Saturday, November 19, 2005

Color My World

Yesterday at school I was coloring a picture of a turkey for a game we'll be playing with our students next week. The children love it when I draw or color, and always ask for their own pictures to take home. As a result, I incorporate art into my lessons as much as I can. It is a window for children, an opportunity; not just for learning, but for experiencing beauty as well.

I grew up in a home where art
was expressed and appreciated. My dad would bring home old blueprint paper for us to draw on, its purple-faced lines and words turned over to reveal a perfect and unblemished sheet of pure white. It was the best gift he could have given us. My sister and I would spend hours making our "Calico and Numpy" cat books, and Mom would write in the dialogue since we were too young to write. I can't remember a time when I didn't have a pencil, crayon, or marker in hand to create in the world of imagination.

Often we would look up to find my mother sketching us at our play. "Don't do me, Mom!" we'd cry, though secretly we couldn't wait to see how it turned out. Her favorite remark - if we'd comment on its lack of resemblance - would be, "I'm not a camera, kids!" And how blessed we were that she wasn't.

I truly don't know how she did it. There were six of us kids and a husband to take care of, clean up after, cook and wash for and still she made time to make beautiful things. We would often find her at the kitchen table with acrylics, brush and canvas, creating something new to color our world. We would lean on little elbows, watching the picture come to life with dabs of burnt umber, denim blue and harvest gold. Finished products decorated our walls with warmth and personality, and sometimes one was given to a special aunt or close friend. To us all, they were great masterpieces.

Coloring books were a treasure around our house. We would flop on our tummies with a new book, open it up to the most detailed and lovely page and mark it with a big "M". We wanted the best to go to Mother, and we would pass the time with a box of crayons until she could lie on the floor beside us and bring our selection to life. I have vivid images of brightly colored daffodils and azure skies where she would add her own birds and fluffy clouds; an ordinary black and white page transformed into a brilliant wonder. We would try to imitate her technique, but could never quite master it.

We are all grown up now with children of our own, yet color and art are still a big part of each of our lives. We have planted the rich seed given to us at birth and watched it grow through the years. It has bloomed in many various ways in our homes and gardens, and made the view much more interesting and beautiful.

So when a child asks for a drawing or a picture to color, I give it willingly. Perhaps he or she will be the next Monet or DeVinci, and at the very least, they'll have a chance to color their own world, like my Mother did for me.


srp said...

This beautiful post brings back fond memories of coloring books and crayons from childhood. Nyssa always loved paints and sidewalk chalk. My brother and I drew pictures one Christmas and Mom had them put on glass plates for our grandmother. Now that she has passed we have them back.

Your words are always so descriptive, warm, and soothing. Thank you.

Spider Girl said...

What a lovely post!

I work with children and love to see children being creative with paints and pencils.

I've seen works by children that with the right matte and frame would be art fine enough to sell.

In fact, one year not long ago, a local elementary school held a fund-raising show and sold children's art. Some of it was exquisite. I bought some. :)

I wonder how many of these young artists are encouraged by their parents. Lots, I hope.

Pete Mitchell said...

Great to see that creativity is still being encouraged rather than plopping the kids in front of the latest video game.

McSwain said...

Beautiful! Is that one of your mom's paintings? The walls at my house are covered with my mom's paintings, my grandfather's photography, and now my son's first painting. Those things are grounding for me--they remind me of the people and places I come from, and that I can be an artist no matter where I am in my own life, because they were and are.

It's terrific that you're encouraging the kids you work with in this way! Not enough teachers do that, and the tremendous artistic potential of some kids goes urecognized and undeveloped.

martie said...

That is a lovely painting. I assume that is of you and done by your Mom. She is a very talented woman and it is easy to see where you get it from.

You are both blessed!

Rebecca said...

Excellent post Lori! And so very true...I love seeing the creations my son comes up with when he draws. I always make a big deal out of each and every drawing - my refrigerator is covered.

Macromoments said...

Lori, your posts always remind readers of a time & place in their own childhood, too. That's what I love about your writing.

Your mom was quite a talent. How nice that she influenced you in ways you probably didn't even realize back then. And now you're passing it on!

naive-no-more said...

Beautiful post Lori! I've always loved drawing and coloring and decided a few years ago to teach myself to paint.

I think that might be a good post for my blog in the future.