Summer is fading. I know because the school bus brakes hiss in front of our house around eight-fifteen every weekday morning now. The big box stores devote an entire section to brightly colored school supplies – folders and Trapper Keepers, glue sticks and protractors. And, because I am seeing less of my children. They are wandering about the house in search of entertainment, irritably spending more time alone in their rooms. Let’s not relive the petty squabbles that have become way too prevalent the last couple of weeks.
It was time to take action. And it turns out it wasn’t that hard. I focused on G, and everyone else seemed to fall into place. My goal was to get him outside running around before he realized it was time for PBS’s Curious George.
I asked G if he wanted to paint outside like the famous artist Jackson Pollock. He was enthusiastic. A had been wandering up and down the stairs and overheard me.
“Can I paint too?”
“Sure…if you want.”
We began to gather supplies from the bottom drawer of our craft cart – paints, plastic tray for a palette, brushes, yarn, craft sticks, etc.
S came storming down the stairs.
“Can I do a Pollock painting, too?”
Here we are eight-thirty or nine in the morning. Outside, under blue skies. Taping our paper down on to the back patio. Happy, all three boys doing something together again. And it wasn’t that hard. It really didn’t take any planning.
We talked about how Pollock worked over his canvas, flicking, smearing, pouring the paint directly on. We talked about how he created as he went, letting the paint land where it willed. There were no mistakes. If he didn’t like something he continued flicking, mixing until it looked right.
“I’m NOT Jackson Pollock!” G kept insisting. “I’m Van Gogh!” And with his purposeful, short, thick strokes, he was.
I’m not sure why I was so surprised by how pleased they were with this unplanned activity, or how different each of their paintings turned out. But I was. Happily so.
After they finished painting we did watch a brief video of Jackson Pollock describing his technique. You may view it here.
If you asked them, however, I suppose, they would vote for another round of Nerf guerrilla warfare throughout the house with their dad. They are energetic boys, after all. But Jackson Pollock did save that morning.
We were outdoors. Together. We were engaged in a familiar activity in an out-of-the-ordinary location. The birds were singing. They were
allowed expected to make a mess. Mistakes never factored in to the equation. There was not a single mention of whose painting was the best. Competition did not exist – for the moment. Each of them was simply busy, creating…for the moment. Quite a feat, Mr. Pollock.
A final tip: Wipe up any stray paint splatters as soon as possible. We may or may not have had rainbow-freckled siding at our house for a few days.