Sharp shinned hawk by Mary Rose, age 9, October, 2009
The children have always dabbled in various media, Josiah being rather fond of acrylics, Lydia pastels, and everyone very comfortable with colored pencils. But this was the year we truly discovered the joy of painting with watercolors in a big way. Back in the fall I purchased the Watercolor Journaling DVD*, and though we only watched it once its lessons have stayed with us all year. The two artists in the video demonstrate various techniques that they use combining watercolor painting and decorative text to create beautiful journals.
Vulture, chipping sparrows, and palm warbler by Lydia, age 14, October, 2009
While nothing is really earth shattering about the actual techniques they teach - things like how to do a blind contour drawing, washes, shading, basic composition and so forth, their presentation and demonstrations are wonderfully inspiring. It is very helpful to actually watch these things rather than just reading about it, particularly if one doesn't have the opportunity to take actual art classes. One great idea from the video is the concept of painting on a small scale using small pieces of paper. This is so very freeing - you have no worries about messing up such a small piece, you can create many pieces, and if you end up with something you really don't like you just grab another piece of paper and start again.
But one of the most valuable lessons taught in the video (for us anyways) is the notion that creating artwork should be pleasant and not stressful, and the experience is important as well as the ending result. The artists emphasize painting for the joy of it, and the beauty of capturing memories and observations through words and art. One of their catch phrases is 'striving for imperfection', and as you watch them enjoy themselves even as they make mistakes -one of them even spells 'elk' (!) wrong - you can't help but pick up on their attitude that painting should be fun (cue Harry Chapin guitar strumming here...).
It was so enjoyable sitting down and painting with my children that I don't mind showing you my very first pictures, in all their colorful imperfections - smudged letters, messy blind contour drawing, and hello, I didn't remember it was already October when I put in the date so one of them says 9-32! Oh well. J
Journal pages by Lydia, October, 2009
No worries of taking ourselves or our artwork too seriously here. It's okay for practice paintings to look like practice paintings, and not everything we paint has to be worthy of framing and hanging on the wall.
painting together on the Feast of the Holy Rosary, October 7, 2009
Another truly fabulous thing we learned from the video is the joy of water brushes. These nifty brushes have a receptacle for water so you don't need a separate cup to paint with. This means you can pick up your paints and waterbrush at any time without needing to commit to a lot of setting up. (Pardon me if I sound like I'm gushing but I am - these things are awesome and have transformed the way we do watercolors!)
Anna painting in the fieldwhile out on a nature hike
You can watercolor in the field, doodle in the family sketch book, and even paint on a mountaintop without needing an impractical cup of murky black water that's always getting spilled.
Birds sighted while waiting at the dentist by Lydia, January, 2010
You can even paint in the car, sitting in a parking lot!
The artists in the video also use pan watercolors, and they demonstrate how to mix colors right in the box. We like the Yarka brand paints from Russia; Prang is another inexpensive readily available option.
Occasionally someone will sit down and get out the tube colors and a mixing pan and all that, but watercoloring happens everyday here, most often at teatime, thanks to the convenience of the waterbrushes and pan paints. For practice we use Miller's inexpensive student watercolor paper.
Lydia made this lovely painting bag for Anna for Christmas, so all of her supplies are in one place and always ready to take along on an adventure.
It holds paints, fine Sharpies for contour drawing, her water brush, pencil, blank cards and a small sketchbook.
As the girls have progressed with their watercolor skills they have moved beyond the journaling format portrayed in the video. After reading Edith Holden's Country Diary and Nature Notes my big girls decided to start new nature journals in that lovely style, combining their love for fancy writing, watercoloring and of course all things observed in the natural world.
Anna works on flower identification
The results are truly beautiful.
journal page by Lydia, May, 2010
journal page by Anna, May, 2010 Of course, watercolors are not just for journaling. Josiah enjoys his own style of watercoloring - And the girls still have to paint horses on a regular basis -
Evil princess and her haughty courtiers, pen and watercolor by Anna, age 12 We have had such enjoyable times watercoloring this past year and have really grown to love the medium. A frequent question in my inbox is, What art curriculum do you use? I've attempted to show you that around here 'art' is not a curriculum; it's a natural, beautiful part of our everyday lives.
*One caveat with the video, if modesty in dress is important to your family please note one of the presenters is a bit lacking, particularly for the intro.
Most people should have gotten their cards by now so I can also show you my table covered with cards, from the mom's section-
all the way across the table to the youngest artists. Many little girls (mine included) firmly believe Our Lady likes to wear pink sometimes along with her customary blue. :-)
Here are the beautiful cards I received -
Here are the gorgeous cards Josiah got-
These are the beauties Lydia received-
Here are the lovely cards Anna got-
These are the beautiful cards Mary Rose received-
And here are Eliza's delightful new treasures -
And last but by no means least, Kateri received these lovelies-
So precious, the drawings from the littlest ones! Aren't all the cards fabulous!?! Everyone here loves their cards, and we're having fun visiting the blogs and pointing out the 'famous artists' they now know by name.
It has been such a pleasure to see and appreciate all the creative talent and diverse styles of all the wonderful artists of all ages, and we thank you all again for participating.
Outside my window- It's going to be another very hot day. The garden is growing, flowers are blooming, raspberries are producing at a decent rate. Our three little blackberry bushes we put in last year are covered in berries - they produce so heavily I'm wondering why we don't have more of them. Much more fruit per square foot than anything else we grow.
I am hearing- Mississippi hot dog being practiced on the piano (or pep-per-o-ni piz-za as some of you call it). Jonathan has been teaching some piano lessons here at the house, and the little girls have curiously watched and rightfully demanded lessons too. So Kateri and Eliza are off to a fine start, and Jonathan will get a good mental work out as well trying to teach those two. It's delightful to have beginning pianists in the house again - such enthusiasm!
I am wearing- A black floral skirt, pink top, black Mary Janes (well, they're somewhere around here).
I am thankful for- Summer vacation is finally here!
I am thinking about- I didn't mean to take a big blogging break, really. At the end of May we snuck away for a few days to visit some dear friends on their big day, and then I left my computer's power cord at my mother's house. And then it was June. In June everything from my kitchen table to all of my brain power is consumed with jumping through my state's end-of-the-year homeschool hoops. The house falls apart and my brain along with it as I try to sum up a year's worth of home learning, each student's education being reduced to a two inch thick three ring binder. We had our evaluations last week and have spent the time since trying to put everything from my kitchen table to my overwhelmed brain back in order. It is all finally beginning to feel peaceful and akin to summer vacation - my dear husband says I seem like a person again. 'I really get into a tizzy every June, don't I?' 'Yes, dear, I know you do. I know all about it...' He's a very patient guy.
From the kitchen- Transitioning over to summertime eating is delightful. We had raspberry galettes on Sunday - nothing cheers Dad quite as well as the sight of Lydia putting on her apron.
She used her famous galette pastry and just topped it with a layer of raspberries, finishing it off with a sprinkle of sugar and dots of butter. Then on Monday she made the apricot-raspberry cobbler from Rustic Fruit Desserts, a collection of homey recipes for crumbles, buckles, pandowdies and more.
This was surprisingly scrumptious for such simple fare, and it was especially satisfying to use apricots from our very own little tree. Dinner is often salad and pasta with whatever-is-ready-to-pick-tonight: squashes, chard, spinach, and I'm hoping for the first basil harvest tonight. We've also enjoyed the first taffy of the season, now that school's out.
In the learning house - Going through everyone's work for the year has reminded me of so many things I had wanted to blog about but can't seem to find the time during the school year. So perhaps I'll get to some of that in the coming weeks, and a post on summer learning as well...
Living the Liturgical Year- Celebrated the Nativity of John the Baptist last night. This feast properly calls for a bonfire and the singing of Ut queant laxis; lacking a firepit, we just stuck a candle in our cherry crisp and sang over that. June altar looks much like last year's and my little red hearts are around the house as well.
Around the house- It's time for the annual deep clean and purge/organization to occur. I am trying to figure out what areas are top priority, as it's unrealistic to try to get the entire house done without spending the entire summer cleaning. I'm also trying to plan some painting and generalized sprucing up, but again trying to be practical. Everything always seems to take at least twice as long as we think it will.
One of my favorite things- Can I say I love the internet? I know it's supposed to make your brain mushy and all that, but sometimes I just love having instant access to so much information. Example: the other day Josiah came downstairs and announced he just saw a fox in our front yard right by the house, in broad daylight, rolling around in the grass. Naturally I freaked out became very concerned at the thought of a decidedly rabid fox in our yard and roaming the woods where my children go on nature walks. I went outside with Josiah and we looked around where he said it went off, and to our surprise we actually got a glimpse of it. We also saw it trot briskly away when it sighted us - a good sign. But it looked very strange, like a fox-cat or fox-dog as it had a fox-like head but a long, skinny bare tail. We were both confused as to what the strange looking animal could be. However a quick google search of 'fox without bushy tail' immediately brought up information about foxes afflicted with mange, how they hang out around houses even in daylight and often roll in the grass to try and soothe the relentless itching, and the pictures looked just like 'our' fox. All of the fox's strange behavior and looks could be attributed to the mange, not rabies. Whew.
Just popping in to say the 575 Marian ATC's went to the post office on Friday and are all on their way to their new recipients!
Thanks so much to everyone who participated! We had so much fun making our cards and hosting the swap. It was truly wonderful to have my kitchen table entirely covered with 575 little pieces of artwork to honor Our Lady. I was especially delighted to see all the cards made by so many mamas who joined in - ladies who are busy for sure yet still make time for beautifully expressing their creativity. Very cheery indeed.
We sorted all the cards into groups, approximately by the artist's age, and then we created groups of six and swapped cards within each group. Finally we played a grand game of find the right envelope to put each of the 115 participant's cards in. My girls thought everyone should receive five cards, so they made extras to make up for anyone who didn't send in five (that explains why you might get more cards than you sent me). Some folks have already asked if we will do this again, and that would be a definite Yes! I thought it would be fun to do a swap in the fall for All Saints, with everyone creating artwork of their favorite saints.
Thanks again to all who joined and I hope you enjoy your new cards!
Updated: I added a Mr. Linky so you can share your new cards if you like:
Remember, O Christian soul, that thou hast this day, and every day of thy life: God to glorify - Jesus to imitate - The Angels and Saints to invoke - A soul to save - A body to mortify - Sins to expiate - Virtues to acquire - Hell to avoid - Heaven to gain - Eternity to prepare for - Time to profit by - Neighbors to edify - The world to despise - Devils to combat - Passions to subdue - Death perhaps to suffer - Judgment to undergo.
Thanks for stopping by! My name is Kimberlee. I am a Catholic homeschooling mother of seven children ages 9- adult. This is my place to share all these things I treasure, and ponder in my heart.
The Fig and Thimble
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Lydia's New Book
Quis Ut Deus Press
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