Children and Art


Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

Pablo Picasso

Recently, my four and five year old grandchildren were drawing with the company of their 17 year old aunt.  All three were sprawled on the kitchen floor with markers and crayons scattered all around them.  I love seeing kids – of all ages – engaged in this kind of activity, so I didn’t mind having to navigate the obstacle course they created through my kitchen.

What was interesting was that while the four year old was content to color and scribble and just enjoy the activity, the five year old had a goal in mind of exactly how she wanted this project to turn out.  She began directing the more experienced hands of her aunt to draw family members that were recognizable.  It got me to thinking about art, and the words of Picasso.

Some of my favorite pieces are artwork that my children did when they were young.  There is just something so free about how they create that now in middle age I am trying to turn back to.  While I greatly admire the skill of artists that can execute a totally accurate rendition of a person or a scene, I honestly don’t really see the point…isn’t that what cameras are for?  But to draw out the mood, the real essence of the feelings and the truths, that is my ultimate goal as an artist.  As Aristotle put it, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”

I think somehow that children have a clearer connection between their inner spirits and what flows out in their arts.  They don’t yet have all the inhibitions that seem to appear as they grow older, that wall that grows between the inner person and the outer appearance. Does that happen naturally, or is that something we impose on them?  Do we train children to stifle their creativity, to fit into expected molds? What is the price of that loss?

For me personally, it is something I am working to restore.  After all, if Christ Himself tells us to be like little children because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them, then surely it is a child’s spirit in art that will be the truest expression of the most important realities and truths.  I am trying to focus more on the process and flow than than the perfect unattainable result.  I contemplate the message, the mood, more than the technique.  These are challenges for me as I develop not only as an artist, but as an individual.

As I grow in this, I am beginning to appreciate the art of others differently as well.  My tastes have broadened.  I didn’t use to appreciate abstract art across the board, but now I run across a piece now and then that seems to make a mysterious connection with my soul.  It is a soul speak that defies other expression.  That is the purpose of art, to do what words cannot, what a camera cannot.  The best of art is far more than technical skill.  The best of art touches our souls.

For a fun quiz to see if you can distinguish between modern art, and that done by a four year old:

Making Art Papers with CitraSolv


I love using “CitraSolv paper” as I call it, in my mixed media collages, but found I had about wiped out my stash!  Time for a CitraSolv party!  I gathered my supplies:

CitraSolv Concentrated Cleaner

spray bottle

National Geographic magazines (I like to use 2000 or newer)


clothesline and clothespins

That’s it!  Though this time I added alcohol inks in spray bottles to play around with some added colors.


After spraying several pages generously with the CitraSolv, I closed the National Geographic magazines and let them sit for awhile – maybe 5 minutes or so.  On the pages I played with the ink, I alternated between spraying it on with the CitraSolv, or spraying it later onto the still wet pages.  When I opened the pages, they were a wet, wrinkly mess of beautiful inky designs. WARNING:  your hands will end up a MESS, so if you don’t want to have black fingernails the next few days you might want to add gloves to your supply list.


I carefully tear each page out of the magazine and promptly hang it on the clothesline I put up.  I really like doing this outside, or on a screened porch both because of the mess, and because the ever present Kansas breeze helps dry the pages quickly, making room on the line for more!


Once completely dry, I pull them off the line and end up with a nice stack of pretty and unique papers.  Before I work with them, I will spray with a workable fixative to keep them from getting smudgy.


Now I am ready for creating!

For more on CitraSolv as an art medium:

Cathy Taylor’s instructional video

CitraSolv Artist Site

To view my art on the CitraSolv Artist Site

And, for my Somerset Studio magazine article on using CitraSolv

Creativity and Math

world of numbers watermark

Those of you who are not math fans, hang in there, because this is really cool.  For some, the orderliness of the universe is a compelling argument for the existence of a creative God.  Botanists, historians, physicists and theologians alike have long been in awe of the complexity of the universe, yet there is also a simplicity of design that holds true across creation.

Take for example the golden mean, also called the divine proportion in recognition of the divine Creator who set it in motion.  It is really quite simple:  The largest part is to the whole in the same proportion that the smaller part is to the larger part.  It can be proven with numbers, and is evident throughout nature.  It is imitated in art and architecture, and even in poetry and music.  Every part has a relationship to the whole.  The design of our bodies, the spiral of a seashell, and the core of an apple all follow the formula for this ratio.

And, it doesn’t stop there. Fibonacci was an Italian mathematician who discovered number patterns in nature.  For example, if you look closely at a sunflower, you notice that the seeds occur in spirals.  There are 34 spirals that spin counterclockwise and 55 that spin clockwise,  larger heads have 55 and 89 spirals.  It turns out that these numbers follow a pattern.  Each of the Fibonacci numbers is formed by adding the two numbers just before it.  The ratio between the successive numbers approaches the Divine Proportion!

Look at your own artwork, or the art you enjoy.  Can you see the imitation of the same mathematical principles that God used in His creative projects? When you create, are you conscious of the use of math, or like me, is it an instinctive feel for what “looks right”?

Sources of information:

Hemenway, Priya. Divine Proportion. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., 2005.

Knott, Ron. “Fibonacci Numbers and Nature.” 123 JUNE 2007 7. 01 DEC 2007

If you would like to purchase a print of this artwork:

If you are interested in Bible studies of this nature, go to:

Women are Sensitive Art Journal Page

women are senstive

“Women are sensitive, they tend to overthink every little thing and they care way more than they should, but that’s what makes their love so strong.”

Kush and Wizdom

I had fun with this layout done in my magazine turned art journal.  They left side is hand lettering on top of gesso.  I added my own artwork of a brain, and a heart from a digital collage sheet by Cemerony.  On the right side, I painted over the original magazine image, and added a book page collage with some of the things that occupy a woman’s mind.

closeup so much on my mind

Here is what the original page from the Oct/Nov 2010 issue of Real Simple Magazine looked like:

original page

Finally, in the bottom corner, I stamped some words of advice to myself!

keep it simple

The Unseen

The Unseen watermark copy


They are all over the world.  The invisible, the mistreated, the hurting, and the lost of the world.  They might be the social misfit in high school, or the young girl caught in the horrendous grip of sex trafficking, or those martyred for their faith.   They might even be the outwardly successful, but inwardly despairing, neighbor next door.  They are THE UNSEEN.  They are noticed, but I’d rather not gaze too long at the unpleasant things of the world.  I am a bit like the ostrich, hoping that if I don’t see it, it does not really exist.  So, I don’t look too hard at the starving, the impoverished, the diseased, the helpless.  Perhaps I am afraid if I look too carefully I might “catch” their vulnerability.  Maybe their stigma and plight will rub off on me.  Or, maybe, it is that l will be held to account to DO something about what I see.

This is an almost monochromatic acrylic painted on a 20 x 34 inch wood panel that already had city names on it.  I gave it a wash in creamy white to allow the names to show through, then used a minimum of paint for the face, giving the impression of looking right through her.

IMG_0045   IMG_0044

Flights of Fancy


Every artist should spend some time doing what I call “free drawing”.  Like free writing, the idea is to just let emerge on paper whatever is lurking in the mind without all the filters and edits we typically constrain ourselves with.  It is both scary, and fun to see what will emerge!  Mine are usually pretty whimsical, maybe my wish for a happy smiling world existing with the joy and harmony that God originally created it in.  A cheerful world where all is well.  Believe me, I don’t miss out on seeing the sadness, and grief and tragedy happening in the world, but on occasion I think we all need to take a “Flight of Fancy” and imagine a better, happier place!

This 20 x 24 inch watercolor is an adaptation of my sketchbook drawing.  I used Dr. Phil Martin’s liquid watercolors to achieve the vivid colors.  Prints available at

Creativity on the Journal Page

Creativity watermark

One of my favorite quotes turned into one of my favorite journal pages in my magazine turned art journal.  Layers of gesso, dictionary page, photo of my work table, image cut from a magazine, paint and stamping.

Here are a few closeups:

Creativity copy (1) copy

Creativity copy (1)

Creativity copy (2)


For more on using a magazine to create an art journal: