Creative kids

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Dear Artist,

In the art of parenting we all begin as amateurs. By the time we turn pro, it’s generally too late. Carol and I managed three out of the box: a filmmaker, a musician, and a painter. All are apparently flourishing. Here are some ideas we bumped into while getting lucky with creative kids:

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Something is happening here.

Show is always better than tell.

Your kids already know your opinions.

Kiss them regularly if they’ll let you.

Be alert when they approach you with ideas.

Encourage them to colour outside the lines.

Keep in touch. Let them know where you are.

Let you and your spouse be sails, not anchors.

Field trips are more valuable than classrooms.

One of the best things you can say is “try it.”

Non-judgmental curiosity beats seasoned guidance.

When kids hang out in the studio, you pick up tips.

Let the kids visit with weird friends and relatives.

The development of imagination requires their privacy.

Always have materials available. Try not to be stingy.

Encourage enterprise. Let them make and sell lemonade.

They understand if you travel during the drum-set stage.

A kid’s opening sentences are not always topic sentences.

If they don’t know what you think, they are likely to ask.

From time to time be dull and stupid. The kids will rally.

Before making suggestions, give it some thought. They have.

Last summer, a man I had never seen before knocked on my studio door. With a sly smile he told me he had nine of my daughter Sara’s early paintings. It seems that years ago he had been walking by and purchased them directly from her. She was creating and selling them at a small table out on our lawn. At the age of six, Sara’s works were 25 cents each, or nine for $2.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “Your children are not your children.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls.

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, even in your dreams.

You are the bows from which your children, as living arrows,

are sent forth.” (Kahlil Gibran)

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An eggceptional eggsperiment in progress.

Esoterica: This letter is a repeat of one from May 17, 2002. As far as I can see, the ideas in it still apply. As I write this, Sara is in her New York studio painting a giant fibreglass egg. She is one of about 200 artists chosen to contribute to upcoming The Big Egg Hunt in New York City. James is leaving his television directing and producing in Toronto for a few days bonding in Vancouver with the Bob-badger. He’s on the plane as we speak. Dave has just this minute shut down his music studio for the day so we can chat each other up on the way to and from chemo. So much creativity is going on, I’m finding it difficult to be ill.

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CMH Lunch Spot

acrylic painting, 64 x 40 inches
by Pam Stapleton, Fort McMurray, AB, Canada

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