Creative Website of the Week - Calm.com
Need a break from the craziness, the hurry-scurry of your day? Want some peace and calm as a way to energize and rekindle your creative spirit? Go to www.calm.com even for a few minutes and find yourself being rejuvenated and relaxed--right from the front page of this website. Although you can subscribe, there is plenty here that you can access free of charge. Live action meditation vignettes - a crackling fireplace, evening crickets, falling snow, waves lapping upon a sandy shore, a mystical forest with a running brook and many more, all bring you right out of a state of tension and encourage a mindful moment or two. Simple, yet effective, there is a "breath bubble" that leads you through deep breathing - an excellent way to help calm and gather yourself.
Calm.com was co-founded by Michael Acton-Smith and Alex Tew whose mission it is to make the world happier and healthier (the same mission as Creative Moments Studio's!) through the practice of mindfulness meditation.
The founders have even created a free subscription for all K-12 teachers to use within their classrooms to help their students develop mindful meditation practices to help them grow academically, personally and mindfully.
I could say a lot more about calm.com, but it's best if you just try it now yourself. I highly recommend it. It will be a calm space in your day today and can help you to open a space for your creative pursuits!
This week’s highlighted creativity book is a new children’s picture book I recently discovered: The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford and photography by Greg Endries. Those who know me know that my educational background includes research on the development of visual literacy, especially through the viewing and reading of children’s picture books. I get excited at the creative books that are written and illustrated for children and am on the lookout for books that encourage readers’ curiosity, creativity and urge for making and inventing. This book fits the bill.
The story itself is fascinating as Ford recounts the true story of how Richard James and his wife Betty invented the slinky. The message of using one’s imagination and creativity, being open to new ideas and pursuing one's dream is the underpinning of this story of the invention of the much loved Slinky toy.
It is a great story, however, the method for the making of the illustrations is even more exciting to me and would be to makers and artists as well. I was pleased to find this information in the opening publisher pages of the book: “The illustrations for this book were drawn and colored digitally and then printed, assembled with found objects into dioramas, and photographed.” This insight encouraged me to "read" the illustrations with more depth and attention than I may have done without reading that note. (An aside...I recommend that whenever you are reading children's picture books, look for any illustration information in the front or back pages of the book so you can have a fuller experience when reading the visuals.)
Most of the illustrations in The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring include a photographed 3 dimensional slinky-like coil and it is fun to search it out on each page. Other 3D items are used alongside Ford’s 3D paper creations…things like washcloths representing manicured lawns, miniature toys, dominos, vintage rulers and toothpicks to frame illustrations, yarn, pipe cleaners and various paper items. The illustrations are a visual feast for the eyes and a great means for encouraging young readers to use their own creative spirit.
The process that Ford uses to create his illustrations is fascinating and you can see Ford demonstrating and describing it through this video posted by blogger, 20 By Jenny as she interviewed him about this book and his other work. If you are interested to find out more about this talented illustrator and author, read the entire interview at 20 by Jenny site.
Other resources related to this book you may be interested in:
Gilbert Ford’s Website for more information
For teachers and parents: A curriculum guide for The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring
A teaser… if you found this book interesting and want to see another creative picture book about a the invention of a child’s toy, the Super-Soaker squirt gun, check out this book:
Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate.
This entry begins a regular blogpost I hope to create weekly, highlighting a creative website that motivates me and helps me to capitalize on my creativity. I hope that you will find it helpful as well. This week I want to share, Brain Pickings a site that is a feast for the eyes and intellect and one that excites me in creative ways.
The creator of this page describes herself like this:
"My name is Maria Popova and I’m a reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer, and curious mind at large."
This is a perfect way to describe what her webpage encompasses. Her original intent in 2006 was to create a weekly email to highlight 5 interesting things she learned about each week that would take only 4 minutes to read. She has commented on the error of her thinking...It definitely takes much longer to read what she shares (and longer to learn about it, compile and share it with readers). I find myself spending a lot of time devouring all she posts weekly, to the point that I could spend hours if I had hours to do so! Much of what she shares intrigues me to the point that I find myself digging deeper and deeper into the topics and links she includes, and sometimes even going beyond to learn more. Her work with Brain Pickings is exactly what I want to do with my life - read, learn and share what I find!
Popova describes her website this way:
"Brain Pickings — which remains ad-free and supported by readers — is a cross-disciplinary LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces spanning art, science, psychology, design, philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, and more; pieces that enrich our mental pool of resources and empower combinatorial ideas that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful. Above all, it’s about how these different disciplines illuminate one another to glean some insight, directly or indirectly, into that grand question of how to live, and how to live well."
A recent newsletter highlighted what she considers the best books of 2016. The illustrations from the books she included in her post drew me in and I immediately ordered all of the children's picture books she recommended from my public library so that I could appreciate each one. I like to read the newsletter format of Brain Pickings that comes to my inbox once a week so that I don't miss anything and can explore its contents at my leisure. You can sign up for it on her website if you are interested. I am glad to highlight Brain Pickings as my first creative website of the week on my blog. I am sure you will find something fascinating, new and creativity inducing from this website.