Happy Summer to my northern hemisphere audiences!
This week was a great one for me! I have sold several large paintings and received new boards to start my next pieces for my emerging "Beasts" series to be shown in a solo show in Worcester, MA in the fall. The highlight of my week, however was outside my studio. I was the guest artist in a local fourth grade teacher's classroom. I was asked to come in to meet the students who had used my paintings as writing prompts for the most imaginative stories I could ever imagine!
Earlier in the year "Mrs. V" had put this image before her class and asked them to write a story to go along with this illustration of mine. She sent me their stories. What a treat it was for me to read them! There were stories of snow storms and bicycle wheels falling from the sky...children running away from home to join the circus and becoming sick on the ferris wheel. This spring she asked the children to get inspiration from my rhino painting, "Garumba" and the results were hilarious!
All the stories are varied and original. One of my favorites involved a poor young rhino that was made to wear an ugly sweater by his mother. I'm sure this story was inspired by experience!
My visit to their classroom was two hours of pure happiness for me! I was able to meet all these young authors first-hand and to introduce myself and answer their questions about my art. I was also able to share a bit of my technique of using tissue paper in my work. The kids all created a drawing in pencil and crayon/oil pastel of their own gum drop hills with scenes that reflected their interests and fantasies. The variation was astounding! Baseball fields, castles and elaborate villages were lovingly planned and created. I explained the "happy accident" nature of drawing on the tissue paper, ripping it randomly and placing it strategically on the surface of the piece. They really got into it and stayed focused throughout the entire two hours.
This reaction to my work was overwhelming on the satisfaction meter! Storytelling is an integral piece in my brand. I want viewers to create stories about the pieces and it's characters when they look at my work. I want the viewer's imagination and memories to be sparked and wooed as they live with a piece. To witness first-hand the stories generated by young people's experience with the work was priceless to me.
And it got me thinking....
- parents and teachers used original art to spark writing prompts more often in their classrooms and homes? Not posters or a photograph on the screen. But, real, live, original art. There is something about the energy, the magic that comes off of an original piece of art that ramps up imagination.
- Could they take their students and children to an art museum or sculpture park and let them choose a sculpture or painting to sit and write a story or poem about? Could they then go back to the classroom or home and make an original piece of art inspired by what they saw? I see my local art museum utilize their collection all the time with students who take art classes at the museum and the results are amazing! Could they ask a local artist to bring in a piece to share live with a class?
- could I create small, portable pieces or original art that present characters that could spark writing projects for children during summer vacation times? These pieces could be affordable and collectable. Maybe they would spark inspiration in young artists to start their own small illustrations to be traded with friends? So, I did that! Listed here in my Etsy shop
If you are inspired by this idea of using original art to spark writing in your child please share your story with us here! I would love to see any photos of the art the children create as well! I am so excited at the thought of hundreds of little artists and authors creating this summer! Art in the public school curriculum too often gets cut or pushed to the bottom of the priority bin and this effects the experience of every child negatively. If we do not have creative thinking in every aspect of our children's learning, how will they prove to be the problem solvers of tomorrow?