I was alone with my youngest son on a blustery Wednesday. All was cozy until I notice the symptoms of boredom surfacing. Honestly, I was hoping that imagination would entertain Søren, that I could tackle my never-ending stacks of work, but soon realized this was selfish, an instance of my taking his creativity and contemplative nature for granted.
So I pulled out a book of abstract expressionist paintings and turned pages for a while. I listened carefully for long while to Søren’s observations about color, mood, and story. This led to an idea. I asked Søren if he wanted to draw something like these artists? I already knew the answer. I was so happy to pull out my dusty box of printing materials, happy to walk Søren through the process of making a relief block print.
I’ve tried linoleum with young children with little success because the medium demands a significant degree of fine motor control. Nowadays making a relief block print is much easier because the carving is done on a material more like a plastic eraser. So I got my son started, hovering close by to direct him as needed through all the stages of the process. Søren worked happily for three hours straight drawing, carving, inking, printing… even cleaning up!
I could have coxed my son toward independent play, but I read a book on the treadmill about happiness that reminded me, “Most people do not regularly ask, ‘Will this make happier?’ before engaging in some action. Rather, they do what they do because it feels good at the moment.”
I want my artistic Søren to have the ability to make choices that will make him deeply happy. Right now my job as his mother, his mentor, is to help him fill his toolbox with possibility.
» Here's a great video tutorial on how to make your own block prints.
» For an incredibly inspiring look into the life and work of an amazing artist who creates hand-carved stamps visit Geninne's Art Blog.