By Lara Duren King

I have rewritten this blog post several times because I find it difficult to express myself verbally, mostly because I have a complicated relationship with everything and have trouble conveying nuance in the way I feel it. Words feel like constricting little boxes. When I volunteered to do this blog post, it was suggested that I should write about engaging kids creatively, and that felt right. Unfortunately, the more I thought about it, the more trepidatious I became. It is hard to be straightforward about it for me, because engaging kids is really engaging kid, one kid, my kid, Phillip. I can’t write a simple blog post about this because it’s not simple for me.

“Hi, I’m Phillip’s mom. I’ve been this person for over 5 years now.”

Online, life is often presented as flawless or horrible. There is a lot of life in between. I am not a Pinterest mom. I am not perfect. I am not a model parent or person. I’m just muddling through the muck, trying to make the best of everything, including myself. Phillip is not perfect, nor do I want him to be (though, lately, I’d be down for a little less attitude). He is a messy, flawed, but ultimately beautiful human, as most of us tend to be.

For me, creativity has always been a method for survival, a tool for successful living. Since Phillip popped on the scene, it’s become the dingy I cling to during a raging storm. It has always kept me afloat, but perhaps in the past, it was more pool raft, less life preserver.

Phillip is obsessive and strong-willed. He comes by it naturally, and hopefully in the long run it will serve him well. He has always been interested in mechanical things. In my mind it started with doors; opening, closing, unlocking, over and over again, often breaking most baby-proofing foils. This all when he was very young in the I’m-going-to-fling-myself-directly-into-danger phase. When he finds something he likes, he’s full on. So I try to channel his energies positively. This leads us to be out a lot. Especially during good weather months. We go on many adventures and stay busy, which is exhausting but, smoother.

At home I am pulled by wants and desires of my own, either focusing in on my own creative interests or trying maintain life and keep chaos at bay, using the normal methods; cleaning, paying bills, etc. I prefer him not losing himself for hours, drooling and vacant, staring at YouTube videos, or playing video games, or watching people play video games on YouTube. So we do what Phillip calls “projects.”

It often goes like this:

“Mom, let’s do a project!?!!!”
“I can’t right now, maybe later.”
“wheowwwahhhhwheodjaldjowuesshhhhhhh!!!!!
“Ok, fine, what do you want to make?”
“I want to make an articulated bus out of cardboard with doors that open and close. We have to look at a picture on your phone. It has to be like the picture.”

What started out as an occasional novelty has become a way of life for us. The whole family is in on it. I think I may be in the lead with the sheer volume of “projects” Phillip and I have made but, my Dad, his Grandfather is a close second.

Within the timeline of our cardboard project creation there have been different phases. We had a hardcore city planning phase, heavy emphasis on public transportation with some buildings like OMSI and the airport sprinkled in. Currently, we are in the electronic phase, making everything from TVs to printers out of boxes. Paper folding and drawing has also been a big part of this and I kind of lump it in with the cardboard use. As cute and charming as this all sounds, it does come with some draw backs. He is very bossy about how and when his things are made, he is often resistant to helping (although he is a keen observer), and he tires of them quickly. The piles of sad boxes can get to me sometimes. Plus side? Can’t beat the price of free.

I’m having a hard time organizing my thoughts to really do anything more than just ramble on and on. But, I guess the gist of what I’m saying is, get creative! Make things out of anything and everything. It’s something fun you can do with your kiddo and you can do it with things you were going to toss out anyway. Or you can drop into Arte Soliel and experiment with the wide array of materials they have to offer up. Way cheaper than going to a craft store and you aren’t going to ruin your couch or rug with a paint spill or glitter explosion. Arte Soliel has been such a welcomed addition to the neighborhood for both Phillip and I. Phillip loves going there. I feel lucky to have been welcomed into the creative collective there and allowed to have some of my ceramics in the shop. Although we don’t get there as often as we would like, I think that we will become more and more involved as time goes on. It is a wonderful place. Go and let your kiddo play around or maybe make them an articulated bus out of cardboard with doors that open and close.

Here are some of the things Phillip and family have created.

Phillip modelling a scuba tank made from a CPAP mask, a Gatorade bottle, duct tape, and tubing.

In progress mural on Arte Soliel. Blob outside the lines of the middle poppy, by Phillip.

Vending machine

Mounted drawings of buses by various family members.

Desktop computer my dad made.

Bus #10

TV’s and PS4

One thought on “Ramblings of an Art Mom”

  1. I love this post, Lara! I have a six year old buddy who also loves mechanical things, has many ideas for projects,and gives very firm direction. He refers to cardboard as garbage wood, and it is heavily utilized.

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