Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Painting and Peace

I just finished cleaning up from the first of four art history classes I am teaching for homeschooled kids this month. The kids and I spent this morning getting laundry done, the house picked up, finding 27 of the 28 overdue library books (not bad... we're always missing at least one), doing school, last-minute prep for the art class, and sorting out a variety of CRHP issues leftover from last night's meeting. It was a crazy busy morning.

I wasn't sure I knew what I was doing with this art history class. I called it "Squiggles and Dots: Modern Art History for Early Elementary Kids." We started out this week with a study of Impressionism (probably my favorite period), and we'll move through post-Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism and finally into Abstract Art. I chose this subject to teach last fall, when DH and I were at the art museum, and I commented that I just didn't "get" modern art. He suggested that I teach it... that would be a great way to learn more about it.

I spent about 30 minutes talking with eight 5-8 year olds about art. We looked at examples, talked about lighting and color, subject and design. They were really engaged. I was totally surprised and pleased at how well they listened and responded.

Then we got to work re-creating masterpieces. This week we used watercolor paints and watercolor pencils to fill in black and white drawings of Monet's Water Lilies and Degas' dancers. The kids were all really focused. Their different styles and personalities came out.

As we were all calmly sitting around the dining room table, painting together, talking about color and light, one of the moms asked if she could paint, too. Of course. I always have extra copies. She started painting, a little smile lighting up her face as she mixed colors, blending pencil lines with water, experimenting with shading. She was peaceful, focused, fully present in that moment.

I picked up an extra Degas drawing, loaded a paintbrush with color, and began slowing mixing pinks. I watched the shades swirl together, the paper dry in spots, darkening in color. I took a deep breath.

All is well. Life is crazy busy right now, but all is well, just the same. There is a lot on my plate, but I am not asked to do any more in each exact moment then to be fully present. God has given me twenty-four hours in each day... and the incredible blessings of a wonderful, supportive husband; loving, helpful children; and incredibly giving and loving friends.

There is too much for me to do all by myself. That is painfully clear. But, there is nothing I can't accomplish if I make sure to include God... both directly, through prayer, and also indirectly, by being willing to take the help offered by the many blessings God has placed in my life.

Alone, I get overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted and despondent. Together, I can take a deep breath, notice the moment, offer up a prayer of gratitude, and I can find peace... knowing that all will unfold as it should.

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