Local Art: Haverford College


The pup and I like to walk the trail at Haverford College in southeastern PA and admire the art. Yes, he likes art, too. Mainly eating it. But I don’t judge.


Haverford College has natural beauty, spontaneous art made from nature, and—just art. Not natural, unless somehow spray paint is made from carmine beetles and blueberries. Thought I’d share some of my favorite spots with you:















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Filed under Nature's Art, Public Art & Local Art, Sculpture, Uncategorized

Spirit Animals


Spirit Animals at Art Club! I’ve been loving the advice and illustrations in Power Animals: How to Connect with Your Animal Spirit Guide by Steven Farmer, so naturally I brought that to the kids, masters at loving animals and nature, feeling connections everywhere. We discussed favorite animals, what we like about them, and how we can feel connected to a kind of animal for reasons we understand, and maybe reasons we aren’t aware of. Either way is a-okay.

20141110_162813I provided about twenty different books with animals images, including animal encyclopedias and guides, and… There Is a Bird On Your Head! by Mo Willems, just because I can. Didn’t want the kids to think they had to draw realistically. That is not my style. And so we ended up with some realistic animals, plus an unicorn pegasus, a cyclops cat, an angry sea elephant, and a saber tooth whale. Variety, people.

I drew a few samples from one of my favorite spirit animals: one realistic raccoon, a spiraly-funky raccoon, then a very colorful silly one. During class, I answered calls for help by sketching alongside–a manatee, sea grass, and a barn swallow. At times, watching someone draw an animal (on their own paper, mind) can be just what a young artist needs to make his own come out well.

A lot of spirit animals came out of that group of six lively young artists (click to enlarge):

















Filed under Artist/Author, Books & Media, Drawing, Painting & Mixed Media

Never Ending Art


20141104_130717I guess it’s really time to show the Finished Kitchen Cart. It’s been a while since I first wrote about this family art collaborative, surely long enough to have it done. Yep.


 Thing is, living in a family of artists, not only are we still drawing on it, finding empty spaces now on the sides and legs, but the young artists have also begun drawing over what they’ve already done. Layers of creativity, of paint pens and designs.

From afar it looks like chaos, but looking closely you see so many little moments, secrets, signs. My Little Pony portraits. A pitched tent. Rainbows of stars. Strong-Strong from Zita the Spacegirl squeezed in by a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle speaking Love. There is so much of my young artists’ personalities in this project, it has become my favorite thing in the house. A family heirloom nobody else could create.


All this is to say, it may never be done. I can picture them coming home to visit as adults and adding another doodle. Seriously. And I will have paint markers ready, just in case.


So here is our trash-found treasure, once a kitchen cart, now an Art Cart. It’s got math, monsters, ponies, camping trips, stars, spirals, lizards, faces, video game mentions (Dust), and a lot of color, love, and time put into it.



Filed under Collaborative Art, Drawing, Home Art

Young Artist: Focus on Ponies


My Little Ponies. Yep, I loved them as a child, and my now I have two sons and a daughter who all love them. The figurines are a lot less stinky now, too, so there’s that. Like my daughter, who drew these pictures, when I was young I had an interest in a few typically girly things, like ponies, and a whole lot of things that would be categorized under boyish.

See this smoke? That’s me burning the labels.

Ach, they keep coming back. Curse of the incredible regenerating label. Best we can do is ignore them, I guess.


In between reading battle books about warrior cats, evil wizards, and fantastical monsters, my ten-year-old daughter has been drawing creatures she invented called the Namestealers… and a lot of My Little Ponies. I’ll never tell her she has to pick.

 { Click to enlarge }


Filed under Artist/Author, Drawing, Homeschool

Creating Comics


Comic books at Art Club! I had a number of requests for this one–it was time.

To begin, I drew a series of random blank pages with a charcoal pencil, copied a dozen of each and set them out. A long reach stapler like this is handy for bookbinding and strong enough for thick stacks.

The set up—choose your own paper and bind your book:


Commence creativity:

Finished (or  nearly finished) books:

And because it’s fall, a campfire and marshmallows to round things off:


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Filed under Bookbinding, Drawing, Mail Art, Lettering & Writing

Collaborative Art: Children and Mothers


Collaborative Art: Large paper, four kids, and three moms. I love family art.

Not all the moms wanted their own paper, but we all drew. And as we drew, the artwork built on itself, progressing according to what came before. The papers circled around more than once, getting better, goofier, and more colorful each time. They all came out beautifully.







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Filed under Collaborative Art, Drawing, Homeschool

Local Art: Jack Kerouac


Noticing art wherever we go is good for the soul. It’s too easy to overlook the carefully hand-drawn menu board, the geometric crosswalks in Chinatown, the chalk art on sidewalks—and the dinosaur head on the wall by my front door, drawn years ago by my daughter.

The more I notice it, the more I see. And it creates a pause for appreciation in my busy days. Even the dinosaur head. I will never paint over it.

A bit of art in an organic market caught my eye recently, and created a wave of Jack Kerouac gratitude: remembering the positive effect Dharma Bums had on me as a young teenager. It was a long, long time before I went anywhere without that paperback in my bag. At some point I realized that the character of Japhy Ryder was based on the writer Gary Snyder. A couple of years later, visiting my best friend at Reed in Oregon, I saw Synder’s senior thesis in the college library. It was surreal.

If I read Dharma Bums now, I’d probably have to face a heavy dose of sexism (I’m just guessing here, it was written in 1958), especially now that I know more about gender, objectification, and all that jazz.

But back then, my young heart was with those characters in the mountains, and I took those mountains into my heart. I learned a tiny bit about Buddhism. I was glad not to be a nudist. And I fell in love with the West.

I decided that I needed to hike more, live in a cabin, have fires on beaches, not learn too much about Jack Kerouac (lest reality ruin the story), and that someday I’ll name a dog after him.

I’m glad I stopped to notice this art, and remember.


(Taken at Mom’s Organic Market in Bryn Mawr, PA.)

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Filed under Books & Media, Photography, Public Art & Local Art