What makes a good afternoon? Sunny yet mild weather. Spending time outside at school and neighborhood playgrounds watching my kids play while I draw and paint things that I see. Coming prepared with plenty of water and apples and swimsuits so they could play in the sprinklers. At one point Alex handed me a leaf and asked me to draw it for her and then ran off. If this is what summer is going to be like I am so ready! My day bag is packed with all my minimal necessities and I am ready to go.
Like all little kids, my two daughters both love art and love to draw. The three year old loves carrying around a little notebook and practicing drawing straight lines and shapes and then proudly counting them. The six year old draws a rich magical world filled with her family, princesses, fairies, butterflies and unicorns. She has a fabulous teacher at her public school and their yearly art show is this Thursday. The walls of the entire school will be covered with beautiful artwork. My big girl proudly showed off one of her drawings yesterday. I see us picking up a bunch of colorful frames the next time we are at Ikea. Between the work she is doing with me at the ICA once a month and the art she makes at school we have so much beautiful work to show off.
My open studio event is this Saturday 10-2. Don't forget!
Twice a week I am a captive in a home in the suburbs while my six year old gets some reading help. Since I'm more of a distraction than a help with her tutor I need to find ways to keep busy for the hour. I've perfected the day bag of portable art to bring with me.
Travel Watercolor Set
iPad and stylus
And I am all set for my hour.
Not sure what we are planning on stamping for Easter. Never heard of cards for Easter or welcoming Spring. But my kids love stamps and they will love these homemade stamps. I've been focused on so many different mediums that it is causing me to take a few too many trips to the art store. While I am having great fun exploring watercolor and collagraph printing and drawing more than ever it is getting to be a bit of an expensive habit and not really inline with the minimalist philosophy. I don't see anything exactly wrong with buying supplies to make stuff. But I should question what I need before I do so. My storage space is far from unlimited. So for this week I will be focusing on materials that I have that I have been neglecting. Stamp making is easy and fun and something that I can do with the kids. These materials were literally sitting in a drawer untouched for years. I have not shown these new stamps to my girls yet. Can't wait to see their faces and see what we make together.
Drawing against the waterfront, inspiring modern art, great projects for families and even shows. Nothing not to love about the free ICA Play Dates the last Saturday of every month. A highlight of my month. I go with my eldest and we have a great time. We wander around the museum and draw by the giant window that faces the water, take in a show and check out the kid focused art activities that they have going on downstairs. When the weather gets better maybe when we are done we can walk somewhere fun for lunch or an early dinner. Just the two of us.
That is how I learn. I have nothing to lose by trying. I have everything to lose if I don't try and keep experimenting. Embarrassing creations are part of the learning process and they are good and not a waste of time. The reality is that I often have no idea if what I am doing is good while I am making it. If I'm lucky I will know when I am done, but often I am unsure. But that the fear is actually a good sign that I am onto something and not playing it safe anymore. Being an artist is rarely comfortable. Be wary of comfort as an artist. I ripped up an old collage that I did not like and salvaged the board to experiment with this portrait of my daughters. I may eventually do the same with this but for now I am happy that I tried something.
I like to draw on paper. And I like paper a lot. As a printmaker paper is probable my favorite material. Ink and color is important but those are purely practical and utilitarian. Paper is soft and lovely and different subtle shades. Printing to the edge of the paper in a bleed print or leaving a border. Western versus Asian styles versus handmade papers. It is the base that the inks mix with and I love working with paper over canvas or other materials. With this love of all things paper and traditional I have mostly avoided digital artwork. But that is starting to change. Baby steps really but I might have room for it after all.
This cheerful little girl certainly helps whenever I am feeling down or stressed. Her copy next to mine. Another series to work on together? In the meantime I am going back and continuing to work on our last series of fantastical creatures designed by her and refined by me. Some of those are coming out on the blog and on Etsy later this week. Taking a break from them to work on other projects was a good idea as I learned from these other projects. Learning comes from all sorts of areas in life. Schooling, books, experiences and time all influence me equally.
On a lark I signed up for a free trail and then a month of Creative Bug for the month long drawing class with Lisa Congdon and it has been great. Thankfully I am already a longtime Micron pen fan and I was able to dive right in and get to drawing. Then during our vacation day this week after being home and working while the kids played nicely together (I'm serious really I could get used to this growing up and maturing business) I put on the first video lesson for Alex and she was transfixed. She loves art and drawing and she is very much in sponge mode lately so she just took everything in. I am looking forward to seeing what she does with the material.
Somebody loves me. My six year old made this butterfly card for me with careful hand lettering. She loves making cards for people. I recently purchased 20 Ways to Draw a Tree to share with her and she is loving it. She especially loved the pages on butterflies and snails. I think we are going to have a lot of fun drawing together with this book.
An important lesson I have gotten from my child is how important play actually is. Sometimes when I am working with her I find myself getting a bit rule driven, controlling and focused on "not messing up" that I have to force myself to step back and let her be the playful person that she does so well. In this case it was letting her paint a smiley face with black paint in the pink paint even though inside my head I was screaming about the dark color contaminating the light color. And really it was okay. No lasting damage and the moment of happiness and pure joy was totally worth the little bit of mess. Yesterday was 60 degree weather here in Boston so I let myself go out and play in the sunshine with my kids instead of getting inky in my studio. Brought my sketchbook and didn't even use it. Most everything is replaceable except for time and these moments.
Working with my kid has been a wonderful experience so far. Often I feel that my drawing gets too tight and controlled and I am just not a strong enough draftsman to work that rigidly. My strengths lie more in color than in line. Yet it is hard for me to loosen up and I struggle and get stuck. Collaborating with my six year old and sometimes even just letting go and handing her the woodblock and a pencil has been exactly what I needed to let go and loosen up. She is thrilled to see her lines translated to print form on beautiful paper with beautiful colors and I have noticed her drawing getting stronger and her artistic passion increasing. And my style still shines through all of it. Turns out we make a pretty great team.
We even draw together in waiting rooms. I have started bringing materials with us whenever we go out. We are both having such a blast working on art together. There is not enough time. This princess sure looks friendly and I like her earrings.
Magic is a pretty silly concept right? Mermaids, butterflies and unicorns are all quite silly according to the adult world filled with healthy diets, mortgages and responsibility. Thankfully my six year doesn't yet live in that world and I can lean over her shoulder and daydream along with her. We are having so much fun working together as a team.
Collaborating with my six year old daughter is pure magic. Printing with her is less than magical, at least with the three year old around getting ink all over herself and anything she touches. But I just couldn't wait until the weekend! Note to self need to plan printing time more carefully without the three year old around or with her at least contained and covered with a smock. My fashionista three year old does not wear smocks without a serious fight.
Inspired by the magical creativity of my six year old daughter. Having just finished carving the large block that I have been working on since November and not feeling quite ready to start printing with it I needed something creative to do with my time. So I started a collaboration with my six year old daughter. I took drawings of her's and turned them into small woodblocks to print with her after school or on the weekend. Ideally when her little sister is not around or occupied with something else. So far we have a mermaid and a butterfly. The butterfly has eyes in her antenna as well as long eyelashes. Awesome! I have a bunch of these small blocks of plywood to carve so I can keep this up for awhile. Stay tuned for more carvings and the prints.