Art and About
Engaging with the creative force in everyday life

June 26th, 2009

What’s going on with Art and About?

Posted by christina in Web Columns

You can see by my stellar record in keeping up the Art and About “column” since it evolved from newspaper to Web, that I’m not as sparked to write in blog form as I was for the paper. I think I was fueled by the fact that at one time, all newspapers with my column were being delivered to homes and newsstands at the same time and potentially, being read within a certain timeframe. There was a sense of immediacy with the communication, real or imagined, and that helped my initiative. I may not having been writing breaking news stories, but there was an energy to being in print that made me feel like I was. (Ironic, I know, with the death of the dinosaur newspaper and the 24-hour news cycle on TV and the Web.)

I like that on the Web, my columns can live forever, and I never know when someone, somewhere in the world, will get introduced to Art and About. That’s why I leave everything here. I DON’T like knowing I have a stale posting. Since most of my writing isn’t timely, in reality, it is not any more stale than a book published years ago. But I know in the Internet world, someone could come to my site, see the latest posting date being months or years ago, and think that nobody cares about Art and About any more.


I still care deeply about showing people how to recognize and appreciate the arts and creativity in the world around them on a daily basis. I continue to talk to my family and friends about it. My work with children’s choirs means I get to touch young lives weekly and teach them to keep their senses open to the Creative Spirit at work among us. In my personal laboratory at home, in which I keep my own children in Art and About petri dishes, I have seen that by showing children how to live creatively, they themselves live creatively. My children are 6 and 8 now, and they are very open and free creative thinkers, both in how they approach work and play, and in how they remark on creative encounters in the world. They never, ever think inside the box. They refresh my way of thinking on a daily basis.

If I feel compelled to write a blog column, I still will. In the meantime, there are people past and present encapsulating the Art and About way of life as well, if not better, than I do. If you need a fix, check them out.

Thank you for embracing and spreading the Art and About way of life!

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
–Pablo Picasso

“Dance is your pulse, your heartbeat, your breathing. It’s the rhythm of your life. It’s the expression in time and movement, in happiness, joy, sadness and envy.”
~ Jaques D’ambroise

Jean Van’t Hul in North Carolina TOTALLY gets it! Check out her blog,

The Artful Parent

Here’s an interview with Jean on Creative Construction. Did I mention she TOTALLY GETS IT?

You must get your hands on a copy of “A Child’s Book of Art: Great Pictures, First Words” selected by Lucy Micklethwait. Here’s an excerpt from the inside cover:

Every child loves to look at pictures. If we give them paintings to look at, children begin to develop a lasting appreciation of art. Children look at paintings with freshness and honesty. They are eager to explore, find something new, and study the details. A Child’s Book of Art presents more than 100 pictures for children to delight in as they start to discover the fascinating world of art.

Each picture in this book is accompanied by a first word that can be the starting point for conversation. Scenes from everyday life around the world and throughout history offer endless opportunities for discussion.

October 27th, 2008

Art Crisis Resolved

Posted by christina in Web Columns

At my last posting, I was agonizing over the definition of art and my own hypocrisy regarding that definition. In my cliff hanger ending to my column, I was staring at two blank canvases thinking that my art, or any art created by my family, wouldn’t be good enough to justify displaying in prominent parts of the home. I am happy to report that one Saturday, I put one canvas in front of myself and one in front of my daughter and we just jumped in and made art. Neither of us knew where we were going to go with it, but as the day ticked by, we filled our canvases and both felt satisfied with the results. As with any good art relationship, I have come to enjoy the pieces we made more and more each day and I wonder why I ever felt stifled by the prospect of making them.

However, my feelings toward art purchased at Home Goods continued to plague me for months. Many times, Oprah has said that when the Universe wants to teach you something, it will keep sending you lessons until you learn it. The first lesson might feel like a pebble hitting you on the side of the head, but if you don’t learn from it, then the next lesson will feel more like a rock. It will escalate to a brick, a wall and so on until an entire metaphorical house falls on you, if that’s what it takes to get your attention.

Generally, I have found this to be true and it certainly was true regarding this art crisis. The barrage of lessons came over a number of weeks as I tried to creatively punch up our landscaping without spending a fortune on tearing up a crumbling patio or buying a lot of new plants. Once again, a solution blindsided me at Home Goods when I spotted two separate sculptures of metal frogs playing instruments. I immediately saw that I could build a little stage area off to one side of the yard and have the five frogs that comprised the sculptures serenading that corner of the garden — a fun and unexpected vignette to add a mini focal point within the middle of the hardscape.

August 22nd, 2008

My Personal Art Crisis

Posted by christina in Web Columns

I haven’t posted in 5 months. At the last posting, I told you that I was involved in some personal artsy projects that were taking me away from my writing. This is true, but not a full disclosure.

We had some much-deferred maintenance in our backyard and pool area that couldn’t be deferred anymore. Coordinating contractors and pitching in to do much of the work ourselves was indeed time consuming. But this excuse was just a shield to hide behind while I pondered a personal art crisis that blind-sided me in February. Here is a column I wrote then and never posted due to my unresolved feelings. Next time, I will tell you how I came to a resolution over the past five months…

(Written February 29, 2008)
I’m having a personal art crisis. It is multifaceted. I am doubting the validity of commercial art, and I am doubting the validity of my own art. Both doubts go directly against the beliefs I espouse daily as a columnist, as a mother, and as a teacher. Both doubts stem from a need to put art into my house for the purposes of design.


February 22nd, 2008

Art And About themes in other resources

Posted by christina in Web Columns

The thing about living an artful life is that sometimes, living in the arts occludes writing about it. I’ve been sidetracked by some personal projects lately, but have also encountered some Art and About supporting material to share.

A terrific documentary aired on PBS called “Freeway Philharmonic.” It’s about the folks who make a living as freelance orchestra musicians and they exemplify that art is as important as breathing. Have your Tivo keep a watch for a repeat airing, or go to to find information about where you can catch it. It is inspiring and humbling.

A friend and Art and About reader directed me to an article in The New Republic about (I will quote my friend here):

….on the surface, it’s a book review, but in essence it’s a long discussion and meditation on the role of music in human life and culture. Also, the comments seem to apply as well to other art forms. Among the questions discussed:

Does the “value” of music depend on its cultural and temporal context, or does it transcend culture and time?

What does the concept of “pure” art mean?

To what extent is music a universal language, carrying meanings that are perceived similarly by diverse listeners in diverse circumstances?

Does music have a moral dimension?

Does it enlighten or otherwise humanize its listeners?

Does “classical” or “fine” music have enlightening or inspirational qualities that “folk” or “pop” or “commercial” music does not?

This is a meaty article, which may require several readings to digest. It took me an hour to read the whole thing the first time so before you tackle it, I recommend pouring yourself a hot beverage, getting on some comfy clothes and settling down in your favorite chair. Then prepare to go on an intellectual adventure. I’m still processing all the information it contains, and it has been several weeks since I first read it.

Keep living artfully!

February 3rd, 2008

Making Up A Song A Day

Posted by christina in Web Columns

I keep notes on my computer when my kids say something about the arts that I find poignant. Many times, these thoughts turn into Art and About columns. Sometimes, I compile them, print them out and paste them into their scrapbooks. One day, I hope they will read their quotes and marvel at their wisdom at such a young age.

I noticed on my list that about a year ago, my daughter asked me an awkward question. She caught me sailing through the house during my cleaning routine and said, “Mama, listen to the song I made up about a guinea pig.” She sang the song, followed by the query, “I made that up. What song did you make up today?” I was so embarrassed. Oh my goodness, it was already 9:30 a.m. and I had yet to make up a song for the day. In fact, I hadn’t set aside any time on my schedule that day to make up a song, and I didn’t have the flexibility to squeeze a song in. I backed out of the room mumbling about getting back to my cleaning, admiring her attitude and feeling ashamed of my priorities.

In the past year, she has produced an oeuvre of original compositions. Some she sings once and forgets. Some she hums again and again while playing, riding in the car or taking a bath. A few, her brother has even picked up and begun humming. She doesn’t quite write a song a day (to my knowledge) but she is way ahead of my output.

When I tuned my ears to it, I started to realize that kids are writing and singing original compositions at school, on the playground, in grocery stores, restaurants, anywhere you can name. I help out in my son’s classroom and one young lady writes songs to help her do addition. She sings them to herself while she does equations in her head. Creative and practical!

I teach choir classes to preschoolers and kindergarteners and we have a periodic activity called “music sharing.” The kids thought it up. After a session full of singing songs I taught them, the children wanted to teach me some songs. I expected them to sing tried and true tot classics but that isn’t what they meant. They wanted to share songs they had written. I learn what is going on in their lives from those songs.

At the end of class we all sing a ditty I made up: “Sing the song that’s in your heart all the day through. Sing the song that’s in your heart and let your love shine through.” I wrote the song because we needed an age-appropriate class closer that I hoped would send a positive message about singing. Turns out, the kids are living this message every day, with our without my encouragement.

Adults don’t sing songs they made up at school, on playgrounds or in grocery stores. Adults have learned that there are “appropriate” places to sing, and “inappropriate” places to sing. As children, that is either what the adults in our lives told us, or it is what we learned from our peers at a certain age. What is that age? Probably about the same time we become self-conscious about everything else. Probably about the same time we start to try to be more like everyone else at the expense of our own uniqueness. Most of us never go back to making up a song a day, let alone singing it for the world to hear.

What would the world be like if we never lost that impulse? Would it end wars, feed the hungry or make the poor rich? Can you say with certainty that it wouldn’t? My little ditty may be more than just a preschool class closer. It could be an eye opener, if we open our ears to the music pouring from the hearts of the children.

Sing the song that’s in your heart all the day through. Sing the song that’s in your heart and let your love shine through.

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