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LJI9 Week 25 - Pumpkin Artist

This is my entry for this week of LJ Idol, Season 9. Please check out the entries of my fellow competitors and consider joining the therealljidol community. This week we had a choice of topics. I chose "Shibusa."

KFP's minimalist pumpkin

The wind ruffled the red plastic-coated tablecloth, stapled securely at all four corners to the rustic picnic table. Atop the table sat two rows of small, orange pumpkins, each chosen by a young child. The birthday boy's mom distributed paintbrushes and opened a rainbow of little paint jars, letting each child pick one to start. She told them she had also brought glitter glue, Styrofoam shapes, and shiny leaves for decorating the pumpkins.

As the other kids around him slopped paint onto their pumpkins with enthusiasm, my son, whose online nickname is Kung Fu Panda, steadily applied just one color: black. He covered first the top and then the sides with a slick ebony coating, undisturbed by the chilly wind that had taken us all by surprise at this fall party on a local orchard and pumpkin farm.

Again and again, when his brush ran out of paint, he said only, "I need more black." And patiently, as the other kids knocked over paint containers in their enthusiasm to try every hue, he worked steadily on realizing his vision. When a neighboring kid swiped a brush full of green onto KFP's coal-like surface, he protested briefly, but instead of crying bitterly, like he sometimes does, this time he turned the mistake into an opportunity. He balanced the green swipe by gluing a single orange cloth leaf next to it.

Aside from one green Styrofoam circle, glued to the dark side of the pumpkin, he declared his artwork "Done!" Then, my preschool artist submitted to a hand-wipe cleanse of his fingers and of a single dab of paint on his dark blue sweatshirt.

The completed pumpkin, I felt, looked sophisticated and artsy next to the multicolored creations that lined the table. As the other kids gooped glitter on their pumpkins and stuck on oodles of leaves, I watched my son run joyful circles around the grassy birthday party area.

As much as I'd like to take full credit for his artistic eye, I can only claim responsibility for making the opportunities available for him to develop that eye. Periodically, we pull out crayons or paints to create drawings. Following the suggestions on a calendar packed with ideas for preschoolers, we've also cut up magazines to make collages and mixed our own finger paint. We take chalk to the park, to draw on the sidewalks, and I often take photos of the resulting impermanent works.

Now, the boy who a little more than a year ago used to request that I draw things for him is now confident enough to paint and draw things himself. I only put the paint, or crayons, or pencils in his hands. He trusts himself to know what to create.

Truly, this is nothing new: When he was just beginning to color, he would sometimes dash off just a single scribble in the middle of a picture and then abandon the project. I used to think he lacked an understanding of the goal of coloring, but now I think he did it intentionally. Perhaps those scribbles weren't accidents but artistic statements.

As a writer, I should take note. As KFP demonstrated so well with his all-black pumpkin, it's more than just knowing what artistic techniques to apply. It's also knowing when to stop.

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( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 20th, 2014 08:59 pm (UTC)
I love his minimalist style - he definitely has Ninja art skills!
Oct. 20th, 2014 10:52 pm (UTC)
He would love to hear that. Glad you liked his pumpkin; I thought it was pretty amazing.
Oct. 20th, 2014 10:46 pm (UTC)
Children's "art" is one of the most amazing parts of being an observer of childhood! Thanks for including a picture of that wonderful painted pumpkin!
Oct. 20th, 2014 10:53 pm (UTC)
No problem! I thought it would be the perfect illustration. Glad you enjoyed it.
Oct. 21st, 2014 10:59 am (UTC)
I have to say I'm impressed with his focus. I can't imagine my kid sitting still long enough to do that, much less having such a cohesive artistic goal.
Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:00 pm (UTC)
I was, too. I don't know if it was focus so much as a clear artistic idea.
Oct. 21st, 2014 11:49 am (UTC)
"Knowing when to stop," is such an important piece of information. :)

Bob STILL does the one mark and done thing, when it comes to coloring. But his OT mentioned on Friday that she's finally getting him to actually color in shapes.

(Also, were you guys at Linvilla? I need to take Bob there, one day. Such an amazing place.)
Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:24 pm (UTC)
I think it's something that just comes in time. It also seems to have been encouraged by his preschool teachers.

Yes, we were in Linvilla. It was crazy busy!
Oct. 21st, 2014 06:16 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't have thought of it that way, but I like the result of his pumpkin a lot (the leaf really makes it work), and given that he had other choices and went with all black, the minimalism had to be intentional.
Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:25 pm (UTC)
Definitely. He always has a very distinct idea of what he wants to do with creative projects. Hopefully, I am helping to nurture that.
Oct. 22nd, 2014 04:17 am (UTC)
Aw! We need to carve a pumpkin at our house. I like KFP's work.
Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:38 pm (UTC)
We don't usually carve one, but we've got his pumpkin art on our table now. :)
Oct. 22nd, 2014 06:04 am (UTC)
As someone who has completed this same project as a young lad, I can attest to your son's magnificent vision. It's quite likely that were I to attempt it now, it would still look like a mutilated rainbow. This is most definitely Shibusa.

Edited at 2014-10-22 06:05 am (UTC)
Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I love it. I only wish it could last longer.
Oct. 22nd, 2014 11:03 am (UTC)
That's a pretty cool pumpkin! Yeah, I'd say that has to be a deliberate minimalist design.

This is a touching way to approach the topic. Great work!
Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I was very impressed with his creation.
Oct. 22nd, 2014 11:55 am (UTC)
so pretty :D
Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I think so.
Oct. 22nd, 2014 12:02 pm (UTC)
It looks lovely :)
Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I think he did a great job.
Oct. 22nd, 2014 07:48 pm (UTC)
It's amazing how fast they grow and develop new talents. It would be interesting to find out why each of the children painted their pumpkins the way they did; I wonder if anyone had the artistic feel of your son.
Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:55 pm (UTC)
That's a good question, isn't it? I bet they did.
Oct. 22nd, 2014 11:49 pm (UTC)
This made my heart smile! :) I hope he continues with his appreciation of the simple and elegant.

Thank you for this write. :)
Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:57 pm (UTC)
Me, too. Glad I could make you smile.
Oct. 23rd, 2014 07:11 am (UTC)
Knowing when to stop is such a battle! Out of the mouths of babes :)
Oct. 23rd, 2014 03:36 pm (UTC)
Indeed! Of course, I've got to reach a balance, though, where I also manage to say enough. Lately, it's been a challenge, because it seems I'm always trying to write while something else vies for my attention.
Oct. 23rd, 2014 04:47 pm (UTC)
It's minimalist, but he's really captured a lot of Fall-o-ween in one shot there!
Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:58 pm (UTC)
I agree. It turned out really well!
Oct. 23rd, 2014 06:52 pm (UTC)
It's also knowing when to stop.

Brilliant takeaway.
Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
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