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Creative Mom March – Gardens and Books

Creative Mom posts remind me that I need to make more time for being creative! How does time go by so fast? Here are some highlights of my month so far in the hope that it will spark me (and you) to do something fun soon. Don’t miss my book referrals at the end of this entry!

Creative Mom March 2016 @harmonyfinearts (3)

This month we have experienced our first spring-like weather AND buckets of rain too. In between storms, I tried to document the blooming plants in our front yard. One of the earliest things to show its spring colors is the forsythia. I had a few branches indoors and had forced the flowers inside…one of my favorite late winter activities. Now I can look down from the mailbox and see the pretty colors. Photography is always one way I am creative each month.

Chalkoloa Review @harmonyfinearts

I was reviewing these Chalkola markers and created this “stained glass” art on my window. I found them very hard to work with…nice results once you get them markers to work. I ended up telling the guy at Chalkola that they weren’t my pick of window markers. You can find them on Amazon here: Chalkola Chalk Markers.

If you want to give them a chance, this is my affiliate link and you can use this code to get 20% Off on Amazon – Coupon Code -> CHALK20A


Creative Mom March 2016 @harmonyfinearts (1)

Last year with the drought here in California, I wasn’t able to create my normal vegetable and flower garden because of watering restrictions. I am hoping that I will be allowed to water this year so I have been making a new garden plan to put into action as soon as the weather cooperates. Renee’s Garden Seeds is sponsoring my April newsletter over on the Handbook of Nature Study and they will be sending me a box of seeds to try in addition to all my old favorites. Yesterday, I spent an afternoon in my backyard weeding and cleaning up from the winter. Gardening makes me happy and fills that creative need in a special way. I am inspired to think about the summer roses and the other flowers of the seasons to come as I work.

Creative Mom March 2016 @harmonyfinearts (2)
My husband and I had an afternoon of puzzles and Anne of Green Gables a couple weekends ago. Oh, and happy hour with snacks and a little wine. I have been trying to reread a few of the classics that I enjoy: last month it was Little Women and this month it has been Anne of Green Gables. So much fun and a wonderful way to add to my creative mom spirit. I wanted to bake,  sew, and read poetry after watching this movie. Do you have any other suggestions for books to read or movies to watch that will spark some creativity?

I have also finished reading two non-fiction books that I want to share with you in this post. I purchased both of these books with my own money and am giving my honest opinion and experience. The links below are affiliate links.

My One Word: This is the guide my husband and I used to learn about how one word can change your life. WE worked through the process together but each picked a word that we will focus on in 2016. My word is TRUST and his word is PATIENCE. Interesting word choices that have already been helpful in our journey this year. Please note this book is written heavily from a Christian point of view.

The Highly Sensitive Person: Have you ever read a book that totally rocks your world? This is one of those books for me…life changing.  It has changed the way I view myself, adjusting my thinking to accept that the very things I thought were something I needed to change about myself are actually assests when viewed from a different angle. I have struggled with things in my life that now have come sharply into focus for the better. I ended up reading big sections of this book out loud to my husband and it has brought more peace and understanding to our relationship forever. I am highly recommending this book to parents who want to understand a highly sensitive child better or for yourself if you have a hint that you may be a HSP. Here is a link to an article that explains a little more in detail what some signs of being highly sensitive are for reference: 16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People.

Have you had a creative month?

How to Talk to Children About Art

We have looked at a lot of art in our family…casual viewing, picture study, and more serious study with teens. It has brought us a lot of pleasure to have paintings that we can recognize and that are familiar friends. This past spring when we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City we saw in person many of the pieces we have studied over the years. Of course, this experience was a long time coming.

There have been times that I have struggled with how to draw my kids out when it comes to narrating a painting. Some paintings are appealing and easy to talk about and some not so easy.  I usually try to let the painting speak for itself and not get in the way too much when it comes to picture study. More often than not, my kids understand a painting much more readily than I do. But, there are many times that they ask questions about a painting or the artist that I can’t answer and that is when a simple guide would come in handy.

Now, after all these years, I have found a wonderful resource and guide, How to Talk to Children About Art by Francois Barbe-Gall. I picked this book up in the gift shop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art but it is available at as well. The back cover says it is “for all who want to share their love of art with children”. I found it both informative and interesting and have read it cover to cover.

Here are some details about the book you may find helpful:

  • The introduction gives a simple overview of art history, easily presented in question and answer format
  • The pages are color coded  by age groups ( 5-7, 8-10, 11-13 years old) for each painting with suggested discussion ideas
  • 30 specific paintings (in full color) explained and annotated for the parent (familiar artists)
  • This is not a technical book full of background on the artist or the art time period. The author hopes you are going to view the artwork and talk about it in ordinary words (narration). You are encouraged to talk about what you see and then ask questions.

One of the paintings in the book is Van Gogh’s The Bedroom (shown on the cover above). Our family has looked at this painting many times over the years and we have even seen it in person. We turned to that painting in this book and read the accompanying information.

The book answers these questions: Whose bedroom is it? Why are his belongings in pairs?

It also discusses these topics: It is a very tidy bedroom. The colors are pretty. There isn’t much furniture. The walls seem a bit uneven.

And then some follow up questions: How did Van Gogh become so famous? Did people like his paintings? Why don’t we see a signature?

I enjoyed reading a little more about a familiar painting and I am looking forward to using the suggested paintings and information with the kids in my art co-op class. We are going to have some fun talking about great art! You can see the complete list of paintings covered in this book by clicking over to and viewing the table of contents.

If you are not confident about offering picture study or you aren’t sure how to share a painting with your children, this book is going to give you the tools to do that. After reading the book, you can easily apply what you have learned to any painting that you want to share with your children. How to Talk to Children About Art


Van Gogh, Emotions, and Love

The Flowering Orchard - Van Gogh 1888
The Flowering Orchard, 1888. Vincent Van Gogh.

Perhaps it is because I spend lots of time viewing art with my boys and as part of my research for Harmony Fine Arts, but I often find myself thinking about certain artists during my daily activities. Sometimes, when the sun is just right, I look out my window and think of Vincent Van Gogh. I think of the colors he used in his paintings, the feelings they bring up as I gaze on the scenes he viewed in his lifetime. 

Maybe it is because although he is famous now, knowing he only sold one painting during his lifetime, I feel a sense of sadness when I think about him as a person with so much color and joy and obvious love for God’s creation and no one there to appreciate it. Humans are complicated beings on the inside…art gives us a way to show emotions and for those of us who lack the ability to paint well, we can recognize our own emotions through viewing art. Art touches us somewhere inside and changes us a little and our view of the world that can sometimes be cruel to us. 

So this would explain why a purple orchard scene finds a spot in my heart. It reminds me of something or perhaps it just makes me hopeful. Whatever it is, it makes me happy just to look at it. Now when I see an orchard in just the right light, I can think of Vincent’s purple orchard and give thanks to our loving Father who created us with the ability not only to be touched by art, to be refreshed by it, but to know that art is just another way to show our love….and to be loved back.

Orchard in Blossom View of Arles by Van Gogh
Orchard in Blossom With View of Arles, 1889. Vincent Van Gogh

“These is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”
Vincent Van Gogh

Love Note
Love you too…

Van Gogh and Handel Cover Button

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