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Staying Open to Possibilities

December 16, 2010

Yesterday was a day of being open to new possibilities.

I spent the morning in my studio with my next-door neighbor’s 9-year-old son. Eli’s school was closed for the day because of warnings of ice buildup on the roads in the early morning (which didn’t materialize, thank goodness) and his mother had to be at work for a while. So she asked if he could hang out with us. Of course I said yes, even though I had been planning to spend much of my day working in the studio.

In order to make the time as productive as possible, I decided to make some painted papers to add to my collage stash. I knew that Eli could do some of his own. I set him up on the opposite side of the table with his own paints, brushes, plenty of paper, and water container. Since anything goes with the painted papers, I knew my work wouldn’t be in danger from being in close proximity to his activity.

Pretty soon I got involved with what he was doing, answering questions, showing him all the basics you have to show a kid who is new to paints, like not loading up the brush too much, keeping it clean between colors, changing the water, etc., etc.

And then he got really into the paints — I mean that in a good way. It is obvious he hasn’t had much any experience with painting at all. In this particular instance it turned out to be a positive, because he was unafraid to try different things just to see what the paint would do. (You know, the way I paint!)

He squirted a rainbow of gloppy colors on top of the table cover and rolled through it once with a brayer. I said “Stop!” He froze and looked up at me as if he were afraid he’d done something wrong. I smiled really big and said “Now roll that onto the paper just the way it is.” What he had was something truly beautiful, and I told him so. He was so proud, so I dried it with the heat gun and put it in a mat for him to take home.

After about a half dozen more experiments, his attention span was done, and he was happily off to play video games at home. But before he left he told me he was “inspired.”

I picked up a few tricks from Eli during the session. The most important one of all is to stay open to new possibilities. What’s that saying about lemonade again?

Above: “Extra, Extra!” – Scan of Acrylic Paint Deposited on Newsprint, 8 x 10″

12 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2010 8:31 am

    Love this. Kids are so good at being open and in turn, teaching us to be open. So glad you took the time to allow him to get inspired. He’ll always remember that.

  2. December 16, 2010 8:46 am

    Olie, I always, always learn something from kids. So when I allow myself the time to just hang out with them, everybody wins. I do think he’ll remember it. I know from experience, since my mother was the example of that. She always made space and time for the kids and grandkids to do art.

  3. December 16, 2010 1:01 pm

    This collage looks familiar. Very similar to some you did earlier in the year I think and I LOVE it!! Not sure what it is about the newspaper that appeals to me so much. Do you age the newspaper you use for the background or is that fresh paper? I’ve got a huge stack in my garage that would be great for me to work with I think!

    Yeup…you just never know what wonderful seeds you may have planted in that young man’s mind! He could one day go on to be a total artistic genius and stun the world with his unique artistic abilities!! Of course we all know how much you like planting seeds. 🙂

    • December 16, 2010 1:36 pm

      Itaya, if you aren’t too concerned about archivability, newspaper would work OK as a background. I know a lot of artists just don’t let it concern them. This piece was literally some newspaper that I had laid down on the table to get rid of excess paint on a big brush I was painting with at the time. And I was painting in all black, white and gray. I liked the result, so I scanned a bunch of it, thinking I might use the scans in digital art pieces.

      Hint-hint: You could do some, scan them, then put them up on Red Bubble!

  4. Sandra permalink
    December 17, 2010 1:41 am

    Inspired – just the effect you have on me with your wisdom, your boundless creativity, and your beautiful art. I think you have done something wonderful for Eli, and hope that he continues to experiment. I was put off art at school because I can’t draw. Love your latest – I see a white cat-like shape emerging from the dark. I do enjoy seeing things in your paintings and collages – probably not things you had in mind!

    • December 17, 2010 7:29 am

      Sandra, I do hope Eli is encouraged to explore art. He did ask me if I give lessons. For him, I probably would!

      Glad you like the newspaper piece. Don’t worry, we all look for “things” in abstract art, and the nice part is that it can be something different for everyone.

      Re your statement “I can’t draw” – Yes. You. Can. If you can hold a mark-making tool in your hand and move it across a surface, you can draw. If you mean you think your drawing attempts look wrong or inaccurate, it probably means you should draw more. You’ve inspired a new blog post, so I thank you!

  5. December 17, 2010 1:00 pm

    i love the color scheme. wonderful story. when i am teaching it is pure satisfaction to see a child be creatively inspired.

    • December 23, 2010 8:36 am

      Stephanie, it starts out seeming like a chore for me to teach a group of kids, but immediately I get caught up in their enthusiasm and always walk away smiling and laughing to myself at all the discoveries and antics.

  6. December 17, 2010 9:26 pm

    I was smiling as I read your story….really something.
    Love the painting you show today too.

    • December 23, 2010 8:36 am

      Thanks Cynthia! I was in a kid-like “zone” when I did that. Just goes to show you.

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