Art of the Ages

There is an art to becoming anything. It is the art of being fearless, managing frustration, and learning from failure.

Recently, I have been teaching my children, as well as teaching children in local art classes, how to draw. For the most part, what I am really teaching is the skill of observation while providing cheer-leading services. Art, expression, and imagination are deeply rooted in our wiring from birth. Yes, there are techniques to learn and we stand on the shoulders of giants, but these are just the gardening tools for tending to the fruitful vine already twining through our mental passageways.

Some naturally develop a keen eye and excellent fine motor skills, but they are not the only people who can “do art” or draw. Art belongs to anyone with the heart for the subject and for anyone willing to devote their time to learning and practicing the skills required.

The Virtual Instructor has an excellent video on the Stages of Artistic Development , but you can also see a quick chart complete with examples of each stage here.

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Clockwise from left: Dorian (9), Alexander (13), Nicole (5)

What stops the young adults from becoming artists is not lack of talent, it is fear and it is lack of commitment.

The same thing that stops potential scientists, musicians, writers and athletes: What if?

What if they laugh? What if they don’t like me? What if I fail? What if it’s a waste of time?

But, what if you spend your life doing something you don’t enjoy and die embittered by the death of your dreams?

What if the worst what-ifs in life are the what-ifs that come at the end of life?

What if I had tried? What if I had loved a little more? What if I had taken the risk?

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Viewing infinity…

There are always trends en Vogue with parents of any age. Today it is STEM education and Chinese lessons. In the long yesterday the fashion was something else or simply handing a child off to nursie.

For me and mine, my experiment includes exposure and participation–in art, music, sports, literature, science, and history. Sometimes I am lucky and these elements intersect. As a result, we had some fun running around to check out various exhibits going on as part of the AZScitechFest and Arizona Archaeology & Heritage Month.

We visited Da Vinci and brought the sketch books. Here is a link to the traveling exhibit website — Da Vinci the Genius.


The resulting sketches, clockwise from left: Alexander, Nicole, Dorian.

And we stopped by the Rock Art center to see much older art created by people a world away from Da Vinci, but no less fearless in their exploration of their environment.

Knowing the American Southwest, and having something of a love-hate relationship with the climate, the ingenuity of people living here prior to colonization never fails to amaze me on some level. They did not have large draft animals before the Spaniards arrived, but their trade routes spanned hundreds or thousands of miles, which they ran on foot. They did not have an abundance of water, but they used the land anyway by way of creativity. Plucking mesquite beans from trees and grinding them into flour with manos and metates they cooked. Later they sat down for tea made from a creosote bush. Lacking milk for their calcium, they ate roasted agave for strong bones.

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Grinding mesquite beans the *really* old fashioned way.

Incidentally, you can find recipes for desert plants at the website for Desert Harvesters.  Although, I plan to make at least one post covering adventures in cooking with desert plants at some point in the near future.

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Until next time, I will share the quote found at the bottom of every e-mail I receive from our friends at the local gallery:

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep” – Scott Adams

Please go out there and make some artful mistakes this week. At the very least, be open to making them. You never know what might come of it!


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