Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Exploring What We See with Seven Year Old

Landen was over the other day when school was closed and came up to the studio to chat.  He was looking around at some of the art on the walls and wanted to see what I was working on.  I showed him how I was playing with portrait sketches and paintings, trying to get closer to what I actually saw. 

He saw the self portrait I'd made by looking at myself in the mirror.  I asked if he'd like to give it a try and he agreed.  We set him up with a stool so he could reach the bathroom mirror and then he set to work.  I could see him initially drawing what he thought a face should look like and then making the transition to what he saw in terms of proportion and relationships.

When he finished, he'd drawn a self portrait that reminded me of Modigliani's work.  We went to the ipad and looked up those images;  he could see the style resemblance, too.

Modigliani"s Boy with Blue Eyes
He was clearly enjoying his success and wanted to draw some other things.  He spied a small carved rhinoceros I have and asked to use that.  We set it up on a box and he labored over that, finally getting discouraged and deciding he'd had enough - but he'd spent about 45 minutes on all the drawings.  The one rhinoceros he'd done had been a  pretty good replica - he'd gotten some critical line in it, but decided it wasn't right and did his own version, without looking as intently.  We talked about how a lot of drawing and painting require you to train your eye to see what is in front of you. And then you can change things around to show some other quality, to bring out your own style.

Being around kids as they explore art is just the most fun!  It deepens your own understanding when you try to explain something; and you relearn how to see through eyes that are less critical.  You enter into a more playful state - which is a wonderful thing!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Birthday Book for Mom

In the second week of Sketchbook Skool we played around with making small books.  I posted the first one that was made from an 8 1/2 by 11" sheet of paper, neatly folded and cut to make 8 pages.  It was perfect for my little caterpillar story. I showed that in an earlier post.
The second kind of book Jill Weber suggested was to use an accordion style folding; it offers a different way of telling a story. I decided to make a little celebration for my mom's upcoming birthday in April.

Our birthdays were always special - never over the top in extravagant gifts or outings; when I was young, finances didn't allow that kind of expenditure. But the generosity was clear in the attention to details. From being sung awake in the morning, to a favorite meal, followed by a sumptuous cake, you knew it was YOUR day.

I won't be able to visit mom for her birthday this year so I thought I'd send the party to her!

The Drink, The Balloons, The Fanfare, The Dance

The Cake, The Jive

The Bow, and the Salutation!

Altogether Now

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Miracles Every Day

February 4 is a particular day for me to recognize miracles all around me.

It is the birthday of my dear Marcus, who turns 11 today.  And it is the birthday of my good friend, Maggie who is 61. Both of these cherished people have had close calls - they might not have been here to celebrate this day.  That they are, feels miraculous.

Marcus with Ethan and Landen
Seven years ago, Marcus was in a near drowning accident.  Medical personnel estimated that he'd been underwater for about 5 minutes.  It was the most terrifying thing I have ever  experienced, with vivid memories of that day - of the fear, and also of the great kindnesses of people I've never seen again. Marcus not only survived; he is a very special child - he has a deep sense of compassion, a sensitivity that sometimes startles me.  Where did he get that wisdom?  And then he flips back into being a normal, funny, silly, moody, energetic kid.

Maggie in Rome
On the 16th of November, a Monday morning, Maggie and I had been planning our Thanksgiving dinner.  She had a big project at school so I didn't expect to hear from her for the rest of the week.  On Friday I received a call from a friend that Maggie had been taken to the hospital late the night before.  She had suffered a stroke, probably on that Monday, with three aneurysms that were leaking into her left brain.  Since she hadn't been found for several days, there were complications and the doctors weren't sure she'd survive. She underwent several surgeries over the next week and friends and family kept vigil. Once the doctors were able to remove the sedation, she gradually began to demonstrate signs of recovery. At this point she is undergoing rehabilitation, but each week brings return of function, progress that we can only marvel at.

Over a long period of time I have come to appreciate that we are constantly surrounded by miracles if we only choose to see them.  Albert Einstein said "There are two ways to live your life: one is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as though everything is a miracle."  I go for a walk, I look out the window, I spend time in silence - and I feel overwhelmed with gratitude.

Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Peter Mayer's music.  This one feels just right for today.

How about you?  What quietly or outrageously wondrous things are you experiencing?