BLINK! Here we are in the midst of the holiday season with a flurry of activity and weather to match. Already a grocery cart full of T-Bird eats disappeared. Special serving plates, linens and a roaster pan found a place in the back of the cupboard. Family and friends headed home. Did we take time to be thankful that the day passed with all our expectations met? Or were we head long into shopping, tree decorating, party planning and juggling schedules?
As the availability of instantaneous and constant information vies for our attention in competition with life, family, work and all the associated responsibilities, time becomes a more and more valuable commodity. As you look down your Santa list, consider the gift of time, your time as the most precious and valued treasure to share with others. You may have smartphone or tablet hopefuls on your family list. Balance out their future eye-thumb coordination with a shared experience of eye contact, conversation, eye-hand coordination. Think large and small motor skill development in children. Think learning a new skill for those seeking vitality while aging. Think relief from the winter monotony of cold days and poor road conditions. Think alternate to channel surfing and falling asleep in front of the television screen.
Across the community, children’s drawings find their way to family and grandparents’ refrigerator doors in the beloved kitchen gallery. Bright colors, squiggly lines, bold textures and shapes of all sizes express the child’s imaginative view of an ever expanding world. Sheer play, delight in the activity and a pleasure that knows no boundaries. With that as the focus of a time spent together with family or friends, the gift of time could open up opportunities to observe and express thoughts, feelings, reactions or experiences about our world.
OK! I am going to actually say it: Make art! For those of you who cringed and thought that you can’t draw a straight line, aren’t creative or had an art teacher who may have discouraged you in second grade, think about breaking out of the box of limitations. Think about the enjoyment available when you are experimenting with whatever materials available in the privacy of your own home around your kitchen table with your own children, grandchildren or a borrowed neighbor child. (Think about how you rescued them from half an hour or so of digital screen time.) Watch them play! Mimic their intense focus and attention. Or gather a couple friends for an evening or afternoon of play. Yes! Play.
On a budget or not interested in investing in special art supplies? No problem. A stack of magazines, scissors, white paper, glue or glue sticks and you are off to an afternoon of collage and freedom from concern about needing technical skills. Thanks to the art faculty at Sheridan College, shop locally at Ben Franklin for a great selection of line, color, texture and shape-making supplies. Santa shops there for art supplies for children of all ages on his list. Plus, The Sheridan Press has end rolls of newsprint for art making.
Need inspiration? Artists regularly exhibit their work at SAGE Community Arts and at the Edward A. Whitney Gallery at Sheridan College. Double up and schedule a visit when an artist is giving a gallery talk. Of course, Jentel Presents is a first Tuesday of the month opportunity (except January) at SAGE 5:30-7 p.m. for a sample of four artists and two writers sharing their ideas and creative process. All these events are funded by members of the community and free to the public.
Further direction? SAGE offers short workshops and also various sets of classes as does Sheridan College Department of Art. Check their websites for further information.
The most difficult aspect of art making may be finding time, but that is all about the gift of time. So get a jump on your New Year’s resolutions and look forward to an art gallery of fun and discovery on your own refrigerator door.
Mary Jane Edwards is the Program Manager for the Jentel Foundation.