When I didn’t have quiet time to ruminate on ideas for a creative project, I used other resources that were part of my daily routine. I loved going in thrift stores to look for inexpensive treasures. A new one had opened near my house so I checked it out. The owners donated almost all of the money from sales to an orphanage in Africa. I was very interested in the idea and began volunteering. I got to organize donations that came in and then arrange displays in the store as well as in the windows. I was in heaven. I love to physically organize, and creating displays was endless fun. I set up a couple in my house as examples for this blog.
Eventually I came up with the idea to buy inexpensive used clothes to make small recycled quilts rather than buy fabric. I bought clothes for their texture, like corduroy. I also used pieces that Included pockets. I didn’t use a pattern. I came up with color schemes, and started cutting. I didn’t have a sewing machine at the time, so I did all the sewing by hand. It was very relaxing. I even used old sheets for the back because I wanted the whole thing to be made from recycled fabric. Each quilt is about 45 inches square.
Teaching ESL was actually very creative because I needed to teach the same material for a week, and each day needed a different approach so it wouldn’t be boring. There were times when I actually incorporated “art” into specific lessons. One summer I taught the students vocabulary about local places they could visit with their family. For each place we talked about we created something visual to decorate the classroom. One topic was the California Missions that were built between 1769 and 1833. I brought clay in and we made tiny pottery.
I taught adults, but they were allowed to bring their young children to class who were on summer vacation. When we talked about the beach the children made a mural. I cut sponges into star shapes and let them stamp them onto the mural as starfish. When the class was over I didn’t want to toss the mural in the trash so I cut it up and sewed the pieces of paper together.
On Earth Day one year the students in my class made a mural of a city with parks and neighborhoods. Then they attached plastic bags, plastic bottles, ketchup packets from fast food restaurants and other plastic that litters the streets. The mural continued into the next classroom. That class made a mural of the ocean where all the plastic was going to end up. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo. It was amazing.
When my son was in first grade his class was doing a project based on the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. I volunteered to give the children a little presentation about him. There is a wonderful book for children titled Looking for Vincent by Thea Dubelaar and Rudd Bruijn. I also brought in a few slides I had taken of Arle where Vincent lived and painted for a while.
It was really fun to share something about such a remarkable artist with children of that age.
Opportunities for creative expression are everywhere.