Let's Draw a Book Together!

I'm excited to start drawing with kids!

Today I purchased supplies for the Joaquin Miller Art, Nature & Song project. These pristine notebooks will be filled with sketches and paintings by Oakland's kids. Together, we'll build a book around a song!

"Joaquin Miller Went Walkin'" is about all the things the poet who planted all the trees in this park saw while he was hiking around, writing poetry. He saw trees, birds, animals, plants, and water...all the things that make up the ecosystem of the hills. I wrote it after taking a field trip with Bay Area Writing Project teacher Evan Nichols, who really got kids engaged. That day, I thought, "Who's Joaquin Miller and why isn't there a song about him?" The muses dropped this nugget into my brain the following week, and I sang it a lot that year!

I'll be hosting monthly workshops for groups of six kids (ages 5-15) and adults. Why kids and adults? Because I want this to be an experience that brings generations closer, in connection with nature and the spirit of poetry. And we will make drawings!

Joaquin Miller Park, as a public space, belongs to Oakland; all who love nature belong to the Park. I hope through this project to help the public learn about the heritage of this hill, and it's cultural significance. This is a place where writers shaped the community and the world, grounding themselves in the spiritual voice of nature. 

To create art together is to contemplate and converse and connect our many woven backgrounds. By drawing, I hope to draw out stories about relationship, land, nature, and belonging, talking about the history of this place that goes back a hundred years, a thousand years before that, and on and on.

I want this to be an intergenerational experience with parents, seniors, and children walking, reflecting, and sketching together, exploring literature and learning about all the different communities that use the park.

I am a cartoonist and illustrator who thinks things through with a pencil in my hand. I have a vision of creating a unique book that weaves together images created by Oakland's diverse brains. I want to create a book that a hundred children can feel belongs to them, and share it with thousands and thousands more who can feel the same. (It is absolutely not my intention to “use” children’s art for commercial purposes, by the way. Every participant will be fully credited, receive a copy of the book, and be celebrated on its publication. The book will become a perpetual fundraiser for the Park.)

What will happen in each workshop? 

The art sessions will go from 11am to 2 pm on the last Sunday of each month (with some exceptions). We'll start off by learning the song, then focus in on one section. On a walk through the park we'll look for things we sang about, and then arrive at the Art Spot. We'll have a snack (which may include wild edibles) and start drawing and painting. Every session will feature a guest artist who will teach a technique and assist with expressions. We'll finish each session with a reading of a poem by Joaquin Miller or one of his contemporaries. 

Please share this post and tell all your friends about this project! This will be a very special day for kids to connect with a family member, friend, or mentor and make their own history!

Here's how to sign up.


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