new website, new Playground

This Playground is about to make a move! For the past week I’ve been completely immersed in the process of moving my site into another theme, which was, I must say a monumental task. By trial, ridiculous amounts of error, and hours spent in support forums with computer techies, I’ve learned so much about programming and site design. This really wasn’t my intention, but I think it may have been a happy accident. My new perspective on site design (from the inside out) combined with This Playground’s new look, has led to so many new ideas. Stay tuned! Coming soon!

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stamped impressions

Saturday’s Family ArtLab stamping workshop was not only almost standing room only, it was also jam-packed with one gorgeous art-making moment after another. Parents and children in the community created their own stamps, made prints on blank greeting cards, and then embellished the printed cards with watercolors, markers, and crayons.

I set out piles of small wooden blocks (thank you for the donation Viking Lumber!), sheets of adhesive foam, palettes, brushes, tempera, and stacks of blank greeting cards and envelopes. Then, working alone or together, children and their parents dove into their work.

Here is one of the many cards made by the father/daughter team above:

A young girl created this series of cards using a positive stamp (the primary shape) and a negative stamp (the piece of the foam from which the shape came).

Many people made positive and negative stamps and focused on composing their shapes on the card.

Others spent a great deal of time painting or drawing on the stamped images. Here is a dreamy card made by a young girl. She combined the two stamp impressions with beautiful blobs of watercolor.

In the background of the photograph below you see the making of that card… In the foreground there’s a red piece of foam, which I later found when I was cleaning up the room…

I took the piece of foam and made a stamp for myself.

And then I printed some cards and brought them home for my husband and son to complete:


a child’s vision : eliot bee

It’s not unusual for a child to make wondrous, unique creations. (All children do.) But it’s rare for a child to make a collection of works that evolve into a cohesive series. Eliot Bee is a five year old girl who has been creating “fairies” out of found objects since before the age of four. In Eliot’s words: I use materials that I find when I’m walking around, or toys I’m not using anymore. I use wooden bodies a lot, but sometimes I use other stuff. I made one from a penny and my daddy’s guitar pick. (See image above.)

I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Eliot many times at the Starrett Center, a wonderful multi-age daycare center in my town. While I’ve never made fairies with her, I’ve watched her approach every other project with the same clear sense of focus and inner direction; a total connection to the materials and the process of creating images or objects.

Eliot began making her fairies at Starrett with her teacher Linda Stec (who is the Executive Director of the Center, as well as a funky and fascinating ceramic artist/puppeteer). It began without fanfare one day, when, not wanting or needing to sleep at nap time, Eliot simply asked: Can I make a fairy? Linda gathered some materials and heated up a hot glue gun.


Then every day like clockwork, for many days and weeks and months thereafter, Eliot made fairies while Linda assisted. Linda’s words to her from the outset were: You’re the artist. I’m just the gluer.

Eliot continued making fairies at home, with her Mom and her Dad. No matter where she worked, the adults were there solely as assistants, ready with a glue gun, but without “suggestions” or directions.

When I first saw Eliot’s collection (months before her one-person show at Waterfall Arts in Belfast last year), I was moved not only by the works themselves, but by the sense that this completely personal work was born of an open environment, where a child’s vision was given infinite space to grow.

{ Many thanks to Eliot’s father, Ethan Andrews, for the photographs in this post. }


creative flow : power in a group

Yesterday’s Shake Up Your Art workshop at the Center For Maine Contemporary Art was fabulous. With a completely game group of adults, lots of art supplies, a great musical soundtrack, and fotoplay (a separate post on this coming soon!), a full collection of strange, funky, surprising work was made. We began as I often do in a workshop, with pencil on paper, moving in response to the sound of Bach:

Then we moved into crayon

and collaborative drawing and painting with a partner (in silence).

We made stamps based on a fragment of a newly-made painting


and then it wasn’t long before those same paintings and drawings were torn up as material for collage

and for those mesmerizing-to-work-on boxes:

At the end of the day, I too was shaken up… completely delighted by the work that had been created.


invitation for graffiti


A few months ago I “wallpapered” a room at the Starrett Children’s Center with white paper as an borderless canvas for children to draw on. This was the second experience I had papering a room for these particular kids. But this time, I added small photographs from the pages of one of my books,  I’ll Wait in the Car.

So much happened in this small room. But for the most part, it wasn’t what I had expected. The marks made by the children in response or relation to my photographs were much less literal or narrative than they were abstract and energetic. Lots of “frames” were made. And lots of meandering lines were drawn that seemed to connect the photographs and/or the dogs. So much happens when you change the rules of the game. In this case, the environment was electrified when it became clear that writing on the walls and writing on or around someone else’s art was encouraged and permitted.