A Cardinal in an Evergreen ~ The Boy's Got a Gift

Last month as Laurent was busy creating Christmas gifts for other members of the family I dropped a not-so-subtle hint that mommy also would appreciate some art for Christmas.

I'm happy being his number one fan (and the person who budgets for and buys art supplies) but it was nice to be the recipient of his burgeoning skill. This cardinal (my favorite winter bird) is painted on a 6 inch square canvas and as soon as I put some kind of mount on it I will hang it on our wall.

Laurent has gifted other people with his art these past couple months. First it was this mural for Brienne's birthday.

Then he created this artist's easel, clay paints, pencils and brushes for Celine's doll Isabella for Christmas. (Celine still loves and cherishes this first doll she made and continues to make outfits for her).

He packaged it all up in a box that he and I made together with his handmade paper.

This is a print of a watercolor Laurent painted specifically for his Papa, who loves herons. Which is why the heron beaks form a heart. Papa "hearts" herons.

We framed it and I must say it looks much better as the actual painting and not this print I scanned.

Watching this boy grow and develop his God given talent and passion is pure joy. This boy wants to draw nearly all the time.

The boy's got a gift and what has been given is to be fed, watered and shared with the world. My part as the mother is the feeding and watering (quite literally of course) but also the encouraging and providing a home life that enables my children to grow into who God meant them to be.

One way I do this is to give my children time. Time to play, time to draw, time to read, time to do meaningful work, time to discover who they are

I feel very strongly about giving my children time. Which is one reason we don't do a lot of "school work", nor have many commitments outside the home. If I demanded hours each day of my children to write, do sums, read (I read to them if they don't read themselves) and otherwise jump through academic hoops they wouldn't have the time they need to invest quality effort into who they are becoming. They wouldn't have quality time to invest into who they are.

From what I've published here, here and here you can see our days at home together are not wishy-washy, free for all. I structure our days for work, play, learning, and creating. We do have a bit of school we do each week in an amount that I feel builds basic skills but leaves my children lots of time for exploration, play and personal development. 

Time for family life, time for growing, time for creating, and time for gifts. 

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  • Adventure-Some Matthew

    Adventure-Some Matthew on Jan. 13, 2011, 11:38 a.m.

    That's some impressive work!

    One bit of advice, from one artist to the parent of another, make classes available to him, but don't force them on him (not that I think you would.) Some of my fondest memories are community classes that my mom went to with me when I was younger. I was able to learn and try new things that I would have never done on my own, but without the rigid structures that a school of some sort enforces.

    I'm looking forward to seeing more of his work!


  • Rebecca

    Rebecca on Jan. 13, 2011, 11:49 a.m.

    I love, love, love your homeschooling philosophy. I've been lurking here for quite some time, gleaning ideas for our own homeschool. My girls are 7, 4, and 2 and next year will be our first year homeschooling. I want to foster the creativity in my kids that was stamped out of me in my own public school experience. I want to provide them with tools and opportunity to discover their talents and pursue them - whatever those talents may be. So, here's my question for you - what "tools" do you keep in the home that help to foster the creativity that I see in your kids? What kind of art supplies, what sorts of materials, etc. would you consider a "must-have" in the home? I ask this because we don't live in the U.S. (we live in Indonesia) and as I prepare to buy my homeschool materials to be shipped overseas, I want to be sure to include the kinds of materials that foster creativity in the home. I can buy books, math curricula, and the like without blinking an eye - what I want to be sure I don't do is have a house full of "schoolish" stuff, but nothing that inspires them. They'll get plenty of free time to pursue their own things, but they aren't likely to pursue much other than TV-watching if I don't provide better options. (Not that I'd really let them sit in front of the TV all day - gasp!) My greatest fear as a homeschooler in a country where our outside resources are limited is that my kids' creativity will atrophy.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 13, 2011, 1:46 p.m.

      Rebecca, I look forward to responding to this question of yours but hang tight. It could take me some time. In fact, I feel a post coming to answer your questions (something I've wanted to write about for some time) but I will respond briefly here in comments when I have a moment to do so. But right now we're off to go sledding in the freshly fallen snow from yesterday's snowstorm!


  • tara

    tara on Jan. 13, 2011, 12:23 p.m.

    You already know this but you have quite the artist there. His work is beautiful and I can tell that as a family you all cherish his gifts. I agree with your philosophy about giving kids time. We don't homeschool but I make it a priority that the boys have lots of down time, time to just do what they need and want to do. We keep the outside activities to a minimum.


  • Penny

    Penny on Jan. 13, 2011, 12:53 p.m.

    Lovely paintings (and super cute artist set for Isabella). Might I add that having a family that appreciates and fosters such talent is a gift to him? Gifts that keep giving in every direction - win win win!

    I so appreciated this post this morning Renee, you always speak to my heart even when my head is befuddled by the plethora of homeschool philosophies I come across all the time. Thanks for the dose of clarity. :)


  • Claudia

    Claudia on Jan. 13, 2011, 1:42 p.m.

    Really incredible work by Laurent! I envy your homeschooling philosophies and am so glad you've found the balance that works for your family. Your children's creativity never ceases to amaze me and they are so fortunate to have parents who respect the people they are and give them the room they need to evolve and grow. Inspiring way to start the day, Renee! :)


  • FireMom

    FireMom on Jan. 13, 2011, 1:51 p.m.

    As a cardinal lover, that gift is just so amazing. I am always amazed by people have not only an artist's eye but an artist's hand. Your boy is quiet talented and it's wonderful that he has a mom who recognizes it. Beautiful work -- from both of you.


  • Jill Foley

    Jill Foley on Jan. 13, 2011, 5:01 p.m.

    The artwork is wonderful. I grew up in my brother's shadow when it comes to art. He is now an artist by profession and I have fond memories of him creating and refining his skill.

    My oldest daughter goes through reams of paper as she creates books - her drawing skills are evolving and I love to watch her own style emerge. At six years old I think she has already surpassed my abilities!

    I love that you give your children the gift of time. That is one thing I am trying to be very intentional about - creating space and time for creativity.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 14, 2011, 2:07 p.m.

      My brother is a professional musician, a pianist. So I know all about growing up in someone's else's artistic-talent shadow! 

      He's younger than me but when his piano skill superseded mine (we both had to take lessons) I wanted out. I choose voice instead but don't get much opportunity to sing these days, unfortunately.


      • Jill Foley

        Jill Foley on Jan. 14, 2011, 8:12 p.m.

        I'm smiling because I'm a professional musician. My brother also took music lessons and whenever we tried to play together it was a disaster. He tended to play by ear and I followed the music, note by note!

        We took art lessons together, too. Finally my parents let me pursue music and him art. I am thankful for the exposure to both and have a greater appreciation for art simply because of my brother and my experience.


  • Rebecca C

    Rebecca C on Jan. 13, 2011, 8:34 p.m.

    Wow, those pictures are something else! Your kids are so lucky to have parents that want to foster their childrens' individual gifts, just like you (as I know you know!) are lucky to have them and their gifts. It is so lovely to see. :)

    By the way, that cardinal picture is absolutely to die for.


  • Jennifer Brotherton

    Jennifer Brotherton on Jan. 13, 2011, 9:14 p.m.

    I think it's awesome that he has time to develop this ability. We spend TONS of time on art, music and crafting here...probably too much. Is there such a thing as too much time on that? :0) I really love his passion for art and how sweet it is. Way to go Laurent! Way to go on the Toe Salad endeavor too...hope that goes amazingly well for you!!! Happy 2011


  • Wendy

    Wendy on Jan. 13, 2011, 9:44 p.m.

    Incredible . . . the art, your philosophy, both the freedom and structure you allow your children. This post sent chills up my spine and brought tears to my eyes. I'm inspired to keep moving in the direction I feel is right for my family and children. Thank you!


  • Elizabeth

    Elizabeth on Jan. 14, 2011, 12:09 a.m.

    What an absolutely beautiful painting! Such talent there in your son. Cardinals are also my favorite winter bird. My grandmother and I would feed them while I was growing up.

    I too look forward to your post on "must haves" to encourage creativity that Rebecca asked about. My sons are 3 and 5 months...and I am more than anything want to put things in place that encourage them to find themselves and be proud of their talents.

    Thank you for sharing :)


  • Heather @ Significantly Simple

    Heather @ Significantly Simple on Jan. 14, 2011, 2:54 a.m.

    As a mom of a young son who loves to create, I must say it's refreshing to read this post. To not only allow, but encourage a boy time and space to create without forcing male-dominated actitivies at him, is truly important - and at times I find it difficult not to fall into a pit of judgment when we tell others that he wants to be an artist and musician (he is, afterall, only 5 - what does he know?!). We all know that there is nothing he loves more, and we encourage it wholly. I am so happy to read about and see Laurent's creations. Thank you for sharing.


    • Kika

      Kika on Jan. 14, 2011, 5:02 p.m.

      My son knew he wanted to be an artist by 5ys old too. He is 14 1/2 now and that life goal has never changed. He loves to read, write, play guitar... but mostly draw. I think we can have a pretty good understanding of who each child is by about 5 years old.


  • Marianna

    Marianna on Jan. 14, 2011, 3:13 a.m.

    Given the name of my blog you won't be surprised to hear that I love that beautiful cardinal! He is a truly gifted boy. And I love the gift he made for his sister-what a tender soul.


  • Spring

    Spring on Jan. 14, 2011, 3:56 a.m.

    Wow, his gift is growing by leaps and bounds! So beautifully and well done! One of the reasons we love homeschooling, is the same, to give them time to focus on their own gifts and passions... only trouble is, one of my kids hasn't seemed to find that yet! But this post has me re-energized to help them find it! :)


  • Sea

    Sea on Jan. 14, 2011, 5:33 a.m.

    Ditto to what many people have already mentioned- your boy is very talented! Precious paintings and with detail! Love them!! I am sure you will let him know too all the wonderful compliments he is getting! Tell him thanks for sharing!


  • Francesca

    Francesca on Jan. 14, 2011, 1:35 p.m.

    I've never seen a cardinal, what an amazing red bird! I really like how Laurent painted it sitting on a branch full of red berries - just perfect. And the miniature art set for the doll is wonderful. I like what you wrote about the time you give your children, it's time well spent!


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