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Posts from the ‘Kids’ Category

What Didn’t Make It

Sleepy Reader

A precious photo of me as a child revealing a habit that I still fall victim to that didn’t quite make the cut for my blogpost, What do you want to be..?

Today I’d like to share some photos that didn’t quite make the cut in my previous blog posts.  I wanted to share these because I find sometimes what was not shown or talked about is as revealing as what is.

Girls in studio

These girls blew me away with their talent and creativity in my studio this summer

This was a photo I wish I could have included in my blogpost, The Wonderful World of Kid’s Creativity.  Alas, this was taken later in the summer.  These girls are the older sister and friend of the kids I instructed at the art camp in the beginning of the summer.

Boy, were these girls ever enthusiastic, talented, and creative!  They took my assignments and ran off with them.  It was a joy and honor to have them in my studio for a few sessions!

Studio of Georgia O'Keefe

O’Keefe’s studio set up in her museum in Santa Fe.

This was Georgia O’Keefe’s studio table and easel (with a canvas in its very early stages) reassembled at her museum in Santa Fe, NM.  I had wanted to share this photo after I visited the museum last summer, but my desire to include her beautiful artwork won out.

I don’t know about you, but I have a fascination with looking at and reading about other artist’s studios and workspaces.  I love to see what inspires them, how they organize their supplies, and how their space influences their work.

O’Keefe’s set up exemplified that perfectly.  Above her table was a picture of what she would have seen out of her studio window and scattered among her paint supplies were bones, soil samples and other natural materials she used as inspiration.

Here is an article on O’Keefe’s studio and several other famous artist’s studios.  Pinterest is great for this, too!

Beautiful Stormy Sky

One of the original photos I took and re-edited for my blog-post, Letter to my 18 year old self.

This photo was reproduced many times in my blogpost, Letter to my 18 year old self, but not in its original form.  It was taken from my front porch one early evening when there were storm clouds brewing while the sun illuminated behind them.

It was also an evening where my husband was away and I desperately needed a time-out from the kids.  So I grabbed a beer and snuck out to the porch, observing the approaching summer storm for a good half hour until one of the kids finally discovered me.  It was heavenly!

Chinese squat toilet

A Chinese squat toilet

Finally, a picture that just didn’t make the cut from our travels in China, two summers ago.  Its an example of one of the many squat toilets we encountered in Beijing.  (This one is relatively cleaner then many of the others that we came across!)

All I can say is that I would have amazing thigh and calf muscles if I lived there!

Are you like me?  Do you like watching the out-takes and blooper reels of movies?  Are you fascinated with the backstories (sometimes maybe more so) then the front stories that you see in the news and tabloids?

Have an amazing, revealing week!!

Before I Hit The Road

Down the roadSometime in the next month, we will be leaving for our summer vacation.  I’ve been sworn to secrecy as to where and when, but, don’t fret, I’ll fill you in on some of the highlights soon afterwards!

What I can tell you is that it takes an abundance of preparation and organization to make it happen.

This is something, I must admit, that I actually enjoy doing.

What I hate?  Coming home, unpacking, and the mounds of laundry that await me afterwards!

But let me push those unpleasant thoughts aside and concentrate what is required to get the 5 of us ready for another exciting vacation…

1. Projecting

Before I pull out our suitcases, I first must slip on my thinking cap.   I always try to project ahead to the vacation location and our plans there.  What will the temperature be like?  Will we need good clothes for a special occasion? Will we need hiking shoes or beach clothes?  Will we be staying at hotels with toiletries provided or will we need to bring some of our own?

Only then am I ready for #2:

2. Lists

There are 2 lists that I create,  to-pack and to-do.  In the past, I’ve written them out by hand then tossed them out- but last year I had the foresight to type it up on my computer.  Turns out that I’m a repetitive creature and many of the items have remained the same, regardless of trip locale!

My to-pack list goes through each family member, lists the amount of clothing and what kind (pjs, jackets, undies, etc.), and then general necessities such as a camera, sunscreen, medicine, etc…  With 5 people to pack for, this list is invaluable!

My to-do list is anything and everything that needs to get done before we leave.  Hold mail and newspaper are always the #1 item.  There’s also getting cash, purchasing travel toiletries, sending last minute emails, etc., etc…

A collection of knickknacks from past travels line the windowsill in our kitchen.

A collection of knickknacks from past travels line the windowsill in our kitchen.


3. Kid’s Bags

These are essential to our kids’ happiness and saves my husband and I from schlepping all the kid’s crap ourselves!  Each person is in charge of a backpack (or purse/laptop case, for the adults) that contains all the gizmos, books, and activities required to keep them occupied.  In addition, I’ll often slip in a few little surprises (activity books and magazines) and snacks to get them through long flights or car rides.

4. CDs

A few years ago I learned how to create custom CDs, and these have also become a tradition for long car rides.  Each kid is allowed to create a playlist of 15-20 songs from our music library and/or downloaded from iTunes, then I burn them onto a disc.  It is interesting to witness their developing tastes in music and discover their favorite songs.  Often, one tune becomes the theme song for our vacation (as in the case of California Love by Dr. Dre for a trip out west a few summers ago!).

5. Food

I’ve already mentioned snacks in the backpacks.  If we are taking a long car ride, I’ll often pack a cooler of drinks (along with extras to throw in later), plenty of non-perishable snacks, and some dried cereal and bagels for breakfast- so that we don’t have to stop as often.  A special mention is gum, especially helpful on plane trips for popping ears.  Its also been used to ease fatigue for the drivers, and nausea for passengers.  We are lucky that our kids don’t get carsick very often, but one can never be too prepared!

6. Research

This goes along somewhat with projecting – learning a little about where we’ll be headed.  Back in the dark ages that would primarily be through books.  Nowadays, Google is my best friend.  Social Media (aka: asking friends) also helps, along with Yelp and TripAdvisor.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I like to keep many of these recommendations in a folder as reference for when we’re there. (along with hotel confirmations, telephone numbers, exchange rates, etc.)

quote by Hans Christian Anderson7. What Have I Missed?

I have learned that after we return from a trip, my brain is in a fog and it takes about a week to resume normal activity.  Therefore, I try to project ahead to the days after we get home and prepare as much as possible.  This year, my daughter’s birthday arrives shortly after we return, so I’ll need to start planning now to ensure that she has a party with all the fix in’s when the time comes!

If I can’t prepare beforehand, sometimes I’ll put alerts on my phone for important things I need to remember, or to shake me into action. (i.e.: bills that are due, sport’s sign-ups, etc.)

One could get tired just looking at all the prep work that goes into getting a family out of town and ask, Is it worth it?  

My answer? A resounding YES!  The more I do now, the better able I am to actually relax when we get there and disconnect for awhile.  Something we all need to do from time to time.

Are there any special rituals you do as you prepare to hit the road?  I’d love to hear about them!

Have a Fabulous Week!


Special Report: Studio News

The Fanbrush

The Fanbrush, looking a little out of place among my other brushes, has a hidden agenda!

Psst..over here.. in with the paintbrushes… I’m Phantom Fanbrush, a spy planted to monitor The Artist in her studio.

My directive is to figure out how the The Artist gets her inspiration and develops her work.  Periodically, I’ve come out of hiding to send out a report on The Artist’s current enterprises.

This is one such report.

There has been an abundance of activity in the studio lately.  Let me clarify, young activity.   The Artist appears to be hosting some sort of children’s art class with several young prodigies.  I suspect that her daughter may be among them.

They are a bit rambunctious but highly creative, and the artist seems to take a lot of joy out of instructing them in various messy, yet imaginative projects.

Kids creating

As a matter of fact, I have been hosting a weekly kid’s art camp for my daughter and 6 of her friends throughout the month of June. It has been a loads of fun, but I’m looking forward to getting my studio back to myself again!

There appears to be a decrease in actual paintings gracing the walls of the studio.  This occurred sometime in the beginning of the month when The Artist brought in a stack of frames and, in a flurry of activity, framed many of her larger artwork and carried them out of the studio.

I can only surmise that she has been exhibiting them somewhere.  Let’s hope that these showings generate sales for the artist, as well!

Art At Dawn June Events

I do, in fact, have a number of exhibits showing a multiple of paintings this summer. Please stop by to see them if you are in the area.

But the studio is not entirely empty.  Indeed, The Artist has been working diligently on a new series of of paintings that, I believe, are based on a trip that she and her family took last summer.

These paintings reveal a raw and organic quality.  I hesitate to call the colors ‘earthy’ since they are a wide spectrum of blues, yellows, and reds.  But, there seems to be a softer undertone in the palette.  She also incorporates the same energy and movement that has been evident in past paintings.

Spirit of the Banyan III- Acrylic Painting

One of my latest acrylic paintings titled, Spirit of the Banyan III. It is based on my observance of the abundant Banyan Trees that grew on street corners and on the sides of buildings on a trip to China that my family and I took last summer.

For the past week, I have been observing The Artist at her studio table during odd hours of the day, pulling up a piece of music from her phone, and creating a drawing in her sketchbook.  She often draws or paints in a flurry of activity while the song plays, then stops soon after.

Could this be a new ritual that The Artist is developing?  And why does the music change so dramatically each day?

Drawing based on "Closer To Fine" by the Indigo Girls

Truth be told,  I have just begun another 365 project. This time it is a daily drawing based on song. This drawing was created as I listened to “Closer to fine” by the Indigo Girls.

I sense that The Artist isn’t able to create as much as she would like.  I’ll often observe her entering the studio and stand in the threshold as if she’s basking in the energy there- then reluctantly leave when she hears a young voice call out “Mom!” from downstairs.

But, The Artist seems happy and hopeful.  I can perceive how passionate she is about her work, and she seems dedicated to pursuing her artistic goals.  If I had to guess, I’d say The Artist is riding a wave of inspiration and creativity.

With that, I will end my report for the present time.  I hope to continue regular updates in the future.  This is Phantom Fanbrush, signing off.

If you had a phantom fan brush, toothbrush, or tollbooth (excuse my geeky, obscure reference!) shadowing you, what would it say about you in your workspace?

Have a fantastic week!

The Wonderful World of Kids’ Creativity

Two kids painting

As long as there are kids roaming the earth, there will be creativity- I’m convinced of it!

Sure, they spend too much time on their computers and electronics.  (my kids included!)  Every generation is accused of something.  Mine was watching too much television and playing too many Atari games (although I, always the nonconformist, was accused of reading too much.  Imagine that!).

But, as long as kids still play and are allowed the freedom of their own creativity, I think they’ll turn out just fine!

Case in point, the other day I hosted the first of a series of art camps for my daughter and a few of her friends.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew my daughter would dig it so I hoped the others would, too.

I was blown away!

Kid's drawing of bono drums

One little guy decorated his portfolio with bongo drums. I love it!!

The kids were so excited.  One little boy told me he’d been looking forward to this all week.  Another sweet child told me it was her most favorite camp.  (and summer has just started so she hasn’t been to any other camps yet!)  How can you not adore these kids and their enthusiasm?!

I wasn’t sure how my still life of various toys and stuffed animals would go over. Would it overwhelm the kids?  Would they feel like they’d have to draw each object perfectly?  (I remember how dismayed my high school art teacher was after she set one up and we all tried to squeeze each object onto our paper, making it look like a cluttered mess!)

Kids using viewfinders

The kids loved using viewfinders to concentrate on their favorite areas in the still life

Again, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  One little girl even said, “Do we have to draw it all?  I just want to draw ___.”


I gave the kids cardboard viewfinders so that they could focus on the areas they wanted to render.  They thought that was the greatest thing since sliced bread!

What a glorious afternoon!  We got messy experimenting with different materials and discovering new ways to paint.  We used our imaginations.

Best of all, they got it!  They instinctively knew that art is fun and doesn’t have to be taken so seriously.  They didn’t have to be told that trees don’t have to be green and the sky isn’t always blue, they already knew!!

Red Kid's Handprints

The kids leave a wake of handprints to be made into keepsake Father’s Day cards next week.

I have now found my new muse.  I didn’t have to go looking in a gallery or a book.  I didn’t have to travel to find it.  My Art Camp Kiddos have shown me what creativity is at it’s very core.

Thanks, kids!  You guys are an inspiration!

I hope the rest of you have a wonderful, messy, creative week!

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