I did put a pause on practicing my photography skills and since the painting class has an online discussion forum, I've been focusing my energies there and completely blowing off this space. The baby has hit that toddler phase when all photos are blurry anyway and the big girl has been in school so when she's home she's been painting with me and we haven't had much to share here.
I did want to share about a recent project we completed. Our library sponsors a preschool art workshop once a month that currently doesn't allow paint brushes. Basically, the librarian reads a book about brushing your teeth and we paint with toothbrushes. That sort of idea. This time we heard a story about a girl who doesn't want to comb her hair and then we used combs to paint with. As we sat waiting for our turn with the bowl of purple paint, I decided to follow my intuition and just grab the bottle and squirt a glob on each of our papers and see what happened. I noticed some of the other participants were having a hard time releasing the need to make recognizable shapes with the edges of the comb in a similar fashion to using a artist's brush. I grabbed the nearest comb and said loud enough for the frustrated patents to hear "let's see what happens when we use this side of the comb. There's plenty of paper." My daughters and I started combing the paint up and down and back and forth across the page watching deep lines appear. On a hunch I grab a few other colors and squirted more globs on the page and combed the colors together in a square fashion. As I did this I double checked that my oldest had enough paper and was okay staying firmly in her Purple Phase and that my youngest hadn't eaten any of the tempura. As I glanced between the two I noticed the little boy sitting near us abandon his need to make purple stars and blue rectangles. He grabbed a new piece of paper and used a spoon to slap down a glob of red paint and began to experiment. The stress that had been building in his mom's shoulder melted as she noticed him engaging thoroughly into the activity. We kept adding more colors and started swirling the colors in a big circle. I stopped just before everything completely mixed to brown and began washing all the chairs that bore the mark of a visit from my youngest.
Something about that experience didn't agree with my typical recycling of my paper afterwards- discarding coffee filter hats and recycling ice paintings usually leave me guilt-free but this one wouldn't let go. So I brought it home with me to find that the assignment for my painting class was to paint from my center, or from my natural state.
I believe my natural state is one of curiosity as I find peace, joy and fulfillment in searching for answers to questions, even unspoken questions. I also enjoy watching children explore, guided by their curiosity, uninhibited by what they "should" be discovering. That said, I used the piece we started at the library for this project. I sat down at the kitchen table and just began to fill in the empty spots with whatever color called to me. My oldest came up to me and started suggesting which shapes to include, saying it needs more pink. I followed her lead and when she asked if she could help me paint I knew we were on the right track.
I have a hard time letting her help me with my creative projects. I wasn't encouraged to explore painting or other drawing activities as a kid and so I am conscious of accidentally discouraging her creative interests. I want her to feel free to express herself however she needs to but at the same time I want to own my own creative needs and paint according to my own intuition and spirit. So when she asks' "mama, can I help you?" I have to answer carefully. "What shapes should I paint?" "Would you like to try this on your own paper?" But in this case, i let her help make some embellishments and this was our result
And so with that, I want to encourage you to try something new guided by that little voice that says "do it!" Some times it's hard to hear this voice under all the negativity and demands on your time, but it's there. Trust it. Amazing things are inside your spirit waiting to get out. And there is always more paper.