Categories
Art Kids Parenting

Four little fires

I like to think of art projects like little fires. First you gather your wood (the materials), you built it (get everything set-up) and then you light it. When inspiration strikes, you get burning.

I love the process of gathering the materials from the store (art, craft, book, hardware, etc) and have them all ready, meaning out and in view, so we can work when the mood strikes. Until I have a dedicated studio space this means transforming our dining table over the weekend, but here’s proof that it’s worth it: four projects done over the past four roughly four weeks that just sort of happened because the fire was ready to be lit.


The mini-zine

I got this idea from Austin Kleon. I never knew how to fold and tear a piece of paper like this until now, and it’s a little detail that makes it super easy to transform any piece of paper into a mini-zine. No idea where the story came from either.


Mixing by hand

Me: “Sam you want to do some painting?”
Sam: “Yes daddy!”
Slide out some large sheets of card stock. Squeeze tubes of different color paints on. Watch him mix. Repeat!


The paper laptop

Vivian created this paper model of a laptop complete with fold out keyboard, sitckers on the case, kick stand, and laptop sleeve with handles. It’s just like what her parents use, and she even drew a browser on the screen showing “Google: Unicorns” on it with the search result.

No one helped her, no one even knew she was working on it. We were just going about doing chores while she was busy doing something at the dining-table-turned-studio.


The box critters

Kav made these with the kids, starting with some cutouts from a magazine and expanding into homemade hands and eyes and tails of all sorts. Reusing materials from around the house is a bonus, as it the fact that this art gets named and played with after. This genre of art project (box critter-making?) is an underrated wellspring that we’ll be sure to tap into more often.


I love art projects. Keep burning those fires!

Categories
Art Misc

Surrounded by smiles and good humor

Raw Spirit by Iain Banks is a book about Scotch, but there are so many anecdotes and side-stories sprinkled throughout, it’s better described as a book about driving, cars, friendships, getting older, music, war, politics, Scotland AND whisky.

This bit from the book came to mind today and stuck with me:

…when you drive an old car (and in some ways here, the older the better) you drive surrounded by smiles and good humour. In an old car, unless you drive like an utter imbecile, you can generally forget about road rage. People will grin when they see you, they smile, they stop and look and sometimes they wave, and if not they make a digital gesture, it’s a thumbs-up, not a finger.

Part of this may be that an old car is seen as less of a threat, less of a declared, fully-paid up competitor in the day-to-day competition for road space and the battle to reduce one’s own journey time. But part of it, I suppose, is a kind of veneration we feel for the old in general, a feeling that they deserve credit for the fact that they’ve made it to here through all the trials, challenges and vicissitudes that might have ended their existence earlier and so should be indulged and given peace in gentle retirement. (Arguably, nowadays, people feel this more towards old cars that’s they do to old people, which is sad, even shaming.)

Indeed, the fact that any of us have made it this far, let alone well into old age, is worth a hat tip. We’re here, on the third rock from the sun! It’s crazy if you think about it.

Everyone has suffered and everyone has their struggles, let’s try to at least surround ourselves with smiles and good humour when we see each other shall we?

Categories
Art

Signs of life

Something inspired by the great short story “The Great Silence” by Ted Chiang, from his most recent collection of short stories: Exhalation. Also, this is my first time using a Pigma Brush pen I picked up in Amsterdam.

Every parrot has a unique call that it uses to identify itself; biologists refer to this as the parrot’s “contact call”.

In 1974, astronomers used Arecibo to broadcast a message into outerspace indended to demonstrate human intelligence. That was humanities contact call.

In the wild, parrots address each other by name. One bird imitates another’s contact call to get the other bird’s attention.

If humans ever detect the Arecibo message being sent back to Earth, they will know someone is trying to get their attention.

– from The Great Silence by Ted Chiang

I had to look this up and per Wikipedia: The Arecibo message is a 1974 interstellar radio message carrying basic information about humanity and Earth sent to globular star cluster M13. It was meant as a demonstration of human technological achievement, rather than a real attempt to enter into a conversation with extraterrestrials.

This is a demonstration of the message with color added to highlight its separate parts. The binary transmission sent carried no color information.

Categories
Art Parenting

Rainy day watercolors

Last Saturday Kav and the kids and I were faced with a stormy Saturday with no plans and very little daylight to work with. Luckily I have been amassing a small bunkers-worth of art supplies, including some proper watercolor supplies. You don’t have to ask me twice, queue art project time!

Fight water with water!

Watercolor is one of my favorite mediums, but I think it often gets a bad rap as something that’s overly messy or difficult to do. I’m definitely no expert, but it’s always fun to play with water with kiddos and with the right supplies, it’s really easy to create cool art with.

Here are some of the things that made this session good:

  1. I have actual watercolor paper. Although our paint was whatever, having paper that can actually take a little water is key.
  2. We had multiple pieces going at the same time. Watercolor involves a lot of back-and-forth between being wet and letting things dry. Letting things dry can be, well, boring, so that’s when you work on piece number 2 (or 3 or 4).
  3. We worked on the pieces gradually after the Saturday as well. I have waterproof pens and we added to the paintings on an ongoing basis over the week. There’s something about having pieces visible and in progress that feels good.
  4. We tried different techniques. I showed them washes, we tipped the pages and watched the color run in different directions and used that as a tool for flower stems. There was plenty of exploration.

Afterwards I started to see how this kind of project could translate well into a workshop setting. Kav’s been prompting me to do something like that at the kids school, so we’ll see. We’re starting out the new year with a new medium. Here are a few of the finished pieces: