How lucky I am…

Wednesday is Art Club day at school.

As 3.30pm approaches and I am preparing the room, moving tables and chairs, choosing music and building up to two hours of teaching, I am never quite sure what to expect and feel that delicious combination of nerves and excitement, reminding me that what I am about to do is both a challenge and something I love that means an awful lot for a number of reasons.

Some days, all goes well: I don’t lose my voice; great art is produced; everyone leaves with a smile.
Other days, I am faced with challenges: paint-splattered uniforms; lively mischief; tired, hungry kids.
And sometimes, I leave on a high: inspired by my students; proud of what has been achieved; thrilled by the possibilities.

Today was one of those days… an exhilarating day to remember.
Today, I walked out of school with a smile on my face, thinking HOW LUCKY I AM!
And as I walked, it struck me that some of the things that challenge me are also the things that excite me. I thought about the lively class; their voices raised in playful banter. I thought about the mess they made; the fun they had making it. I remembered the hug from the liveliest class member before he went home; his way of thanking me for the lesson he had so clearly enjoyed. I smiled as I thought about the conversation about art which I had shared with one of the students as he worked a little late, keen to finish what he had begun.

In class, as I tried to keep the volume down, my perspective shifted, in a moment, from frustration to elation… those were excited voices, the laughter and sounds I hear coming from my own children’s mouths as they anticipate some fun activity or outing.

As I tried to tame the mess, something changed in me and I chose to let it flow, to deal with it later, to let the experiments get a little out of hand… what else is art about if not pushing things further; taking things to the next level; playing freely with paint and paper and whatever else is at hand?

Watching the artworks unfold, I became more animated as I acknowledged that all that was happening was all that I wished for… the children were experimenting freely, playing, exploring, creating original works of art and feeling good about themselves, gaining confidence in their abilities and letting go of ideas of perfection.

How lucky I am…
To be working with a group of children who are lively, playful and open to new ideas.
How lucky I am…
To be learning from the children I am teaching; sharing my love of art and watching theirs grow.

Last week, on the boarded up wall of the classroom, we installed a hanging system – a simple hook and eye contraption on which I can display the work and cover the wall. Our art class is now becoming a gallery too… living with art is as important as creating it. I want these kids to share their art with pride.

I love to witness their first experiments with new techniques and see their joy as they realise they did well.
I love to 
see that pride as they spot one of their artworks on the gallery wall and show their parents what they have created.
I love to
watch their eyes light up as I tell them how brilliant they are, how original, how creative.

I love art and it is a privilege to share it.

How lucky I am.


Apple rainbow, soup man and fabulous friends

I am a little late posting tonight. I will miss my midnight deadline and missed posting yesterday as well. I am learning not to worry about the little things. I will do what I can when I can on this 30DC journey and remember why I embarked on the challenge in the first place… to bring the JOY of creativity back into my life. So… if it becomes anything less than a pleasure, I must stop.

Yesterday evening I had a good hour or so to focus on my art, but nothing was flowing, nothing became real. It was still fun, though slightly frustrating, so I just continued to play with no results to show, just a pile of images, arranged, rearranged and abandoned… put aside for the moment, to return to (or not) another day.

I no longer worry if I do not produce a finished piece at the end of each day, as long as I have made an effort to do something. This morning, smallest boy’s mind was thinking creatively as he sat with his healthy breakfast laid out on a plate in front of him. “Look Mum, it’s a rainbow,” he told me, looking at the way he had arranged the fruit in an arc on the edge of his plate.
The other food-related observation of the day came at lunch time when some of small son’s soup splattered onto the table. “Look Mum, it is a man and he has a bit of his arm missing.” I saw what he meant immediately. He is three. It made me smile and will be entered into my book of things my small son has done that made me smile“. I have such a book for my big son as well.
In downloading the photographs from my camera, I noticed that he had taken a sneaky photograph of me whilst I sat at the top of the stairs giving a friend advice on the phone about which art materials to buy for her son’s 8th Birthday, at the same time cooking up plans for future workshops in my head, the ideas flowing as we talked about easels and art boxes, brushes and paints.
I do love it when the boys pick up my camera and start snapping as I used to love doing with my own little camera as a kid. I love seeing things through their eyes, looking at the world from a different (usually lower) angle. I liked this picture as it captures the slightly chaotic, informal feel of our little home. I was pleased to see that he had taken a few pictures of his brother as well and tried his hand, once again, at self-portraiture.

This evening, three of my fabulous friends came over. We all have children of the same age, are all creative in our own separate ways, and once in a while find that getting together for a drink and a chat and a spot of making is just what we need. So tonight, the tea was flowing, the honey sweets and chocolates were consumed, the news was shared and the evening passed with each of us working on our own individual projects, inspiring each other to create and sharing life’s latest trials and triumphs. For me, this is one of the very best ways to spend an evening. Every artistic Mum should gather together a group of friends to share and create with… at least once a month. It is good for the art, good for the soul. There is no pressure. Sometimes one of us will make more tea than art or pass an hour of the evening flicking through a fascinating new craft magazine, but it does not matter… it is about being creative friends together, supporting and encouraging each other to do the things we love.

I was not sure what to do, so chose to play. Setting out with no outcome in mind seems to work better for me on some days than others. At times, when I have an idea in mind, know what I would like a piece to look like when completed, I feel disappointed by the result. The opposite can also be true… I can start out with no idea where I am going and end up producing something I had never envisaged and be pleased with the result.

Tonight, I played with cotton buds dipped in white ink, dancing them over black paper. After a couple of smaller patterned pieces, I worked on an A5 sheet, again drawing with white ink on a cotton bud, cutting wiggly lines from an old book, sticking them down, then drawing on top with a black wax crayon and adding some more wiggly lines of tissue paper to the piece. I was both surprised and happy with the result. It was like nothing I had ever created before, but I may one day attempt to make something similar again.