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Lessons From Nature

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

What a fun this multimedia project was! I loved the process and how both kiddos artwork turned out. Most memorable were the lessons woven throughout the creative process. Though it doesn't have a lot of "pop" or color, art project has a lot of texture and a fun nature walk memory knit in with it. (At the bottom of the blog is an easier drawing of an owl for younger kids).

We spend a lot of time inside doing schoolwork so one day we took a break and went and collected leaves. The assignment was to find different kinds of leaves and different sizes. Afterwards, we talked about how God made us different and unique! He made all tree bark different and the leaves different! There is no scientific reason I know of for the vast textures and shapes woven through the awesome beauty found in nature, except that God loves diversity! I also think he knows each of us will find different things beautiful! And some of us will find ALL of it exquisitely beautiful and intriguing!

I didn't really know what way this project would go. In my head I just saw a collage of leaves.

One day as we were reading a book by Robert Frost, "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening". I had the kiddos find all the animals hiding in the illustrations of snowy woods. It was such fun to find all the animals camouflaged in the winter scenes. All of the sudden, I knew how to use our leaf collages we created the week before!

We finished our schoolwork and then looked for images of owls the kids liked on the computer. They decided they liked the barn owl and snowy owl best. We research facts about each (I took their lead on what interested them the most because I knew they most likely would be more engaged and interested if I did).

The two decided that the snowy owl was their favorite. So then we picked the paints to use. We then mixed white and teal acrylic paints and watered them down to make them a little more transparent so the texture of the leaves would show along with a little of the brown on the leaves and board we used. Last minute, I decided to add some Elmer's glue so glitter would stick as a final touch (to make the background seem a little more snowy).

Unfortunately, Ella REALLY wanted to do a more complicated snowy owl we found on the internet. I tried to convince her to pick a simpler one. Fisher started begging to do the same one. I guide our ideas, but want them to have a voice in choices they make along the way. My theory is they will learn something in the process and will be more likely be more excited during the creative process. I hesitated, but went with what the owl they picked!

Fisher shut down because he then realized it was a difficult bird to draw. I told him I could show him a different and simpler way. He shut down and ran away to his art corner (later coming back with an awesome shark he drew). I let him know he had to push through and finish the project. It is important to not their fears and feelings cause them to not complete an art project. This is preparation for life challenges that come their way.

I gave Fisher a choice of letting me show him a simpler owl or finishing the owl he drew. He choose to push through... and I truly LOVE how his turned out! He is 6 and I think his owl is ADORABLE! I want to frame it! He doesn't want me to, so I will honor that but I have reminded him, when he says his is ugly, that I really adore what he created!

He had to wrestle through the battle of comparison and we had some great dialogue because of this project! I told him that I have to push thoughts of comparison to Ella's dad who is an AMAZING artist!!! Instead I choose to encourage, affirm and cheer her dad on in his creative endeavors. I flip the jealousy and choose to encourage instead! I accept my gifts and remind myself than my my art is not "less than"... just different! God has different plans for all the talents and gifts He gives us! I challenged him to encourage Ella instead of allow jealousy to creep into his heart!

Ella too was frustrated because she didn't like her snowy owl's eyes. I often remind them that my hands have been practicing for around 45 years longer than their hands have. I teach them the importance of offering themselves grace as they work on developing their drawing skills. The more an artist practices, the more their drawings improve!

To all creatives reading this don't give up... push past the lies and insecurities! And parents encourage your sweet treasures to do the same! In the end, they both took great pride in their artwork! After this project, I decided to make a gallery of Fisher's artwork outside his bedroom. I want him to be able to daily admire and feel a healthy pride in his art!

That night I finished my owl. I tested and experimented to the side of my owl! I didn't allow myself to erase or restart my owl. I too have to, almost always, push past the lies and my desire to make it "perfect". I know that if I am not too critical or hard on myself, that quality will overflow into my relationships and parenting! I am trying to experiment and play with techniques to allow my work to be loser and less stiff looking.

In the middle of drawing our owls, I realized that showing their work and mine could give parents of diverse ages of kids a way to let them all create alongside one another at different levels.

I also want to show a different way to finish a project to make it 3D. You can use anything to raise the owl, but I used insulation board. Sticks or layers of cardboard glued together, to the desired height, can be used as well. I painted the sides so that if they were seen, they would blend into the background better. Ideally, I would have painted the shadowbox frame white or maybe brown like the wood. But, I wanted to save it to use for one of Fisher's projects. For those people interested in trying this project, I found this shadowbox frame on Amazon.

I hope this inspires you! I would love to see anyone's artwork if they try this project! How cool to have a gallery of artwork to showcase the diversity and beauty of each piece created!

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