Monday, July 28, 2008

Keeping childrens artworks

Kids produce an enormous ammount of art. The stuff they bring from school plus the stuff they do at home quickly piles up into a mountain of paper and sculpture. I've been keeping a couple of plain scrapbooks, one for Isabelle and one for Stanley. All the special pictures go in there. Although I've found recently that if I keep going at this rate I'll end up with volumes of work!

I have two reasons for keeping a record of their artworks. Firstly I want them to be able, if they wish, to re-examine their creativity when they are older. If either of them decides to follow a creative path they'll have a reference of their own creativity to look through.

We often dismiss children's drawings as scribbles or label them "cute", but I believe that their drawings are full of the sort of freedom that as adults we so often lack. I know I often struggle to create something that comes purely on the spur of the moment and lacks any kind of desire to be a success at the end. So often when I draw I WANT the work to be a certain way when it's done. I sometimes find it difficult to just let go of it and create with a clear mind. I believe that's exactly what children do. They don't have preconceived ideas of what a princess on a horse should look like. They just go for it! Nor do they set out to create their artwork with a particular influence or style behind it.

Big bulgey horses body, then the legs, three wonky rectangles one skinny wobbly line, then the head, oops! no room for the head no problem the head will be disproportionally smaller and kind of to the side. It's great! I remember reading that Pablo Picasso strived to attain that kind of childish freedom of expression. I'm thus keeping my kids drawings so that perhaps one day if they need to they can see what they were like creatively when their minds were completely uncluttered by ideas of what's good and what's not. Don't get me wrong I'm not suggesting that every artist has no creative freedom just because they're an adult. Nor do I believe that everyone looses their freedom when they grow up. But I do believe that a lot of us are at least some of the time held back for many different reasons.

This brings me to the other reason of why I want to keep the kids artworks and that is so I myself can learn from them. I'm often amazed at the direction that their drawings take. The other day Isabelle was drawing a fairy princess. When she drew the dress she realised there was no room for the legs at the bottom of the page and so she drew them swung out to the side. Completely abstract but her fairy princess suddenly took on a marvellous joyous energy.

It showed me that she didn't think that a lack of paper should stop her completing her picture. She quickly found a way around a limitation and made the best of it. Heck she propably didn't even see it as a limitation.

So if you feel like keeping a record of your childrens artworks you can do so very easily. If you don't feel like doing the whole scrapbook thing; cutting, gluing, arranging, then just get yourself a large box. A3 size is best and start collecting! It's totally up to you what you decide to put in. No doubt when your child starts drawing you'll put everything in that box, and why not. After a while you'll find that your children will have some favourite drawings that they would like to keep. Or perhaps its a simple drawing with a lot of meaning behind it. Like expressing their emotion by use of pictures. You could add a note on the back describing what it is. If you're feeling particulary creative you could have a book made of their drawings. There are now bound books you can have made at photo developing places. You just hand in your images and they make a book for you bound and printed on high quality stock. I saw some very good ones at Harvey Norman.

I've just started a book of drawings for the kids. I will be adding to it periodically but the drawings will be scanned in with backgrounds cleaned up or background colours changed. I'd like to create a kind of fun illustrative work of their artworks. Here are the first few pages...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sharing stories...

Well I've finally done it and created my own blog. Not much here to speak of at the moment but I am planning on starting some kind of journey that I can share with everyone about my own record keeping and story telling of my childrens lives. Since having designed the Once-A-Year Book I have been keeping one for my daughter and one for my son. The books open up concertina style and go for 18 years and on the back of each year is a ruled page where I will keep a brief written record of each year.

The Once-A-Year Book

And sharing ideas...
I keep other records of the kids such as the things they say (they are 3 and 4) and the art works they create. I keep a simple notebook for each one of them handy by the fridge and every time one of them says someting that makes me laugh or someting incredibly wise or loving I quickly jot it down. I will write more about this later on. I also keep a couple of standard scrapbooks for the drawings and paintings and photos of sculptures. I will be adding to this blog all my ideas about keeping records, storing photos and keeping photo albums.

Some of the photo albums and journals I have made in the past

Keeping records...
I have been keeping records, journal etc for many years. Passionately when I had the time and sporadically when I didn't. All in all I have collected a lot of information about my own life up to this point. I have nothing however about the first 18 year sof my life or there abouts. Nothing about my growing up and even very few photos. Many of which were lost in the moves from one place to another while migrating out of Poland with my mum.

Having two children of my own now I want to create for them a record of their gowing up years. They are too busy to think about the future now or how they will view their past. And good on them for being too busy as they are discovering their world and themselves and finding their place. I will keep records for them. I will write down all their little habits, their triumphs and sad moments. I hope that this endevour will help me know them better and help me slow down a little to observe more, listen more, do less and talk less.

One day they will want to know about their past and I just know they will be fascinated with a story of their own lives that spanned the first 18 years. I will include things not just about them but also about our world and what is happening in it. I hope that perhaps one day all that I have recorded may help them in some way to know themselves better.

I wondered the other day about all the things I loved to do when I was little. I could only remember loving to do crafty things which makes sense as it's now become my job running Laikonik and handmaking all my products. But I wondered if I could have discovered more about myself if somewhere there was a record of my childhood. I have heard it said that what we love to do the most as children is what we should be doing in our jobs as adults. I am slowly observing my son and daughter and I smile as I wonder where all the paper cutting and glueing and drawing intricate train engines and dressing up will lead...

A bird made by Isabelle out of found things in our garden