Painting…In Between…and Mimicry

The simplest for of learning is through mimicry. For children, this is their first method of education.  They watch the people around them and copy their actions. Hopefully we give them something to see that is worth mimicking. I wanted to test out this idea with my daughter when she was young and decided that I would skip the normal step of feeding her when she was ready for solid food. I just gave her the bowl and put a little spoon in her hand and let her go at it, watching me eat as she did.  Sure, she had food all over her face and missed her mouth in half of the attempts…but she learned how to eat with a spoon that very day. We never had the challenges of getting her to eat. I tried this with other things as well. We grew a garden and I ground up vegetables from the garden and we skipped the “I hate vegetables” phase. It’s nearly impossible to hate something you nurtured into existence. By helping me in the garden she participated in growing food and there was a natural desire to eat what she grew. In fact, she never ate processed food. She ate what we ate. I just ground it up in the food grinder.

I even tested the learning from mimicry idea out when it came to cleaning up messes that happened when she spilled something. I left a towel low enough for her to reach and when she spilled, she would grab a towel and wipe it up. Boy, was it a joy to never have to clean up after my own child. I figured, as long as I set the example she would follow. Of course, her cleaning lacked thoroughness and I DID clean up after her…but only when she couldn’t see me do it. I found that there really wasn’t a certain age when children could do things. Children love to learn and if they want to do something, age seems irrelevant. For example, one morning when I got up, I found my daughter in the kitchen making lunch for her preschool teacher. She was two years old. I was tickled and proud at the same time. But, if you want to hear that story, you have to get a copy of Slices of Life – an anthology of non-fiction stories in which I had the pleasure of contributing several from my life…available through Amazon.

I figured if little ones can learn from mimicry, so can I. The result was my first painting class which I wrote about here. I think the most difficult thing about beginning painting was getting over the idea that I didn’t know how to do ANYTHING and that my lack of knowledge would make me appear stupid, ignorant and uneducated in front of others. So strange that despite my confidence in myself, I would still feel such things. It was seeing six and seven year old children’s work that gave me the confidence to try. So when I walked into that first class…I was delighted that there were several other people who had never painted before and one that was less talented than myself. Now that the pressure to “know” was off…I could just watch and learn. With the success of my first class I was excited to do more and signed up for a second which I am going to do today.

2014-10-03 19.33.55But, I couldn’t wait.  I had to do more and as I mentioned in my earlier post, I bought a bunch of art supplies. Before I opened them all up I wanted to make sure this wasn’t just a temporary fad before I invested too much into it. While waiting for the second class to come around, I scoured the web for ideas…looking at other people’s pictures and paintings. Since what I learn in class is copying another picture…I’d do the same at home. In fact, wherever I went I took pictures of art that I liked, that I thought I might be able to do on my own (or with a bit more technique, in the not to distant future). I wanted to do something for me..and Rick…something fun, something Halloween. I found a picture of Tim Burton’s, Nightmare Before Christmas and it seemed to fit the bill. The full moon has a special meaning for us, there were pumpkins in the sea. In my rendition, the characters represent us…the princess and the pig. Now for those of you who may think that Rick being called a pig sounds a tad bit disparaging please check out this video. Sounds like being a pig is quite heavenly to me. Somehow doing this was not just fun for me but I am excited to show the teacher that I did something on my own, as an encouragement to let her know that her work at the studio inspires others to do more.

One of the things that happens when people take up a hobby like this is there can be an overwhelming number of finished products that one has to decide what to do with. I am not the type to turn my house into a gallery, and with a select number that I will give away to family and friends, I am sure I will have a surplus.  When I worked in the skilled nursing field, I noticed a lot of people didn’t have much in the way of decorations in their room. We were constantly looking for ways to brighten up the space and make it more homey looking. If I could donate some of my surplus art to assisted living facilities, it could be a win/win for everybody.

So often on social media we see example of kids learning things by mimicry that puts the parent in an embarrassing spotlight…the “my kid said” type stories. As one who tends to downplay the mishaps in life, I’d love to hear any stories out there where your child or someone you know, perhaps even yourself…learned something by mimicry. Care to share a story?

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