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Body & Mind Little Souls

Yoga with Baby

October 27, 2015


Since becoming a new mom I have also become more entrenched in yoga then ever before, because I have been figuring out how to incorporate Wyatt into my practice, and it’s something fun we can do together. After becoming a certified yoga instructor this summer, I decided to blog about doing yoga with your little ones.  This first series includes ways you can include your baby into you practice.

sun salutations with baby

Flowing in sun salutations is actually fairly easy with a baby. Rise up together in mountain and slowly roll vertebrate by vertebrate down into your forward fold. Lay your baby down or let them sit up to finish your salutation. Have fun play and repeat as much as you wish.

yoga poses with baby

(I forgot to add chair pose, another great pose to do together)

Art & Creativity Little Souls

Painting in Acrylics with Children

August 30, 2015

Painting with children

Watercoloring with children is fun and convenient, but working in acrylics can be quite a treat for both the littles and the adults. While the thick opacity and intense pigment makes acrylics much more daunting and nerve-wracking to watch small kids trying to navigate, if done mindfully, the collaborative process can be an inspiring, therapeutic experience. There’s nothing quite like working alongside an individual void of creative inhibitions, free from pre-conceived notions of what art is “supposed to” be. These bright, saturated paintings can also be beautiful works of legitimate art if you follow a few principles and guidelines.

Painting with children

The Space & Materials

Use smocks and drop-cloths

If you, your child, and your space are covered, then you can avoid any tense moments of cleaning up accidents, and allow yourself to drop in to the creative process.

Use a hard or thick surface

Don’t try to paint on paper that can’t handle too much water. Flooding is common with children, so avoid the trauma. Use a canvas or a board. I like to use old paintings from the thrift store.

Multiple water jars

Have a few different jars of clean water, since kids have the tendency to dunk brushes still full of paint into the rinsing jars and running to the sink to get clean water is lame.

Painting with children

The Guidelines

Always wash & wipe

Keep your brushes clean between colors, and be sure to blot them on a rag after washing to avoid mucking up the colors.

Choose an image of inspiration

A reference image is nice to pull main elements from, even if you’re going to create a non-objective piece of art. The design principles and elements are usually already present in printed photography or art books, so you don’t need to rack your brain during the creative process, trying to unify the painting before your child gets bored.

Pick out an art or picture book and choose a few images that are fairly simple. For young kids, you don’t want too many colors or interlocking lines. Then look at the chosen photos with your child and have them pick which photo to use as inspiration for the painting. This way the child still has a choice in the matter, but you don’t need to bore or offend them with why some other complex image they chose isn’t prime material. Plus, you want to have fun making the art as well!

Painting with children

Limit your color palette

To avoid getting a ton of brown smeared all over the canvas (since kids usually want to use all the colors on the palette and all colors mixed = brown), limit your colors to 2-3. Preferably they will be two compliments and then either white or black. When the paint is nearly dry you can introduce another batch of colors.

Allow for silence

While it’s nice to explain the design elements and principles here and there, demonstrating your own technique in silence is equally, if not more effective. They will likely pause and watch you work and make mental notes about what they like or don’t like about your style. Freedom to simply observe can be more enjoyable than being instructed every step of the way, for both parties involved.

Painting with children

The Steps

Dominant features

Before digging into the colors, point out to your child what the dominant features of the painting are, and how the canvas will be broken up by those features. If they are old enough, have them paint the darkest lines first which will act as lines in a coloring book. As they paint these lines, work behind them by filling in the shapes with color. For kids under 4-ish years-old, you may want to reverse the roles.

Bring in the Light

Point out where the lightest colors are and see if they agree where your next shapes of light will go. While they work on applying the light, help by blending to create mid-tones.

Cover the surface

Children usually see the world in symbols when making art, and without direction, their drawings often become line-drawings. Yet, they are often thrilled to see their work with colorful backgrounds. Throughout the process, make it a collaborative effort to cover up any canvas that peeps through.

Add the details

Dripping or globbing paint to add the detail prolongs the excitement of painting. Explore application techniques with your child using different sized brushes, amount of water, and speed. Using sounds to emphasize the movement of your brush is always fun too!

Bring it together

Instruction on contrast and balance is a bit exhaustive for young children, so take the final touches into your own hands— unless they express a desire to want to help. When you sense that your child is getting restless and is ready to be done, quickly add a bit of the darkest and lightest tones to bring out depth, and balance out the opposing corners. These final elements will really bring the piece together and make it more display-worthy.

Painting with children

Painting with children

Although the final result may not be a masterpiece, it will likely serve as a reminder of a great art-making experience. The collaborative mix of strokes and blended visions is an inspiring representation of what happens when the child-in-you mixes with the grownup-in-your-child.

Little Souls Meditations

Lessons from our Children

July 22, 2015

Lessons from our Children

One year from yesterday I entered a new phase of motherhood. I imagined that having a second child would offer up new perspectives on life and parenting, but I didn’t anticipate becoming a different mother.

Amelie, daughter number one, taught me to share. I will actually willingly share my dessert now. Sometimes. She showed me what raw, uncensored emotion was, which is making me more empathetic bit-by-bit. She’s brought to my attention how unreasonable I am when things aren’t done my way, and made it hard to ignore my OCD tendencies. Most recently she has been a reflection of me, in how she interacts with strangers, how she expresses her anger, and how she cares for her loved ones and belongings.

Lessons from Our Children

But when Simone was born, daughter number two, a whole new set of lessons arose. The existence of a new sister changed Amelie’s family role from the moment Simone took her first breath. This affected the way Amelie interacted with her new world, which brought up things that I’d never analyzed about myself before. How do I acknowledge when people are helpful? How do I deal with noise when the baby is sleeping? What is my take on fairness? It turns out that I’m an angry mother, but a generally happy friend. With two very different daughters teaching me varying sets of lessons I am constantly reminded of who I want to be in the end. I want to be a good friend. Where would I have found such useful tools if I never had children? And such different children?

The benefits of having more than one child don’t stop at the companionship between sisters or brothers. Multiple children drop you down to another level, which may otherwise take much more work to reach. Having another child humbles you in knowing that their character really doesn’t have much to do with your superb parenting. They each bring their own mirrors for you to look at yourself, and they make you appreciate other parents more. The judgements become fewer and fewer because each child has their own unique world to give their parents, made up of numerous lessons. You won’t learn the same lessons as any other parent, but you’ll recognize the look of struggle. When you see a mom dragging their screaming child down the aisle of the supermarket, you can actually appreciate what that mom is going through without questioning their parenting . All children bring up new lessons that we learn to work through, and grow from.

Lessons from Our Children

Simone was born July 21st, 2014 at 9:45 am in a horse trough birthing tub after 5 hours of labor. The sun twinkled on the water as I held her, floating on her back, looking up at us with her dark grey eyes, awaking from the other side. This year she has taught me what it means to level; she has led me to the understanding of what it means to be humble, even though I likely will not master that virtue within this lifetime.

With each child is born a brand new world within us. What worlds have your children shared with you?