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:: different strokes for different folks ::

November 10, 2010

When it comes to my children’s painting styles the above statement could not be more true.  I had seen a great activity for hand print canvases on the blog Mom in Madison years ago and had been waiting for the right time to do them.  I kept putting it off and making excuses like being too busy, the kids were too little yet, yada yada yada.

I came across an old kit I had for transferring photos onto canvas while I was unpacking a few weeks back  It seemed like the perfect time to work on the craft as we are decorating the new house.  (For those wondering, I also found cheap canvases at Wal Mart, but they were not finished as nicely.  You could still use them and maybe glue some fun fabric along the sides to cover the staples).

Rather than deal with the calamity that ensues when I try to do a guided project with both children, I started with Ava.  I traced her little hand with pencil first, made adjustments to fix “a fat pinky” and then I sat back and observed.  I watched her studiously pore over the variations in colour that were available in the oil pastel box.  She carefully filled in each finger and the palm of her hand.  She held it up to measure a few times to make sure it was really the same.  After she finished colouring she added tiny details to the handprint ( a heart and swirl, in case you were wondering).  Then she sat back and admired her handiwork.  The sheer pride in her work beamed through in her smile.

After she had coloured her handprint she moved on to the watercolours.  Meticulously she dipped her brush.  Determined as she was not to allow the colours to mix, they eventually spilled into each other on her canvas. She was mildly irritated that the colours became something other than what she had envisioned, but she took it well. 🙂  Her whole artistic process was surprisingly silent; she hardly said two words until completion ( I KNOW! I’m thinking weekly painting projects are in order just to dull the chatter lol).

Once Ava was finished I sheperded Isaac to the table.  He was the deafening yin to Ava’s quiet yang.  Every colour available was EXCLAIMED! Red! Another red! Orange! Different orange! Look! See?  His drawing style was not what I had expected initially from a three year old.  Rather than jump enthusiastically into a blank canvas, so to speak, he speckled his handprint with tiny dots of colour.

Painting was the most enjoyable part of the project for Isaac.  Contrary to his sister he reveled in the fact that the colours would blend together.  Unfortunately for him, given the colour combinations of green, orange and blue, there weren’t many blending options except brown. Each stroke of paint was proclaimed by a “hi-ya!” or laser -gun “peyoo! peyoo!” By the end his canvas was a pool of paint and he was a satisfied little boy.

Creating is good for the soul, I believe.  It doesn’t matter what you’re making.  It can be a fluffy loaf of bread, a knit gift or colouring your hand print, there’s something about seeing your vision come to fruition that is fulfilling and…wholesome.  I feel like I am ‘more of me’ (if that makes any sense) after a project well done and I hope that my children feel the same way upon completion of their designs.

Several schools of thought (or educational philosophies, if you prefer) talk about handwork and the importance of it to the developing child.

Through the subject of handwork, children perfect movement of the hands, experience the joy of creating and are stimulated intellectually by the knowledge of important crafts and their use in many parts of the world. They are awakened to the appreciation of artistic values – color, line, pattern, texture and design. They are exposed to many artistic media and are taught the use and care of materials. They become keen observers of the world around them, and with practice become able to have their hands obey their will. Through this work, they derive a sense of their own value and achieve an inner glow of satisfaction.
Above excerpted from Montessori World Education Institute


So many key words in that single paragraph… joy…. awakened…sense of value….and my favourite, glow of satisfaction.  Those word alone are motivation enough to pick up the paintbrush again despite of the mess, the spills and the (sometimes) tears.  I saw my children glow with satisfaction.

“Joy is the feeling of grinning inside.”  ~Melba Colgrove

One Comment leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    November 10, 2010 6:31 pm

    I laughed, and then I smiled.

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