Just before my sister’s birthday, I always troll her Pinterest page looking for artful ideas for her, and several times old fashioned drinks popped up. This was perfect since we both share a love for all bourbon based drinks.
I’d like to change up the blue lettering and do something else – I just don’t love how that turned out.
I have been reading a fascinating book called, How Children Make Art: Lessons in Creativity from Home to School by George Szekely. There is a fascinating section in the book about pre-service teachers making home visits to document and discuss their students’ collections in their bedrooms, as a way to help future teachers balance the study of adult and child art.
The author points out that all young children start off as artists and collectors, and that their bedrooms are the home to rich and varied, yet carefully curated collections. The author argues that children lose this passion and love of art when they come to school and find no connections between their home art and school art. So, as art educators, what do we do to encourage the connections? How do we as adults honor their playful and un-adult eye for design?
I started by looking at my own two children’s rooms for ideas on what I can do to encourage their collections.
This book has been a timely read, as I recently helped to take apart a childhood collection site of my own – a glass case shelf where many priceless treasures were stored. I did not photograph this lovingly curated shelf, before taking it apart. Items had been in certain locations for so long that I can still close my eyes and see the arrangements.
My children sat with me, in absolute amazement, picking up each object one by one, treating each thing as sacred and precious. They asked question after question, cataloging my responses as insights to my own childhood experiences, making connections that their adult mother was once just as imaginative as they are are now. Revelations to my little humans!
My 8-year old daughter has a more elaborate system of set-ups, comprised of animal figurines, dolls, dollhouses linked together, scarves, washi tape, rocks, glass beads, shells, wrappers, and prize bin items. There are constantly items all over the floor, which at first appearance may seem random and messy, but upon closer inspection, they are set up in a deliberate and playful manner. She HATES the weekly floor clean up, in order to avoid her precious collection from being vacuumed up.
My 5-year old son, on the other hand, likes to keep his collections stored in a series of boxes, which are then in turn put inside his nightstand drawers and on his book shelf. If given the opportunity, he will pass on letting friends play in his room, because he likes the floor clean and free of items.
Enter a solution that comes from my hybrid roles of mother and art teacher – under bed platforms for each child’s room. They can hold train tracks, cars, Legos, fairies, ponies, dolls, furniture, or whatever is being curated at the time.
We just so happened to have two nice pieces of plywood in the garage, casters in the basement, and kids who wanted to help in this process.
Eric had both kids help him to measure, mark, and screw in caster wheels to the bottom. We left the wood natural, knowing that at some point they may paint them, tape paper on, or layer their own playful surfaces. Now their curated collections can be safely stowed away to be returned to again and again.
This book has been an on-going source of ah-has for me and has helped me to honor the creative ideas and art making of my own two children. My next step is to find more authentic ways to bridge the home art and school art of my students.
I hate artificial smells & perfumes and anything too heavily scented, even if it is natural. Overly strong smells make me twitchy and sneezy. So when I grabbed a couple of these amber glass spray bottles, I decided to try out my own natural cleaning concoction.
I started with a large glass jar and filled it with white vinegar. I dropped in two cinnamon sticks
Then, I let the vinegar solution sit for two weeks in a sunny spot in my kitchen. It turned this lovely amber color after just a couple of days. I let is soak until the cinnamon and orange smell were noticeable over the vinegar smell. When it was ready to use, I filled a spray bottle with half water, half vinegar solution. I then added a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castille citrus soap. I use it on my counter tops, sink, cabinets, bathroom, table — anything needing a wipe down.
I’ll be needing this spray in large quantities in the next couple of weeks, as this is my current view. This is from my dining room table, which is currently located in my living room, just in front of the fire place. Gus is loving the ability to snag fun items out of boxes and tubs (i.e. sponges, paintbrushes, cups, spoons…)
Pray to to Gods of house renovation for me. More on all of this later.
This combination of painting, collage, and drawing came about as a result of a weird dream I had where this woman was sailing away on a Viking ship. I added in surreal details to add to the dream-like idea. It recently found a new home, in a friend’s new home.
Last summer I spent a fabulous week with other TAB (teaching for artistic behaviors) art teachers in Boston for a week-long grad class. We shared ideas, listened to guest speakers, and had glorious studio time.
This artwork began with the just the chicken head. It is a lino cut block print on orange paper, with drawn details. I started this, because at the time, my then 3-year old son’s favorite insult was, “Chicken head!” I made a series of just floating chicken head prints on painted scrap papers. I started to build the background with blue painted watercolor paper and layered and painted newspapers from Boston.
The chicken’s body is made from cut painted papers, construction paper, and construction paper that is draw on.
The flower blooms and stems are cut from painted papers, with drawn details with bamboo pen and ink.
The inspiration for the artwork comes from various things- my love for all things science and the art of diagrams, for one. The idea of skin and a barrier to outside forces, and a sermon on Ayeka, delivered via video conferencing, due to a howling blizzard of a day in Iowa.
I have gotten so far behind on documenting completed artworks – there will be a spree of posts coming up. This one I completed when I was in Boston last summer for the TAB (Teaching Artistic Behaviors) art teacher grad class extraordinary week of learning and art making. They had the most glorious studio set up for us art teachers to use. This cat was inspired by my daughter’s love of cats and making them in her own art. I also have lived with my fair share of lovely gray cats in my life.
Mona, Collage, watercolor, marker, color pencil, 2019.
I started this Mona Lisa homage years ago, as a magazine face collaged on to a black marker drawing. At that time, I was sorely missing the coastal parts of North Carolina, which had been our home state for eight years.
I just rediscovered this unfinished piece in my studio, and added the watercolor and color pencil this week.
South Dakota, Embroidery, acrylic paint, denim, pine needles, 2019.
Last summer, I enjoyed a week with family, just outside Rapid City, South Dakota. The porch offered a serene view of the Black Hills. I sat and meditatively stitched on the legs of my cut-off jeans, as my children, nieces, and nephews played.