Tag Archives: non-competitive.

Spirit Animals

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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):

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Filed under Collaborative Art, Drawing, Home Art

Tracing Art: It’s okay. Really.

 

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My children have taught me that tracing isn’t an art evil. As a kid, I thought tracing another artist’s work was cheating and meant you weren’t a real artist. Even copying a painting or drawing by sight felt very, very wrong.  As a teenager, I had a friend who happily copied beautiful famous paintings and book illustrations, and I admired that, as well as her relaxed approach to imitation,  but couldn’t make myself do it. I was a little tense, I think… Ha.

Even so, I’ve supplied my kids with tracing paper from the beginning, like any good art parent would despite her oddly placed principles (which I kept to myself). So, I expected them to trace their own drawings, for some legit purpose like slight alterations or recreating characters. No. Four years ago, my daughter took that tracing paper and got out my childhood copy of Lee J. Ames’ Draw 50 Animals—and then she went directly to the final, finished drawing, and traced it.

Wait. Is that allowed?!

Apparently, yes. She turned it into her own personal art form for months. Tracing animals, coloring them with markers in exotic ways, attaching yarn and hanging them from the ceiling to spin in the fan-breeze. It was beautiful. And I was humbled. Tracing isn’t so bad.

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So a few months ago, when my 8-year-old son was struggling, near tears, over trying to draw Zita the Spacegirl just right, I suggested he trace Ben Hatke’s cover, to get a feel for the lines and angles. He was game and cheered right up. I’m glad to see I did not pass on my tracing-shame to them. Tracing doesn’t end original drawing, and it doesn’t kill creativity. If anything, the satisfaction from tracing can urge young artists forward, and even train their hand to make the shapes their minds are intending.

So he traced, and the sky didn’t fall. He also drew Zita on his own, and I joined him (sans tracing paper…). These are our sketches of Zita, his first and mine in progress:

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This one he did freehand from Hatke’s back-o’-the-book sketches. The kid hated his version until about six hours later when the heat died down and he was able to see how great a job he did. Sometimes we all need a little time to cool off.

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Filed under Artist/Author, Drawing

Collaborative Birthday Art

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I’ve been thinking a lot about collaborative artwork for an upcoming class, and planning how to help the kids create with one another—instead of alongside one another. My kids and I have been creating a lot of art together. It’s what we need right now: art and connection. (Also nature and extra love and puppy hugs and campfires and… well, lots of good things!)

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It’s amazing how sibling irritations can be eased by a simple rule: “Don’t draw over anyone else’s art.” When there’s only one rule to stick to, everything gets easier. Part of me wishes everything were this easy…

It’s been interesting to revisit the collaborative art that was created on my birthday a year and a half ago (all pictures are from this project). It’s like a snapshot of the gathering of friends and family. But instead of a photo moment, this beautiful thing is something we made together. It was the best gift.

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I wanted to have an Art Birthday Party (never too old, I say). So I hosted a potluck, and put out a 15 x 20 inch piece of hot press watercolor paper, and an assortment of pens, paints, stamps, markers and oil pastels. There’s something powerful about looking back on photos, as well as art from times past. My kids had fun this week remembering who drew what on this paper, turning it round and round to figure it all out–there is no “Up” on this art! Things in my life have changed a lot since that birthday, but this colorful treasure remains. I think this coming spring it’ll be time for another round of Birthday Art 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Collaborative Art, Drawing, Painting & Mixed Media, Uncategorized

Quality Control Kids

Sometimes all you need to do to inspire creativity is pull out materials the kids haven’t seen in a while, or something they’ve never seen. In this case, washable brush tip markers, freshly sharpened colored pencils, and graphic pencils in varying hardnesses. After some testing to see what’s what, a flurry of activity followed:

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Filed under Drawing, Homeschool, Inspiration & Imagination

InkTober and the Kitchen Cart

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First there was a great wooden kitchen cart that I found put out to trash in Manayunk.

Then… there was InkTober.

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Inspired by Ben Hatke of the Zita the Spacegirl series and Jake Parker of Missile Mouse series? Yep, these kids were game. And at first… at first paper was enough for us.

But the supplies were on the kitchen cart… and they know my feelings about artistic graffiti created in the right situations… Sooo…

It’s been a week and they’re still drawing. The kitchen cart that almost went into a landfill, now has a new life as a work of art.

 

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Filed under Collaborative Art, Drawing, Home Art, Inspiration & Imagination

Mail Art to London

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Sometimes my kids aren’t interested in a Fabulous Exciting Amazing Art Project I think they’ll love. I’m not terribly surprised when this happens. They’ve trained me well. Sometimes they love things I think they’ll hate, and sometimes they hate things I think they’ll love. That’s life, and they have every right to their opinions.

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If it’s that Fabulous and Amazing, I’m either already doing it myself, or I’m about to start doing it. There aren’t any “kid’s art projects” around here. There’s just Art, regardless of age, entirely dependent on the artists’ interests and abilities: if you can whittle it, draw it, paint it, go for it. This is great for a lot of reasons—supplies are shared within the family, kids have access to good-quality materials, and projects can be done alongside siblings and adults. It helps young artists feel that what they’re doing is “real” art (if there was ever any question), and I don’t end up painting with crappy watercolors at the kitchen table by myself. I may be painting with really nice watercolors at the kitchen table by myself, and in that case I’m probably having a grand old time.  Often enough, seeing me doing a project they previously rejected gets them inspired to try it, or bring a different project to do alongside me. Mail Art, case in point:

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I needed to send a small package that had been on my to-do list for at least two months. It contained a couple of old postcards, but required an updated note because it had been sitting there so long. Mail Art I can handle. Getting to the post office, not so much. I wasn’t in much of a mood to write, but doodle? Sure thing. I ripped a page out of a magazine I’d gotten from the library’s free bin (aka “Take This Junk We Don’t Want It”) that was destined for altered book/collage projects, and began sketching, scribbling, commenting, generally enjoying the heck out of myself. My kids wandered by, intrigued. I filled both sides of the page.

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In it goes with the old letters, and a tiny hand-bound gift in a tiny package:

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It was a few days later that I was going through some mail art samples for a class, when my older kids asked when we were doing Mail Art. I jogged their memories: “You said you didn’t want to.”

They stared at me. “We want to!”

“Okay, then. Tomorrow.”

“Yay!”

Make something look interesting by enjoying it yourself, and they’ll probably join you. Be warned about reversing this process: it doesn’t work on ice cream. No matter how unhappy you look while eating it, they’ll still want some.

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Filed under Drawing, Mail Art, Lettering & Writing