April 6, 2020

I is for Itsy

        (My theme for this year’s April A to Z Blog Challenge is traditional English language nursery rhymes, and their block printed illustrations.)

The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.

        Her friends called her stubborn, but she liked to think of it as persistence.
        When you consider it, this is really an epic tale ranking right up there with Frodo’s march to Mount Doom, Captain Ahab’s hunting of the White Whale, or the forces of nature in The Perfect Storm.  The movie will include plenty of action, pathos, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit… I mean the arachnid spirit.
        This was one of the last nursery rhyme illustrations I did, and unfortunately it was too late to be included in my book.  It is also apparently one of the most recent nursery rhymes I’ll be featuring this month, possibly no more than 110 years old.  That means that it isn’t illustrated in any of those old wood-block-printed books, so I have found only one block printed illustration beside my own.  You’d need to know the rhyme already, I think, in order to make out the order of the words in this piece, but it’s all there.
        I have always loved the little hand play that goes with the rhyme.  (If you’re unfortunate enough not to be familiar with it, see this video.)  Most people give directions for making the climbing motion with thumbs and index fingers, but I assure you that it is far more satisfying to use thumbs and middle fingers.  Give it a try and you’ll see.  Also, there are those who will try to tell you that the spider is “eensy weensy” or even “incy wincy” (including my fellow artist today), but they’re just plain tragically wrong!
        Do you - or your children - have a favorite hand play?
        A final note for impressionable children: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

[Pictures: The Itsy Bitsy Spider, rubber block print by AEGN, 2006;
Incy Wincy Spider, 3 colour linocut by Caroline Nuttall-Smith (Image from Etsy shop cnuttalsmith).]


Rob Z Tobor said...

I do like that print of yours. I really need to start creating some art again. there have been many distractions in the last couple of years that has made it tricky. I suspect if I am confined to home long term though I might get going again.

Well done on the A to Z so far. . . .

Kathe W. said...

I remember playing that hand game while reciting the poem! Thanks for the memories and I am truly enjoying your A to Z!

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

It's one of the first rhymes we learn in ESL class :) Love the illustration!

The Multicolored Diary

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Rob, you should definitely take the opportunity to get going on art. It'll be good for mental health, if nothing else. I made a new block print first thing when everything was first cancelled and I was so disappointed and stressed out. I've just finished carving another, as well.

Kathe, I'm so glad you're enjoying the memories. It's nice of you to share your comments.

Zalka, that's interesting to know that it's used in ESL classes. This one's pretty straightforward, but some nursery rhymes have pretty weird or archaic versions of English.

Anne M Bray said...

Ooooooh! What an interesting theme!
Will dive deeper when I'm not "on the clock" working-at-home.

Thanks for visiting the Trucks!

Sati Chock said...

Wonderful idea for a month-long blog challenge! You've upped the ante, because you are offering not on the
traditional English language nursery rhymes, but also their illustrations, which are really fun. Thanks for sharing.


Deborah Weber said...

Love your print. I think spider must be very happy to have xuch a lovely gardem tp enjoy when she gets washed out. I especially like this rhyme because I like spiders. It's curious to me that so many people express dislike for them, and yet kids really like the rhyme.

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

Love your illustration. I remember this rhyme, a great hand play.
I is for Improv

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Deborah, I quite like spiders, too, so it's nice to see one portrayed as the hero of the story.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

Jade Li said...

One of my favorite nursery rhymes! And it's *only* 110 years old!

Jenny said...

I agree with you that it must be Itsy Bitsy! And you're right about thumb and middle finger. I tried it!

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

I like your take on this nursery rhyme :-)

An A-Z of Faerie: Domovoi