“Nice? It’s the only thing,” said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing-absolutely nothing-half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing. ” ~Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
It’s one thing to write about Art making and why children need to do it in schools. It’s an altogether different experience to make Art oneself. A perfectionist by nature, I don’t take lightly to my own “mistakes”; nor does it sit well with me to see my personal imperfections staring me in the face. There was only one way to get over this. I had to begin my own Art making process.
As such, I decided to enroll in a day-long workshop at 26 Split Rock Cove, led by Sandy Weisman. An artist-educator and poet, Sandy has mastered the art of making it “okay” to try one’s hand at something new. “You don’t have to know what you are going to do with it when you start out. Just get your pages painted.” That felt fine to me as a starting point, having been assured that we’d be covering and re-covering our original layer. Whatever I was doing I could correct without a big deal. My initial fears were quelled.
One thing we all marveled at were the materials that were offered. There were stations with paints, ink pads, fancy papers of every imaginable color, textured objects with which we could print, and numerous rubber stamps.
The Decorated Page experience would entail the very same level of exploration I know is right for kids.
Almost immediately we began to dabble. Each of the five women, all with different interests and levels of expertise, began traveling on her own path. We chose color combinations and looked through books as resources. We stopped to listen and learn. Sandy instructed us on each technique, giving us more than enough time to try it out. If we erred, there was always a chorus of, “I love what you are doing.”
The day was filled with opportunity. Unbroken time frames, materials galore, and a “you can do no wrong” energy that inspired everyone to mess about. There was structure coupled with freedom. As a small group we looked to one another for ideas and valued others’ feedback. Messing about – even as an adult is a self-validating experience. By the end of our six hours together, it was hard to put the materials down. For me, this was just the right mix.
The ingredients: 1. Good stuff with which to create 2. An encouraging spirit that got the juices going 3. The opportunity to push through, what in some settings could be, our mistakes 4. Connecting with a small group of dabblers 5. Acquiring new skills for future endeavors.