Friday, March 31, 2006

Pete Art #3

Pete art clouds.jpg
Originally uploaded by Childe_Erik.
Peter Simpson, 2005-
Natural and synthetic materials

This piece, a companion to Raindrops (see Pete Art #2 below), creates a different kind of tension between tradition and postmodernity. Here the clouds of the title appear as something like cotton balls, reminding the viewer not only of the hackneyed metaphor of cottony clouds but also of the common use of cotton balls to represent clouds in children's crafts. The piece jars the image away from conventionality by encasing that substance in a flexible plastic that reveals the tension created by the pressure of the clouds within.

Monday, March 27, 2006


This evening, I was giving Pete his bath, as usual, and we were looking at his favorite bathtime book. (Pete now has strong opinions about books, bathtime and otherwise.) It's an alphabet book, with big capital letters accompanied by illustrations--a queen for Q, a rabbit for R, and so on. As Pete turns pages, I look for illustrations that lend themselves to sounds and read along, as in "Snake! SSSSSSS!" or "Lion! RARRRR!" (If anybody knows sounds to make for, say, queen or giraffe or rabbit, drop me a line.) For a while, Pete has looked at the last page, found the ball of yarn for Y, and said, "Ba!" which is not surprising, since ball has been his best word for a while. (For a few days, he would look at that page, say ball, and point to the xylophone. Happily, he sorted that one out.) Tonight, he added a new trick: he looked at L and made a growly little "AAAAAAA" sound. I didn't catch on at first, but he did it again the next time, and I got it: he was roaring! He was, in fact, making his very first animal sound! It is a wonderfully unintimidating little baby roar.

I must note that this development is grossly unfair. Carolyn and I read many of the same books to Pete, but we each have our specialties, and one of Carolyn's strengths is animal sounds; some of the books produce magnificent, convincing, fast-paced animal jamborees. (As they tend to be farm-themed, these books seldom include lions, though it would be fun to do the sounds of terrified antelopes and cowering chickens.) There's no way my very ordinary nightly roar should have prompted Pete's first imitation.

Pete's vocabulary to date:

Hi (the original, seldom used now)
Papa (baba--not nearly as solid as mama, but coming along)
More (in sign language or as "moi," both if he's really hungry)
Ball (ba)
Roar (aaaaaa)
Uh-oh (formerly meaning "oops, I dropped something," but now more like "ha, I threw it down," or even--just today--"just so you know, I'm going to throw this down")

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Pete Art #2

Pete art raindrops.jpg
Originally uploaded by Childe_Erik.
Peter Simpson, 2005-
Watercolor on wood fiber

Though abstract and monochromatic, this piece claims a place in the tradition of naturalistic painting in its title and the organicism of its patterns. More specifically, the appearance of dabbing the paint directly on the canvas recalls pointilist technique, here taken to an extreme that capitalizes on the dramatic effect of the empty canvas between the two painted areas.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pete Art #1

Pete art bite.jpg
Originally uploaded by Childe_Erik.
Pete Simpson here. I've decided to begin posting comments about my art, which I have been creating for public display for a few months now. This was my first professional piece.

Peter Simpson, 2005-
Watercolor on wood fiber

The main field of composition in this piece is understated, subtle almost to the point of fading into a blank canvas. The light marks in the middle of the piece, made with only a brush of the fingertip, evoke gentle human contact. That gentleness makes the bitten tear on the edge fiber more startling in its suggestion of unmeaning violence. Boundary unsettles the viewer with the suggestion that threats lurk at the edge of even the most reassuring human moments.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Art bitten

Today, Pete moves up a room in daycare, to the land of one-year-olds who can walk. It might be a little bit of a shock for him, but he knows the teacher in the room, and every day he'll get time in the gym that involves throwing balls and is therefore a wonder. We hope for a smooth transition.


After descending into utter despair when we dropped him off, Pete seems to have had a good first day in his new room. When we picked him up (after his primary teacher had left), we found with his other things a piece of gray construction paper. Upon closer inspection, we discovered a number of barely perceptible pink smudges in a kind of random blast pattern and a much clearer mark left by a baby-sized bite out of one edge. At last, we read the listing of the day's activities: Fingerprint Birds! Of course! Genius baby.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Return of Pete

From Carolyn--

Pete got quite sick at school today--fever as high as 102.7. He's so different when he's sick--so passive and glazed. All he wanted to do was sit and watch the basketball on TV. (By which I mean he wanted to watch the ball itself whenever it was shown on the screen.) And then in a matter of minutes around 7:30 tonight his fever must have broken and he clicked back in to being his old self. (By which I mean that he wanted to toddle around and throw his own ball about 250 times.) A small miracle: our own Pete returned to us.

Friday, March 10, 2006


From Carolyn--

Forget balls. Now Pete is obsessed with noses. Or, more specifically, with nostrils. First he tries to stick one index finger up our nostrils, and then he tries to stick the other index finger up our nostrils. There's an odd urge for balance that I haven't noticed with other activities. We're currently trying to discourage him, but could we get this all out of his system with one exhaustive explorative session? Or would it just fuel his passions and lead to a life of obsessive nose picking? Parenting is stressful in unexpected ways.

At any rate, I am currently trying to skip the pages in his "First Words" book that deal with body parts, including noses.

I have started spelling a few words in front of Pete to keep him from wanting "P-U-F-F-S" (tasty star-shaped puffed corn baby snacks) or "M-O-R-E," which at certain times is a synonym for "P-U-F-F-S." "N-O-S-E" is also now on this list.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pete unendeared

From Carolyn--

Has Erik mentioned that Pete is obsessed with balls? "Ba" is Pete's most-said word, he loves throwing balls, and he is getting better and better at it. Today, when Erik was holding him, he was doing a great job of throwing a small rubber ball bounce-pass fashion me, six feet away. Suddenly he caught sight of our cat Kirby, off to the side, and squealed as he does whenever he sees one of the cats. Before we realized what he was doing, he threw the ball hard at Kirby--a direct hit. Just one more way Pete has found to un-endear himself to poor K-man. We were torn between disapproval and pride at Pete's accuracy and strength.