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The other day, a facebook friend posted some things from the 50’s and asked if we were old enough to remember them. One of the items were View-Master Reels, and I posted that I still had mine from when I was a kid. I must have close to a hundred of these small views that no doubt influenced me as an artist. With their small detailed crowded dioramas in 3-D I took from them everything there was to get. I don’t have the original viewer or the nice plastic box that they came in, but I was able to buy a newer viewer and sometimes I look at the “three-dimensional pictures in full color”. The travelogs and real life stories didn’t interest me much as a kid, I liked the fairy tales and cartoons the best, although the movie and t.v. stars are kinda fun to look at today. So many forgotten faces. My main interest then was the modeling and sets that these 3-D images and characters resided in. How did they do that or this. My mother always bought me things I could make and do by myself. “I don’t want you to depend on anyone to play with” So as I kid I got pads of paper to draw on, clay, and kits to make all sorts of things. Little molds to fill with white plaster and then when dry Paint them or wonderful totem pole kits, or cardboard supermarkets with colorful cutouts of food.  Occasionally she would buy me paint by number paint kits (I have a picture of me working on one) but I would soon tire of painting and matching colors to those faint numbers on the canvas board in order to finish up with a horse or a house by a lake. I would just paint whatever I wanted on them and be done with it. My brother had more patience then me and I remember a pair of paint by number ships that he did that hung in our bedroom for years. I also didn’t have patience for coloring books and would color in the lips of movie stars and then give up on them. Paper dolls were another matter and I loved them not because of their feminine appeal but because I could use them as props in my made up theatre pieces. Of course my brother and father looked aghast when they saw me cutting out dolls and putting on shows with them, but that didn’t stop me. My father when I was sick would send home from our candy store luncheonette cowboy coloring books and war comics which I put aside on my sick bed. I also loved the Jon Gnagy drawing kits with my first encounters with charcoal and the other sophisticated drawing tools. Again I would get bored with following directions and would instead cut out the instruction drawings of landscapes and bridges and place them in empty tissue and food boxes with color added to them. Another strong influence on me and my artistic urges. Some years ago at a book store I found the Jon Gnagy instruction book, and it was like finding a crown jewel or a long lost friend. I also liked playing with miniature toys, soldiers, castles houses and train sets. When I was a grown up artist some critics asked me if I had played with model trains when a child and I said yes but I didn’t do what you were suppose to do with them. I burnt and melted the houses and trees, and I got slapped a few times by my mother for playing with matches and with fire. Childhood cannot be underestimated for playing with fire. 


This post first appeared on Ira Joel Haber-cinemagebooks, please read the originial post: here

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