When Mica Angela Hendricks, from busymockingbird.com, posted about her wonderfully whimsical collaborations with her 4-year old daughter, I was so inspired. I couldn’t wait to team up with my daughter on an art project!

Earlier this week, it was my brother’s and my mother’s birthday — the perfect excuse for an art collabo with Tiana. I couldn’t wait to see what kind of magic we would come up with.

Team T&N did alright!

mother child art collaboration

Tiana drew the balloon strings, wrote the letters, colored the balloons and colored the water lines. I did the rest.

We had so much fun doing it! But I gotta say, I got schooled. Little Girl made me realize that I had aced every art assignment in school without actually doing art…

The 6 Ways Of A True Artist
The Six Ways Of A True Artist

1. True artists embrace imperfection – a common problem I’d encounter in my artsy days, back in high school, was the hole in the page that resulted from erasing too many times, every time. I bit my tongue and felt my lip twitch when my 3-year old colored outside the lines. But her untrained hand made everything soo much more charming.

“Imperfection is beauty. Madness is genius. And it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring”. – Marilyn Monroe

2. True artists make themselves vulnerable  – I remember not allowing anyone to see my work-in-progress, afraid that they would be quick to knock my unfinished piece. Well I gave Tiana the privilege of a preview. Her response? “Why does the elephant have flowers on his face?” “Is the elephant doing pee?” Ego bruised, I may have doubted my elephant for a minute…but I picked myself up off the ground and decided that I quite liked him–and so he stayed. 

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity…” – Brene Brown

3. True artists break the rules – water is blue; balloons are typically one solid color. I already stretched out of my comfort zone by tattooing the elephants face. But no, she had to take it all the way. Clearly, toddlers see the world through rainbow-colored glasses. And I admit it now, the rainbow-colored elements totally steal the show.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Picasso

4. True artists are unattached to their vision – when Tiana creates her works of art, I leave her be. She is free to let loose with those crayons. I’m very intentional about not influencing her. But for Team T&N, I had a vision in mind and a plan to translate that onto paper.
Well, all of that went out the window with the toddler. She insisted on writing “Ami Uncle” instead of “Uncle Ami”. She argued that writing “Happy Birthday” would be “too much letters”. I guess she knows a thing or two about the importance of white space in aesthetic composition.

Have a vision. Map it out. And then allow the project to take it’s own direction.

5. True artists roll with the punches – NOOO! SHE PUT A RED BLOTCH IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WHALE’S FACE! O hold on, that could make him into a rosy-cheeked whale? Cute. Ok. We’re good.

A mistake is an opportunity to make something beautiful. 

6. True artists trust their imagination – I never felt comfortable drawing from my imagination. I always copied other artists. And while there was technical skill involved in that, imagination is where the magic lies. When we were finished with the whale she exclaimed, “BUT WHERE’S HIS BIRTHDAY HAT!?” Genius.

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.” – Einstein

How has your kid changed your concepts and understandings (of anything: art/life/universe)? I’d love to hear your stories. Leave a comment below.

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