Summer Art Traditions


I am wrapping up our granddaughter's summer visit with stories of artistic family traditions. Jain and Sofia insist on going to MegArt, a local paint-your-own-ceramics store, every year. They love to browse all the unfinished ceramics to decide what they want to paint. This year Jain discovered crystal paints that create a multi-colored look and used those to paint a mug. Sofia decided on a cupcake โ€” influenced by Grampy, who made up lyrics to the Herman's Hermits song, Dandy, wherein I, Dandy, "eat all the cupcakes!" I always paint with them, so I made a cupcake, too. Mine turned out to be a red velvet concoction; Sofia's cupcake was much more colorful.

Last summer we began a family tradition with our peace pole creation. This summer our joint project with Grandpa Guy (my dad) was done on a gorgeous piece of barn wood found at an antique store. According to the owner, the piece was originally part of a horse stall and featured a groove in the top where the horse rubbed its neck back and forth to relieve an itch. I knew then that horses would somehow have to be incorporated into this mixed media piece.

Grandpa Guy stained the wood and the two of us, looking at its shape and the direction of the grain, envisioned mountains on top and a stream. I kept seeing horses in my mind's eye galloping upstream. The groove in the piece became part of the mountains, and just below the mountains is where the river runs. Three unpainted wooden horses were transformed into carousel horses (Sofia's horse is blue, Jain's is purple, mine brown and pink). I painted the mountains and river on the barn wood, and Jain and Sofia added flowers and grass to the meadow. Our horses were added last as we thought up a name for this fabulous piece of artwork. A story formed that these were three carousel horses that broke loose from the circus and ran away, so we titled it "Three Run Free!" This joint effort masterpiece hangs proudly in our living room where I can see it every day and remember all the fun we had creating it!

Jain and Sofia had the bounty this summer of going boating on the lake again. Their cousin, Erica, came down from Ohio to visit and took them out on Lake Norman for a day. Jain saw a grouping of trees that impressed her when they were docked and later painted them from memory on canvas. She presented it to me as a gift for my 60th birthday and I will cherish it always.

My kitchen table has served as our craft area for many summers now. Every year the girls want to know what crafts we'll be doing. In addition to making the marker-dyed t-shirts (see previous story), we wrapped up our time together making veggie print art. Did you know a rose can be made from a cut celery stalk? Leaves from a single piece of celery? Flowers from peppers and okra? Simply dab on some acrylic paint and press onto your material of choice (we used canvas bags) and, voila!, you have instant gifts to take home to Mama! What a wonderful artistic end to their visit!

I'm already thinking of ideas for next summer. Please, dear readers, if you have suggestions, stories or ideas, I'm eager to hear from you! Until then, as Grampy says,