When the Sun goes down earlier, during the colder months of fall and winter, art can still flourish. Artists will spend the dark hours over a canvas or with a sculpture, finding their voice in their medium. The snow and rain fall alongside the thoughts and emotions of the year.
This kind of process starts early in life for some artists. It starts with the activities of the holidays. I will describe some of my observations, and perhaps you will see what I mean.
Halloween for example provides an opportunity for children to dress up as different characters, reimagine themselves, run around crazy, and perhaps meet their neighbors. Halloween has plenty of other activities like pumpkin painting and carving, and house decorations with fake spider webs and monsters. This provides a chance to use color and style without an authority of what color to use or decoration looks best. You can have green pumpkins, funny monsters, squiggly smiles, purple teeth – it doesn’t matter. Halloween decorating has no strict rules and can help kids get out of coloring or drawing realistic objects.
The winter holidays provide opportunities for singing and dancing, decorating Christmas trees, making ornaments, cookies, tinsel, and wreaths, as well as hanging house lights and inflatable creatures. These provide 3-dimensional awareness. Sometimes crafts and decorations are not considered an artform, but I think they undoubtedly overlap. Just because their ideas might not be original, they are still applying color and style. Children might not think of themselves as artists while they decorate an ornament, or color in the pages of a book, but the practice is the same for artists.
Recently I had the opportunity to show hospitality to artists at a local community event in Normandy Park called “Winterfest.” These artists were dressed as the Ice King and Queen, characters of their own invention. They handed out coloring books, packs of colored pencils, crayons, and snowflake stickers.
While I appreciate the typical themes of Christmas like candy canes, Santa, even the familiar songs of the seasons, it was refreshing to see something different this year. It was inspiring to see a female authority figure not based on the desire for gifts but on the creation of art.
This participation in crafts, coloring and decoration will allow children to develop their own opinions and bias. Typically, bias is something to be avoided like the workplace as a manager or judge. However, however in the world of illustrations and pumpkins, in the Ice Queen’s snowy realm, the white landscape can become any color. The hills and mountains can be purple or blue. The Sun can be pink or red, even the sky can become whatever color the child wants. So, when I see the snow falling and the arrival of the dark days, I see a blank coloring book, ready for the variety of color to spill upon the pages.
So, while the snow, rain, and dark days may limit the activities of children, there is an opportunity to encourage and nurture young artists. They might not become famous, but they can participate in art.
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These opinions come from the years Raymond Street has served as a Normandy Park Art Commissioner, a grant writer and artist for the Mural Masters Graffiti festival, a previous Burien Art Walk organizer, a painter, a volunteer and fiction writer in the Burien, Normandy Park and Des Moines area. There are many more ideas and experiences around Art, and this is not meant to be any sort of authority on the multiple meanings of Art or anyone else’s experiences.