October 7, 2010

Teaching Art

I love being creative. I love observing. I love beauty-
I love this thing called "art"-
Teaching it though, is a whole different art in itself. Whether it be a drummer boy in my studio by morning, a little sis wanting to sit together at the piano by evening, or an up and coming photographer brother running my biggest black camera...

I mean, it's something I've always loved, so what more would I want than to spread that "love of the beautiful" around and around and around until I was spinning? I've always had grand images in my mind of walking, skipping, and running through the great outdoors with little children at my side, listening intently to every word I had to offer. Artists like Beatrix Potter, Edith Holden, Maria Von Trapp, and Miss Stacey all came to mind.

But there's more to it than just that..

Some people say art is something that can't be taught. You can honestly look at that from either prospective. The prospective that I've personally discovered is teaching the heart that is behind it all.
That was the lesson I learned today.

Our most recent project has been Nature Notebooks.
(Can't forget the bags of Sunflower Seeds! Wow...)

It seems so simple, so self explanatory: You go with an open mind and empty page, just waiting to be filled.

I can't stop smiling as I think about the last 3 nature trips I've made the past 3 weeks. There I was, outside, with the children by my side. My dream had come true!
Who said they would stay by your side? Or want to hear about mottling? Or even remember what it was? What about the famous "I've gotta goooooo!!!!!" when you just opened your notebooks after hiking to your observation spot? What about the boys who would rather climb the tree instead of sit there "observing" the mushrooms that grow on it? Or shoot the grouse, squirrel, or pigeon before they draw it? How about distractions? You ever get those, too?

When I came inside after our very first nature notebook trip I almost cried.
It was the very opposite of what I had thought it would be, all these years. I didn't feel like the sweet "Miss Stacey", I felt more like the insane orphanage lady who couldn't keep her head on straight!!!!! ;)

It hit me just today...
After much convincing that today's "spider hunting" would be a blast, we were heading up the dirt road. This art adventure wasn't any easier than the last. Nothing had changed...yet. But you can't stop, just because people don't do what you want them to do, or don't love what you love. You press on, you put your heart into it. So, I pressed on, encouraged on, observed on, drew on, hoped on, prayed on...even though on the inside, my heart ached.

I had plopped down in the middle of the road and looked up as much information as possible in my field guide about spiders and their webs. I read aloud, the words reaching the kids' ears, planting seeds of curiosity. We observed the sticky spokes of the intricate web. We drew those spokes and spirals. We learned that it was called an "Orb Web".

And then something changed.

I wasn't performing some miraculous formula or technique. I was just constantly magnifying God's creation. It speaks for itself. It reveals HIS heart behind all that He has created. This is what gives birth to that deep, awe inspired love. That is the answer. It's not me, not what I have to offer...

Suddenly one of them shouted with honest delight, "This is amazing! I never knew this!!!! I LOVE this kind of school!!!!!". Just then I almost cried, out of happiness, this time. They saw it.

It had captured their hearts.

The greatest thing about teaching is that it reveals what is in our own hearts. It digs up a lot of dirt that we didn't even know was there. We focus so much on the task set before us, when the #1 focus should be the heart that is behind it all. That is the very essence of an artist. That is from which everything flows...

And I thought I'd be teaching? ;)
I've learned more than I ever imagined.

When you hit that wall, press on.
Getting to the other side is not easy, but it's far more rewarding than you ever imagined.
"Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as the droplets on the fresh grass and as the showers on the herb. For I proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God!" Deuteronomy 32:2&3


Laura said...

Oh Kami, this post really touched my heart!! It reminds me of certain events I have had HERE with my nephew...it is hard. Learning 'the heart of the matter' has most definitely been my 2011 lesson.

I love you, dear girl!! <3

SisterlyLove said...

Thanks for such a lovely post! truly inspiring. (and beautiful pictures as always!)
We used to do this when we were little too. With our nature notebooks in hand we would all trail behind our Mom like little ducklings and find something wonderful to draw and learn about. Some things I remember, =] but mostly I remember being with my family, with my Mom and how she loved us and taught us with SO much patience. =] That I'll cherish forever. =]
thanks for the reminder and the look at the other side. I am inspired!
xo Marguerite

SisterlyLove said...

Beautiful Post Kami! I wish I could go on your nature lessons with you! :)

That picture of Annelise sitting on a book and drawing with her big rubber books is so precious! So sweet.


Anonymous said...

You are amazing...

I wish I had just a touch of your insight into what is really important and true and beautiful when my children were little.

You bless me over and over again!

I love your blog!

An older Mom...

Anonymous said...

Love this post Kami!

Mrs. Honey Bee said...

Love it!.....and YOU!!! You are a gem. I LOVE YOU! xoxo mom

Anonymous said...

Your photography....your writing...your observations....amazing. You are amazing.

I wish we lived closer!!! I want to take lessons from you too!

dkt said...

I love this! One of my favorite pictures on my wall right now is a macro shot of a beautiful purple thistle. I took it while on a nature walk with my kiddos, just moments before they drew it, plucked it and ripped it apart...what they found once they got passed the spikes amazed them. They were absolutely blown away by the incredible softness of the seed-bed inside. They kept saying over and over...wow! the outside is so different from the inside!

When I printed off the shot, I attached the verse "It is the glory of God to conceal things, but it is the glory of kings to search things out." Prov. 25:2 After it was on the wall of our school room, Timothy remarked how fitting a verse it was. God truly concealed his glory inside that little thistle and my kids experienced the glory of kings and queens as they searched it out. That verse has become a cornerstone in our little home school. It often inspires and provokes deeper thought...esp among my boys who like the idea of being "kings" :D

Bisceglia Family said...

Kami dear, thank you for this lovely post! Inspiring, too. These are such special times. Your photos are such a beautiful caption of them. I'm so glad that you and your siblings are learning so much together. :)

Love, miss you, and blessings,