Just before we left on our month-long trip to Colorado, I put on a "Family Art Show." For some reason, I always start massively involved projects just before embarking on vacations. But this project really was too good to wait.
One afternoon during "quiet time," I sat began using the bright blue, removable painter's to tape to stick all of the kids' artwork I had saved over the past year onto our long, upstairs hallway, which was already painted a convenient "Art Gallery Gray." When Kevin and Colin came home at the end of the day, they walked into a pretty authentic looking art gallery, if I do say so myself.
The boys were pretty excited. They hadn't remembered making many of the pictures, and they had lots of fun peeking underneath to see who had down each artwork. Since Colin had just been to his school's "awards ceremony," he had the big idea that we should create awards for our favorite works of art.
I was a little reluctant to go along with this at first—"beauty is in the eye of the beholder," and all—but I figured out a way to make it more qualitative. Each person got a few cut-out paper "awards," and the "judge" could write on it whatever they liked about the piece. So we had awards that said, "Good use of color!" and "I love butterflies," or "I like space." It was actually a really nice touch, and a good way to get everyone talking about the art and what they liked about it.
Even though this was ostensibly a "Family Art Show," most of the artwork was by the kids. Still, I used little side hallway off Virginia's room to hang a few paintings I had done this past year. I made sure to keep my art apart from theirs, because I didn't want them to look at my work and compare it to their own. Not that the work I did was anything special; just little exercises to pass the time while the children were working on their own art projects. I tend to hang my more "serious" artwork in the living room. But I wanted to make it implicit that grown-ups make art, too.
My goal for all of this was just to show my kids that making art is important—and that their art is valuable. Of course, in the back of my mind I was also aware that I was about to have to do some serious culling of all of the "important," "valuable" art they had created in the past twelve months. So this was a chance for us to look at it all one last time and for me to document it before it goes out the door. Here a few of my favorite pieces:
The pieces I did save have been stored away in small under-the-bed Tupperwares that I house in the garage. I also did a further culling of Colin and Archer's artwork from previous years before the boxes went back into storage. It's amazing how much artwork I have saved just in the first six years of Colin's life.
It's also interesting (to me, at least), that I didn't save any of the art my kids have created at school or daycare. Most of that work was pretty pre-fab, cut and paste stuff—not at all representative of their own artistic interests. The works I did save were less "artistic," perhaps, but certainly a lot more revealing of what they were thinking about and how they saw the world when they were 3, 4, and 5 years old. But I digress...
My goal is to never store more "art projects" that can fit in these three boxes. No doubt, twenty years from now, when it's time to send these boxes to live with the artists, I will decide that no one really needs to hang onto their childhood artwork and I will toss it all. But I'm not ready to part with these little masterpieces just yet...
"Masterpiece," by Archer, Age 3