Friday, January 05, 2007

The art of childhood



I made this painting about 4 years ago of Isabela when she was about one, just after she learned to walk. I named it "For her Amusement" and its 3'x3' and hangs on the apple green walls in the playroom...appropriately. Originally, I was inspired by this one, as I am inspired by all the paintings of Picasso's blue period. It seems the more human his paintings were the less well they were received, it's just where art was at the time. Anyway. Love the blue period. All the thoughts I have when I make a painting kind of fleet away from me in the years after, and then come back around again. I don't know why or how. When I made the painting I was thinking of all those tasks and chores that surround occupying and entertaining a child. I didn't want to portray her as a spoiled brat but more, like the central act in a domestic circus where each corner is filled with something she may want or need. I did lots of paintings with birds and birdcages in them for a while. I think I was the bird in the cage. Can I say that? Motherhood is hard. If you want to do it right. And going after goals outside of motherhood is hard too, not harder, but maybe more complicated.

Geesh, where is this going?

What I wanted to say is I feel guilty sometimes, that I have the ability to amuse my kids with a playroom and a gameroom as shared in my last post, and I feel like I should apologize for it somehow. Is it okay to spend so much time keeping them happy? Yea, I think so, but for me its the the kind of happy that makes the difference. I justify giving them so much by 1) the sheer number of children we have and 2) the kind of things I am occupying them with. The gameroom was something that we came up with to reroute that kneejerk phenomenon of waking up and turning on the tv. Jeff was startled in the wee hours of the morning a few days ago by hearing some rustling in the garage, thinking we may have an intruder. What we had instead was Nicolas and Joseph waking before dawn to play down in their new room, cause it was the first thing they thought of when they woke up. Perfect.



I guess there is a 3) justification to bestowing lots of fun on the kids. We expect alot in return in terms of their character and their treatment of each other. Juliana and I made this big (3x4) "Family Rules" painting after we moved into this house a few years ago. It is actually referred to often as we discipline the kids. Nicolas has pointed out that there are so many more rules in this house than what is shown in the posted parameters. I explained that this just touches on the basics. It is actually a very fun little project for a family to work on together, creating and refining a list and then tackling it with not too much care of aesthetics. It's not about aesthetics, you see.

So let me revise. I don't feel guilty, just incrediby blessed. Today is the last day of the kids' Christmas break and I'm just thinking about how great it's been. Usually I am counting the days till they go back, so I can get some work done, and I've done that a tiny bit, but it'll be really quiet here next week. Which is fine. We'll share them with their lucky teachers and use the time we have to both refine them and entertain them. I think that's our job.

xoxo,AM

52 comments:

  1. How beautiful!! What a fun blog to read today! I bet your children are just as creative as you are, and how nice that they have a room where their imaginations can now run wild!! You sound like an awesome mother!!

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  2. I love your post. Your paintings are beautiful. I couldn't agree more. Why shouldn't we do wonderful things for our children? It sets a great example. Your "family rules" are fantastic.

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  3. Laurie12:45 PM

    Oh, you are sooo right about the "bird in the cage" thinking! That is the first thing I thought of when I saw the bird in it's cage!!! Us moms!!!! I just LOVE the painting! It is so telling and yet so precious of your Isabella! Love the playroom, too! Keep up the good nurturing!

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  4. The "family rules" painting is absolutely inspired! I may try that with my crew...

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  5. your family rules are wonderful...it's a great idea to put them on paper (or canvas, as the case may be)

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  6. Wow, if only I knew how to paint! I'd make a family rules poster just like yours. So fun! (I'm curious as to why Leo gets special treatment, teehee.)

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  7. Hi Kim, Juliana did most of it, with only color and legibility being her rules.
    And the leo amendment was when we got him two year ago. All that dog hair is so worth his company. :)
    Have a good day!
    xo,AM

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  8. Anonymous3:09 PM

    love the family rules. My boys have just gone to bed and I am getting ready for a patchwork course tomorrow and having a chat with my hubby about the boys returning back to school. Like you this has just been such a blessed holiday, shared with friends and love. I am going to miss them so much next week.
    Thank you for making me feel normal, everyone else seems to be pleased to get Christmas over with.
    Suzie Sews (UK)

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  9. What a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your family rules. I love them.

    I can so relate to the feelings you expressed.

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  10. Just wanted to say I loved your posts about the playroom. I don't think you should feel at all guilty or bad - what you came up with is so much nicer than a room filled with a gazillion plastic gee-gaws with noisy electronic voices (which are so hard to avoid). I want to tackle a similar project for my 2 year old and you've inspired me!

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  11. I loved your post and the room for your children. We have four wonderful daughters, enjoy them while they are home, one of mine is in college. Boy, does the time go quickly once they are in school. I do remember the bird in the cage feeling when they were small, then they start kindergarten. That is when the years zoom by. Enjoy the new room and less TV is always a good thing!

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  12. As a teacher I think this room is awesome! It has so much potential to grow with the kids. I used to house sit for a family with two teenage boys. They had everything in their basement, a pool table, large screen tv, game systems, stereo-everything. And you know what- those boys stayed at home and their friends came to them. Everyone was safe in the basement. Nobody was out drinking and driving. Their mom popped down frequently with snacks to remind them all that she was home.

    Spoiled safe is what I would call that!

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  13. Anna, that painting of Isabella takes my breath away! What medium did you use? Acrylic? Oil? It's gorgeous. I think people-painting will be my final frontier one day. There's nothing like a moving painting of an interesting person! And the family rules painting - how cool. Oh, I need more play time for such things. Thanks for the inspiring post ;-)

    xo--Heather

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  14. I am blown away by your accomplishments and what a wonderful mother you are! You only graduated in '95???? Goodness, what have I been doing in comparison. I've got to get busy. Beautiful designs you have too. My backyard is in Clarksville, Tn. and front yard is in Guthrie, Ky. BTW :)

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  15. I love your Family Rules.

    You are blessed when you can and will devote yourself to serving others and doubly blessed when serving family(I think).

    Being creative, in my experience, even on a small scale, but frequently helped me through those baby and small children years. Something for myself that spilled over to the good of the family!

    Love your blog!
    Molly

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  16. I love your game room and I love the family rules! What a great way to instill good values with a positive attitude. We all could use a little more of that - child or adult.

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  17. Why should you feel guilty? I think that it is a great thing to be able to provide your children with a treat such as the game room. I grew up one of six children and we would have relished having the amount of attention that you manage to give your children (and still have enough energy left over to do creative endeavors of your own.) I admire that. Keep up the good work!

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  18. I'm in awe of that painting. I have 5 kids (three a bit disturbed, only added to the family last year), and we would not survive without a list of family rules, which hangs in the kitchen and in each kid's bedroom. But why I never thought of making the lists look colorful and special I don't know, thanks for the idea. You are bringing up people who will make the world a better place, so giving them another room to play in is certainly not anything to feel guilty about!

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  19. I love your list of rules. Your blog is a delight! I am always interested in reading about other crafty mothers of five. :)

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  20. Just found your blog through another blog. You're amazing! I'm also the mother of many (seven) and graduated in '94. Only thing I'm missing is your talent for art. I hope to purchase something someday. . .

    ~Natalee

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  21. Thank you so much for saying that Motherhood is hard. I need to hear that more often from other moms. It's the most fulfilling thing in my life, but it's hard, too. I have been so inspired by your posts. I've been thinking lately about how I hate that the TV gets turned on first thing in the morning, and I'm constantly rearranging the kids' playroom to make it more "playable." Thanks for taking time out to blog. You're doing a great service to some of us!

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  22. I just love the painting of your DD, but the 'Family Rules' really caught my eye. I think I need to make something similar for my family. Beautiful! Sounds like you're doing great for your children. Don't worry about giving to them. They'll be happy and well adjusted children, knowing you love them. Motherhood is hard, but it sounds like you're doing splendidly.

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