Stop! Collaborate and Listen

“Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist when he grows up.” ~ Pablo Picaso

One of my favorite memories as a child is coloring. My mom entered me into countless coloring contests. I once won a Nintendo (with Duck Hunt) and a $500 shopping spree through different coloring contests. To this day I still get super excited over a new box of freshly sharpened crayons, even if they aren’t for me. I couldn’t wait to start coloring with my oldest however she was never really one for coloring books, she has always liked to draw her own pictures and color them. Her imagination impresses me everyday. And it reminds me of a time when I use to let my imagination run wild. I don’t know whether its the responsibility that kills creativity or the expectations of adulthood, but whatever it may be, the days of drawing space ships with butterfly aliens that shoot flower laser beams is a thing of the past. Instead you find joy in things like organized closets.

I wish I could say that when I was younger I had the same carefree, reckless imagination that I see in my daughter. I was very much the same as I am now, I had a strict attention to detail and would get upset when my projects didn’t turn out the way I wanted them too. I love watching my daughter work, she is carefree and vibrant. She could care less if its perfect or if it even makes sense, she draws it because she wanted to and she loves it.  Fortunately, she doesn’t have to concern herself with how to pay for gymnastic classes or new Nikes, so yeah maybe it is responsibility that kills creativity. 

I took a page from her these past couple weeks that I’ve been in this creative slump. I’ve wanted to collaborate on something with her for awhile and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. My youngest got in on the collaboration too, although at 3 she has trouble keeping her attention on anything that doesn’t involve My Little Pony or pancakes. 

We tried a couple fun little art experiments. First I did a quick portrait sketch of the two of them and then let them finish the picture. As you can tell we are super into mermaids at the moment. Joanna, the 3 year old, made everyone a black bird and it looked terrifying so I decided not to include that one.

The Adventures of Kara and Joanna by Kara + Jann

Next I drew onto pictures that the girls had drawn.  It was fun adding onto their ideas. However, the look on Joanna’s face clearly meant she couldn’t understand why I had ruined her already perfect picture.  Joanna is going through what I like to call her bird period, much like Picasso’s Blue Period. If Jo is drawing, she is most likely drawing a bird. She drew four birds and told me that they were Daddy, Mommy, Kara and Joanna. I gave the main birdhouse a bird tree-house and that tree-house got a tiny bird house. Meta birdhouse.

Joanna (3) Bird Family

Kara has watched me over the past couple years creating my paperslides. I cut, paste, roll and stack paper in all kinds of ways to create these illustrations set to music. So every now and then she will do the same thing, it amazes me how patient she is cutting out tiny pieces of paper and gluing them together, here she used that method to make the bees.

Kara (6) Paper Bees

And finally my favorite. Kara drew me some fish the other day (it was actually a part of a book she made about fish). I made a sort of tunnel book and then made an aquarium scene which I back-lit with blue light and then photographed. I’ve long been a fan of Elly Mackay and her work creating whimsical scenes from paper.

Kara + Jann, Rainbow Fish

This isn’t the end of my collaboration with my girls. We are already working on some other fun projects. But more than that, it really got me excited about maybe going bigger, maybe make some collaboration art with the elementary school kids and then auction them off for charity (the work not the kids). I love getting to peak into the beautiful and unadulterated creativity of a child and getting a glimpse of what it was that made me want to be an artist in the first place.