"When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but also helps us to develop inner happiness and peace."
-the 14th Dalai Lama (1935)
I arose as usual around 5:00 am... and headed to the kitchen to begin my morning ritual of rising... with a push of the button on the coffee maker at-the-ready. It was then... at that moment that I suddenly realized that summer was on the move. Less light! Yes ... the calendar should have provided that information for me, but I am a strange creature more governed by light and natural phenomena around me than by an inanimate time piece, or man made calendar. I respond to the amount of daylight... more like the birds, chipmunks and squirrels who wait together en masse on our deck and in our yard at 5:35 am for my daily "shell out".
In truth, I have been away from my painting and writing here on this blog. I have been drawn to perform other duties (and pleasures) that quite simply have eroded my painting routine. Yes... I feel edgy and uncomfortable because both are important to me spiritually. But sometimes... life demands choices which are not governed by one's own wishes... or regular routines. One must simply "go with the flow" and try to put a positive spin on things ... until things return to a normal rhythm and routine.
Kidz Art- Session One
On Monday and Tuesday this past week, I agreed to assist Deb in offering a painting class for camping kids at nearby Landon's Bay Campground. Deb acts as treasurer for FAB (The Frontenac Arch Biosphere)... a not-for-profit group of hard-working individuals dedicated to implementing strategies and programmes within this UNESCO - designated World Heritage Site. Their major objectives focus upon ensuring the sustainability... health and monitored economic development of the Biosphere through developing and encouraging stewardship of its many resources. One of these many initiatives are educational outreach programmes like this Art for Kids venture which we were part of during this week. The ideal is to promote stewardship and a sense of respect for the environment. Deb and I share a common belief... that children are the most sensitive and most willing individuals of our society to embrace the possibility of change and will be the most likely advocates in the future to facilitate necessary, but sustainable change.
We decided to incorporate a brief introduction which was delivered effectively by Deb... based upon establishing a sic, but clear understanding of what the "biosphere" that we live in entails. She then expanded this awareness into a breakdown of the biosphere's main elements: Habitats i.e water... air and land... which support life in the form of flora and fauna. We had the twenty-odd scamper campers share some information about any animals, birds and plants that they knew and had encountered in their life experience.
Deb's leads into presenting her group presentation to develop an understanding for the Frontenac Arch Biosphere... using her stained glass piece "Big Blue... Fishing"
At this point, enter the art connection. I introduced colour theory and mixing based upon primary colours, plus added white and black. We had raised the bar a bit ... offering them an unfamiliar medium.... acrylics and canvas to work with. A challenging task certainly... but one, which in a fashion mimicked their own individual challenge to overcome the environmental issues facing all of us.
Art as a powerful vehicle to express personal ideas and feelings... not just an activity... "for fun. Note the heads. This is summer?????... but Art is a universal bridge for communication... any time... anywhere and with with anyone!
We then had them draw a number from a hat... a number which would correspond to a 6 x10 inch coloured photo image that I had prepared. This would be their painting subject for the acrylic-on-canvas activity that we had planned. No one complained about their "luck 'o the draw."
Despite the wide range in their ages (from 5 to 12 years)... everyone stepped into the activity willingly and with high spirits. Occasionally, with the smaller campers, Deb and I were summoned to offer support. But all reached a successful finish by the conclusion of the two-hour session. I have included some samples to offer you insight into the very admirable results they achieved. Great learning had been achieved in a relatively sort period of time and with minimal adult intervention! We felt that all of our objectives were met and that we all had fun in the process!
I will not show faces or use names to protect identities of the children.
Chickadee.... Dee... Dee... Done!
A ruby throat... just a-hummin' along... strong!
Darth Eagle... Prince of the river sky!
One good (left) flying tern!
Great Northern Pike... feared by all smaller fish
The shirt says it all. Love Life. Protect and respect it wherever you discover it... on land... in the water... or in the sky.
A counsellor joined the fun... and added some shaggy mane beauty
A loose Moose... soon to be collared... or should that more accurately read... coloured? Mixing colour and pushin' paint is such a freeing experience!
Terning to painting... after some careful drawing
FINALLY.... brown! Red + yellow + blue. HOOT HOOT!! Hurray!
Do they offer Fine Art at Trent?.. I think that I have found another niche after camp counselling!
Conversely... I wish to note the impact that these young and emerging artists had on our thinking and feelings, as we shared the time with them. We came away uplifted in spirit and motivated to look at creating our own working methods differently... based upon the simplicity of their joyous and carefree approach to painting. I came away much more satisfied and convinced that letting my "inner child"... guided purely by the right half of the brain take charge to create fearlessly and quickly best suits my own nature and artistic objectives.
Essentially, what I am offering as food for thought, is that the doldrums and becalmed state we at times find ourselves in as artists... discouragingly searching for a "NEW" voice is needless. For the most part, self-imposed too high expectation is the cause of this fruitless artistic derailment. The best way to dribble a basketball is to find a comfortable rhythm and maintain it. One can still change direction and speed... without losing possession of the ball. And... there is absolutely no penalty for taking a "time out" to gather one's thoughts... to regain energy and then to get back into the game. Children (without adult intervention) do this naturally... with verve and perfect joy. They play for the very sake of play!
From the Mind and Actions of a Single Young Child
At the conclusion of the Monday painting class, we took pictures each child with his or her work to be shared with parents. After that, they simply shifted gears and jumped ahead, as kids at camp do... to another activity they had in their "cubbies". That is... all except one petite and very special miss named Kalea. She presented herself to me immediately after putting her lovely painting away and asked if she might be able to help us with clean up. She then set about emptying all of the tins of dirty water and cleaning them. Afterward... under her own steam she began collecting brushes and delivering dirty paper toweling from each table to the garbage.
In my own classrooms... individual cleanup of one's station and tools was a mandatory requirement for all participants. Previously assigned monitors then undertook the further task of cleaning brushes and other equipment, placing these in their proper storage in their place... ready for next session. Responsibility! But I had intentionally bypassed this training opportunity... given the very rigorous task given... and the high level of good behaviour shown by all.
I was touched by this wee lady volunteering without any thought of reward or recognition... wanting only to help. This was the perfect situation to bring forward further our intended message re: stewardship. I seized the opportunity and in the closing minutes of the Tuesday one hour session, I brought her to the front of the group and honoured her for her random... and very deeply valued single act of kindness to Deb and I. I offered her one of our large fridge magnets, bearing my favourite river painting image "River Vesper." I hugged and thanked her telling her how much her gift meant to us. The group and counsellors clapped... as she scooted to tuck her small token into her backpack.
Thank you again Kalea!
"No act of kindness is too small, the gift of kindness may start as a small ripple that over time can turn into a tidal wave affecting lives of many"
More 4 Kids
Stay tuned next post.... for more Kidz Power... at Hana and Bruce's 2nd Annual Rockport Garden Paint Out held at "Islesview" on Friday afternoon!
Good Summer Painting to ... ALL!