Inspired by Squigglemum's post about helping your kids to take responsibility for some of their own tasks, I printed off this fabulous chart for a morning routine from Living Locurto. The chart in turn inspired enthusiasm for a regimented after breakfast routine which was lovely, but the area where we really need help was in our evening routines.
So, realising that I couldn't seem to find what I wanted on the vast resource that is the www, I set to creating our own.
Now, I wouldn't have the heart to charge money for this beginner work, but my kids don't seem at all phased by the lack of dignified illustrations and the cluttered feel...
And, if you think that it might help in your families' bedtime routine at all, then please just click on the image to get your own free printable copy (I'm new to this process, so cut me some slack as I try out a new process).
Thanks Squigglemum for your stream of great parenting tips! And thanks Living Locurto for your generosity with your lovely (and practical) artworks... the site is full of inspiring and helpful designs (including some Star Wars Lego themed bag tags which I foresee being used in this household for boys of all ages...) many of which are free to download and print.
And with a totally different mood, here is the second painting which I entered in the Toowoomba Royal Show this year.
This one started long ago and was rediscovered with the studio unpack. I always loved the line of his left leg, but the painting need some finishing.
The dots in the background were added after the figure was drawn with the idea of representing a presence of a different kind.
As a Christian I believe that the presence I sense when I'm feeling broken is the presence of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised would be a counsellor after He had taken all our punishment on the cross, risen three days later, and returned to God. Without that old cross I'm not too sure how many downs I could take.
But here is a broken man, quite simply because we all get broken sometimes.
In Toowoomba this week it is Show week... and not just in the art sense.
All the fun and frivolities of an oversized country show are arriving at our showgrounds as I type this and for the first time ever I have added my little touch of country to the show.
This is the first painting which I completed in the new studio and I have been waiting for the right time to share it with you.
Simply called "Muster", I loved the beautiful oval shapes created by the lasso that the rider is readying in his hands. I had intended to include in the background the haze of hundreds of cattle and the silhouette of a fellow horseman, but after completing these two characters I just really felt that any more would detract from the beautiful form of a stately horse with a comfortable rider and of course, that lovely lasso.
I think that I may have made this confession before. I don't like the kids painting with real paints. Would you like to see why?
Actually, I love the kids painting... I just hate the clean up. And I don't hate it nearly as much as I used to. These are the things I have learned...
1. Set up the clean-up area BEFORE you set up the painting area.
2. Wherever possible, paint OUTSIDE.
3. Don't trust "washable paints" to be, umm, washable...
So let me balance out my opening remarks by saying that there is nothing so precious as the sound of kids talking about a project that's important to them. And painting is one of the activities that brings that camaraderie out in my kids. Now that I've learned to survive the clean-up (and my kids are getting bigger everyday... people who have two one-year-olds in their care should know that things have changed for us in the past three years... these activities are much less stressful now that my older two are four...) I actually don't dread painting so much... but now the sad part is that we're running out of paint...
I couldn't decide whether this post would be an ode to the humble packing pallet, or a lamentation reflecting on how the kids have comandeered my studio and made it into a cubby house. So perhaps we'll make it both.
As I have pondered setting this studio up over the past couple of months it has become evident that a few things are very important to me...
clear floor space
the option of making mess at the right moments...
And naturally, most of these things are integrated and affect each other. They also require furniture and fittings. What a score it was, then, when the carpet shop said "Well, if you want anything cheaper, then you've really got to go second-hand" and I said "Well sure, but where do I get it from?"
"Just there... we can't sell it, so we just put it in a pile right there fore people to come and collect if they want it..." Brilliant.
And then when I asked the local hardware man (BMS, if you want to know) "So, do you ever have any pallets that you don't need anymore?" and he answered "Sure, I'll just go check what we've got out the back..." and then came back saying that if we backed the ute up he'd help us load whatever we wanted to take, I felt like we had been given a wonderful chance to custom build exactly what we need for this particular studio.
You see, I'm no cabinet maker and I would have thought that what I was capable of making wouldn't be worthy of new materials. But with upcycled timber I was fearless... and though it's not pretty, what I made is sturdy and functional.
So, here's a few of the places the pallets have ended up (in parts)...
The first time I've ever been able to lay out my paints for easy stocktake and access...
The stretched canvas storage area which doubles as a bedroom while the kids are playing around the studio (cubby house). At the time when I was making this we didn't even have a saw (of any description), so I was restricted to using timber which was already the right length ... and to make the dowel the right length I dented it with a stanley knife then snapped it... very professional. I splashed out since then and bought a saw... it opens up so many different options!
An extra large pallet provides the frame for the bench top. With shelving under each end in the place of legs, it is sturdy and multi-functional. Now I've just got to convince the kids that that is a printing press handle and not the steering wheel (terminology anyone?) of a pirate ship...
Perhaps one of the most lovely things about the studio is that it is turning out to be a place where the whole family likes to hang out together. Though I look forward to sessions alone burying myself in my artwork, for this time of setting up, it has been lovely to enjoy the company of Matt and the kids as we all learn new skills, tackle new materials (Matt has mastered sheeting with colourbond, and the kids have relished the chance to swing hammers), and explore this new space together.
Have you made anything cool out of old packing pallets?
I like this line on this flyer "Artworks from $80 - $1.2 million"... Mine will sit comfortably in between those two boundaries...
I'm putting about three paintings in the show this year, and as always, it promises to be worth a visit. As well as the big name ring-ins from the big smoke, there is always a great representation of talented local artists of all media and styles. Even if you are not in the market for an original artwork to fill your walls, it is always a treat to be able to view such a broad range of art in one sitting... and there really is something special about knowing that the majority of the contributing artists are your "fellow men"... someone who you may pass in the street everyday.
So if you've got an affiliation with TGS, or just like a good excuse to frock up, then I'd recommend the Opening Night (best chance to snatch up some art before anyone else does) or the High Tea.
But if, like me, you are much more interested in catching an eye-full of local art, then save your pennies and drop in during the weekend ($5 entry) and take your time to enjoy the exhibition.
I'd like to take this chance to say thanks to the team of volunteers who must put in so many hours in so many ways to making this event happen every year. I understand that it must benefit the school a fair bit, but from a local artist's point of view, I am terribly thankful for the chance each year to air a few of my artworks and have a look at what other artists are up to. Thanks!
At uni I did these etchings called "Shadow of a Beautiful Woman". I always loved how awkward the shape is... and the texture of an etching is such a beautiful and delicate thing. Maybe in the coming years I'll have the chance to do a few more etchings...
Dropping sleeps makes for a good few awkward moments in a day. Let me clarify. Kids who are just a little too big to need a sleep every day, and just a little too small to get through the day without a sleep get downright irrational a number of times in the afternoon.
... or is that just our family?...
Anyways. Cue in Craft (yes, with a capital C).
Craft mends a lot in our family, and yesterday we needed a craft fix and we needed it fast. Thankfully I hadn't emptied the recycles bin in a few days and we had boxes galore. Staples proved too frustrating for the sleepless one (and even sticky tape stretched the craft-friendship by sticking to itself too often), but we made it to bath time with no casualties.
Plus we now have a "Peacock House" and a "Peacock House to take with us when we go camping..." (useful). And a "Boat joined to another boat that goes down a bit to catch the fish that swim up this little bit" (also useful).
As for Sammy's craft, well he did have fun (he'd slept) and I was just glad that he didn't eat the tip off the pen!
But what do I do now that the recycles bin is empty?
It's been a lot of months of dreaming and thinking and planning... and finally we have a shed.
Half for art, and half for storage. I'm happy to share this simple space with our dear old caravan and I've been really enjoying bringing every box and armful of old artworks and art materials out of the dark spaces behind and under furniture...
Yesterday afternoon, as everyone else indulged in a long Sunday afternoon nap, I was able to sneak out of the house and immerse myself in an uninterupted painting session. I'm excited to show you the painting I finished... but not today... today is shed day.
As in our house, each piece of furniture we carted up to the shed has a story to go with it... who gave it and when it was given to us, or where it was rescued from. I'm working on making a workbench big enough to house my poor dusty printing press. And I'm halfway through making a rack to store my paintings on canvas. I'm making myself practice patience and trying not to just dig everything out at once and throw it into the shed in one fell (and very untidy) swoop... Patience has never been my strong point...
So, at the end of a very full day I am strangely glad that we haven't got power connected to the shed yet and I'll be forced to spend the evening in the house. Secretly I'm planning a glass of red wine and a bit of TV to ease the pain of three baskets loaded to the brim with washing to fold. At least it's clean!
I showed you our team photo from before the Lifeline Bookfest, so it's only fair to show you our family portrait after... (obvioulsy, Matt whipped up this little one in a moment of rest and appreciation...)
And helping us to achieve these extended periods (okay, never-ending) of famial bliss are the bagful of books which we brought home... Thomas, Disney, one-offs, and the much-loved and remarkably bland Bananas in Pyjamas.
Surprisingly, the only Reader which I found was... ta da... a re-working of the book which we already have in its original format. Now, by re-working, I mean that the book was not changed at all, barring the illustrations.
The words are exactly the same, and honestly I am not sure if it was worth the work of re-doing the illustrations...
But it's always good to have a spare copy of a much-loved kids' book.
There were tonnes of lovely old Annuals there and I displayed amazing selfcontrol by choosing a mere two to add to our collection... this time. Along with two more little volumes of Uncle Aurthur's moralistic (in a good way) bedtime tales.
Guess what I'm planning on doing tonight (after I've run the kids ragged and sent them to bed early... good plan, I hear you say). See those stunning looking shorts. My lucky husband is destined to get a pair (perhaps with a less patterned fabric - he's excited) and I need some new shorts for bed...
The other items which I was surprised to find and grateful to take home and put to use straight away were photo albums. For 50cents each, I got two albums which will house roughly 650 of my til now homeless photos. The upshot being that we will have much more opportunity to look at and talk about those images full of memories and faces.
My thought at the end of the day was this...
Everything which I bought home was really great (and a bargain to boot), but each item brought with it a new job for... Mum.
And the team ready to take on a big shed full of second hand books... Not all smiles, you may note, but let's just say that if you steal the tub of butter and return it a few minutes later with finger troughs through it you may not be welcome to have butter on your pre-Bookfest pancakes...