Meet one of MMoA’s favorite children’s author/ illustrator… Peter Reynolds. His collection of stories are a joyful and powerful reminder of our individuality and advocate the fact that we are ALL artists. For anyone who has been afraid to express themselves – from a child in art class to an adult whose fear has hindered a long-held dream, Peter’s books teach us life lessons that go well beyond art. All three stories provide encouragement to explore, develop, and protect the bravery required to discover one’s voice and express it in a unique way. We encourage all educators, parents, children, (and lets just go with ALL human beings) to add these three books to your library, and to read and reflect on them whenever you need a boost of confidence. Our very own Education Manager Mary Addison has used them for inspiration countless times in classrooms and at home with her own children.
Tree of Life… inspired by The Dot
The Dot is there to remind us all to “Make your mark, and see where it takes you.” A young girl sits in art class feeling very frustrated because she is no artist and feels she can’t draw. To prove her point, in a moment of anger, she jabs at a blank piece of paper, making a mark. Her one little, unremarkable dot becomes a journey of surprise and self-discovery. It is a story of the creative spirit that is within all of us. It also illustrates the power of a single adult’s actions to change a child’s life and how creative thinking has the ability to unlock a child’s confidence and growth.
*I have done many projects with children that stem from the lesson’s taught in this book. One of my classes created a collaborative group art project, combining all of their many “dots”. We decided to entitle it “The Tree of Life.” Try it with your family: have each family member draw 3 circles and attached them to a drawing of a tree. I have done this before as a wedding gift, creating a unique version of a family tree.
Ish Drawings… inspired by Ish
Ish is the story of a boy who loves drawing, but then gets frustrated because he doesn’t feel like they look quite “right.” He decides to give up. His negative outlook is changed when he discovers his sister has secretly been keeping his tossed away, crumbled up art to hang them on her wall. In her opinion, they are special and valuable even if they don’t look exactly like the original thing he attempted to draw. Once he accepted his art, he could create freely, drawing things like “fish-ish,” “afternoon-ish,” and sun-ish.” This book teaches us that we don’t need to create art perfectly, we just need to do it with love.
*Encourage your child to make a collection of “Ish” drawings, without any comment on how to draw it a certain way, what colors to use, or what it should look like.
Anything Goes…inspired by Sky Color
A young, budding artist gets excited to help paint a mural for a school project, but gets confused when she discovers there isn’t any more blue paint left. How can you paint a sky without any blue? After pondering, she discovers all the many different colors a sky can be especially as it transitions from day to night. She eventually finds her answer in a dream and ends up creating her own “sky color.” This story breaks from the traditional rules we often teach children such as “an apple is red” or in this case, “the sky is blue.” Sky Color reminds us to look past what is expected and to celebrate out of the box creativity.
*Have your child use un-traditional colors in their art. They may be resistant, but there are many ways to encourage this. Create an entire painting using just shades of one color, or for older children, have them paint with colors that are opposite on the color wheel. For example, if they are painting the grass outside, instead of using green have it be various shades of red. If they are painting what would normally be blue water, use shades of orange and yellow instead. In art, anything goes!