A week ago or so Mia brought home her Art portfolio from school. The kids do this every year and it's one of my most favorite days. We sat there and looked through what she had created and I felt so proud of her. Later in the week I went to school to have lunch with my Mia and noticed the art work that laced the halls of the school. Every one looked exactly the same. There were a few subtle differences, but they were all for the most part the same.
In home school Zander has to memorize 8-10 poems a year. They vary in length. After he memorizes them he has to recite them to someone to practice his public speaking skills. Today he started working on a poem by Emily Dickinson called A Slash of Blue.
A slash of Blue—
A sweep of Gray—
Some scarlet patches on the way,
Compose an Evening Sky—
A little purple—slipped between—
Some Ruby Trousers hurried on—
A Wave of Gold—
A Bank of Day—
This just makes out the Morning Sky.
When he's trying to memorize a poem, I read it to him three times, we discuss the meaning of it, look up any words that we don't understand, then he begins working on the memorization.
With this specific poem there was an optional extra exercise. It was to have the child use watercolors and paint a morning sky or an evening sky using the colors described and the child's own imagination. I set down a piece of paper and some paints in front of him. He just looked at me. I said paint a sunrise or sunset. He just looked at me. I was very confused. He told me that he couldn't do it. I was even more confused so I asked him what the problem was. He said he needs a sample, and that I need to paint one first so he knows what it should look like...REALLY?? REALLY???
I said ummmm NO! You need to read the poem again and paint what it describes. He got so upset that he would in some way do it wrong. Is there a wrong way to be creative?? We went to the Internet and googled pictures of sunsets and sunrises. There were millions with different colors and different subjects. We used these photos as inspiration. We did not copy a single picture, we let our minds grope at the possibilities of what a painting of a sky could include. After scrolling through a few pages Elle and I sat down with him and we all began to paint. So how does this relate to Mia and her portfolio? Why is this so painful to me?
After Zander, Elle and I painted our pictures, we went on with the lesson and discovered that some feel that this poem that Emily Dickinson wrote was about the sky at two different times of the day, but others speculate that it is about a war that took place during her lifetime. So we researched her and her life a bit, then traced it to the Civil War.We read a little about the civil war as well. The colors in the poem were a mirror of uniform colors, plus other war imagery in there.
After our research, we reread the poem. This time the poem felt very different to us. Both of us. When I finished reading it I looked up at a silent Zander and found that he (and I) had tears in our eyes. I wondered what type of painting he would paint now. I wondered if that feeling he had would cause him a panic of failure at the task or would it inspire him to paint a picture because he FELT the emotion in that poem.
I am so thankful for that lesson we studied today. There were a few deeper lessons within it. I hold creativity very close to my heart. In every aspect of my life I am a creator. The joy I feel making my little piece of the world my own holds great strength and motivation to me. It made me sad that Zander didn't know how to be creative. I was sad that in his previous art classes he wasn't encouraged to be creative, but just to be like everyone else. Creativity comes easily to my little girls they spend literally hours with crayons, paints, stamps, markers, glue, you name it. Zander is different. I explained to him what being creative means. I helped him see the power in thinking out of the box that society draws for us to cram ourselves in. There's not even air holes in there, its suffocating.