The Boy Paints, and Thoughts of Peter

So many, many times have I tried to create art with The Boy.  I have come at it from every angle, I have tried every medium, I have begged, I have cajoled, and I have encouraged.  He does not care to participate.  As a stitcher and an artist, it saddens me to see him missing out (or what appears to me so) on what could be the source of so much fun and joy, particularly to the life of a child.  I cannot recall how many hours I spent alone with paper, pencil, and paint as a child.

Every once in a while, I will be able to coax him into participation.  It’ll even be his idea on rare occasion.  “Let’s do art-ing,” he says.  It usually ends in frustration, because for him art is a full-contact sport, not an activity to be participated in quietly and calmly.  Usually these art-ing sessions end with him literally throwing paint around, my walls and floor becoming the latest canvases of his Jackson Pollack-esque dance.

I try so hard to stay in the moment.  To remember that for him, art is about the process, not the product.  I try not to instruct or lead him.  I try not to get upset when paint.  Gets.  Everywhere.

I was recently reminded of the artist Carl Larsson, by Alicia, who mentioned him at Posie Gets Cozy.  I was originally introduced to Larsson’s work by my very dear friend Peter, who is also the man who married The Daddy Monkey and I fourteen years ago.  Peter was from Denmark, and a very cosmopolitan man.  He was an older man, very stuck in his ways, and an incredible chef.  My first cooking encouragement came from him, as well as the recipe for his indulgent Cosmo’s Potatoes.  He died of lung cancer just before The Boy was born, and I miss him.

After being reminded of Larsson’s work, I visited (once again) the official website of Carl Larsson’s estate and his home Lilla Hyttnas, in Sundborn, Sweden.  Thank goodness I know someone who lives in Sweden so I can go there someday!  There on the homepage, was a photo of beautiful little Swedish children at their easels, painting en plein air.  And then it occurred to me like a flash of lightning.  If I want The Boy to make art, I have to show him how important it is to make art.  Of course he doesn’t do it because I never do it around him.  For me, art is a solitary affair.  So I decided to meet him halfway.  Spring is in the air, so let’s take it outside.

I taped unlined index cards all over our little easel, set up watercolors on the table, and he went for it!

The Girl even got in on the action.

Here’s my favorite one.  We all painted a little bit on it, and I love it.  This one is going into a frame.

This was so much fun, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner.  It was so nice and warm outside, it was a glorious day.  I was relaxed because I had no fear of paint going everywhere.  I didn’t have to clean it up right away, so the kids went back and forth between playing and painting.  We painted standing up, we painted sitting, we painted standing still, and we painted moving.  They each took a turn in my lap, and it all worked.  Everyone was covered in paint when we were done, but I’m okay with that.  It was worth it.

It was so much for for everyone, and it gave me the chance to be the mother I want to be: happy, engaging, encouraging, relaxed and loving.

4 Responses to “The Boy Paints, and Thoughts of Peter”

  1. kangaroo writes:

    How beautiful. You will always look at that framed masterpiece and remember this triumph!

  2. marcy chapman writes:

    I think he’s got it. Whew! Marcy

  3. Maggie writes:

    you go girl! What a nice afternoon of painting

  4. breath writes:

    i think of peter often as well. i love the effort of this exercise and the final product is fantastic. you’ll make an abstract painter of him yet.

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