Monday 6 May 2019

Springtime Art //Life Lessons from my Paintpot

We started these little nature journals a couple of years back. They are such little treasure troves for me... memories of explorations and adventures in the great outdoors, and seeing the girls development of craft and skill as little painters. Watercolour is generally our medium of choice, and we're still finding out feet with it, but I love these little books for so many, many reasons!

Nature journaling forces us to slow down. Observation takes time and focus, skills which are difficult to hone in our culture's fast-paced, entertained society. Stopping, seeing and savouring will only happen if we insist that they happen, and the patience required of fine art works against the expectation of instant gratification which seems to be the norm amongst both our generation and all those younger.

Sometimes when I'm in the midst of a battle with one of our children, or when I'm worrying about a negative character trait I feel I'm beginning to see take root, lessons like patience and resilience and thankfulness seem huge and impossible to teach. Where do you even begin to train a child's heart? But then I remember that it's in the small things that we can teach and train. Encouraging my children to take time and not rush, to observe before responding, to consider detail are all skills developed as they sit and paint, and all skills that I want them (and me!!) to exercise in a much broader life context too...

Over the next few months I'm hoping to use their nature journals as a tool for scripture memorisation too... as Heidi wrote this peace about our Spring walk the other day, I realised that combining the words with art helps them to take root. Memorisation is so simple for small children, and so unbelievably difficult for us adults! I'm not entirely sure how we'll go about doing it, but its a seed of an idea which I'm excited to explore.

Sometimes the boys join us in the painting fun, sometimes they just love a cup of water and some paintbrushes and just 'paint' our big blackboard. It's all good for their gross and fine motor skills (depending one what they're doing!), and an opportunity to practice first letters (for Jonas) and simple mark-making (for Elias). And it literally keeps them amused for hours (the joy of the blackboard is it dries within seconds and then they have a blank canvas to start all over again!)

So after a little break from our nature journals, we're excited to be back on the case - seeing and savouring the details of this beautiful but broken world, and excited for the next!

Job 12:7-10
"But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. "Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; And let the fish of the sea declare to you. "Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?

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