Recently Martin has been reading Harold and the Purple Crayon a lot. We have a book with four HatPC stories in it. We also have a video with a very faithful animation of the original text. Martin watches that a lot, too.
When the weather warmed up a bit we began trying to take Martin outside as much as possible. Of course, a limitation on “as much as possible” is that Martin needs pretty direct supervision. We can’t really trust him to play in a specified area. It doesn’t work to ask him to play in “the garden” or any similarly bounded area. He just wanders away pursuing whatever storyline or obsession is currently driving his behavior.
So, frequently, I take Martin out to play around the house. It used to be that meant running up and down a hill in the front of the house. Lately, though, it means drawing Harold and the Purple Crayon.
I’m rather interested in the form the drawing takes. Three traits in particular:
1. He always draws all three books. And he always draws them exactly the same way, in exactly the same order.
2. He draws everything that is in the books linearly, contiguously, the way that it appears in the movies (you’ll see what I mean when you see the video of his drawing).
3. The only element missing from his drawings is Harold himself.
So, keeping that in mind, here is the video of him drawing the original Harold and Purple Crayon story:
One of the premises of the books is that Harold is living in a world of his own creation. He draws a dragon to guard an apple tree (that he has also drawn) and then that dragon frightens him away.
So, in the book the world emerges page by page with each scene starting out sparsely populated (just a tree) but on the next page some detail is added (some apples) and on the next some more (a dragon) and then (as Harold flees) the scenery changes. In Martin’s version he draws each scene out on the ground layering the detail in each scene until the scene is completed.
The Harold drawing is one in a long line of activities Martin has engaged in where he watches or reads something and then acts it out in one way or another. The reenactments are ritualized. They are always complex. They happen the same way each time. They must not be interrupted. When it is time for them to happen you better get out of the way while he does them.
I love these rituals. I view them as a sort of performance art (though they are *certainly* not intended as such). I try to figure out what they are about and I attempt to extract meaning from their particulars.
With the Harold and the Purple Crayon series, I am most interested in the absence of Harold in the drawings. What do *you* make of it?