What’s Sneaky Art? SO Glad You Asked!

Sneaky_Art_cover-330-expHave you ever been doing the grocery shopping and reached for a product, only to find that someone’s left a coupon for the very same product, there on the shelf? But the coupon’s not in plain view there, on the shelf. It’s been ever-so-sneakily placed so that you come across it and think, “Wheee! Look what I found!”

It makes my day, to find something ever-so-sneakily placed for me to find. And that’s the idea behind Sneaky Art, Marthe Joceyn’s delightful book that’s here on a WOW! Book Tour. And lucky me, I have a book to give away! And I have a Rainy Day Art Pack to give away! All so you can make your own sneaky art and give folks that same fun “Wheee!” moment!

But I also have Marthe stopping by here to share a little something about writing, and specifically, the Hard Part of Writing Instructions.

When my daughter was in second grade, I remember being in the classroom one day for a lesson in sequential thinking.

The teacher stood in front of the circle of kids next to a table which held a loaf of sliced bread, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of grape jelly, and a knife. (You can see how long ago this was, that peanut butter was still an acceptable teaching tool).

The students were to tell the teacher step-by-step how to make a sandwich.

“Put the peanut butter on the bread!” was the first instruction.

The teacher obligingly placed the jar of peanut butter on top of the wrapped loaf of bread.

“On a piece of bread!” the child corrected himself. The jar was moved to sit on one slice.

And so it went, getting somewhat funnier and more ridiculous before the sandwich was finally, messily, completed, about half an hour later.

I was reminded of that lesson when it came time for me to write a whole book of instructions. How difficult it is to tell someone else how to make something! Especially how to make art, which is, of course a unique, self-initiated, form of creativity. One of the main intentions of my book, Sneaky Art: Crafty Projects to Hide in Plain Sight, is to get kids looking at the world around them and to spot how they might make their mark in a small, surprising, and satisfying way. My hope is that they’ll thumb through the book, see a project that makes them laugh, read the instructions for inspiration and possibly guidance, and then do it their own way.

But instructions are expected when devising a craft manual. Clear instructions. Obviously, I thought to myself, I simply had to write down what I was doing as I was making the craft myself.

That worked as far as getting the sequence right. But I used waaay too many words and I repeated myself and made everything sound more complicated than it was. Little by little, whittle by whittle, I focused on what was absolutely essential to move the project along from one step to the next. Just the way I do when revising a story. Or making a sandwich.

Each step was painstakingly checked by editors before publication. I grew more dull-witted by the hour, reading the ‘manuscript’ out loud. I was weirdly gratified when reviewers referred to how easy and accessible the instructions are.

But I promise you that nothing would make me happier than to have all my hard work ignored in the name of each reader making art just the way he or she wants to.

 Don’t you love that? And you’re going to love her book, too! Just leave me a comment and tell me where you’d hide those artsy cupcakes and you’re entered for the giveaway. Then come back next week for Fun Friday when I’ll announce two winners!

I wish I could share every picture of sneaky art in the book, just so you can get an idea of what you’ll win. (I’m a little partial to the Stick Pixies, though for heaven’s sake, please don’t tell Cathy-on-a-Stick. She’s such a diva.) What I can do instead is send you to Marthe’s wonderful website that’s packed with Sneaky Art stuff (and where you’ll find out how you can get your own  Sneaky Art ).

Creating art from found treasures–and leaving crafty surprises for folks sounds like so much fun! Kinda makes me wish my kids were still little so we could make and sneak a little art into the grocery store. (I’m not counting sneaking Cathy-on-a-Stick into places. She’s not very artsy.)