Monday, July 1, 2013

Put Down That Gin Miss Hannigan And Get Inspired

This past week I have been thinking a lot about kids because I've been teaching a ballet and art summer day camp for kids ages 3-6. Spending a day with kids in tutus skipping and twirling and gluing feathers and glitter to everything makes you desperate for an evening drink. Not even wine-really you have turn to the hard stuff to recuperate. I've been into gin-channeling Miss Hannigan. Seriously. I found myself constantly muttering "little girls, little girls, everywhere I turn I can see them."
But, even while bathing in a tub of gin, I have to admit that kids are pretty spectacular because of how creative and free they are. During our art projects over the past week, I have marveled at the choices these young kids make. Colors that I would never put together, lines drawn in a seemingly random pattern creating incredible abstract works that surpass most stuff I have seen at MOMA.
Maybe it is the freedom they have. They really are free of influence, free of that horribly inhibiting fear of being judged, free of expectations. Each little mind is just approaching the task with such clarity and an unbridled desire to just create what is in their own imagination. You learn so much about how to be creative and happy by just watching a four year old draw with a crayon.
And then I saw this article in the UK's Daily Mail about an autistic three year old to whom art is her connection to the world and I was so moved and even more inspired. It helped me remember why I love teaching and sharing my love of the arts so much. Art-whether it is dancing, or singing, or painting, or writing-is so important for the soul and such an amazing way to express ourselves. And for kids like this young Iris Halmshaw, it is even more amazing since she is autistic and so withdrawn she does not even speak.
Iris' mom discovered her love of art while working to engage with positive play with her at home and after seeing how much she enjoyed it, began buying her supplies to encourage her. After completing her first painting, entitled "Patience," Iris' mom posted the painting on facebook and, to her surprise, people began contacting her asking to purchase it.
Looking at Iris' work, it's no surprise. The use of pastel colors is stunning and there is an impressionistic vibe similar to a Monet but with splatter techniques that recall Jackson Pollock. Amazingly, each painting truly does have a style that stays consistent. I went to college with art majors who couldn't even create such unique voice with a consistent tone through their paintings.
And unlike those art students I knew and many artists I know now, Iris has done what they just can't seem to do--she has managed to create work that is selling and in demand. She has sold her first work "Patience" to a colleague of her mother's who greatly cherishes it. And she has work that will be in an exhibit for emerging London artists, and has contributed a print of her work to charity auction for a Yoga center for children with special needs which sold for over $1200.
In the past four months, she has created 35 works. Each painting takes her anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks. In November, the family will hold an exhibition of her creations followed by an auction which will raise money to cover the costs of Iris' care. And her mother also notes, that beyond all her success, "since she started to paint, her mood has lifted; her communication has improved; she is saying more and more words and she has started to enjoy making eye contact."
So amazing and inspiring to get out there. Create. Unleash that unbridled inner child who just needs to express themselves. And I'm not talking about just slapping a toaster filter on the cell phone picture of your cat to instagram it.
Yep, instead of mixing that cocktail, I'm now wildly inspired to mix some paint.

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