The importance of playing with art supplies

Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else.

~ Sydney Gurewitz Clemens

Some parenting advice I heard talked about praising a child for something they’ve done. In both examples, they kiddo has just finished their latest painting.

The first example has you saying, “Oh, what a lovely picture. It looks just like a sunset. You are a great artist.” It follows up by saying that your praise of “a lovely picture” fails to match what the child has actually done. They’ve been playing around with paint, experimenting with how it works. You say it is “a sunset.” They know it isn’t. So your praise has a false ring. They get the message that the picture has to be something for you to like it, that practicing with paint isn’t worth of praise. And they know that they aren’t a “great artist.”

  • This week’s artist is – Blake Gore– who is self-described as a professional squinter. Blake’s a miniature pen-and-ink artist. He’s got a tiny-tree tutorial video here. To see even more, check out his (not so tiny) website or instagram!
  • Yves Tanguy would have been 124 on Friday!
  • Here are some writing prompts for the new year.
  • This talks about making space and time for your art in holiday time. Well, we’re a bit past us – so now real life is back on full speed. This might actually be a lot more helpful guide now, in “regular life”. As I’m expecting a baby in the near future, this is even more timely for me.
  • If you’re interested in plein air painting, here are 16 tips for braving the winter weather to do so.
  • One artist’s advice on learning how to create.
  • Here’s a look at Anni Albers’ sketchbook.
  • During this ballpoint pen drawing demo there’s a discussion of when to step away from a project.
  • This video explains why some of the rainbow is missing.
  • 😎 Fun Fact: Known for his surreal paintings, Salvador Dalí was also famous for his eccentric behavior, like walking an anteater on a leash in Paris.
  • Here’s a short, mini web-based game (you need a keyboard to play).
  • This visual timeline shows the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.
  • Ciabatta was created in 1982.
  • I didn’t realize that hurricanes never cross the equator.
  • Turns out, Colorado is not a rectangle.
  • From 1913 to 1944, amateur mycologist Hans Walty created hundreds of fantastic watercolor illustrations of mushrooms, which are available to peruse in very high-resolution at Wikimedia Commons.
  • Here is a simple and beautiful listing of the world’s writing systems.
  • Planning Ahead – Melinda Malone will be providing guidance in April’s Quilting Class at Bayfield’s Pine River Library. The class is free but students are required to provide their own supplies and have use of their own sewing machine. It runs all Wednesdays in April from 1:30-3:30.
  • The Bayfield Library offers a lot of programs – too many for me to list here. But you can check out their calendar (which also covers the broader Bayfield community.)
  • The Center for Innovation has new 3D Printers and is letting you get hands-on with them Thursdays from 12:00 – 1:00 this month. If you’re curious about 3D printing, you can learn how to discover and print amazing creations.
  • This is going to be the first Friday of the month, so the art crawl is happening from 4-7.
  • If you’ve ever been curious about Nature Journaling, Amy Hewitt is teaching a class Saturday from 10-11:30 at the Smiley Building. Do you enjoy being in nature? Do you value attention and focus? She will share a journaling practice that uses numbers, pictures, and words to record observations of nature. The practice will magnify gratitude, help make connections and increase your sense of wonder. It’s enjoyable, accessible, and a practice you can take anywhere. Register via email or call Amy 970-403-7265
  • There’s still a Slow Bluegrass Jam at the General Palmer on Tuesday from 5:30-7:30, in case you’re a beginner/intermediate acoustic music player looking to play more. This weekly jam is welcoming to all players, with a focus on slower tempo improvisation solos and chord changes. If you can play the I, IV and V chords in G, D and A then you know enough to play at this jam!
  • There are classes/workshops/projects available at the Dancing Spirit Center for the ArtsLet’s Letter Together, the Scrapbook NookCreate Art and Tea, Durango Sustainable Goods the 4 Corners Gem and Mineral Club, Seed Studio, and the Durango Arts Center. There are a lot more things happening that I don’t include – so if you’re ever looking for something to do, start at
  • We started this project back in… June? So I may have already let you know, but we’re switching away from Crayola to Primo. We like Crayola, but you can buy that stuff… pretty much everywhere. Primo? We like them even better! They’re a better quality and have things that we can’t get elsewhere. The triangle crayons? Love them! We literally tried to break them and just couldn’t quite manage it. So if you’re looking for something new to try for the kids (of all ages) in your life, swing by to see what’s available.

In the second example, we praise the child for their painting by saying, “I like the way the colors drip together. You really used a lot of paint this time. And I could see you enjoyed doing it.” According to the advice, this is a better way to praise. Yes, it states the obvious. They used a lot of paint and you appreciate that. You like the “way the colors drip together.” What gives them pleasure gives you pleasure too.

Their experimenting with color is an admired skill. They did it well. Praising them this way helps children learn the skill of judging their work appropriately, to feel that what they actually do is valued by people who count. And it means you are paying specific attention to what they’ve made, not just giving an automatic response.

I always close this email with some form of the message that the world needs your art. That can be creative knot-making. It can be paint-puddling. Maybe you arrange snips of paper in particular patterns inside your filing box. Whatever your creative pursuit is – enjoy it!

I don’t mean, “the world needs you to make commercially viable art” that you can sell. I mean, you need to find your creative outlet and feed that inner child who is playing with art supplies. We think that art, the pursuit of it, and (sometimes) the output of that pursuit, all serve to make the world a better place.

No matter what form of playing with art supplies you prefer – the world needs your art!

Matthew & the Art Supply House crew