Monday, April 16, 2012

Kids and Art

Ellis and I do a lot of art together.

But I must admit, I frequently have much angst over it all. My angst exists on many levels.

1.  He is not interested in making his art "beautiful".

2.  He wants to do it as fast as possible and be done with it.

3.  He just wants to ruin the art supplies or our house or his clothes.

4.  When he mixes paints, he always wants to mix to brown.  ARGH!

5.  He's way more engaged by packaged crafts--crappy projects from Joanns--rather than inspired by the high-quality art supplies that I make available.

Spiderman mask colored entirely red, requiring no imagination whatsoever.
scrapbooking stickers, torn apart and stuck on paper as fast as possible.
Spiderman mask, backwards.
6.  I'm an artist!  Why doesn't he want to make careful art with me???

This post by Crappy Pictures is a pretty good representation of the way an art session goes at our house.

I get frustrated.  It troubles me.  What if I wreck art for him forever by being this crazy art mom?  I can picture him, years from now, in some accounting job, free of art, lamenting the number of times I suggested he try a different color or, perhaps, put more than one crayon mark on a single page.

Sometimes I succeed in detaching from the process and letting him just be, just experience the materials, which is what I know it should be about at this stage.  But it's so hard.  He wants to break the crayons.  And waste paper (but is it wasted if he's "doing art"?)  He wants to tear the stamps off of their bases and use the bases for blocks.  He wants to dump the paint and suck on the paintbrushes.  Death by art.  He wants to cut my tablecloths.  (He has cut my awesome oilcloth tablecloth, my vintage strawberry tablecloth, art I've made, and special books of mine.  Why, oh, why did I teach him to use scissors and then leave the scissors all over the house?)

Finally, it's not fun.  Man, I really thought this parenting gig was going to be way more fun, like pure fun without all of this analysis and second guessing.  Why can't we just hang out and make things and get lost in the beauty of that?

Here, of course, I'm falling into the trap of imagining some idealized vision and not living in the reality of my life.  Frankly, my life is pretty sweet.  I get to hang out with a really interesting human all day, everyday.  Except for two hours a day when he goes to school and I get to do whatever I want to do.

Yeah.  These are probably the right problems to have.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Catching Up

I wish I could say I was feeling all the way better.  I'm not yet, but I do have more energy.  Today I took advantage of that energy and checked a few things off of the to do list.

Made Lavender Body Wash for all of us.  (These pictures are all pretty dark; it's a rainy day in Chicago.)

Made vegetable broth from scraps.

Cleaned out the fridge. (This isn't my fridge.  Even clean, it's too gross to photograph very well.)

Gave the kitchen a long-overdue cleaning.  Unfortunately, the above projects messed it right back up again.

Painted a frame Gypsy Pink, the world's greatest color.  If I could, I'd paint everything I own in it.

I also picked up the dining room.  That room still bugs me.  I don't think I've ever had a dining room that really worked.  They always end up being giant catch-alls for everything else.  Personally, mine is just a big old mess.  Our best dining room was just a section of our living room in our last apartment.  Definitely the most successful.  Too bad Chicago architects were heavy into dining rooms back in the day.  So I keep picking it up and it keeps on just getting messy again.

On the arts and crafts front, I crocheted a quick cotton washcloth, inspired by this but way quicker and cheaper.

I'm working on a few other things, but don't have good pictures yet.  I'm particularly excited about designing my own garden journal.  It totally makes up for the fact that I'm having real trouble finding an affordable local source of organic soil.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

So, remember when I kept saying I just couldn't get healthy?  Turns out I had a little pneumonia.  I am on antibiotics now, so hopefully I'll feel better soon.

A few more Easter pics until I get my full blogging power back.

Lotion for my in-laws for Easter:

A tulip for the Easter egg hunt.

Monday, April 9, 2012


For the first time, we dyed eggs using natural dyes.

We'll definitely do this again.

In other Easter news, Ellis got a haircut and dressed himself.

He also got a chocolate bunny.

And blew some bubbles.

And Sarah made a fruit and vegetable rainbow.

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday!

Friday, April 6, 2012


The last few days have been about more work in progress, mostly using tracing paper and Sulky transfer pens to transfer my drawings onto a fabric collage background.  I love this technique.  It's so versatile and allows me to get the image in just the right spot.  When I sketch directly onto the fabric, there's not much room for error.  With the tracing paper, I can move the design around until I'm satisfied with it.

This piece is a collage of typical embroidery motifs, reinterpreted by me.  The theme I'm working with is theft, so "borrowing" and/or reinterpreting makes a kind of sense to me.

Ellis got into the game, too.  He's a little rough with the pens, in my opinion, but he did end up with a lovely piece.

On the emotional side, I am struggling a lot with doing art when there's parenting to be done.  I feel so guilty letting Sarah solo parent while I'm right there, just playing around and drawing.  I mean, how lazy is that?  At the same time, I know I need to do something besides parent.  So there's this tug-of-war going on inside me nearly all the time.  When the work isn't going well, I feel even worse.  I spent time away from my family to make this ugly thing?  How dare I?

I know most (all?) moms struggle with finding balance.  I imagine this will be an ongoing journey.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ellis at Work

Ellis has been working on a few art pieces of his own.

And photographing them.

My sewing table tree is back, fully foliaged.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Mama's Reward

I remember picking them as a kid and presenting them to my mom like treasure.

Wildflowers are a beautiful thing.  A child's right of passage.  And a mother's.

Figuring It Out

Working on the new piece.  Breaking new ground, I think.  As you know, I've been struggling with and against my drawing skills.  I've broken through a mental block about it with regard to flowers and what have you, but people are another story.  I don't love my drawings of people.  They don't represent in the way I want them to.  But I'm trying.  I'm sure that, like everything, practice is a factor.  And, although I hate producing sub-standard work, I do need to practice.  Here goes.

This image was drawn in pencil in my journal.  Then redrawn on regular paper.  Then traced in pencil onto tracing paper.  Then traced with Sulky transfer pens, then ironed onto cloth, then stitched.

I wanted the end result to be far more detailed, but here we are.  If I don't think about what I wish it looked like, I must confess, it's perfectly acceptable.  It's clearly the back of a girl.  And FYI, don't google "girl from behind" to find images to work from.  You'll just end up looking at a lot of porn.

In any case, I'm not sure how to close the distance between my dreams and reality.  I suppose that's the human condition, really.