Art Camp Virgin           

5 07 2017

Today, I went to summer camp. 

 I am sixty-three years old and this was my first time.

Let me clarify a few things:

                I was allowed to go to camp when I was a kid; I did not WANT to go to camp, so I didn’t.

                I like to work alone in my studio.  I am not a “painting party” kind of girl.

                When I am invited to an event, my instinct is always to decline.

So, how did today happen?

A woman I know – let’s call her Connie (because that’s her name) – has seven of the most amazing grandchildren on the planet.  These kids range from three to nineteen years old and have wildly different personalities and interests.  They all, for some reason I don’t understand but am ever grateful however, like me, even calling me Aunt Paula.  I feel like I hit the jackpot!

Well, every Wednesday, Connie has all the grands at her house for art and craft day and I was invited to join them.  My usual reluctance to leave my house made a momentary appearance and then evaporated at the thought of seeing all those great kids.

So, I went.

We all had a wonderful time pouring specially mixed paints onto canvases and making them do cool and pretty things by attacking them with butane torches – it was high drama with laughs and oohs and aahs (and dirty fingers and stained clothes).  We enjoyed a spectacular grandkid-dy lunch of grilled burgers and hot dogs and French fries, seasoned with many more laughs. When it was time for me to go, the hugs from those kids were like a tonic for my spirit.

I did not realize just how much my heart needed to be lifted until they did it.

Sometimes, other people see our needs more clearly than we do.  We call those people friends.  Thank you, my friends.  I do not take one moment of your affection for granted.  What a treasure. What a gift. Thank you.

By the youngest artist in the bunch. Pretty darned nice for a three-year-old (with some big kid help).

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Share and Share A Like, Wait a Love

3 09 2014

It’s the time of the year when being out “in nature” is appealing, even to the normally non-outdoorsy types. (Note: there are some folks, like the man I married, who are militantly anti-outdoor; I’m not talking about his kind.) The gentler angle of the September sun, a bit less heat and humidity, and the fact that the kids have been cooped up in school for a few days conspire to get people out of their houses and into the woods – or the park, at least.

The appearance of these nature novices can be alarming to the true lovers of the forest,  soul mates of the trees, friends of the little creatures of nature;  and they can be startled – and annoyed – by the presence of interlopers who do not properly revere the sanctity of Nature   .  .  .  (Insert derisive snort, here.)

This person summed it up, albeit rather gentler than some:

The field was quiet and empty, the lovely sounds of the babbling creek, birds softly chirping……………Then comes the Loud Family. “Linus stop that, Sissy don’t eat THAT. Come here, come here, come here, now! Where did you drop the ball? Put THAT down, yuck!!!…………………” Ah yes a beautiful day at the creek.

I get it.  I understand the desire for a quiet visit with a favorite brook, tree, or rock.  Yes, there are noises that can take out of the moment, BUT – and this might be shocking news – children are little creatures of nature, too.

It is hard for kids to learn how to appreciate nature, especially if their parents spend most of their energy scolding the exuberance out of them.  While we crave the peace and sanctuary that it offers, we must remember that it is critical for kids to learn to truly love the beauty of nature. If we don’t share nicely – if we jealously guard our “peace and quiet” – when we are gone, so will be the wilderness  .  .  .  because no one will have learned to care. No one will have been raised up to love Nature as we do.

Ooooh . . . listen. Is that the sound of the suburban pre-school warbler   How beautiful to see one in a wild habitat!

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Teach Your Children Well

24 07 2013

WARNING: This one disturbs me. Prepare for unexpurgated response to the raising of my personal ethics hackles.

7-24-13

Found this in my Facebook newsfeed today, surprising me that it had been shared by someone I did not think was a “spare the rod” kind of person.  There are a few things to which I take exception (euphemism for “piss me off”) in this little statement.

I know this will not be a heartily embraced position, but I am old enough to know that sometimes, being right does not guarantee being liked and I accept that.

There’s no reason to commit violence, except when the alternative is grave injury to one’s self or someone else who is defenseless against attack.   If you hit me for any other reason, you’ll go to jail for assault.  In whose right mind is it more acceptable to hit a child?  If a person – a child, for example – is not able to understand the consequences of a behavior, or is even too young to control their behavior (brain science is all over this), what makes anybody think that hitting that individual will teach them anything except that hitting is an acceptable way to show disapproval?

Kids who are hit learn to hit. Sure, they modify their behavior around the person who hit them – they learn not to get caught.  They don’t learn anything about why their behavior is unacceptable. They don’t learn how to make better decisions later. They don’t learn to respect themselves. They learn to be sneaky or afraid. Neither of those traits will help them be productive happy adults.

So much for the first part of the story – Don’t advocate violence against children.

Now for that pesky idea about needing to teach kids respect by hitting them . . . if you believe this, I, a full-grown adult person with an AARP card and gray hair, will most certainly NOT respect you.

Respect is due to those who show respect to others.  Respect is to be earned, not bestowed.

I believe that some of us do nothing to deserve respect from anyone, including our children. How many parents behave respectfully toward each other?  What is the reality for families in today’s society? Kids learn what their parents show them.  Kids need to be shown respect – self-respect and respect of others.

I heartily endorse more respect from and for all of us.





A Touching Story

28 11 2012

“Don’t touch!”  hissed the mom of the two little boys who were reaching for one of my enamels at my last show of this year.  I’d heard her utter the same admonition all the way down my aisle. Adults freely touch works of fine craft; I believe children should be afforded a similar show experience. If they are dragged along with a parent, they should have some take-away, other than being told to keep their hands to themselves.

Smiling at the mom, I immediately took down one of my enamels, got down on one knee – eyeball height to my young visitors – and said, “Would you like to touch this?  It is made of metal coated with glass.”  The boys each very gently touched the piece. They then asked about one of my more elaborate works, which I explained was very fragile.  I removed the work from the booth wall and, as one reached out a single finger, he said, “This is valuable!”

As if that comment did not just knock my socks off, a few steps out of my booth, the older boy, who looked to be about five, turned to me and said, “I thought this was going to be boring, but it’s really COOL!”  I felt like I’d won a prize.  Actually, I did.  By taking a minute to talk with those children and to let them experience my work on a level they could understand, I was rewarded with genuine interest and happy smiles from two little boys.

Parents, please teach your children how to handle fragile, valuable objects – your home decorating options will increase the more your little ones understand about the beautiful objects around them. Seek out opportunities for them to interact with artisans and artists about handmade works.

Artists, please be sure to have some work (or tool or raw material within your easy reach to share (let them handle) with children who visit your booth at shows.  We want people to appreciate the fine quality and craftsmanship of our work – that means we need to let folks touch stuff.  Children will learn to love art and craft if they are engaged and respected by us. Reach out and (let them) touch.