some sort of cetacean money-shot.
Sadly, I do not foresee see many worthwhile accolades coming to this artist. Tracey Emin could have done it.
From today's reading, many lessons emerge. I have learnt that I know two more animals than the artist responsible for this colouring book (camel and dog. I'm not showing off, just saying).
I have learnt that it doesn't really matter what you put on a page as long as children get to destroy it in the name of creativity.
Most importantly of all I have learnt that a snail can indeed look disgruntled.
Sometimes, the level of profundity I achieve through writing this blog staggers even me.