Gifts, Emotions, and a Chocolate Box

I meant this to be a simple and quick little post about thinking outside the box when it comes to art supplies.  But right around the time I set my daughter up to paint outside, I received this amazing present from my friend in Alaska, so I have to share about that too.


Isn't this the prettiest little work of art ever?  It is exactly what I like.  A little bit of glitter and a little bit of dirt (not to say that this looks like dirt, I just can't think of a more eloquent way to describe the grungy antiquey brown look).  I really like the look of putting things together that seem like opposites, but end up making great art.  Like complimentary colors – exact opposites on the color wheel, but the most complimentary.

I was sitting here ruminating today on how many different emotions I go through on a regular day, every day.  I don't know if it is my life in particular (because we truly are on quite a roller coaster right now), or if this is just the way it is when you're in your 30s.  I dunno.  I woke up (literally) this morning to a violent autistic meltdown, have spent the afternoon feeling very blessed and grateful, with a lot of different things inbetween – and there's still hours left before bedtime!


Anyway, back to the original idea of my post.  My business name is Our Backyard Studio quite literally because almost every time the weather permits, at least one person in our household is creating art outside.  When it is The Girl, I simply lay down a few tarps, put her in some grub clothes, and let her go for it.


I am always trying to think as economically as possible when it comes to art.  I firmly believe that no one's desire or ability to make art should be hampered by concerns over cost of supplies.  There are a lot of wonderful art supplies out there on the market, many of which I have purchased.  But there's also a LOT of alternative supplies that cost little to nothing.


Take this paint palette for example.  It is my favorite!  It is the plastic insert from a box of chocolates.  I was about to throw it away when I realized those little divots are perfect for paint!  They are a little bigger than the white palettes you can get at the art supply store (better for mixing colors, or holding more paint for larger projects), plus there are a ton more on here.  Way to recycle!! 🙂


She is painting a wooden box that a friend gave to me about a billion years ago before we all had children – it was used for gift boxes at Starbucks, and these were extra.  I figure it will make a great shadow box or little display shelf.  She is painting it now as I type, so it'll be interesting to see how it looks when I'm done.  I always let her choose her own paints, and she's working today with red, burgundy, white, glittery silver, lime green, glittery teal, cobalt blue, and lavender.  As always, she was very deliberate in her choosing of her colors, and I just let her go with it.


Look at that great palette!  Have you ever used (or thought of using) random things from around your house in your art?  What kinds of things?

P.S.  I'll leave you with this last image, so characteristic of The Girl.  Wearing her brother's old (OLD) clothes, sunglasses from her super-girly auntie, swim shoes, and a hair-do a friend arranged 3 days ago.


Yep, that's her.

Child’s Play


(She is ready to paint!)

One thing I learned in the last couple months is that my girl loves to paint.  I try not to push art on my children – it is more that I encourage creative thinking, and try to provide as many supplies as possible for them to experiment with.  While our boy has been creating for a while (he's almost 8), I only introduced our girl to the wonders of paint this winter (she's 3).  She LOVES it.  Like, far more than I expected.  Apparently she's been watching me for a bit, because I saw her doing things in her first painting session that I always do.  


(I always let The Girl choose her own color palette)

I haven't really taught either child to do anything technical or specific so far, I've mostly just provided the materials, helped prevent permanent staining on clothing or furniture, and otherwise let them go to town.  The Boy leans more toward intricate, controlled, elaborate drawing.  The Girl, on the other hand, is clearly in to passionate, messy, all-over-the-canvas abstract art.  


(This is her art book)

It is fascinating to watch both of them – It has perhaps been my highest form of art education, watching the minds, hearts, and hands of my children as they create.  I have already shared some of this on facebook, I think I'll have to share more of this on my blog as soon as I can get some better photos…..


(This is what her paint palette always looks like after painting session – she usually uses up all the paint she is given)



Routine is great for toddlers.  But it is great for me too.  I have a certain list of things that I must do each day – whether it be 5 minutes or an hour, some time must be spent each day on these things.  I have learned this about myself.  If I devote some of my time an attention to this list of things every day, my life is just…better.  It is a simple list, the items sort of no-brainers.  Dishes.  Laundry.  Play with Ben.  Life is all about balance, and I'm still figuring out what all I need to be making time for.


Creative play is one of those things I have been sorely neglecting over the past several years.  Now that I have an impressionable little boy toddling around after me, copying what I do, I pay a lot more attention to what it is I do and don't do.  I have always wanted to encourage creativity in my children, whenever I had them.  My problem is that I often make things too complicated, so then I never do anything.


But I decided you don't have to spent a couple hours on a painting in order to be creative.  Maybe you doodle for 5 minutes in your journal.  Maybe you nap a photo of the perfect summer Poppy.  Maybe you bake a cake from scratch, or look differently at some mundane daily item and see something else in it.  That kind of thing I can do every day.


I loved school.  LOVED it.  You sit there and drink in new things, think about them, apply them, practice them.  But I loved getting assignments.  I wanted to see how far off track I could get while still working within the boundries of the assignment.  What could I come up with that no one else would?  It gave me direction, and I always came up with something.  When I graduated, that all went away, and I miss it.

Just for the fun of it, one day I asked my facebook friends to give me some words.  I didn't tell anyone what they were for, I just wanted some random words.  And they gave me some great ones!  It is my personal random word generator.  Now we see what I come up with.


I started with what I considered one of the most easy and fun words of all:  candy!  (Thanks Kara!).  I love LOVE candy.  I love to eat it, I love the wrapping, I love the colors.  I could spend days making art around candy (or just eating it).  But, all I really did was just sketch in my journal late one night after Ben had gone to bed.  Really I just need to exercise my left brain, not create dramatic frameable works of art. So I pulled out my mechanical pencil and my favorite little sparkle paints (very hard to photograph, by the way), and just played.


So then, I'd have to say I'm happy with what I did.  It was fun!  And really, that is kind of the point…