Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Creativity Abounding!

Eve and our neighbor, Kati, paint and draw and listen to World Playground 2 by Puntamayo Music
Maybe it was all that extroverted energy... yang energy... all that output... whatever you want to call it. Maybe it was all that outward energy of our own March Madness with family and friends that has caused the surge of creativity that seems to be happening around our home over the past week.


While creativity culminates in ultimately some sort of outward expression, there is all the wonderful, inward stuff that goes on in the process of creating. The process is what we love, isn't it? While it is fun and certainly possible to be creative in a group (and that in and of itself is a different energy all its own), it is the solitary work that the artist really needs. Time and - no, not quiet... not always quiet... because sometimes the right piece of music can really take you places. But time - yes, uninterrupted time - and no distractions.

Maia writing her story in her room. She moves from her story to her Manga practice and back again.
Oh, yeah. And there's algebra down on the floor too!

Manga drawing, painting with watercolor pencils, and story writing have all become forces of their own over the past week. A writing curriculum for school, Learn to Write the Novel Way, chosen for Maia for this year's Language Arts, has become more of a guide book than anything else. The exercises in it are excellent, but seem to be geared for someone who hesitates to write. For my girl who wanted to jump right in, the exercises seemed a bit tedious. We still read the book in sections from time to time for inspiration, ideas, and encouragement, but she is just really off and running with the writing.



She completed her first grapic novel about two months ago. With a few encouraging words, she is not only working on the original story for school, but her own novel, which is remarkably impressive. I'm thinking of doing some online research into writing contests for children to keep the momentum going, if and when things get sluggish... but that doesn't seem to be happening at this point.

So Maia was writing and then I thought, why not let Eve just write a story too? Yes, write instead of her formal grammar curriculum. And she fairly leaped at the chance! The chance to write just in the way her big sister is writing and get out of identifying random subjects and random predicates in random sentences. Oh, we still talk abou those things, but we locate them in her sentences and review nouns, adjectives, etc. from time to time. But the whole of language arts is taking place in her writing - just like Maia's. The girls write two days of the week, spend one day editing with me - reviewing sentence structure, spelling, etc., and type what they've written on another day - sort of simmering the whole thing and practicing their typing to boot.



We've moved from the black and white portion of our art curriculum into the color. This may take us into next school year, but we're all enjoying it so much, it doesn't matter. My girls have never been coloring fans. As someone who loved her coloring books as a child, and who still gets a silly grin on her face over a good whiff of crayons, this Mama had a hard time understanding the persistently black and white, if detailed, drawings over the years. Yes, drawing after drawing has occured. Ream upon ream of paper - a treasured necessity for each child in her own bedroom - has been consumed! But color? No thank you - or more like, "Naaahhh. I'm not into coloring. I like my drawing the way it is."

Our first color assignment wanted us to work in a single color.

So, somebody pinch me, please! When the girls voluntarily began coloring in their Manga characters... when the watercolor pencils and the jars of water and the brushes have been pulled out on the table every afternoon this week, you could have knocked me over with a feather!



I played along with the one-color assignment. Fun!
The best was when, just yesterday, a new game began: the girls and neighbor, Kati, were all drawing behind "screens" of upright notebooks.
"Top-secret drawings?" I inquired.
"No," said Maia. "We're drawing surprise pictures for each other and then the other one colors it in!"
They were so delighted over the game and gushed over each others' creations that they would now be able to add their own creativity to - through color.
So I'm grinning a lot. I love seeing them carry their supplies with them to and fro from Grandmas' (both of them) houses and referring to themselves as artists. I love peeking in the bedroom and seeing both of my girls with pages spread out around them, working into the night on their stories. I love how they are excited to read to us the latest additions and to share these passions with their friends who draw and paint and even write with them when they come over. Yes, there is Nintendo DS. And Webkinz and Wizard 101 are old and new favorites respectively. But there is room - lots of room - for creativity in this house. I am glad they are growing up with it around them. Glad that the materials have always been available. Glad that they've always seen me working on one project or another. Glad that they believe in the value of creativity and art as much as I do.
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