Monday, February 20, 2012

The Courage to Poopsy-Do

Yes, I DO know how silly that sounds! And that's the whole point really, because "Poopsy-do" is a silly term coined by the late artist Helen Van Wyck. She died of cancer - I'm not sure when, but some time ago. Her  half-hour art lesson show airs on PBS, and RVPainter likes to watch it on Saturday afternoons. Because it comes on after my favorite show, "This Old House Hour," I often watch it too.

Poopsy-do refers to a blending technique in which you apply oil paint sideways in quick strokes and then smooth it out with vertical strokes. First you "poopsy," then you "do."

So I'm not trying to give you an art lesson here - it's just what was on my mind this morning. I think it takes a tremendous amount of courage to go on TV and give instruction about art and say words like Poopsy Do that everyone is likely to make fun of. It's hard enough being an artist without subjecting yourself to mockery!

Helen had the courage to just be herself, perhaps because she was so good. But which came first - the being good, or the courage to be herself? It's likely that both developed along the way, in a kind of iterative process. As she grew as a painter, she also grew more comfortable in being herself. The more comfortable she was in herself, the better a painter she became.

I think we can all take a lesson from Helen, but I'll speak about it as a writer. To become a better writer, I think you have to be willing to let your true self shine through. The better writer you become, the more you're willing to be yourself, seriousness and silliness and funny secret words and all. There is some equivalent of Poopsy Do for writers - I think it's called revising :-)

How do you Poopsy Do?


31 comments:

  1. I poopsy do when I'm cooking....oops I didn't mean to throw that in there..oh well, I'll just add some this and that and it will all turn out okay.

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    1. Yes - I poopsy do when cooking too!!

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  2. I have discovered that the entries on my blog that I just write from my heart and give less thought to the technical get the bigger responses. The ones that I give more technical thought seem to be more sterile or at least less attractive to my readers. Hmmm... There is wisdom in Poopsy Do.

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    1. wily - that has been true for me too. I mostly just write stuff now - not stuff "about writing." Yes, wisdom in Poopsy Do. Plus it's fun to say because it's just so silly.

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  3. Oh Melissa! This is one of your gems! And I say "one" because you write so many of them! I think after you finish your sequel...or maybe you already have!...I think you would be a fabulous motivational/writer/speaker! And that's something you can do in your RV travels! Just book some presentations/speeches before you get to your next stop! :)

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    1. Oh lordy no - it will take me all year to write the sequel - in fact I am ALLOWING myself the whole year so it will be really, really good :-) It would be fun to just go around and chat with folks - I'm not afraid of public speaking anymore - they knocked that out of me when I worked for a big corporation and had to get up in front of thousands of people and talk about financial results! Now maybe I understand the reason I had to go through that - so I could talk to people about fun stuff :-)

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  4. I forgot to say, I always Poopsy-do...in many things!

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  5. Poopsy do! What a funny word! I'll have to say that in front of my nieces and nephews because I know little kids would get such a kick out of it. Heck, I'm getting a kick out it, LoL.

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    1. I know. It's really fun to say. kids will love it.

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  6. It's so hard to let your 'self' out to play. There are lots of dangers in the world lurking, waiting, to destroy it. The older I get, though, the easier it becomes to give it freedom. And blogging has really made that a whole lot easier. I agree with Wily on the posts from the heart getting more responses.

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    1. I've found that to be true for me too. We get older and say, "this is who I am." I've found that to be true with my blogging too.

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  7. I love nonsense expressions like that. Do all families have that? Mine certainly does.

    My two-year-old great niece was wriggly in a restaurant recently and my sister and her friend devised a "fun" game of letting her "dip dip dip" a straw into a glass of water. Now the minute she is in her high chair, she starts calling out, "Want to dip dip dip!" Her mom is exasperated by this, but I'll forever remember her little voice saying hopefully when a waiter appears with a glass of water and a straw: "dip dip dip for me?" :)

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    1. Precious - those are the things we remember FOREVER!

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  8. Well DW- strange - but this morning I did a painting and used POOPSY-DO a lot as it was fresh in my mind from Helen's demo this past Saturday. Also strange was my doing a MONOCHROMATIC painting which I have not done for YEARS.

    http://rvpainter.blogspot.com/2012/02/monochromatic-study.html

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    1. Interesting!! We had poopsy do on the brain.xo

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  9. Love the advice and the word. I'm a big proponent of revising our writing, and it seems like more fun than work if we think "poopsy do." Makes me smile just to type it.

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    1. I agree - I'm not revising, I'm poopsy-doing! Much more fun!

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  10. I think my entire life has been one continuous poopsy do. ;) I can't help but be myself--mistakes and all. I love the phrase, though. Never heard it before. Haven't seen her on TV and that's probably why. :)

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    1. I had never heard of her until the hubby started watching her. It's a very useful phrase. We'll start a big new trend of saying it!

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  11. I thought Poopsy-Do was going to be about something else entirely . . .

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    1. LOL, Yes, it could have gone that way, couldn't it? :-)

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  12. I was just about to write the same as the last comment - perhaps in the UK it is more likely to be taken for something else...! Great idea though!

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    1. I love the UK sense of humor :-0

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  13. Talking about letting yourself shine through, a friend of mine says she can tell my more recent work because of the sheer level of sarcasm in it. I think that's a bad thing!

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  14. What a cute post! I think I saw this artist on PBS a time or two. As you're describing her, I'm thinking also of Julia Child, who allowed her true self to shine through. I think in a writer the poopsy do is the voice. And we get to it by practice and by revision.

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    1. Yes, Julia Child is a great example! Practice and revision - scribbling, then erasing or scribbling over it - writing it once, then massaging it, that is the writer's Poopsy Do,

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  15. you know where that would take even more courage? a junior high classroom, and would be very memorable as well! we read a scene from romeo & juliet and a student read "whore" and they had a good laugh.. art can be seriously funny!

    thanks for sharing that! lots of smearing to do!

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    1. Oh my gosh - it takes huge courage to be who you really are in junior high!!

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  16. Great post and funny title - I thought you got a puppy. :)

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    1. Tonja - I can see why you might think that!

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