Today was my first weekday free after the end of the spring semester. So when my daughter's teacher texted me at 6:17am to ask if I could come in today to work on the class mural, I said yes! And fell back asleep for ten minutes, and woke up, and got the kids ready, and made lunches...you know how it goes. And then I was in the classroom facing a very large, very blank canvas drop cloth.
At my kids' Montessori school, Kidsfest is a huge deal. Every class chooses a country to study. They study it on and off all year leading up to one glorious, international afternoon of projects, food, activities, costumes, and dancing. This year, my daughter's class studied Sweden. They had the idea to create a mural depicting a Viking ship in front of which parents and students could take pictures during Kidsfest. My daughter popped up and said, "My mom's an artist!" Which leads me to this morning.
After a quick internet search for a suitable image, I took off my shoes and went to work. After about a half hour, I had the ship done and was working on the Vikings and all of their horned hats. One of the kids came over to look.
"Wow!" he said. "That's really good! How'd you do that so fast?"
I said thanks and that I was just sketching it out. They would do the painting later on. And I remembered the first painting I remember working on as an adult. I wanted it to be perfect. I spent hours on lines and shading. I trashed the whole thing, disgusted. At some point after that, an artist friend told me to stop trying to make my art look like something. To stop trying to make it look "real."
Kids (and adults!) learn a lot through observation. I hope that my daughter's classmates saw me being quick and messy, there on the floor of their classroom with my shoes off sitting in the middle of a giant canvas drop cloth, having a great time. And I will try to remember this more often in my own art and in my poetry: stop trying to make it perfect and just start.
So here I go. A new site, a new blog. I hope you'll come along with me!