a blog about the cultural experiences my husband and I have because of our work abroad...what's delightful and beautiful about different countries and cultures...what we have learned from living and working in countries other than our home country...and how those experiences have changed us

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Yay for art! Making art renews me. I love being creative and I love helping others be creative too. Every time I work with a class of students, I strive to create a space where their natural creativity can bubble to the surface. It is so much fun for me to see children at their creative best. When I was a sophomore in college I took a class called "Educational Psychology" and my professor told a story that made a deep impression on me. This is the way I remember it. A happy child eagerly started school. This child loved to draw and color. As soon as the teacher gave him supplies he joyfully filled his whole paper with beautiful flowers of every shape and color. But when the teacher saw what he had done she took his paper away and scolded him for not following her directions. She had to demonstrate first and he was supposed to copy. The teacher then drew a red tulip with a green stem and two green leaves. This was kindergarten. This next year in first grade, the little boy had a different teacher. Again they had art, and again the boy was excited. Maybe this teacher would let him color his own beautiful flowers. But he waited to see what the instructions were first. The teacher then drew a red tulip with a green stem and two green leaves. The boy dutifully copied the flower. Then it was 2nd grade and the boy went to a different school. His new teacher was cheerful and kind. When it was time for art, she enthusiastically explained that the children could draw whatever they wanted. She handed out the paper and crayons and watched to see what they would do. When the little boy got his paper he drew a red flower with a green stem and two green leaves.

That story makes me want to cry every time I think about it. I knew I never wanted to be the kind of teacher who kills creativity. Look at the way my preschool students colored their ocean animals posters and you tell me if I've achieved my goal. :)
One of my favorite TED talks (and I'm not the only one; it's been viewed 10.3 million times!) is by Sir Ken Robinson about the importance of fostering creativity. Here is the link if you want to watch the talk yourself: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html In this talk he quotes Picasso who said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."

In the last few months I've been experimenting with colored pencils as a fine art medium. Colored pencils are portable and especially good for when it's hot and I want to sit right in front of the air conditioner. :) My paints really dry out fast with a fan or air conditioner blowing directly on them. So colored pencils are a good second medium for me at the moment. It's pretty fun too. I've found a few colored pencils artists who really inspire me and I'm trying to develop techniques that produce similar results. Here is one of my completed colored pencils drawings. 
You might even call it a "painting", some artists do. This is not a sketch; I put far too many hours into it to label it that! It's only 5" x 7" but I spent 53 hours drawing it. :) I find colored pencil work to be quite meditative so the hours fly by. This was so much fun that I have several more pieces planned or in the works. :)