Friday, March 27, 2015

Why I let kids doodle in my books

Many of you know I homeschool my four kids - this is a full time job and my art has to get squeezed into any spare moments. As the kids are getting older (hello - high school next fall!?), I find that the one-on-one teaching time is diminishing a bit. I try to sit with my kids while they're working so I'm immediately available to answer questions, but for those moments when I'm waiting for them to finish up assignments, I keep my sketchbook handy.

And often in their spare moments, little hands will end up doodling in my sketchbook too - because just watching Mom is impossible. My ideas inspire their own ideas, which are often good ones! I think they feel grown up and special knowing they can draw in Mom's books.

I think it all started here, when I traced their hands in the front cover of a brand new sketchbook. Somehow that told them this book wasn't sacred ground - they were now a part of it. Many times we have come back to this page and laughed while comparing our current hand sizes to the ones here.

Art has been a way of life for us. As little kids, they loved to request drawings. Since I have three boys, dragons were often asked for.

LOTS of dragons. And knights. And damsels in distress. I would draw and they would tell little stories that would grow and require I add more to the picture.

Even though they loved to have me draw for them, I encouraged them to draw their own pictures from an early age - all the time telling them it was ok if it didn't look like Mom's! That was a struggle and discouraging for them at times, but now they are all confident in their own styles and skills.

Sometimes I'd have little ones sit on my lap and scribble while I helped older ones do school lessons. Eventually, their drawings magically appeared in my sketchbook all on their own!

They started out as simple little doodles - tanks and armies were common themes (boys!).

They became more complex...

And sometimes we even collaborated!

All these are little snapshots of their personalities and developmental skills - better than a photograph in many ways. With four little kids, I didn't have much time to chase around with a camera, so these drawings have become my memory book of their early childhood. 

I look in here and see a boy's first attempts at writing his name

And glimpses into their imaginations - look at the worlds they came up with!

(the above warms my heart especially - my daughter painted this. Being the only girl with three brothers, she is a wonderful mix of rainbows, volcanoes,  crumbling fairy castles, and lava snakes.)

This is a fantastic record of their current interests and quirky sense of humor! Really, I have no idea why this potato is laughing maniacally. And a happy tomato can? Better than a Hallmark card. I've learned to just enjoy, don't try to comprehend!

All these are interspersed with my sketches for logo designs, painting rough drafts, and whatever else I happened to noodle. Whenever I get bogged down in a project all I have to do is flip a few pages for inspiration!

For the thousands of sheets of paper my kids used, these are the only drawings that survived. I'm not super sentimental and don't save much, especially when I end up with 300 drawing that look identical. But these doodles in my books will always remind me of our crazy times together! Now that they're older they enjoy having their own sketchbooks, which is kind of sad for me. There's something special about the mish-mash of everyone's thoughts all together in one place.

 I should mention that even though I allow my kids to draw in my books, we never had any issues with them drawing in other books. There are over 2000 books in this house (I married a bibliophile), and the only one I can think of that's been damaged embellished by a young artist is a page in the book of Isaiah in my husband's bible!

Do art together as a family!  You'll make more than two-dimensional memories. Maybe this would be a great idea to try as a family over the summer - keep a family sketchbook/art journal of your adventures together.

Happy creating!

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