Maybe it’s the homeschooler in me, but I am always looking to give my children experiences that help to broaden their world and enrich them. Sometimes I take them places, sometimes we just stay home and read a variety of library books, and other times I sign them up for extracurricular classes.
My good friend Heather has homeschooled five children and is someone who sees and appreciates beauty in everything. She truly inspires me with how she approaches life and enjoys creating lovely things. So when she decided to teach watercolor art classes in her home this spring, combining elements of nature journaling in each session, I was thrilled that my girls would be able to participate.
I love when other adults who have mastery in subjects that I definitely don’t have mastery in are willing to help teach and inspire my children!
Each of the art classes started off with a 30-minute nature walk, followed by 60 minutes of learning specific techniques, sketching, and watercolor painting.
During the nature walks, the kids filled out an observation sheet. They were asked to look for certain types of flowers, branches, and foliage, and check off boxes when they were spotted. They were also asked:
- What signs of the changing seasons do you see? (When we were in the middle of this class, spring was rapidly overtaking our landscape.)
- Do you see or hear any wildlife?
- What colors do you see right now?
- What percentage of the woods is green? (The answer to this question changed rather dramatically from week to week!)
- What color is the sky and what kinds of clouds do you see?
- How does today’s weather make you feel?
- Do you hear anything?
On our first nature walk, we were shown a glossy poster with colorful flowers on it. We were told to look for these particular flowers on our walk. I was skeptical because, at this point in our spring, I had not noticed any flowers at all. And, five minutes into our walk, I still hadn’t seen any. Suddenly, Heather bent down to point out some tiny petals hidden in the grass. Well, wouldn’t you know, if you looked super closely on the ground, there were little specks of flowers in shades of white and lavender. Amazing! I would have marched right by and never noticed this subtle blossom without Heather pointing it out.
Before the walk was over, we indeed found all the flowers on the chart. They were teeny, but nonetheless perfectly formed and delightful. I’m glad I was able to see them with Heather’s help.
Another artist friend of mine tells me that she sees lots of purple hues in the winter landscape here in Indianapolis. I have tried really hard to see purple in winter, but all I can mange to see is a lot of gray. I’m still looking for it! Maybe I will one day discover that too, just like I finally noticed the fledgling flowers.
Even though the formal art classes with Heather have ended, they have continued to impact my girls. In their spare time, my girls will still pull out their notebooks and paint something they have seen or something they think is simply beautiful and worth documenting.
I am hoping the art inspiration will continue through the summer months and throughout their lives!
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of author, edited by Anna Soltis.