Portrait Collaboration with Kids

This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Annie Hamman and was entirely fabulous and fun.  The object of the lesson was to create a portrait while releasing our Inner Child, being less inhibited and intentional, just being fun, free and playful.  Hamman demonstrated, ably assisted by her delightful daughter, how collaborating with young children can help us be more liberated with our art.

I thought it would be fun to get all of my kids involved in the collaborative piece but I only achieved a 50% take up rate.  Happily that 50% were my two youngest and, therefore, least inhibited children.  We used the face map sketch I did for the Let’s Face It lesson as our starting point and off we went.  Since my kids are all at school, instead of taking turns to add bits and pieces, I let my boys basically create the whole first layer of the painting.

Week 4 Collaboration with Children 1

Week 4 Collaboration with Children 2

Once the first layer had dried, it was my turn.  Interestingly, my Control Freakery was not going dingbat crazy over what the kids had done to my sketch.  I was entirely happy for them to play around with it and do what they wanted.  I think having fun with my kids probably makes me less concerned about a successful outcome.  That was a valuable lesson in and of itself.  My actual concern, when it was my turn to paint, was actually about how to retain their choice of colours, shapes and marks while also pulling a face out of the chaos.  I didn’t want to ruin their work.

Week 4 Collaboration with Children 3

Week 4 Collaboration with Children 4

What is great about this painting is that I don’t even care about its shortcomings, don’t even want to critique it, because it stands as a colourful record of working with two of my kids to produce something fun.  I never could or would have come up with this as a finished outcome had they not produced the first layer so it is a genuine collaboration.  I often work on art side by side with my kids but I really loved getting my kids involved in my art in this particular way.  I would love to do it again and again.  I might even be able to persuade the older two to participate.

Halloween Tabs Art Journal page

This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to “add a tab”.  I was instantly uninspired.  I don’t partake of the planner element of the project, for a few reasons, and it seemed like adding tabs was more appropriate for the planner element of the project than the art journal element.  I was at a loss.  I actually considered just skipping the week entirely.

Then I had an idea.

It has been a while since my kids had collaborated with me as part of the DLP.  They have worked with me on two previous pages: one where they started the drawing and then I completed it and one where I had to incorporate a pocket.  I decided, therefore, that the surest way of me becoming inspired was to work with my boys on the prompt.  We decided upon a Halloween theme since we just celebrated Halloween on Friday.  And school photos.  We just received the kids’ school photos.  They were not great and honestly I probably would have asked for retakes had it not been for the fact that we got drenched in a rainstorm on the walk home from school on the day they were issued with led to the photos being in less than pristine condition and, therefore, unreturnable.  Monstrous school photos of cute monsters.  That was my idea.

I drew four little kid monsters, from the classic movie monster range, as if they were having their photos taken.  I drew a vampire, a werewolf, a mummy and a lagoon creature.  I used watercolour and ink to colour and outline.  Then came the tab element and my children’s input.  I cut four tabs to correspond to the four monster characters and decorated them with a line of very thin washi tape to add some colour.  I then used some arrow stamps to indicate the direction in which each tab should be lifted.  I stamped the obverse side with some sugar skulls just to add to the Halloween theme further and to make the lifted side of the tabs more decorative.  My kids’ contribution was that each was asked to draw something of their choice onto the tab that indicated who would be found beneath.  My 5 year old drew a bat for the vampire, my 7 year old drew a moon and the word “howl” using a hairy font for the werewolf, my 9 year old drew a sarcophagus for the mummy and my 11 year old drew a fish for the swamp creature.

So I went from completely uninspired to inspired by including my boys in my prompt page.

Week 45a - Tabs Week 45b - Tabs Week 45c - Tabs

This was not the only art project I worked on this week.  I also created a lino block print of Danae which you can read about and see over at my Art Blog, Pict Ink.