Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Hidden Art of Homemaking - Chapter 4

Painting, Sketching, Sculpting
Hearing these words conjures up images in my mind of the quiet artist, easel standing at attention, paintbrush poised. Or pad and pencil in hand, waiting quietly for the shadows to fall just so, in order to catch the view in the perfect light. Or up to the elbows dirty, messy with clay-mud. Professionals. Amazing talent. Not like me.

a sketch by my Caitlin-girl
But if I am created in the image of the Creator, well then, maybe there is a hint of that talent hidden somewhere deep. Or not so deep. Have I explored the possibilities? Tried my hand at mixing colors on the canvas? Shading in pieces of fruit or outlining spring flowers in a journal? How fun and freeing it must be to play in the 'mud', just because.

I remember as a girl, maybe 14 years old or so, I picked up the T.V. Guide and came across an advertisement that proclaimed "If you can draw this little doggie, you, too, can take our art school correspondence course!" (or something to that effect). I did it. I drew that little doggie. Not half-bad, either. I sent it in to be critiqued. They responded with note (probably form letter) that said "Good Job!" and enclosed another exercise. This one was a bit more difficult. And you know, they like that one too. I could just keep right on going. For a price.

I was left discouraged. "What if I'm not any good. They only want me for my money. Thousands of people send these things in and mine isn't really any better than most anyone else." I saw obstacles and so I did not pursue.

Whoa, this is turning into a sad and pitiful story! Not really. I never did attend art school, but that little pat on the back I received all those years ago motivated me to pick up paper and pencil from time to time. I've tried my hand at a little painting and I thoroughly enjoy a good crafting project. I'm no professional artist, but I do enjoy 'creating'. You will not see any of my creations in a museum, but they bring joy to those I share them with. There is something fulfilling and enriching and healing when using your own hands to bring to life your own ideas that flowed from your own mind, your own heart, your own soul. 

Now, what about REAL art? You know. Those paintings that hang in the Louvre. Masterpieces by DaVinci and Michelangelo and Degas and Monet and Van Gogh. How do we discover, enjoy, experience these forms of art in our home?

Living way out in the country and having a large family does make it more difficult to see great works of art in person - add up the cost of 8 or 10 tickets to a major art exhibit. We have, on occasion, traveled a ways to see something like a display of Van Gogh paintings, making sure we showed up on Free Admission day. The nearby University also has museums open to the public. These make for wonderful family or homeschool field trips. The are beautiful books available at the local library we can browse through. Now with internet available, we can research any artist and his works in the comfort of our own homes.
'The Artist's Son' by Rembrandt, our current Painting of the Week

 This year I have been using a set of cards showing examples of paintings by famous painters. Every few weeks I pull out a new one, the kids and I discuss the painting, the artist, his life, the subject and medium. I leave it posted where everyone can view it as they pass by. It becomes familiar to them that way.

Young ones LOVE to create, explore with different mediums, show what they've made. This week my girls layered 'melty beads' into an oven-proof bowl and created a dish to hold jewelry and trinkets. A gift for a friend. (You can find the instructions here.)

The two younger boys wanted to make a gift for another friend who is really 'into' legos. I demonstrated for them how they could use basic shapes and draw a pretty good likeness of a lego-man. They applied the lesson and produced a unique and personal gift, signed and dated just like the 'masters' would have done.

With Spring on the way, we are looking forward to starting nature journals as we get outdoors more. We'll draw what we see. The more we do, the better we'll get, the easier it will be, and the less intimidated we will become.

Adding your own personal style and flourish to a handwritten note will brighten the receiver's day. Drawing a tiny illustration on a shopping list, or a swath of color to the day's to-do list will bring a smile to the face of the one carrying out the otherwise mundane task. Long ago I made out little chore cards for my kids and added my own amateuristic images for the ones who could not read. All grown up now, they still enjoy those little doodles. Even stick figures can be drawn to illustrate your ideas. A fun and personal way to engage your children in storytelling.

Beatrix Potter's classic stories came about from letters she wrote to a young boy - can you imagine how alive those letters must have been, with her beautiful watercolor illustrations and sketches?

Looking back at the length of this post, you can see this chapter is one close to my heart. You'd think there would be 'art' seen all over the place. Or that we would have a pencil or paintbrush in hand all the time. I've sadly negleted this form of expression, but we are working a 'doing' a little each day. It really does enrich our lives!

I'm linking this up over at My Homey Haven.


  1. I love how this week's chapter was incorporated into your weekly activities. I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

  2. What a great peek into how you've brought art into your daily activities!
    We've done some nature journaling as well, and I'm so happy that the weather is warming up and we can get back to it!


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