Monday, August 1, 2011

The Feel of Color

We just repainted our house. The painter and I quickly agreed on a beautiful rusty red for the front door. The color fit perfectly with the rest of the house. But when the red went on and I walked up to the new front door, it just didn’t feel right. I’d forgotten to do the “feel test.” Have you ever gotten dressed in the morning in something that looks just fine, that you’ve worn many times before, but that didn’t feel right on this particular day? Somehow it didn’t match your mood?

What colors make you look good? That’s one question. What colors make you feel good? That’s a whole other matter.

Scientists have discovered that some colors actually make our body temperature rise while other colors physically cool us off. No wonder we call the red-orange-yellow part of the color spectrum “warm colors” and the blue-green-purple range “cool colors.” They actually have that physical effect on us.

The post-Impressionist artists – Van Gogh, Gauguin, Seurat and their friends – used different colors to depict different moods. Seurat filled his painting of a circus in Paris with reds, oranges, and yellows to convey joy and gaiety.

In The Circus, Georges Seurat used light shades and
warm colors to convey a sense of fun and liveliness.

I repainted our front door a forest green. The red may have been more stylish, but the green soothes me every time I come home and walk through the door.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Catch and Release

On a recent brilliant blue-sky day in San Francisco, my husband, daughter and I set out to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. As we strolled the Crissy Field shoreline a half mile or so from Fort Point and the bridge, we came upon a Brown Pelican standing at the water’s edge. He looked at us, not moving. His passivity seemed a little odd to me. Then I saw that he had a large fishhook caught in his mouth with a length of fishing line dangling from it. A man passing by noticed it too. His name was Carlos—the stranger who becomes an instant friend when someone is in need. Carlos clambered down the seawall to get a closer look at the bird. He seemed to me to have an affinity for animals, as though he’d grown up on a ranch or a farm. Together we wondered, "What can we do for this poor thing?" While Carlos edged closer to the bird, my family and I went into The Warming Hut, a cafĂ©/bookstore nearby, where the staff gave us an animal rescue number.
My husband and daughter finally got to a live operator who finally told them that they could help if we brought the bird to their rescue center 5 miles on the other side of the bridge. Not a good option. I went back to the breakwater and our bird. I found Carlos very close to the pelican. The pelican kept standing quietly, occasionally flapping his wings feebly, almost as if asking for help. Carlos finally reached out and grabbed him, but just as quickly cradled him in his arms, laying the bird’s head in his lap. I climbed down the seawall and tried to gently remove the large hook. It was really lodged in his tissue, wouldn’t budge. I used more force. Still no success. I worried about creating more damage than the hook. Then another passerby clambered down the rocks and offered to help. At last, the three of us managed to remove the hook. All the while, the pelican lay amazingly still, as though it sensed our intentions. A few moments later, it was standing again by the water’s edge, a bit dazed but ready to fly free.
- Wenda O'Reilly

Have you had a bird encounter? Share your story in the comment box below.

The Brown Pelican appears in
“My Bird World” – a fun new
iPad app. Play 4 games and
learn about birds.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cougar on the Loose

Recently Nate wrote us to say he was missing a card from a deck of Go Fish for Wildlife cards he had ordered. He asked if we could send him a new Cougar card. We sent him a whole new deck along with the Cougar card. Meanwhile he and his 5-year old son, Craig, made their own was too cute for us to keep to ourselves!

Nate wrote:
Hi Maureen, 
Thank you for sending us the replacement Cougar card - and for including an entirely new deck too!!! We really appreciate it and Craig is having fun with the new deck now as well. 
As a thank you, attached is a .pdf comparison of the actual Cougar card and the one we drew together as our rendition of a replacement card. I am no artist obviously but Craig's pretty good for a 5-year old. Enjoy :)

Craig's cougar art beside the original card

The Beginning

 Ever since my children were little, I’ve been designing games to make learning more fun. Why? Because I hated school. I was bored and didn’t like being tested all the time. It took years for me to realize that I actually liked to learn! (I went on to get a Ph.D. in education.)
One of my favorite educational art games is the very first one I played with my children. When we got to an art museum, our first stop was the museum store. The children got to pick out three postcards and then we went on an art treasure hunt. This simple game transformed their experience. Before we made up art games, my children would quickly get tired and ask, “How much longer ’til we leave?” But the art treasure hunt kept them curious and excited. I’ll never forget the day we were visiting the Louvre. My five-year old disappeared into a crowd in front of the Mona Lisa and let out a yell: “I found it!”
- Wenda O'Reilly

In 2001, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a great article about our humble beginnings. Read it for yourself by clicking the image below.

And to think, now we've published 29 games and have several new games in the works!