Sunday, January 27, 2013

Max and Art - a children's book to inspire

When I announced enthusiastically to my son that his book Art & Max would be the source of inspiration for our kid's art group that afternoon, he smiled back, became pensive and said with a twinkle in his eye, "Are we going to paint things?".

In case you don't know the story, Art & Max is a beautiful tale about the creative process and painting. Set in a desert landscape, Art is a sophisticated chameleon while Max is an enthusiastic but inexperienced lizard. Through vivid and detailed illustrations the book tells a humorous tale about what happens when someone thinks outside of the box and tries something new. Based on some pretty mind blowing experiences that occur rather by accident at the hands of the novice artist, Max, the accomplished artist-painter, Arthur, finds himself completely transformed and is inspired to experiment with his paints in a whole new way. At the end of the story both novice and expert are immersed in an exciting world of discovery. Arthur discovers that painting doesn't only have to mean the making of realistic portraits on canvas, but that paint can also be freely splattered, dripped and squirted on things, like little lizards and real-life cacti.

My son loves this book for its humor. I love the book for its message about not being scared to try new things and being open to the possibilities that can lead to. When I thought of using it as a starting point for a kid's art group, I was imagining splatter painting would be our activity. I had never thought about painting objects as the main point of inspiration, but I was glad my son did!

We immediately started scavenging for stuff to paint. We piled together old slippers, broken toys, the remnants of a foam alphabet floor mat, old shoes, boxes, egg crates and an old stuffed animal.

When our friends arrived, we all sat down and read the book together. There was much laughter and surprise over the story and everyone was really excited to paint stuff. We encouraged them to also try splatter painting, but except for one brave soul who ended up with streaks of blue paint from head to toe, the other kids preferred to stick with the normal use of brushes and rollers. All together we spent over an hour engaged in this activity and there was a lot of giggling over choosing which objects to paint. A certain glitter-obsssessed little artist infected the whole crowd and soon everyone was adding some sparkles to their art work.

This was one of our most successful afternoons together with our art group in awhile. It was a fun new way way to paint for us, and also a wonderful way to recycle old junk. If you're not scared of making a little mess, this is a great book to get inspired by.

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