Art is life. Life is Art.
On a Kindergarten field trip to the Santa Barbara Art Museum, the docent shared with the students the three elements of all art; Shape, Line and color.
(Anna Stump- Littlest Artist)
For centuries, shape, line and color have influenced how and why artists do what they do, in a visceral way. Art always carries a story. The shape, line and color that create a painting, installation art, sculpture or other representations, fuse together and tell something about the time period when a piece was created or the emotions of the artists themselves. These stories can stand alone, in a solitary portrait, for example, or they can be drawn over a series of artistic pieces. There are billions of ways to combine shape, line and color, and artists continue to remind us how stories evolve.
What if we could think of our role as a parent, in an artistic way, and categorize our parental efforts into these three categories? What a changed perspective of a valley of opportunities!
(Anna Stump- “Meadow of Light”)
The skill of allowing your child or children to be who they are intended to be. The effort of nurturing our kids to be effective and compassionate in society. This is moral support, unconditional love and family bonding as well as faith, patience and perseverance. Shape is character-building, grace and compassion for others.
(Anna Stump- “Life in Yucatan”)
This is the business of routine. Brushing teeth, caring for the house and pets are all line . The curfews, the commitment to stick to something even if it is difficult. The attentiveness to rest and physical fitness and work ethic. The homework and caring for neighbor’s plants. These are all line. Line elements take time and consistency and foresight for the purposes these routines hold. From Mesozoic times to the present, line plays a crucial role.
(Byzantine, Mosaic Fragment with Leopard- Photographed at the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago)
Ah, color. The flare-factor! The joy-seeking, go-with-the-flow side. The trips and adventures you enjoy with your children. The breakfast for dinner. The birthday or tooth fairy surprises. The pieces of life that offer no limits. The hours you spend trying to teach your four-year-old to whistle, because it’s so full of laughter for the both of you! Color is the piece of parenting that allows for endless creativity and thousands of permutations to elevate your little ones’ spirit. This is the category where we, as parents, get to open doors for our kids and watch them walk through.
(Anna Stump- “Depth of a Cenote”)
So, there are some days when I feel all I do is set boundaries. It’s all line. And it’s so taxing. Other days are shape work and with four girls, this is timely too!! As for color, sometimes I forget how beautifully important this category is and how creating spaces of time to be joyful with our daughters is critically important. How we chose to nurture each one of these artistic qualities can act as an influence supporting our child in one beautifully unique, piece of art.
All of us are evolving works of art.
You can say infant-times are like Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings. These soft, gentle strokes of beauty fill up anyone’s blank canvas.
(O’Keeffe’s – Blue and Green Music, Photographed at the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago)
You can say toddler life is like Pointillism, balancing stillness and movement, pixellated and unpredictable.
(Paul Klee’s, Sunset. Photographed at the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago)
You can say that the elementary years are like installation pieces. Fast growth here and there, all the time. A beautiful fusion of what was, with what is.
(Installation art at the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago)
And those teen years? We are only just getting glimpses of these now, but I expect they will resemble Salvador Dali’s work. After all, turmoil and expression and boundary-pushing have all been deemed, for centuries, as artistic expression!
(I have no image for this yet. I am staying completely open.)
The elements of art are critical in the raising of kids. We don’t “frame” them and call it done. We support and nurture and challenge and then, stand back to marvel. Then we work a little more and parent with our best skills and stand back again. Again, and again and again, and while we do this, our own orchestration of a masterpiece unfolds for the art that we offer to our own lives. Those tapestries of stories that are uniquely our own remain part of the world’s art. They don’t have to grace museum walls or be protected under tempered glass. We are free to let them go where they will.
In the raising of children, life is art and art is life.
(Anna Stump- “Raven at Dawn”)