Tuesday, July 26, 2016

ART on the MOVE, July 25th at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Whenever I take the children on an excursion through the Gardens, I discover something new.  They generously offer a fresh perspective on the beauty all around us.  Before leaving the lobby we had a group meeting.  First step... group communication.  After a brief chat, we settled on two code words: I Spy and Draw.  I Spy, to announce when a member of our group encounters something "amazing" to share. Draw to announce when someone wants to, well, draw.  With communication in place it was time to clarify who was the teacher.  I asked, "Please raise your hand if you are a teacher here."  Fortunately, most of the children knew the answer from years spent in the studio with me and soon our little group stood in a circle of raised hands.  I reminded them that they are the best researchers and teachers I know and that I would be recording their observations and thoughts through the Gardens.  They smiled confidently at me, ready to begin... and so we entered.  Here are a few of their discoveries:

I Spy!  Look at this leaf!  It looks like a lilypad and a leaf at the same time.  It's a flower leaf.  Yea, it's like a lily pad blooming but not on water.  
I Spy!  It's a cactus.  It's pokey.  It looks like barnacles on a whale.  The spikes keep birds from sitting on them.  Well not all birds, owls can get into a cactus and make nests in them.  Yea, some birds can make homes in even a cactus.
I Spy!  It looks like beautiful green and purple baby corn.  There's such a thing as purple corn.  I've seen it.  Yea, it's Indian corn.  I think some people call it blue corn but it's purple too.  I've tasted it.  It's good.
Draw!  These flowers are so fluffy.  They feel like pillows.  It's a whole bunch of little flowers growing together.  It's big and soft and really light.  Let's call it a "Puffy-fluffy-white"!
I Spy!  This volunteer came by with a 250 year old bonsai.  The children then spotted this tree with many eyes, which led to a conversation about all the things a tree sees in it's lifetime.
Draw!  Here the children each found their own inspiration amidst a flowery bounty.
When drawings were complete they shared them with the group.
 Can you spy our friends hiding in the tall grass pictured above and below?  Ask your child for help.
Draw!  The lily pond is a source of wonder for many of us.  While the children examined its many colors, flowers and more, they grew quiet with contemplation and focus... a natural byproduct of any nature immersion.
It was another remarkable day in the garden, learning and relearning alongside the children.
Hope to see you next time!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

ART on the MOVE July 12th at the Botanic Gardens

A small group of children joined me for a wonder-filled walk through the Botanic Gardens in Denver.  I am always amazed by how much I learn alongside the children.  For instance, did you know that every branch of a cottonwood tree contains a star?
Or that if you look closely at golden yellow flowers you can see the sun, "...like light beams growing up out of the ground"?
The children led the way through a very small section of the Gardens, there was just too much packed into each garden plot to move very quickly.   Our code word was "I-SPY", so whenever someone called, "I-SPY", the group stopped to see whatever beautiful miracle was in our midst.
This tiny bee prompted an observational drawing session. The children noticed that each bee "...goes to work and gets nectar from a flower to make honey".  They also pointed out that bees have stingers and tongues and bodies and heads and wings.
One member of our group shared a beautiuful brick in honor of his beloved sister Juliette. We all gathered around her commemorative stone to share in the beauty of nature all around us and the lasting embrace of love.
 We stopped often to snack and draw from our natural muse.
As gardeners worked on the irrigation system, our group noticed a rainbow shimmering amidst the sprinkler spray, noting "...when the sun gets together with the water it makes a rainbow".
At the lily pond they noticed if they touched the surface of the water it "...made like sound waves that looked like circles going out and kind of vibrating".  We also enjoyed smelling the various olfactory gifts unique to each garden and flower.
It was a wonderful morning and we all agreed that it went by much too fast!
The children never cease to inspire me and fill me with a deep awe in the presence of life's majesty.