That's a broad theme! I narrowed it down to artists... and that's still huge.
Kids and Art
First we talked about ourselves as artists. Most of us could remember when we were young and not intimidated by bright tempera paint and fat colorful crayons. We tried to remember what it was like to feel good about what we created, before we started getting critical.
Many recalled their favorite things to draw, like houses with chimneys and clouds and a sun in the corner. I loved drawing rain slickers and umbrellas.
We all agreed we lost some of our artistic confidence over the years, but we decided a beret could help bring some back!
Even I wore a red beret, although it didn't help me too much!
We studied the work of different artists on postcards and tried to find similarities of topics and styles. But one painting of a mother and 2 children by Picasso, inspired the most discussion with all of my groups.
At the community center, Lila compared these 2 cards and noticed how they represented such different worlds or classes. "The first mother looks happy in her nice home. The other mother is outside a village and she looks worried." At Silverado, Betty studied the face of the Picasso mother and said, "She looks like she's fleeing. Maybe she has no home. She looks tired." And in my final group at Atria, the Picasso card once again surfaced in the big pile. The group noticed the colors of the sky and the overall heaviness of the mother. We wondered who these people were.
Music and Painting
We experimented with a little music in all the groups. I taped a variety of pieces from Copeland to Irish jigs and let the music inspire different kinds of painting. In my first groups, they just enjoyed the fun of imagining the paint. Maybe it was a little silly, but they seemed to have fun painting the table or even the air with sweeping, dotting, zigzagging gestures that matched the sound.
But my Atria group seemed ready for the real thing. So out came the paints and on came the music! I was delighted that no one seemed to be bogged down by adult hesitation. With the delight of young children, the brushes went straight to work as the music came on! We even had one excited discovery by an artist, who no longer has full use of her right hand. "I didn't realize I could paint with my left hand!"
What I Learned:
Yes, I can still have fun with paint!
At age 6 I adored my easel and thought I was an artist. At age 12 I received a B in art and never took another art class.
At age 55, the folks I gather with reminded me how to enjoy again. Painting Without Worry!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.