Art That Won’t Fit

At the end of each summer, I do what I’ve done for several years now:  plan and organize for a new year of home schooling. In August, I mapped out all the artists my sons and I would study during our school year, one artist for each six-week term. I chose several selections of each artist’s work, printed them out, and put them in folders, one folder for each artist.

I put together a list of activities to do as well, a few pertaining to each artist. So far, we’ve studied Henri Matisse and observed his style of “drawing with scissors.” My boys have finished two projects of their own done in this style. I have never taken an art class in my entire life, not even art appreciation (I chose music appreciation in college instead.) So I relish opportunities to learn alongside my children. True confession:  I didn’t even know which colors were considered “warm” or “cool” until I began home schooling.

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As you can see, I’ve tried really, really hard to get organized and to set us up well for the entire school year. Part of that, of course, included acquiring folders for my boys’ art work–so we could save it throughout our year.

Here’s the thing about those folders, regular-sized plain manila folders:  They just can’t contain art. The artwork I printed in full, beautiful color–the representative pieces from the six artists we’ll study–those all came out of my printer on standard paper. They fit nicely into the folders. It looks neat; it stays organized. I feel good. Because, you see, I always wanted to be the neat little girl whose pink pants DIDN’T get covered with dirt and gravel at recess (true story). I wanted NOT to be the girl with gum stuck on her clothes who sat in the wrong seat. I wanted NOT to be the girl whose teacher exclaimed over how dirty her face was in front of the entire class before going to lunch in the cafeteria one day (more true stories).

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But my boys’ artwork? One piece of paper is hardly enough to hold the creative output that they produce. As they get started on a project, I can see quickly that they need a bigger canvas. So I get out the tape and fix two pieces of plain white paper together. Now they have sufficient room to display the art that they are creating. I may have started the year thinking, hoping, we could get their art creations (at least, the two-dimensional ones) to fit snugly into those folders–after all, it makes transporting them to the teacher who performs our yearly home school evaluations SO MUCH EASIER–but I find myself readily agreeing to–or even suggesting–bigger pages with more space to create.

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Not as tidy, not as streamlined. But. But…My children get to do more of what they love; they get to enjoy the process of creating even more. They get to learn that making something they love doesn’t have to fit neatly into any one space. They get to learn that creating something beautiful may not fit into set parameters. And about that:  I feel good.

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