“How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it!” --G.K. Chesterton
What is it about the wonder of a child that so tugs at my heart? The children and I went outside the other day, and my 15 month old daughter’s chosen toys were, one: a large plastic yellow spoon and driveway pebbles (pea gravel, to be exact). Oh, the possibilities! Scooping the pebbles, moving them, simply feeling their texture. She spent a very long time sitting in one place, captivated by the spoon and the pebbles. Her second toy of choice was an old, small red plastic cup with a pour spout and no handle, and...the same pea gravel. The cup was small enough for her to hold in one hand, and the pebbles were placed into it, one at a time, and dumped out with an attitude of awe, then carefully filled again.
In One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, chapter 9 “Go Lower,” Ann suggests that children are so full of joy because they are small, and the world is big. Their imaginations are alive, their eyes are wide open, and they live in magical worlds. Children have no stigma connected with being small. They’ve not learned to be “cool.” They’ve not discovered that it isn’t “cool” to be in awe at anything. They’ve not learned the pride of refusing to admit something is new to them. They’ve not learned to nod knowingly and say, “Oh, yes, I’ve seen/heard that before.” Just a stone? Just a bird? Just a stream, a blade of grass, a few grains of sand? Just a story? Just a joke? Just an idea? I think not! I’ll choose to humble myself, to enter into wonder again...and again.
Children extend their hands to us and invite us back into wonder. Again I can delight in the feeling and the sound of a pebble dropping into a cup. Again I can run giggling through grass, squish my toes in mud, touch a flower petal and catch my breath with wild, surprised delight. You know something? Childhood is even more fun for me this second time around. I love entering in again. Thanks to our three year old, our lives are peppered with little talking people and stuffed animals. Everything lines up and sings, from shampoo bottles in our bathroom to garden tools in the back yard. Thank you, children, for adding even more wonder to our lives. We will continue to walk in wonder with you, and keep each other in wonder. As we all grow together--grow back down toward Wonder, let’s stay as small as we can, keep our senses open and delight in the gifts that surround us every single day!
"Today's moments will become tomorrow's art."
The Buyer’s Market of American Craft 2012 is ten days away, but I will not be there because another event that is perhaps even more influential to my business took place on January 25th. Our daughter, Eowyn Aurora, was born.
The beauty of being an artist is that the simple moments in life fuel my work. So I could say that my first business priority is to stuff my life as full of these moments as possible. As we prepared for the birth of our second child (we “felt” it was a girl, but chose to be surprised by the gender), I created two new designs that were time-sensitive. I painted an expectant Mama, with French words inspired by an aria I was singing during pregnancy, and “Embrace Lavishly,” an illustration of a family hug. The significance of the family hug was that it included only one child—a boy of about two years, pushing his way between his hugging parents. Not only does our son do this, but I knew that once the baby was born, I might never again paint a family of three. As with a photograph, I wanted to capture the moment by painting it while my heart was full of feelings that come of having an only son.
So what will I be doing while the Buyer’s Market of 2012 goes on without me? I will be continuing to collect moments. The sweet sound of my toddler’s voice filling in the words of “Try to Remember” while we sing together in the evenings, shared family laughter, our son’s urgent request to hold our hands, the tender kisses he gives his baby sister, reading together, playing on the floor with our children, basking in the presence of our newborn, letting the realization sink in that we now have a daughter…
Today’s moments will become tomorrow’s art.
Photos by Megan Elisabeth Photography
"The heart of a child is not too shallow, nor the heart of an adult too sophisticated, to be beyond the reach of a well-chosen and well-placed work of art!"
It’s often amusing to hear the diverse opinions expressed by those viewing one’s art. People have often said to me, while looking at my whimsical work, “Oh, how nice for children!” Or, “I wish my children were still young!” I find this perspective amusing because my designs are created first and foremost for…myself. I create my art based on what I know I need to see on my walls every single day. I know I need to be reminded to exaggerate life’s beauty, cherish each relationship, treasure each moment, love tenderly, and keep the magic alive in my relationship with my husband. Living out these themes from day to day is not for the faint of heart!
Conversely, there are those who have said to me, “Oh, I would love this for my [child, grandchild, niece, nephew, friend’s child] but they are really too young just yet.” This perspective astounds me for two reasons. First, children are never too young for us to begin shaping their tastes for excellence. Personally, I like to avoid what I call "baby pop culture," with movie-themed bedrooms. I want my children to grow up with a broad appreciation for Van Gogh, Dr. Seuss, Classical music, folk music, and beautifully illustrated fairy tales (in which Cinderella may be a blond or a brunette, the little mermaid actually watches the prince marry someone else because she can't tell him who she is, and Beauty, not "Belle," is the heroine in the classic old tale, Beauty and the Beast.) Second, children are so impressionable and deep, that the images we see in early childhood have the power to affect us for years to come. Who can measure the potential power of a picture? Why not start by creating an environment of beauty, hope, and love in the nursery?
Above: The large banner is one of seven created for our wedding. The illustration is that of God as the Good Shepherd, in the form of a strong lion watching unperceived over his “cub,” who is my husband at the age of 12. The tile to the left is my original of “Overwhelming Love,” the metal moon and star underneath was created by another artist, Garden Deva, and the moon clock was handmade by Saunders Studios. The rabbit was my mom's "find" from an antique store, and the antique blocks were toys of my husband's grandfather. Below: Above my son’s crib, I placed the miniature versions of the banners I painted for our wedding. To the right is a Scripture quote: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
I have personally experienced the power of a single picture hanging in my childhood bedroom. In a Sunday-School world where Bible stories were like fairy tales, and Bible characters were presented as paper cut-outs of smiling people in ancient clothes, crowding about a solemn-looking man who would not have attracted me in real life, I had one differing image on my bedroom wall. My mom had found a simple plaque that depicted Jesus smiling while he cuddled and comforted a small, modern-looking child. Now THERE was an image with which I could identify! That one picture spoke to my heart on such a deep level over the years, that I later created a huge banner inspired by it. Only in MY painting, Jesus was holding me as a little girl. The painting was one of seven 5’x2.5’ banners I made for my wedding in 2009. Our theme was a prayer that our lives would reflect the name and the character of God, and the banner I’m referring to was my interpretation of the name, El Shaddai, meaning “All-sufficient.” As I painted each banner, I was aware of the fact that they would hang in our home, and be some of the first images or our children would remember. I wanted them to be full of wonder, magic, mystery, and relatable to our daily lives.
The images we place in front of our children shape their lives from infancy. The next time you are shopping for a gift, remember that art speaks to the human heart, and the heart of a child is not too shallow, nor the heart of an adult too sophisticated, to be beyond the reach of a well-chosen and well-placed image!
The Avon Corn Festival was a great experience! As with every show, I honed my display yet a little more. This time, that meant painting my pegboard black (thanks to my creative team), and using one color of fabric for my backdrop (thanks to my mom remembering a huge bolt of denim fabric she'd stored for years). I look forward to upgrading my magnet display next.
The day was HOT, but two amazing artists brought another kind of sunshine to my day. The first is a wonderfully creative glass bead artist, Francesca DeCaire, from the Rochester area. Bead enthusiasts, check out her blog and Etsy site! With mutual respect for each other's art, we made a trade and each took home a treasure. She also gave my son a glass bead he found on the ground in her booth: a beautiful, tiny ear of corn, which he held in his hand for hours!
I was drawn into another booth by the unique license plate art of the Sunshine Soap Company. My eclectic taste comes of my great appreciation for well-made, inspiring, handmade items of all kinds. You'll be just as likely to find a piece of this lady's salvaged metal & wood art in my home, as an elegant handmade vase! I've not met the artist personally, but I look forward to meeting her in the future.
The festival turned out to be a really nice day with my family as well. Jon got some really great pictures of our son with his cell phone (having left the good camera behind at our booth to follow our 17 month old son when he "took off" to explore the show).