Yesterday I had the honor of visiting The Howard School. Before I say anything else, I have to say that if every school in the world was like this, the world would be a very different place. Yes, it is a private school, and yes, they have money, but it is not those things that made it special. I didn’t even see very much of it. I went down a hallway and into the art room. But what I FELT when I walked through the door? THAT is what was so special. It felt happy. It felt nurturing. It felt alive. This is not an art school, yet art was EVERYWHERE you looked. Children’s art exhibits were on the windows, in displays, on walls. I passed a display of sewn monsters the children had made that literally made my mouth hang open. It was pure eye candy. I think if more people got that art and creativity go hand in hand with success in life, we certainly would NOT be cutting art and music programs like we are. This school obviously gets it.
Then I walked into the art room. It felt just like my studio at home. It felt like home. Any artist would love to be in that room. Heck, anyone would. There was inspiration on every wall, in every nook and cranny. I knew my afternoon was about to be exceptional. I was invited to give a presentation of my art for The Pet Club. (how awesome is that??) They were using my book, Pop Pooch Portraits for a guide on how to make pet portraits (how awesome is THAT???) and wanted the artist to come and talk to them.
See? Right? Totally amazing and inspiring!
Then the teachers and kids came in. The teachers were fantastic. The children even more so.
My presentations always end up being about not just art, but having a goal and working really hard to achieve it. I told them how I wrote the whole book, had to do all the paintings in the book, showed them some of the actual paintings from the book. I talk about how it all started out with a little chalk outline on a side walk while playing outside with my kids that turned into a dream and a whole career. I make sure to say that the best part about being an artist is that you can ALWAYS be an artist AND anything else in the world. You can be an artist and a doctor. You can be an artist and an accountant. You can be an artist and a dentist. An artist is not just a profession, an artist is really just who you ARE. It is part of you when you are born. And if you want to be an artist AS a profession? Get ready to work REALLY, REALLY hard. I showed them sketches and sketches and sketches from my coloring books and painting book and picture books. I told them about editing and researching and getting it right. I told them about my book idea that I worked REALLY hard on and the two years of rejections I got before I redid the whole thing AGAIN and finally got someone interested in it.
I said ANY dream you have is achievable with three things: Hard work. Perseverance. A little bit of luck. (and that last one comes if you do the first two – I promise.)
And they listened. And they asked questions. And they had fun. And I had ridiculous fun! And then we broke out the coloring books and colored and drew and talked. And it was amazing.
And I got so many hugs that I think the world should use hugs as currency. It would totally work! Well, in my head it does. I am totally gonna try to pay my electric bill in hugs this month. 🙂
It was a magical afternoon and I am so very grateful to have been asked to share my art with these wonderful children. Their teachers and parents should be very proud to have such awesome kids in their lives. 🙂