April 20th, 2007
chalk doors

The sun has come out and I feel almost as if it is something entirely new and foreign, something i need to explore further to understand it’s ways.
yesterday i painted a chalkboard on my wall. one dollar worth of paint has made my life infinitely better. i have always had chalkboards in my studio, but i love that this one is permanent, that you actually write on the walls, (i am contemplating doing the entire wall). i feel as though i am drawing on my house in the manner of simon, (do americans know about simon?). for years i have wanted to live in a house where all of the things in it were actually drawings. I always loved the sets in the stop animated Paddington Bear series from the 70′s, nothing is more beautiful than a three dimensional drawn version of the london subway in black ink, (complete with moving escalator).
my first inclination is to draw a door on my wall, some kind of portal to another world. or maybe a window. or a shelf with photos of my family.
this week i am reading the Death of Ivan Illych by tolstoy, (if you are canadian you may already know why i have chosen this.) Author Yann Martel (Life of Pi) announced in an article in the Globe and Mail this week that he decided that our prime minister needed more stillnes, and so every two weeks he is sending him a book to read. Upon hearing about this I laughed quite a bit. And then i thought let’s be honest, couldn’t we all use that? I’ve decided that I will read them all too, assuming I haven’t read them already.
(If you are one of the few left who hasn’t read Life of Pi I highly recommend it. I warn you, I was white knuckled through half of it, and one scene grossed me out more than any scene in any book i have read. i still can’t think about it too much.)
This weekend I read a book of letters from Edward Abbey. his process of writing books sounds similar to my own:
“I always write in a kind of blind stupor anyway, with only the dimmest awareness of what i’m trying to say or do. The shotgun method, i call it: write many, many books in all directions, without taking much aim, and maybe just maybe at least once–you’ll hit something. It worked for shakespeare. mark twain. who else?” ~Ed Abbey (fr. Postcards from Ed)

Apr 20 2007
10:20 am
jill writes:

im so happy the sun has come back!
wow – i didn’t know you could paint a chalkboard? is it a special kind of paint?

Apr 20 2007
10:27 am
keri Smith writes:

Hi jill,
yes i did use a ‘chalk board’ paint, which is black matte. although my friend summer pierre says that you can write with chalk on painted walls and it comes right off!
try it.

Apr 20 2007
10:27 am
keri Smith writes:

Hi jill,
yes i did use a ‘chalk board’ paint, which is black matte. although my friend summer pierre says that you can write with chalk on painted walls and it comes right off!
try it.

Apr 20 2007
11:24 am
Courtney Sue writes:

When I was a kid, Nickelodeon used to show some Canadian kids shows, namely Pinwheel and Today’s Special. Pinwheel featured a lot of great “foreign” cartoons, including the stop-action Paddington Bear shorts and Simon. I can still remember the Simon theme song.
Your post about making a chalkboard wall has inspired me. I was going to paint a wall in my craft room, and now I think one wall must be a chalkboard wall, too.
Excellent blog, as always!

Apr 20 2007
11:40 am
kelli ann writes:

love simon. can still sing the theme song (w the accent, of course). i wonder if you can find old episodes on tape these days…

Apr 20 2007
11:52 am
Michelle writes:

Hi. I read the article you mentioned by Yann Martel and loved it. I, too, would like to read the books he suggests but don’t quite know how to find out which titles he sends because I live in the US. The website home page states that it is not affiliated with Martel, so do you have any suggestions? Love your blog and thanks!

Apr 20 2007
12:25 pm
Kira writes:

Perhaps a chalk-wall would be better….I’ve been planning to paint my room for awhile, so last weekend, I took down all the old posters, etc, and started writing and drawing on the drab white walls with my chalk pastels. It has been an amazingly freeing experiance, and I now have the painting I’m working on hanging on the wall, ready and waiting for that moment of inspiration that’ll have me up all night.

Apr 20 2007
12:56 pm
sabine writes:

Strange, I got the life of Pi at the library and today I’m reading this very funny article about your prime minister on your blog.
Must be something in the air that reached me here in Belgium!

Apr 20 2007
1:14 pm
rose writes:

i absolutely LUUUUVED ‘the life of pi’!!
try listening to it on cd- the narrator is indian and his voice is great..

Apr 20 2007
1:17 pm
Lex writes:

I an an Aussie and have been a reader of your site for a little while. I thought ‘The Life of Pi,’ was quite good… until I read Yann Martel’s earlier book, ‘Self’ which I loved. Have you read it?
I also really liked Jonathan Saffran Foer’s ‘Everything is Illuminated.’
Best wishes,

Apr 20 2007
1:44 pm
Bea writes:

Keri — I once bought an old Mazda for $500 cash. It was painted with black chalkboard spray paint, and so you could draw all over the car!
I share Courtney Sue’s childhood memory of Pinwheel. I immediately started singing Simon’s theme song at your mention of the show. Thanks for the smiles.

Apr 20 2007
2:08 pm
patricia writes:

‘Simon’ was one of my favourite cartoon shows. And I still remember the song to the show, too –
“Well you know my name is Simon,
and the things I draw come true,
Oh pictures take me, take me over,
Climb the ladder with you.”
And here’s a link to pics and sound clips from the show:

Apr 20 2007
3:52 pm
Zorana writes:

When I was a kid I drew a tiny door on my wall. It was small so my parents wouldn’t see it… but big enough to enable me to think about the tiny, kind people that lived on the other side. I didn’t know the word ‘portal’ at that time, but that’s exactly what it was.

Apr 20 2007
5:46 pm
heather writes:

simon makes me smile.
i use the mirror sometimes
and a sharpie.
black is best.
but what’s really cool…
is when you sit in front of the mirror..
close one eye..
and then trace yourself.
: }
this settled it though,..
i am so painting the kids room with chalkboard paint!

Apr 20 2007
6:30 pm
søren writes:

I don’t know if I know it from America or England, but I could still sing you the Simon song perfectly!

Apr 20 2007
9:22 pm
eb writes:

hi Keri – love this post – as always – beautiful weather – at last here in no. VT – climbed Mt. Philo 2 days running
yes perhaps the chalk board paint – also in green? – or maybe any color with a base of something like gesso – need to do this – in studio and here at home – oh your inspirations – singing!!!!!!!!!!!!!
xox – eb.

Apr 21 2007
8:57 am
Amy writes:

Have you ever read Harold and the Purple Crayon? He too creates his reality with his drawings. Thanks for the inspirational posts!

Apr 21 2007
10:01 am
Lucia writes:

you don’t know how happy it has made me to think about that Simon show – I thought my sister and I were the only people in the world who remembered it!

Apr 21 2007
11:36 am
Sarah writes:

“Well, you know my name is Simon, and the things I draw come true, and the pictures take me, take me climbing over the garden wall with you!” :)
Simon was the best! I love the idea of filling one’s house with magic chalk drawings.
And I really enjoyed your podcast interview, too, Keri – great stuff!

Apr 21 2007
4:44 pm
debra writes:

I completely forgot about simon! well you know my name is simon, and the things I draw come true…. wow. that was great. And definately draw a door–first thing.

Apr 21 2007
5:27 pm
wish studio writes:

so funny. a friend of mine just had a baby and named him simon…i was trying to remember the name of this cartoon (kept thinking of harold and the purple crayon). thank you for refreshing my memory at the exact moment i needed! yes! love this notion of just chalking up to you heart’s content – do the whole wall and have fun! xo, mindy

Apr 22 2007
5:54 pm
Deb writes:

OK I couldn’t make it through life of pi, and was completely horrified by it and couldn’t finish it and am still confused by the guru nature of this thing…..sounds like I should read it again…can I skip that part? I was upset for weeks after reading the boat part….truly does it get worth it Keri? I trust you…..

Apr 22 2007
10:58 pm
fog writes:

to see a door drawn and come to life, you must really check out pan’s labyrinth. i think you would love it.

Apr 23 2007
5:43 am
switchsky writes:

When I was growing up I drew stuff and glued stuff and wrote and painted all over my bedroom walls. Then, while I was away at Girl Scout camp, my parents painted the whole room sky blue.
My brother wrote me a letter warning me to be prepared(and that I had missed a whole lot of my father’s best cursing)
You’d think I’d have been angry, but it was kind of nice to have a fresh slate to begin again.
- a guerilla artist from way back

Apr 23 2007
12:12 pm
maureen writes:

thinking about drawing doors… have you seen the film pan’s labyrinth yet?
i loved simon when i was a kid.

Apr 23 2007
7:06 pm
ally writes:

i loved life of pi. i found it hard to read in the begining, but the ending was definetly worth getting through

Apr 23 2007
9:45 pm
krista writes:

Hi Keri,
This is unrelated to your post, but I just thought in case you hadn’t seen this website, it might interest you and make you barf, as it did me.
Keep fighting the good fight.

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