I teach art for all ages at the community center in my neighborhood Bridge Meadows. Most of my students are children. I try to make an easy going place for kids to express themselves, learn to deal with mistakes, and have a good time. I do minimal instruction but give guidelines. I also try to get them the best materials we can afford because I think the the kids deserve it. The better the materials, the less frustration.
One of my youngest students is Tomas, who is 4. He’s loves to paint. He doesn’t want crayons, markers or pencils. He wants to slop around with watercolors.
I hold class from 4:30 til 6 on Monday. Children come late sometimes, but Tomas came with his brothers and mom at 5:45 and wanted to paint. All the other kids that day were working with markers, oil pastels and colored pencils. I didn’t want to get everything set up for him to paint when he was going to leave 10 minutes later.
“Let’s just draw today,” I told him.
“No I want to paint!” he said.
“But you need to draw sometimes, too. You know drawing is like the skeleton of painting. It’s the bones that hold paintings up. You know, like your bones hold you up. Drawing holds up painting. It’s the bones of art.”
He looked a bit mystified.
“Not if you’re a snowman,” he said.
And that’s one of the great rewards of working with children — they put things in perspective for you.
Tomas’ Monday Masterpiece
For more posts on life at Bridge Meadows, you can click the tab in the heading. You can read my latest post about it here: Living the Rich Life.
I did some stream of consciousness drawing this morning — otherwise known as doodling — with my Graphitint pencils. These are graphite pencils tinted with color that get more vibrant when you add water. I drew and washed a few colors and this face came alive.
Lately I’ve seen a lot of really beautiful children, the children here in my community, and I’ve learned a lot about their histories — moved from home to home, witnessed violence and murders, and felt the chill of losing loved ones. Yet here watching them play in their new families, it seems a bit like they dropped out of the sky, full of hope and full of shadows. Everyone hopes we can give them a real childhood and that Bridge Meadows will provide them with the stability that will help them thrive. Already we see them growing and learning and playing.
I decided I needed to do series of these sky children and I got some great feedback from fellow artists at my Oregon Womens Caucus for Art meeting today. I will create composite drawings, not actual portraits, and try to capture the spirit I see in children. The muted color of these pencils seems perfect for the project, especially since it’s often grey and misty in Portland. The deep often cloudy life of children is rich soulful territory and I remember it well from my own childhood.
This first one is in my watercolor sketchbook. Tomorrow I’ll start on a bigger, denser piece. I love it when a stream of thought leads to an entire project.
If I hurry a little bit, I get to be part of the Memphis Rozelle Artist’s Guild Sketchbook 2012 Project that opens on March 2:
I’ve already missed the deadline to get in the catalog but I’ve got til Thursday to get it in the mail. To help me along in finishing it, the universe sent me a lovely cold so that I feel like sludge. Should I draw a sludgy slug? I wanted to do a nice themed journal about Memphis memories but it wound up going all over the place. It did, however, give me a nice venue to process some feelings about my mom dealing with dementia. Here are some sample pages.
One thing I really like about keeping a sketchbook or art journal is how you can see how different moods and events impact your drawing style.
The Rozelle Artist Guild show is a non-juried one, very democratic that gives it an exuberant quality. My husband likes to say life is what happens when you’re making other plans. I plan to get this finished in the next two days. It’s only 16 pages, for goodness sakes. I’ll let you know what happens.