Art and the Holidays

Dec. 31, 2015

While I’ve been too busy to paint during the holidays, art continues to be a part of my life.  And I’ve been learning about a new form that may or may not be something I would consider art.  We had a big gathering of relatives here to celebrate Christmas with lots of presents under the tree.  Among those were crayons, magic markers and paper for a three year old and a big set of art supplies and sketchbooks for an 11 year old.  Both these gifts were requested by their moms and I think it’s great when parents want to encourage creativity in their children.

But then I listened to what several adult women had to say about a new activity for adults, adult coloring books.  One had received a book as a gift and had tried it and enjoyed it.  Another, who has done some creative art, is buying the books for herself as a form of relaxation after a day on the job.  A young woman who works at a senior care facility said a woman of very advanced age who lived in the facility spent many happy hours with such books.

I don’t know what to make of this.  It is true that these books are nothing like the coloring books children used to use.  The adult version features intricate abstract designs that are filled in with colored pencils.  Is this a creative activity?  I suppose some would say so.  I’m not against people following patterns.  Women who sew, quilt, knit or crochet have been doing that for many years and create attractive, creative and useful items.  But what does one do with a completed page in a coloring book?  Another thought.  While both men and women pursue various forms of the arts, I can’t imagine a man using an adult coloring book.  But I’ll try to keep an open mind even though I won’t be buying one for myself.



Technique vs Inspiration

November 17, 2013

Recently my 11-year-old grandson asked if he could come over and paint so we arranged a time on a day when he didn’t have school.  I haven’t had much experience teaching art and wasn’t quite sure what he had in mind.  I showed him some pastels and watercolor paint as kids are often familiar with those but that was not what he wanted.  He wanted to use the same paints I do, which are acrylics.  We looked at my stash of canvases and he chose a 14″ x 18″ one.

Next came deciding what to paint.  It was too cold to paint outside.  Since I like to look at what I am painting I suggested he might like to paint a still life.  I don’t think he had ever heard of that but I opened the refrigerator and he picked out some grapes, oranges and apples plus two bananas off the counter.  I found a white bowl and we were ready to begin.  I explained that he should paint the background first.  He was surprised at that but was willing to go along with that idea.  I asked him to draw a line where the table would be and then choose colors for the table and background and paint those before drawing the fruit.  Soon he had painted a pale blue background and a dark brown table.

Fortunately acrylics dry fast and I helped it along with a hairdryer.  He had put the fruit in the bowl.  I gave him a piece of charcoal to draw what he wanted to paint.  I explained about the top of the bowl being an oval rather than a straight line and he was willing to accept that.  The grapes proved too hard to draw so he eliminated them and added a second banana.  He listened when I suggested that perhaps he had drawn to bananas too thin.  Charcoal is easy to remove and he had soon drawn two very good looking banana shapes.

I asked him to look at the apples and notice that they were not totally red but had some yellow streaks in them.  He tried that, didn’t like the result and from then on concentrated on inspiration.  The two red apples became flat shapes, one red and one green.  The oranges and bananas became flat shapes too sitting in a white bowl.   Then inspiration really took over.  The bowl developed black spots.  The bowl and each piece of fruit was outlined in black.  The result was rather striking actually.  But then came the final touch.  Above the bowl he painted a pink pig with wings.  Now where did that come from?  There is a commercial where the phrase, “When pigs fly,” is used but in that commercial the pig sits in an airplane seat.

He was pleased with his painting and wanted to frame it.  So I took a frame off one of my paintings and we framed his creation.  Then I drove him and his painting home to show his mom.  I wonder where she hung it.


A Special Gift

An Awesome Night

An Awesome Night

When we had our family’s Christmas celebration recently, one of my grandsons ran up to me as soon as he was in the door and handed me a painting he had done and told me it was my Christmas present.  This was obviously an abstract painting, not usually my style.  But I saw an idea in the painting immediately (not necessarily what he had in mind).  With the bold strokes of gold, white and brown against a black background I saw in it an idea of what the sky on that first Christmas night must have looked like.

But having a more realistic approach to art, I wanted to make its meaning more clear.  So when I had time I looked through the Christmas cards I had received last year (I keep them a year to see who sent cards to me) and the cards we had received this year and found two images in the right colors that I liked, that of an angel and the three wise men.  I also found the word “peace” attached to one of the cards.

First I found a gold frame with glass among my stash of frames and cut the painting to fit it.  I cut out the angel with a scissors.  Cutting out the wise men was more difficult, but an exacto knife helped.  Then using a glue stick I attached them to the painting along with the word “Peace.”  When I decorate for the Christmas season next year, that painting will be hanging in my dining room.