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Friday, August 29, 2014

Daffy Duck Swimming in Treasure

Daffy Duck Swimming in Treasure

"What should we do today?"

"This one," he said, pointing to another Looney Tunes screenshot on his iPad.

I was excited to do it the moment I saw it. It's another snapshot from the cartoon, "Ali Baba Bunny." This is the third still from that same cartoon. We did Bugs and Daffy in a cave full of treasure a couple of days ago, then Daffy popping out of Bug Bunny's head yesterday.

I drew Daffy quickly, then I got to work on the coins. I had visions of filling the entire snack sack with coins. I knew it would take a long time, but I underestimated just how long. The minutes slipped by and progress was slow.

As soon as he'd finished breakfast, I asked, "Do you want to help me?" hoping he'd say, "Yes." I continued, "You could do that side and I can do this side."

"Sure," he said.

I reached for another Sharpie and handed it to him. "But don't press too hard," I reminded him. "See how I do it?" I drew a few coins to demonstrate. "I don't hardly press down at all."

He drew a few of his own coins. "It's hard not to press down," he admitted.

"No it's not. Just try," I said, trying to encourage him. I swished out several more coins. He did the same.

A minute hadn't passed before he said, "I'm tired." He said this after having drawn about 20 coins. I didn't expect much from him so this wasn't a surprise; but, I was hoping to get more production out of him. "You're too good," he said. The compliment was meant to deflect any attempt to convince him to continue. He put down the Sharpie and went to go mess around.

I worked fast and furiously to add as many coins as time would allow. I worked well past our normal leaving time, but ultimately had to call it quits. I may not have reached my goal to cover the entire sack, but there are a lot of coins here and it does look pretty cool.

He agreed. "It looks awesome!" he shouted when he saw it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Daffy Popping Out of Bug Bunny's Head

Daffy Duck Popping Out of Bug Bunny's Head

"What's for the snack today?" I asked. I expected this to be another day for a Looney Tunes still. It was.

He scanned the screenshots on his iPad and picked. "This one. It's Daffy popping out of Bugs Bunny's head."

With a description like that, I knew it'd be a fun one. It's another screenshot from the cartoon, "Ali Baba Bunny." We did Bugs and Daffy in a cave full of treasure from the same cartoon a couple of days ago.

We stayed pretty independent today. We sat mostly in silence as he ate his breakfast and I worked on the snack sack. He finished eating, then brushed his teeth. He passed by several times but didn't take notice of my progress.

He didn't see it until we were headed out the door. I left it on the bench by his backpack so he'd see it before we left. He laughed hard out loud. "Ha-ha-ha-ha! I like it. It's funny!"

I agreed. Actually, the entire cartoon is funny. I can see why he likes it so much.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Looney Tunes Cat Shrugging

Looney Tunes Cat Shrugging

The plan was to walk to school this morning. Since I knew it would take an extra 20-30 minutes, I got up early. I prepped his lunch and made his breakfast before I woke him up.

"Good morning!" I said gently as I walked into his room. He struggled to open his eyes. After some shakes and some hugs, he sat up. I wanted to get a jumpstart on the drawing, so I brought the iPad with me to his room. This entire week he's been selecting screenshots from Looney Tunes cartoons. I figured he could do the same again today. "Can you quickly pick something from the iPad for the snack sack?" I asked him. He selected a few screenshots that weren't really appropriate. A couple were violent and a few others were odd stills that didn't look like much out of context. He finally picked this cat.

I urged Victor to get ready quickly and got to work drawing right away. After about five minutes, I heard noises upstairs, but he wasn't down yet. I went to check up on him and found him playing with some toys at his bedside, something he never does in the morning. I reprimanded him and asked him to, "...please hurry up." He knew we needed to leave early today, so I'm not sure why he chose to mess around. It's like he times his insubordination for maximum frustration.

I looked it up and this cat is a precursor to Sylvester. He chases and is abused by an early Tweety Bird in the cartoon, "Birdy and the Beast." This shrug comes as a gesture to the audience just before the cat drops to the ground from a great height. When he hits the ground hard, Tweety says, "Aw, the poor kitty tat! He fall down and go...BOOM!" It's a scene Victor's watched countless times. We drew Tweety from this same cartoon when we did Tweety Bird Yelling, "BOOM!" toward the end of the last school year.

This drawing took longer than expected as do all of the ones with black filler and negative space. It was hard to keep the "white" lines exposed for creases and definition, especially those of his eyes and whiskers. The cat's feet don't show in the screenshot or at all in this segment of the cartoon, so I merely drew a bottom border line.

When I was done, Victor didn't say anything but he did shrug in a pleasant way, mimicking the cat.

I was trying to get us out the door, but he refused to get ready. Instead, he sat messing around on our electric piano. When I asked him to get ready he said, "Okay," but continued at the piano with no intention of moving. My patience was wearing thin. I told him he'd lost the use of his electronics for the rest of the day. He's been in trouble all week, so I had him on a short leash. Once I said that, he jumped into immediate action. He was a model kid for two full minutes, getting ready faster than ever before.

"What do you think?" I asked him about the snack sack on our way out.

"Good," is all he said. I could tell he was sore with me.

We left almost ten minutes later than I had planned, but we made it to school just on time. I do love walking with him. He held my hand most of the way which made me feel so special. I miss our morning walks to school. For three years before he started at this new school we walked together nearly every day. His previous school was much closer. Perhaps we'll walk from time to time, but I'm not sure. It's certainly doable, but it is a pretty long walk...and not as fun for me to walk back by myself.

When he came home he said, "Hey Dad, do you know where the snack sack is?"

"No," I replied, unsure of what he was getting at. I went over to the bench. "I don't see it in your backpack."

"It's not in my backpack," he said at the same time. "I didn't see it there. Oh, I might have lost it!" he said with distress. "If I did lose it, I'm really sorry, Dadda."

"It's okay," I said. At this point, we both want to preserve each and every one of the snack sacks. We have the pictures, of course, but the sacks themselves represent something very special to us, something we want to keep and display for years to come.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bugs and Daffy in a Cave Full of Treasure

Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in a Cave Full of Treasure

This morning, Victor woke up before I did. He came to find me in my bed and jumped on top of me. We chatted about this and that for several minutes before we decided to get up. Often when he's on restriction, like he still is today, he's extra sweet. Partly it's because he's on his best behavior, but partly I think it's because he has fewer external distractions. Without the TV, the iPad, or the computer, he puts his entire attention on Mom and Dad. I like it.

As soon as we got downstairs, he went to his iPad to find another Looney Tunes screenshot for today's snack sack. "Can you do this one?" he asked me.

"Um, you won't be able to tell what it is. I'm not even sure what it is," I told him. It looked like something from outer space. He didn't explain it. I still have no idea what it was, what cartoon it was from, why he'd saved it in a screenshot, or why he wanted me to draw it on a snack sack.

He browsed some more and showed me a picture of Elmer Fudd shooting himself in the face. The screenshot consisted of his body, a puff of smoke in place of his head, and his arm holding a revolver. "How about this?" he asked.

"That's not appropriate for school," I told him.

"Why not? It's just a cartoon."

"That's not appropriate for school and you know that," I repeated. I haven't shared with him any of the tragic stories about school violence, but he generally understands that violence and weapons are no laughing matter at school.

"Okay," he said and went back to browsing. He picked a snapshot of a cartoon car, with a silly screaming face on it, falling from the sky. Much of the car was not in frame so I told him I didn't want to do it. He thought he could find a better still, one with the entire car in it, but he couldn't find any in his set. In fact, many of the screenshots he's captured have incomplete views of the characters. He finally picked this snapshot of Bugs and Daffy in, "Ali Baba Bunny." He asked me, "Can you do this?"

"Sure."

"You can do it!? Yay!" he shouted with genuine enthusiasm and, I believe, some relief.

This one took a long time. It wasn't easy drawing all that treasure, but I was committed to filling it all in. Meanwhile, he'd finished his breakfast and brushed his teeth.

"Where's the snack sack?" he asked from around the corner. "Ooo!" he said as soon as he saw it. "It's awesome!"

When he came home that afternoon, I found the sack all crumpled up in his backpack. "Did you show this one to your friends?" I asked him.

"Yeah! They said, 'Wow! He is good!'"

Monday, August 25, 2014

Red Hot Ryder

Red Hot Ryder Holding A Club on a Horse

He woke up late this morning. He tends to do that when he's been in trouble the night before. Being on restriction, he realizes that he has no reason to get up any earlier than he has to. He lost use of his iPad and all electronics for reasons I won't get into here.

As he did for the past couple of school days with Bugs Bunny and Leo the Lion, he went to his iPad to choose a Looney Tunes still. He picked this shot of Red Hot Ryder from the cartoon, "Buckaroo Bugs." I think it's funny that the narrator introduces Red Hot Ryder as "Brooklyn's famous fighting cowboy." Victor has watched this cartoon countless times and loves the dialog in it, usually replaying certain phrases over and over and over again. In this snapshot, Red Hot Ryder is about to give his horse a wallop to get it to stop. He had pleaded with the horse and asked it repeatedly to, "whoa," but it just kept galloping on, leaving him with this obvious course of action.

I took to task and finished pretty quickly. I'd intended to draw it smaller and include his whole hat and the entire club. Instead, I unintentionally drew it with the scale and proportions that match the snapshot exactly. His hat and the club are clipped in the screenshot just as in my drawing. I definitely enjoy drawing these cartoon scenes. It would appear from the plethora of screenshots Victor's saved on his iPad that I might be doing many more in the coming days and weeks.

We didn't speak much this morning. I could tell he was a little sore about being on restriction. We didn't have much time for chit-chat anyway. He went through the routine more smoothly than normal -- one benefit of him looking to be on his best behavior to earn his privileges back.

"What do you think?" I asked him.

"Looks pretty much the same," he replied. It may not seem like much, but that was actually a high compliment considering how critical he can be sometimes.

It's interesting now that he uses his iPad at school because I no longer have control of what he does with it during the day. I did, however, explicitly tell him that I didn't want him using it before school which he had done last week.

So far, I've parked and stuck around at the school until his teacher opens her door. He hasn't yet told me not to stay, but he has made it clear, on account of him ditching me once we get to the stairs, that he doesn't want me to be too near. Oh, how things have changed from the days in Kindergarten and Pre-K when he wouldn't leave my side. I've kept my distance, respecting his space, but I stay because I relish the opportunity to watch him interact with the other kids.

On the second day of school, he took out his iPad and found a shady spot to sit down. I looked across the playground and wondered why he wasn't running around or playing with any of the other kids. It was a warm morning. I found myself wishing he was releasing energy in the sunshine instead of sitting down, all by himself, in the shade. It made me worry about his future at this school and the challenges of finding new friends.

The playground was full, as was the blacktop, with kids running, jumping, climbing, and sliding. Several kids near the buildings were chatting and being silly in groups or in pairs. There were many other kids on their devices too. He wasn't the only one. Most of them were by themselves, independently typing or tapping away. I wondered how he'd make friends if he just kept to himself with his focus locked onto the screen of his iPad. Was this the future of school playgrounds? Was he avoiding the challenges of making new friends in a new school? I stared out across the field, then at the kids playing basketball, then at the ones on the play structure.

I looked back to find Victor and was surprised to see a crowd of kids around him. Some were sitting by his side; others stood looking over his shoulder. There was one kid standing directly in front of him looking upside down at his screen. I was pretty sure he was building something new in one of his Minecraft worlds. Clearly the other kids were excited about it. I thought the access to technology was making him antisocial; but, as it turns out, it was the iPad and Minecraft that drew in the others. I only recognized one of the other kids, so it was clear that these were new friends he was making.

Later that evening, he confirmed it. "Today I made new friends, Daddy. They like Minecraft," he told me. He listed out their names. That made me very happy. Now I know he'll be alright. Things may be a little different at this new school, but the future looks bright on all accounts.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bug-eyed Bugs Bunny Freaking Out

Bug-eyed Bugs Bunny Freaking Out

"I need to know what to do for the snack sack because I don't have a lot of time." We were running very late today.

"Okay, let me see." He grabbed his iPad mini and began scanning the hundreds of Looney Tunes related screenshots he captured over the summer. Yesterday we did Leo the Lion. "It's easy. It's just Bugs Bunny's face." He studied it and added, "If you want, I can pick and easier one."

I took a look at it and said, "It's okay, I think I can do this one." It was actually a still from the half live-action, half cartoon movie, "Looney Tunes: Back in Action."

These types of silly expressions are one of my favorite things about older style cartoons like Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, and the like. These funny faces always made me laugh as a kid because they are such outrageous exaggerations. Having said that, I'm not particularly fond of drawing them out of context. There have been many other times I've declined, but today, I had no time to be choosy.

I sat down and made quick work of it. After being feverish for the past couple of days, it was nice to be able to concentrate better with a less cloudy head. In the snapshot, his mouth was cropped in the frame. I didn't want to draw it like that, so I drew in what I expected Bugs's lower lip to look like.

When he saw the finished drawing, he smiled. Then he said, "I'm going to color in the mouth and the tongue and the..." He trailed off.

I thought he meant later, but he picked out a Sharpie from the drawer and began coloring in the back of Bugs's throat. I was nervous that he'd color outside the lines, but he was pretty careful as he filled it in.

He saw the look of concern on my face and asked, "Do you have that look on your face because I took one of your Sharpies?"

I ignored the question. "We really don't have any more time Victor. We've got to go." It was true. We had to get going.

He finished up and I quickly fixed the outlines to keep the edges looking smooth. He looked at it and smiled one last time before he slid it into his backpack.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Leo the Lion

Leo the Lion Climbing a Tree

"What's for the snack sack today?" I asked him.

"You know, the snack sack's on the iPad."

"It is?"

"It is." He scanned the screenshots and stopped on one. "It's Leo the Lion."

Victor spent several days over the summer taking screenshots on his iPad mini of his favorite Looney Tunes scenes. He literally took hundreds of stills. For some cartoon snippets, he took screenshots frame by frame. He's given me the impression, mostly by stating it directly, that he thinks I'll draw them all.

I looked over his shoulder. It was a snapshot from "The Lion's Busy" featuring Leo the Lion and Beaky Buzzard. "What's happening in this cartoon?" I asked him.

"There's an eagle that's trying to eat the lion." In a deep voice, mimicking Beaky Buzzard, he said, "Temper, temper, Mr. Lion."

I flipped through the other snapshots. "It's a vulture, not an eagle," I corrected.

"Exactly," he said.

"I can't see Leo's tail and stuff. Do you want me to just cut it off or draw the rest of his body."

"Just cut it off. Just do it exactly as it is."

"Okay!"

When I was done, he laughed, "He-he-he!"

"What do you think?" I asked.

"I like it!"

When he came home that afternoon, I was happy to see that he'd brought this one home, unlike the one from yesterday which went lost.

"I told my teacher that I want you to come into class."

"Did you show her today's snack sack?"

"No."

"Um, you need to show her so that she knows what you're talking about!"

"Okay, I will."

He's funny. He likes to jump right into things sometimes without setting any context. Nonetheless, I have no doubt that I'll end up in his classroom sometime soon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How about the school...

Design39Campus

We had a conversation about the snack sacks last night. "So, tomorrow, we'll draw our first snack sack of the year," I said with excitement in my voice.

"Can I tell my teacher that everyday you'll draw something cool? Can I tell her that?"

"Sure. Will you want me to do a drawing lesson with your class?"

"Sure. You want me to ask her?"

"Um, later."

"So, like, tomorrow maybe."

"No, later. Just try to get settled first."

"Okay, so maybe the next day," he said, clearly excited to get the ball rolling.

Today is his first day of the school year. He's in 2nd grade now and attending a new school constructed over the summer called Design39Campus. The school was literally completed just in time. Their promise is to do school differently by using both online and hands-on project based teaching that encourages design thinking and a growth mindset. He's excited because the school is big and new....and...that he gets to use his iPad everyday there. We are both curious to see how things go.

This morning it felt good to sit down with a Sharpie and a snack sack after such a long pause. "Tomorrow you can pick whatever you want; but, today, I want to draw something specific for the first day of school -- something that represents your new school or the 2nd grade."

We discussed several options but couldn't settle in on an idea even after several minutes of going back and forth. Finally, he said, "How about the school with me on a path riding a skateboard to school."

"But you don't even know how to skateboard," I stated very practically.

"I know, but it will look cool."

I couldn't argue. I searched for a suitable reference picture of the school. I ended up picking one of the original schematic drawings from the design plans.

I got to work, but failed to manage proportions well. I quickly ran out of room. I was frustrated with my progress throughout. Not only was I out of practice from having taken a break all summer, but I was hot and feverish. I had a rough night last night and was feeling quite ill this morning. I was having trouble concentrating. The only thing I had going for me is that I had plenty of time.

I just kept plugging away hoping that the finished product would turn out okay. Once I had finished the building, I decided to draw Victor on the roof instead of on a skateboard. He loves climbing so he was pleased with the change.

"Ah-ha-he ha-haha," is what he said when he saw it. I guess he liked it. 

When he came home from school, I asked, "How was your first day?"

"It was awesome!"

"Oh, yeah!? Why?"

"Because they let me play Minecraft!" he shouted. "It wasn't only educational stuff they let you do on the iPad."

"I'm sure they'll crack down soon," I told him.

It wasn't until later in the evening that I noticed that he didn't bring this one home. Perhaps he simply forgot to since it's been a while. That's too bad. At this point, I'd like to save them all.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Yoyo Dodo Congratulates Victor

Yoyo Dodo

Today is the last day of the school year. The year flew by. Victor's growing up so fast! I cannot believe I've been drawing snack sacks every day for two whole school years. It's been an amazing journey.

I've been nervous about this last drawing for the past couple of days. I'm not sure exactly why, but I think it has to do with the uncertain future of our little project as this year draws to a close. It's hard for me to say for sure that we'll continue all throughout next year.

I'm taking his suggestion from yesterday and drawing Yoyo Dodo holding a sign of congratulations. I don't know very much about the character except that he's a wacky precursor to Daffy Duck's wacky antics. Victor's silliness shines through no matter what we're doing, so perhaps he identifies with the Dodo in that way.

I struggled drawing this one, messing up several times. I think it was the nerves that kept me from focussing; plus, he was talking to me throughout. He was chatty and kept on spewing out random thoughts and asking questions like, "Do you think I had a terrible nightmare or a really happy dream last night?"

He was being serious, so I had to pause to think. "Well, you didn't wake up or come into our room, I don't think, so I don't think you had a nightmare. I think you had a happy dream."

"You're right. I did."

Normally I would have asked him to tell me about it, but I'd just made another mistake. I messed up the ring around the Dodo's neck. He didn't take notice and didn't explain his dream, but he did keep chatting and asking me questions. I did my best to stay focussed on the drawing.

I decided to use the silver Sharpie today even if only for some highlights. It's been in the drawer for half of the year and I haven't used it, not even once. The ink from that marker spreads quickly so I'm glad I didn't plan any detailed work for it. After writing out the message of congratulations, I wished I'd written the message bigger and in a special font. Oh well.

"Dad, are you done?"

"Just about."

"Can you draw him standing on Porky's head?"

He wasn't standing on anything, much like my first drawing of Yoyo Dodo. "No. I don't want to do that."

"Okay, can you have him standing on a rock?"

"Sure." What I drew looks more like a haystack, or something less sturdy than a rock, but it works to place him somewhere. "What do you think?" I asked him.

"I like it. The Dodo here looks a lot more younger don't you think?"

"Yeah, I suppose," I said, although I had no idea what he meant.

"The Dodo looks a lot more younger," he repeated in a sing-song voice as we walked toward the door.

There it is, my last snack sack for a while! I don't expect to draw anything new until August. His summer program has it's snack time right when I usually drop him off in the morning so it doesn't really work out for him to take a snack. It's time to take a pause.

I remember being worried last year that he wouldn't want me to continue. I could have never imagined that he'd get even more into it, working to have the snack sacks displayed in his classroom and encouraging me to come in to share our story and teach the class a few things about art and creativity. It was a sweet year. I'm happy to have made the time to bring a little creativity to our mornings together. I feel most grateful for how it has broadened our relationship.

Congratulations Victor! You are now a 2nd grader!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tweety Bird Yelling, "BOOM!"

Tweety Bird Yelling, "BOOM!"

"This is your last day to choose a snack sack," I told him. "Tomorrow, I get to pick what I want to do." Tomorrow is his last day of 1st grade.

He thought for a bit and then said, "I know exactly what I want, but it's on the iPad." He went to go get it. He sat back down and began to scan through one of our Looney Tunes compilation videos. He stopped on the cartoon with Porky Pig and Yoyo Dodo, "Porky in Wackyland." He paused on a scene with the Dodo's arms spread wide. He told me it was the image he was hoping to find when we did Yoyo Dodo weeks ago. "Can you do this except on this hand can you draw it closed and holding a sign that says, 'You Made It!'?"

That was sweet to hear, but I wanted to choose what to draw tomorrow. Oh well, I thought. "I suppose I can do that, but that sounds like that's for tomorrow. How about you pick something else for today?"

"Okay," he said. He scanned some more within that same cartoon. "Can you do this?" he asked.

Without the context of the full scene, the still he chose didn't quite define exactly what was going on. I knew from having seen the cartoon that the Dodo, looking to pound Porky, was holding an iron ball in a slingshot over Porky's head. "No. It won't look like that," I explained, "No one will be able to tell what it is and, besides, he's about to hurt him."

He understood. He scanned some more and picked a different still with Porky's butt hanging out a window. "Can you do this?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because it's got Porky's butt hanging out a window." Of course this was met with a bunch of laughter.

He searched a different cartoon and picked this still of an early Tweety Bird from, "Birdy and the Beast." Just before this still, Tweety had said, "Aw, the poor kitty tat! He fall down and go...BOOM!" It's a classic line. I've seen Victor watch this snippet over and over and over again. The scene has made him laugh with such ferocity I was sincerely worried he might explode from the laughter bursting out of his little body.

It was a simple reference so I finished rather quickly. He came by to take a look. "Do you want to add someone covering their ears?" he asked.

"No," I said. I knew that my drawing could not do justice to the delight this scene has brought to him. I think he was fishing for ways to make it more special.

"Do you want to add lines because it's so loud?"

"Yeah, sure," I said. I added them, but there wasn't anything else to add. He watched the scene a few more times and I thoroughly enjoyed watching him laugh with such delight.

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