Every year it happens. The warm days and fun in the sun of a Michigan summer melt into fall. In autumn, as if saluting us and maybe even thanking us for enjoying the land all summer long, nature takes a bow and puts on one big grand finale in a majestic show of color.
With inspiration everywhere, there is no better time of the year to connect with our creative side. We find it in the soft light of the sun that glows and also with the dimmer switch lowered and the mood set. We find it in the cool mornings that become warm days and crisp nights. And, then the most in-your-face, look-at me-I’m-beautiful way, we find it in our trees as they put on a firework’s display of color.
When nature gives us all this to work with, how can we not pay her respect by unlocking our own inner creativity? Fall makes us want to experiment with writing and paints and cameras. You know you want to – now make it happen. But where do you begin? Michigan is thankfully full of parks and open spaces that make finding a beautiful place to interact with nature easy.
Here are a few guidelines:
- Pack a notebook, a camera, and some paint and paper with which to work.
- Include the whole family. Children learn by your example (OK, if you need a little me-time, stealing away by yourself is magical as well).
- Remember the joy you felt in creating as a child and connect to that.
- Don’t feel you have to reproduce what you see; your camera already did that. Notice shapes, and patterns, repetition, color and movement. Create from that place.
Remember, there are no rules when you set out to let your inner creative come out. Children with bright, big smiles create free of rules, and so should you. Then watch the smile come over your own face.
You live in the great and beautiful state of Michigan. Living in Michigan is about living with the seasons. Let fall know just how much you appreciate her by interacting with her through the arts. That is the best of fall.
Article as seen in the October 2012 Women’s Lifestyle Magazine
Children who know the difference between Beethoven and Bach have a higher IQ. That is something I read years ago in a book on the great artist and Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci was a big advocate for whole brain thinking; to him, using and teaching to only half the brain just didn’t add up. If you find yourself nodding in agreement and singing the phrase, “yes to the arts” silently in your head or out load, read on.
Summer is the perfect time to supplement your child’s inner artist, and hopefully yours at the same time! It’s easier than you might think to incorporate this great sunny weather and creativity. I’ll assume you’ve already brought yourself and your most precious ones to our great art museums, galleries, and Fredrik Meijer Gardens. If not, start by showing your children art and encouraging them to “see.” To notice that, yes, most leaves are green but look at the variety of greens; it’s never just one shade, and what happens to the leaves when the sun is shining vs. when they are in the shade? My favorite lesson in seeing is to look up: There is a party going on in the sky just about every day – one only has to look to notice.
What you will need for your day of art:
- a sketch book to play with ideas
- a set of paints (I like acrylics or watercolor but anything with color that leaves a mark will do)
- paper or canvas on which to work
- brushes, or just use your fingers, as I often do
- a roll of paper towel (I like Viva for strength)
- an old blanket
- piece of white paper with a square or rectangle cut out of the middle, to use as a view finder
It’s summer and we want to soak up as much of that warmth and light as we can, so let’s take this party outside and paint plain air, as the impressionists did. Your own back yard could work, but to add to the adventure let’s go to one of the beautiful parks we have in West Michigan. Spread the old blanket out on the ground and pull out the white paper with a hole cut out. This is our viewfinder to help us decide what area we’ll be painting. Once you decide on our composition, pull out the paints and have fun. Keep in mind, for children there is no wrong in art. Give them freedom to express themselves in color and they will. A hot pink tree can be much more interesting than yet another green one, so encouragement of expression verses expectations of realist representation will yield better results. Moms and dads, be sure to join in the fun. Kids learn by example and we don’t want our wee ones thinking fun with art ends after childhood is over.
Article as seen in the July 2012 Women’s Lifestyle Magazine