Dear Reader,

For many years I have done creative workshops for children at schools, children’s museums and galleries. I like to think of children as young penguins facing challenges to their creativity. I wrote this little story in 1962 as a short animated film, which never saw the light of day.

Penguins Color Wheel

Young penguins have the potential for creativity if they are nurtured, loved, educated and exposed to new and different ideas. Given opportunities, in an open environment, they will express themselves in unique ways.

The young penguins say, “We’re all penguins and we’re the same in many ways, but we are also unique, peerless, matchless, novel, unprecedented, different, and creative individuals.”

The enemies of creativity and individualism are, many times, the young penguins’ parents, teachers, and peers. They can be opinionated, prejudiced and closed to anything that smacks of “being different.”

They want their young to be like them, to have the same ideas, and to adopt the mediocrity that much of society demands. Stay in the lines, don’t stand out, sit still, be quiet, be like the others, get a haircut, don’t slouch, stand up straight and, above all, be good little penguins. No tattoos.

Instead of being encouraged to be different, the young penguins hear, “What kind of a tree is that? Why isn’t it green? That’s a funny-looking house, and I’ve never seen a flower like that! Can’t you use proper colors? Make it look real. That’s ugly. Can’t you draw any better than that? See how the other penguins do it? Stay in the lines and color what we give you. And never, ever, make your own pictures!”

 “If you let me be me, I’ll be all that I can be,
I can paint pink apples on a blue tree.
I see a yellow and a green horse,
a red monkey, riding, of course.
I have my own visions to show.
Please say yes, don’t say no.”

Penguins will be penguins.
That’s all they want us to be.
To fly beneath the water
And never above the sea.”

A young penguin paints a beautiful butterfly on his white vest and flies off to join the seagulls soaring above the waves. The other young penguins paint all sorts of ideas on themselves, their friends, parents and teachers, who all swim, soar, or dance away together.

The preceding story and poetry about the young penguins is a little simple-minded, and sappy, but truer than many of us will admit.

The penguin color wheel goes from very slightly tinted hues (colors) to deep blue and black. It was mounted on white for maximum contrast.

Fantasies are free
Jump right in.
I am the colorman
Follow me!

Creativity is such a loaded term. If you’re working in a creative sphere and think that you’re creative, you probably aren’t, and if you say out loud that you’re creative, research in the subject says that you might be misleading yourself.  Only the culture can make the determination that what you do is unique, useful and therefore creative; otherwise, the term is irrelevant. I’ve never given it a thought as regards what I do. My philosophy is:

To be unique regularly,
Take a good creative daily.

Thanks for visiting me…


I am in the Weaverville Art Safari open studios tour this weekend.
Go to the website for information.

7 thoughts on “Penguins

  1. Beautiful penguins! I’ll never look at creativity in the same way again. As always, a wonderful Haiku.

  2. leo! i love all the birds and colors and musings! thank you for allllllllll you do.

  3. Leo,

    Jim Morrison sent me an email with your link and blog (we’re both in the USAF Art Program) You’re art is absolutely outstanding. So much so, that when I shared your Penquins poem to my 7 year old daughter,who is one hell of an artist, she was inspired to cut paper in layers, add mixed materials and just experiment!

    Thanks for your art, Thanks for your service;

    Tony Stencel

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