Beyond the Exquisite Corpse

Dear Liza,

I wanted to tell you again about a game called “Exquisite Corpse”, which is not as gruesome as it sounds. Cousin Kestrel first showed it to me about three years ago.

It is a drawing game. You fold a piece of paper into three sections, one above the other. The first player draws the head of a creature, with the neck lines going just slightly below the fold. This gives the second player a place to start. Without looking at what the first player drew, the second adds to the creature. This continues with the third player, who adds the legs, or bottom part.

Auntie Bridgett, Cousin Kestrel and I played it last Friday when she was visiting.

This game is based on a word game invented in the early 1900s by Andre Breton, a surrealist artist in France. In the word game, you add to a story without knowing what it is about. Here, you do it with pictures.

As always, it was fun to draw and fun to see what we created together. I love this dancing-angel-god-thing.

Kes and I did a critter with just two parts, as well, and then there was this Soot Sprite (from “My Friend Totoro”) she drew. These critters were too adorable to throw away, so I made a piece of art with them.

I found a page in my art journal that was just sweeps of blue acrylic, trimmed the Exquisite Corpse drawings, and put them in a scene together.

Here is the story, as far as I have it : A tentacled merboy has discovered a lost baby bird at sea, and takes it to his friend, a confused Soot Sprite who lives on a teeny tiny island. The Soot Sprite isn’t sure what to do with it, but a ballerina-angel-sun god flies overhead and everything turns out okay.

I love that I took a picture game based on a story game, made pictures with it, and then made up a story about them. It’s like a spiral of word/art/word/art that just makes me happy!


Grandma Judy

It’s a Mystery to Me

Dear Liza,

I am writing a new story!

You might remember that my last story was about a girl who lived in Portland in 1903. She overcame many difficulties and was in a parade for Teddy Roosevelt.

Mouse helps with my map of 1903 downtown Portland

I had so much fun doing the research for it, I sort of hated having to make up a plot. I just wanted to keep learning about the city. I didn’t want to change any of the history, so I couldn’t commit to the story. With that sort of mental conflict, it’s no wonder it didn’t go anywhere.

My new story isn’t taking any research at all, because it is a mystery story that happens right here, right now. All of the action happens in our condominium building as the Covid pandemic is winding down (fingers crossed).

The mystery being solved is a series of thefts from our very own porches, porch pirates style. The Amazon packages go missing and no one knows who is doing it or why. Since I am not being limited by history, I am getting to make it up out of my own silly brain, and I am having so much fun!

The story was suggested by our neighbors John and Stacy and their three legged dog, Trevor. Trevor is in the story, of course, but the hero of the whole thing is our own brave detective, Mouse.

Her natural curiosity is important, because the story is told from her point of view. I am spending a lot of time trying to get into her furry little head. What does she think about things? What are her motivations? What skills does she have that would make a good detective?

Needless to say, this is going to be a very silly story. But I hope it will be fun, too.

I will let you have a read when it is ready.


Grandma Judy