"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!