A Blank Canvas

March 12, 2012

I am not a very creative person. I am excellent, however, at copying ideas, finding inspiration in books or on the Internet, and then adapting those ideas to suit my purposes. I have created framed art projects from mementos, built a triple L-shaped bunk-bed from dimensional lumber, and put together a fair share of lovely digi-scrap pages. Yet I am immobilized by a blank canvas.

by: John Jonik

This blog post about Pinterest echoes these sentiments nicely. I am often paralyzed in this age of information overload. My problem isn’t that I can’t think of anything to put on that canvas; my problem is that I can think of 100 things and I fear the best one is yet to be discovered.

So what about the children? Do I empower them to create? Do I ever present them with a blank canvas? Do I let my own hang-ups interfere?

A few weeks ago, I bought a roll of paper 4′ x 100′ to make a giant wall timeline for history. After it came in the mail, I let it sit in the corner for a week while I planned and re-planned this project. My kids kept pestering me about it so I finally ripped open the box, tore off a huge sheet and threw it on the floor with a box of crayons. My expectations were low since none of my kids like to color, but the creativity I saw that day was unmatched in the history of my household!

I was stunned… my oldest, Nathan, later told me that the battles he wanted to draw wouldn’t fit on regular paper. But here I was thinking that if he couldn’t even be bothered to color or draw on scratch printer paper, why present him with a big, blank, canvas (that would intimidate the hell out of me).

I’ll admit this is an area where teachers have an edge over me. They simply have more experience with kids than I do. They know kids love big, blank canvases. They know that girls (for the most part) are happy to sit and color and cut long elaborate projects and boys just want to scribble through it and get it done unless he is inspired to so something epic. (They also know when you hand a toddler a piece of candy, he’s going to want one for his other hand).

So what does this post have to do with my theme? I don’t know. Maybe I am realizing there’s something to be gained from experience. Maybe it’s reminder not to put my kids in a box, but give them freedom to explore and create. Maybe I just needed to see that I just need to get up an do something and not worry all the time if it’s going to turn out perfect or exactly like the vision I have in my head.

I don’t know. I do know that it’s time to get off this computer and get out the crayons!