Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So Happy Being Me

My daughters are incredible artists.

I'm not just saying this because I'm their mother.

Well, maybe I am.

But whatev.

They're fly.

Creative little buggers, the two of them.

They get it from their mama. And their daddy, too.

And a few wonderful artist friends who teach them about Jacob Lawrence and William H. Johnson, Faith Ringold and Ann Tanksley, Romare Bearden and Mose Tolliver, Jimmy Lee Suddith and contemporaries like Franks Deceus and Tamara Natalie Madden, too. They are taught to revere these creators--for what they've overcome as African American artists in a world that simply refuses to give them the respect due.

For the genius in their fingertips.

For the beauty they bring to our world.

To honor these artists, I sign up my daughters for classes with Jackie Ellett, a wonderful art instructor who teaches third graders in the public school system here in Georgia. She's always teaching them super interesting things about history's most incredible artists, and she doesn't hesitate to mention artists like Bearden and Johnson in the same breath as Picasso and Van Gogh. Indeed, she had the girls create these self-portraits in tribute to the folk artist Mose Tolliver. This piece is Mari's--reserved, simple, restrained. Just like her.

This orange one is Lila--fiery, wide-eyed, free. Just like my little one.

I remember the day they made these portraits; it was a Sunday afternoon, and they were particularly geeked because all of their buddies were in the class with them, including their cousins Miles and Cole. Jackie gave them a quick lesson on Tolliver (they knew him already, thanks to their mother, who regularly stalks Tolliver's work) and then encouraged them to really think about what they look like. Then she handed my babies the paint and let them have at it. Both of them went for the boldest, brightest colors they could find, and then proceeded to use at least a gallon of brown for their faces and went nuts with the black to fashion their twists. I was proud that they saw themselves as chocolate beauties; it certainly translates in their work. In these portraits, my girls seem happy--happy to be exactly who they are. Kinda reminds me of that Angie Stone song, "Happy to Be Me." (That's Angie singing it live up top. Listen. Think. Enjoy.)

My babies' self-portraits hang in our kitchen, along with a bazillion other paintings they've created.

I'm proud of them.

They make me giggle.

I hope they do that for you, too.

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  1. You have good reason to be proud. Your babies are talented.

  2. They ARE masters in the making! I know it when I see it. ;)

  3. I have been enjoying your blog. Your daughters are wonderful artists:) So alive and colorful.

  4. i had my paige in art classes and she found it a great way to express herself...and i loved seeing her work! i love the work of ur girls...shows they are stable within who they are and super duper happy!

  5. Awww ~ your girls are so stinkin' talented Denene!

    I think my kid's artwork is my absolute favorite artwork of all. They amaze me every single time they create something new. I use them as MY inspiration. :)

  6. Oh I love them, and your summation of their personalities totally matches the works they've created. Love those Brown Babies!

  7. Awww, thanks for sharing this! Just beautiful! With a fire-spitting, word-weielding, super-Mom like you, they will definitely bring out even better versions of "And What?!" to this world, just keep doin' what you do!

  8. Those are beautiful. Do you have a good way to store them? I've just been sticking them in a box, but eventually that's not going to work....Hmmm, future blog post?


  9. Adorable! I hope you framed them. They would make a great coffee table book along with their other pieces as a grandparent Christmas gift (maybe next year?)
    I just taught the Frog Princess' Kindergarten class all about Jacob Lawrence last month during my monthly art history lesson and project with them. After I showed them his art and we talked about his life they created portraits of their own families doing their "morning work" based off of his painting by the same name.

    Happy Holidays. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas next week!

  10. Beautiful work. I have a little artist, too.

  11. Visiting from SITS.
    Love the paintings!

  12. Awwww! Thanks for sharing these. They did make me giggle in that warm, knowing Mama way. Hey, I'm interested in getting info on those art classes for my little Bearden, btw,

  13. I love em'!! You can definitely tell that they love themselves and that is a beautiful thing.

    Lila's portrait looks like my Miss J, lol.

  14. These are totally adorable! I just love the expressive eyes.

  15. These would be framed and on my wall if they were from my kids. They are great!

  16. Their self-portraits are FABULOUS! I agree with Stephanie, I would totally frame them if they were my kids!

  17. @King J's, Stephanie, and Sara: Why thank you! Those pictures are actually hanging up on a huge wall in our kitchen... they're not framed because they're painted on a box canvas, but I always, always frame the girls work. We have the kitchen wall set up like a big gallery, with a lot of their artwork in frames. Every few months or so, we switch out the pictures so that all of their work gets a chance in the spotlight. It looks pretty awesome!

  18. Wow......you sure brought a genuine smile to my face! How proud you must be!

  19. Oh those are gorgeous!! You have every right to feel proud of your babies!!!! They are gonna SO totally love these when they're older and they're looking back through past art creations!! How sweet that you have them hanging on your kitchen wall!

    Thanks for participating in the We Heart Art carnival!

  20. I love their self-portraits, and like you, I am glad they see themselves as beautiful too. I think you did a good job instilling self-worth in them. That is something I hope to instill in my mixed-race kids. Mine are half-Arab.

  21. Such talented babies you have! LOVE the self portraits!

    Congrats on winning the contest!

    ~ Jennifer

  22. I love the self portraits too, those colors just jump out at you. Absolutely joyous. Wonderful post. And congrats on winning.

  23. Congrats on winning! These are the most adorable self portraits I have ever seen! Just precious! I love your blog and am following you now. ;o)

  24. Beautiful portraits!
    Congrats on your win.

    Checking out your blog for the first time today. Came from 3baybchicks.


  25. I love it! I love it! I love it! They are on a wonderful road here. I love that you feed it and nurture their talents.

    Wonderful to see natural little girls instead of the one that are influenced by the music videos! Unfortunately, I see way too much of that and parents think it's cute.

    We must think how we influence the future of our children i.e. their behavior, talents, education, character, etc.

    You are an awesome mom!


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