Monday, September 14, 2009

Doing Art

I was doing some blog hopping a while back, seeing what all the homeschoolers were getting up to this summer, when I came across this post at Melissa Wiley's blog. I almost did a double take because I'd just been reading this post at the Camp Creek blog and thinking "we have to get a field kit together." If I wasn't stuck up here in Canada and frequently subject to mysterious "border fees" I too might have ordered the watercolour DVD Melissa links to and found so inspirational, because the website is so gorgeous that I found myself clicking back to it again and again.

We like doing art projects. I've noticed that it's by far the most effective method of silencing everyone when we're in the middle of our school day and some critical phone call suddenly pulls me aside. Usually the boys erupt into noisy, gleeful chatter, or some game of Fling The Lego Man Onto Precariously Piled Books, anything that makes it insanely hard to hear the person on the other end of the line (who always seem to be a Low Talker). But once, in a fit of desperation, I grabbed sheets of printer paper and shoved them in front of them, with a bit of a stern look (yes, I confess, it might very well have been a glare). I thrust pencils and felt pens into the air. And then there was quiet. Silence. Immediate silence. Pure absorption. I felt like I was holding a magic wand it was so sudden.

Um, where was I? Oh, right. Art.

Many of us homeschoolers worry about science, or math, if we're going to worry about anything. Critical career things that are necessary for all those future marine biologists, forensic pathologists, and engineers we're raising. I try to worry about those things, really I do (particularly when I consider how career-challenged I am), but what really worries me is art. I want them to know who Raoul Dufy was. To be able to see Starry Night and know who painted it. Maybe even to feel a thrill when they see a genuine Corinthian helmet in a museum, like we did this spring. To carry a sketchbook with them when they head off on their travels, so they can look back at it one day and see the world as they saw it then. To that end I lure it into our world as often as possible, even if it sometimes involves - gasp - naked Greek statues that have Max gaping and making the most idiotic remarks possible (sheila rolls her eyes at the thing that is the perpetually silly pre-teen boy). I want my kids to have such mundane thrills as sketching on a blanket out in the backyard in the sun, or painting with watercolours, drawing with pastels, or even drawing their own maps in history...sometimes it's just a matter of ripping up tissue paper and making 'stained glass' windows. Or smooshing clay. Or watching the incomparable Sister Wendy and her black balls of erotic fury. So I was thrilled to see both Melissa's post and the Camp Creek post enter my day at about the same time, because it seemed like a Message From Above. And I really like getting messages that way. It makes them seem Serious and Mysterious and Meaningful, even if it is just coincidence.

And it's not always conventional, as you might expect. Here are just a few of the places we get our art fix:
Next to poems.

Alongside dried flowers from the garden.

On cards we send to our friends.

On old trellises we've harvested from the garbage, although some of us have trouble agreeing what colours we're going to paint them and so they end up several colours...

And now I've made up an art kit for each of them, based on the ideas at Camp Creek, for any Wandering Art Walks we might take (even if it's just under the sundeck in a rainstorm). Here's a picture of it. We've got a mesh zippered bag, some Prang watercolours (I bought the double-sided ones, using a coupon from Michaels to make the price more palatable, but really, having 16 colours instead of 8 is much more fun), a spritz bottle in case we forget that oh-so-critical cup of water, a sponge (for those overly wet moments), a tube for the brushes (any art supply store will have these for around $2 each), a Sharpie (outlining), a good pencil, and a non-marking eraser. And we've all got a sketch book and some small pieces of watercolour paper to go along with this.


Anonymous said...

Great idea! By the way, who IS Raoul Dufy???

sheila said...

NICOLA! Surely you jest. I am gasping and holding my breast in mock horror.

I hope this URL works:

It's one of my favourite paintings by him.He was a French painter in the early early part of the 20th century.Had a particular fondness for a beautiful blue. I quite like him.

Samantha said...

Did you ever know that your my hero? Can I send my son to your house for art? You rock!