Saturday, May 31, 2008

'Color Time' Class at LACMA: Blue

Strange and wonderful, this attending the same art classes with Zaza that Ander took when he was four. And when I say 'same,' I mean very very nearly exactly the same: the same arty-grandma lady teaching the class, trips into the permanent collection to see the same Blue Period Picasso (on 'Blue' Day), the same materials laid out in inviting little stations in the Art Cave, the same generosity with the large, thick pieces of watercolor (parents are encouraged to work alongside the kids), and even the teaching assistant is named Jesus (Ander's favorite 'art guy' was the similarly-monikered Josue)...

But everything else is different. Zaza continues to be very quiet during the in-gallery art chats, but in the womb-like Art Cave her timidity and reticence drops away -- she's fearless, fiercely self-motivated, and has strong, strong opinions about what she does and does not want to use to make her art. She doesn't look at what I'm doing or what the other children are doing -- she's completely focused. Which is not to say that she sits down with a vision or picture in mind -- she doesn't -- she absolutely makes it up as she goes along -- but she just goes with it in a way that I envy and try to imitate as I sit somewhere nearby, outside the fiery corona of her creativity.


In light of my recent rant about BCAM and LACMA and the jack-booted security therein, I found this recent L.A. Times article very interesting. It also seems that there was a weeeee grain of truth in what the scary guard said to Zaza when she touched the case around Damien Hirst's 'Lamb,' (which had already been brought to my attention by the brilliant and talented mr. a-go-go)... All that said, Zaza and I have found that the weekend staffers throughout LACMA are profoundly more friendly than the folks who are working during the week.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

After School with Zaza: Two Paintings on a Makeshift Easel

Neither of the kids seemed very interested in vertical painting anymore. The easel -- the gorgeous Crate & Barrel, heavy, two-sided, blond wood easel on which Ander drew his first 'balloon heads' and Zaza-on-a-stepstool first experimented with mixing blue and yellow -- had been relegated to the garage after the dismantling of the playroom. There it hung forlornly on the wall, just to the left of my car, pinned in place by a complicated web of bungee cords. For months and months I smacked it with my car door, or cursed it as I squeeeeezed through the too-small space it afforded me to exit from the driver's seat.

As heirloom-y as I had once thought it was, the cumbersome daily annoyance of the easel reminded me of the garage sale mantra of my less-romantic-and-more-realistic little brother (now a dad twice over): "by the time we have grandkids they will be making even better ones."* So the easel went off to the Goodwill, and hopefully it is out there being used with joy, fulfilling its destiny and inspiring another child to paint.

But recently there has been a flurry of drawing and painting in Zazaland, and for a change, not all of it is motivated by Ander's near-constant drawing and painting. And so when she asked to paint "standing up" I quickly cobbled this together -- and wondered why we had ever had an easel in the first place...

I find her technique fascinating (watching paint dry??? but seriously): she starts off using each color separately, with a swirl here or a square there; she does a bit of dry-brushing, letting the color feather and fade, using every last bit of paint on her brush; she carefully deposits a used brush in the cube-shaped vase we use for rinse-water, and then takes a step back, studying what she has done so far (she does this after every completed brush-stroke); she dips a fresh brush into each and every color in rapid succession, building up a great big glob of multicolored paint on the bristles, and then squishes the glob onto the paper and drags it and twists it around until each color has played out in a spiral or swoosh or slash across the paper; she might try a flourish using two or three brushes clutched together; and finally she chooses a small brush and very gently, very precisely makes a small row of dots, steps back, steps closer, makes another dot or two or three, and then announces "it's finished," and it really truly is.


The pink painting above features two of the 'pink blossom trees' that have been bursting into flower around the city (that's one of them, there, just above her brush).

*This has proven true for things like Star Wars figures (sorry, purists) and old plush toys, but not so much for Fisher Price People and their accompanying play sets. I much prefer the wooden, kokeshi-like, fist-filling 70s People to the stunted PVC-riddled 'Little People' figures F.P. makes nowadays. And c'mon -- that castle with the dungeon and trap door and pink dragon -- how cool was that???

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend: a Walk in Griffith Park

Spotted but not photographed:
  • a coyote (or two, or the same one twice)
  • Zaza's ballet teacher hiking with her family and their dog (it's a small world, this big city)
  • a man playing a clarinet on a brush-covered bluff
  • teeny tiny redwood pinecones
  • 2 goldfish

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nagging, Dangling, Crafty-ish Projects Completed Whilst Children Drape Selves Over Furniture Asking "What Should We Dooooooo???"

We finally found a way to put up one of those 'fairy bowers' for which Zaza has always yearned, without completely overpowering her already crowded room. It's a cheap one, from Ikea, which has done time at an Owl Service booth or two, and also managed to survive Pinkapalooza 2008 with its hot-glued bejeweled butterflies intact.
That's Zaza's birthday doll, Amelia, (made by the wonderful Bettsi) leaning against the pillow.
And all of jek's wonderful pinkish scraps (and my thrifted Geisha scarf) are at last hung on Zaza's wall. I of course stole this happy hoopy idea from Soulemama, who I think borrowed the idea from somebody else. I plan to keep adding to this wall -- ReproDepot is calling to meeeeee!
I also made a set of 4 more for Ander's room (robots and aliens), and will post photos later.

Monday, May 19, 2008