I’ve called this piece Number Three (for obvious reasons).
I wanted to play on the whole third child thing by using my wife’s preggo silhouette as the 3. That led to adding in the other kids, and then I felt left out so I added myself to it.
These three process shots, and the final image, show you some of my process. Redrawing, value studies and colour palette have become my standard for working, and usually come out successfully (it’s all relative).
Also – OMG!!!! NUMBER THREE!!!!!! I am so freaking excited and in love and happy-happy-happy. Life is amazing. 🙂 (Coming September 2018 – what is it about us and September? I’m the only one who wasn’t born in September!)
My family came over yesterday to celebrate Thanksgiving. It was raining, so we couldn’t eat outside like we’d hoped, and we couldn’t have a camp fire, like we’d hoped. But we did have a kitchen loaded with all of the best food, so we ate. It’s one of the things we do well.
During dinner, we shared our gratitudes. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you might know that Stephanie and I share our gratitudes on a nightly basis before we eat. When we have guests over, we sometimes ask them to share their gratitudes as well. At Thanksgiving, for the past three years, we have insisted that my parents, brothers and sister join in the fun. This has become a tradition, and the gratitudes have become so meaningful over the course of the few years we’ve done it. Something happens when you share a heartfelt gratitude with family: you reveal parts of yourself that may not be obvious on a daily basis.
And the most amazing thing happened. Kingsley has never has shown any understanding of this practice we do nightly – we always ask and he never responds, as if we never said anything to him in the first place. Sometimes, he says, “Yeah.” I expected that tonight.
Everyone was looking at him. He looked out to everyone, HUGE SMILE, and said very clearly:
“I’m grateful … for … supper!”
TEARS! I’m a mess! But it was AMAZING!!! (I mean, first of all a full sentence?! AND it made sentence and it was a legitimate, logical gratitude!!!!! I was in a state of shock. A state of love-filled, joyful, proud and excited shock.
And so from our weird, wonderful family to yours – Happy Thanksgiving.
So often we turn to Pinterest for ideas on what to do with our babies. That’s okay. That’s fine. I do it, too.
But … there’s more to life than crafts.
And there’s more to creativity than crafts. In most cases, crafting requires little to no creativity.
What’s the answer, then? How do we bring art to our children? I have ten ideas, in no particular order:
Finger paint. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. I loved doing this when I was little, and I still use the technique in some of my artwork now.
Chalk surfaces. We have an old coffee table that’s been repurposed with chalk paint. We also have several chalk boards. These are great ways to let Kingsley explore making marks without having a million pieces of paper around.
Take photos together. Tie in the art aspect by talking about things like the colors and shapes in the photos.
Show him or her artwork. When Kingsley was five days old, he came home. That night, I started to show him the paintings in his bedroom. Could he really see them? No, not really. Did he know what they were? Nope. But, by introducing these and continuously showing him the art, he started to show signs of interest and he was drawn to certain paintings as time went on, most likely based on the level of contrast in the artwork on the walls. We still spend time looking at art, photographs and exploring the pictures in books as pieces of art.
Read picture books. They have so many beautiful pieces of art, that they are really very affordable art galleries. Talk about this.
Play dough. Whether it’s the brand name stuff, or the home made stuff, digging into this is fun, not permanent, and stimulates so much thinking, problem solving, creative form making, and more.
Keep a Kid Sketch Book nearby. Kingsley loves my sketch books. He loves them so much that I have stopped using one of them as my own and let him scribble in it while I draw. Usually, we do this simultaneously and he sits on my lap. I talk to him about what I am doing, and I identify what he is doing.
Craft. WHAT!?!?! No, I’m not talking about the garbage that you see on Pinterest, that is pre-determined. I mean, find a bunch of craft supplies, and let them go to town. Kingsley isn’t there yet, but I am certain that we’re not far away from crafting creatively.
Color Code. This is a common play-based kindergarten approach, and it’s fabulous for a reason. Pick a colour, and then go on a hunt (WITH the kid, of course) for items that are this color. Create a 3D collage or even just a collection of all of these items that are the same color. If you make a collage, glue it together and put it up for a bit! If you make a collection (because you aren’t into gluing the table cloth onto a poster board), then take a photo, have it printed and add it an album of color collections!
Challenge your kid to be the person who creates the crafts, rather than the person who just makes their own version of the craft they saw a picture of.
You don’t need to limit ART to just crafts, or to just making. It’s about consumption and exposureas much as it is about creating.
My wife and I met at summer camp: I was the Program Director and she was a counsellor. After our second year working together, we fell in love and the rest is history. Seven years after that second round of camp, we were BEST friends and got married. One year later, we welcomed a new member into our club. We were overwhelmed in joy, love and excitement … but also, a bit of worry, and maybe some fear. What would happen to us now that we needed to share the love?
It’s really easy, with a baby, to become so distracted that you forget about the person you loved so much in the first place. We set our family culture up so that forgetting wouldn’t happen, and so that he could see love-in-action. We want him to see committed, respectful partners who collaborate on everything from keeping the house and yard maintained to making decisions about money; we want him to see us having fun and even disagreeing. If we are his first teachers, and we are his role models, then before he can speak, we want him knowing he is loved, and knowing that we love each other, too.
So how do we do this?
Here’s a brief list with some of the ways we set out to accomplish sharing the love:
Take date nights (or afternoons, or breakfasts, whatever) regularly, and talk about why it’s important
Give compliments: “That was an excellent meal, Mommy,” or “You’re so good at cleaning the bathroom, Daddy!” are two simple examples! (Ha!)
Give high fives
Avoid excess sarcasm (a little bit is fine, but not all the time … the way I see it, as a highly sarcastic person, is that my sarcasm needs to take a bit of a backseat while my baby learns how to be respectful, kind and loving! But from time to time, I can pepper in some heartfelt sarcasm, accompanied by a huge belly laugh!)
Share your passions: I share art and writing with Creative Mommy; she shares her sewing and knitting projects with me; we both share ideas about teaching together, all the while having these conversations with the kid in the room. In the photo above, we are sharing my passion and work with Kingsley as we set up my art in a local cafe. Rather than leaving him with a sitter, or home with Mommy, we just bring him along so that he can see us being people, and not just parents.
Sharing the love is a crucial part of raising a well-rounded person. It’s also key to staying happy, grounded and together as a family, as a couple and as a parent.
You had your baby with your best friend because you loved them so much you wanted a miniature version … don’t forget that as you shower the mini-me with just as much love!