a post I’ll bet you didn’t see coming (yes, sometimes I doodle too)

Most of you know me as a writer, a speaker, and a sometimes photographer. Also – to a lesser extent – someone who plays guitar and sings. What you likely don’t know is the fact that my first creative impulses found their voice in drawing, pen and ink, and some experiments with watercolor.

When I was a schoolteacher, working in exceptional education, all these expressions found a place in my classroom. But – other than occasionally doodling in my church bulletin – it has been literally decades since I dabbled in anything vaguely resembling art.

One fun project (circa 1986) was the A-B-C book I made for our daughter Naomi when she was in the 2-year-old class at pre-school. The kids were told to bring in something beginning with that week’s letter. So I made “A is for Alligator” and it was a big hit; then I did “B is for Banana” for week two. “C is for Chick” was my effort the third week, and I just kept going.

Some weeks I did better than others, but as a group they’re really not bad. Somehow I had the presence of mind to laminate every picture, so all 26 have survived to this day.


The only glitch – a moment of epic controversy – was when I got into trouble for my interpretation of “Z.” That’s right, I was fussed at and then censored. Naomi’s preschool teacher was scandalized by the open zipper and refused to let any of the children see it! Andy Warhol would have been proud! Just for a moment, I felt like I had some legit pop-culture artist cred!

I can’t wait to see these up close!

So Naomi, our truly artistic daughter, has been asking (literally for years) for me to photograph the letters and make an ABC book for the grandchildren. Well yesterday I knuckled down and put the project together.

It took a long time, I couldn’t get the pages to lay flat, and there is some fading and damage from the passage of time. Regardless, I am more than pleased with the result.

What makes this alphabet unique is the fact that, more than just standing for something, each initial letter can be found inside the picture. So the watering can, for example, is made from a letter “W”.

Here they all are. Click on the (misspelled) “Aligator” then scroll through for some fun. I ordered two copies of the book, one for Naomi’s house and one for Andrew’s.

This was an enjoyable project for me. Now I may have to get some new sketching paper and see if I can resurrect my skills.

Peace and blessings to you all – DEREK


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