published Monday, July 29th, 2013

Grand Thoughts: Making art from the hands of the beholders

Though I’m not an artist (the only things I can draw are Chihuahuas and John Lennon), I love coloring and painting with my granddaughters, Tilleigh and Evie. The girls, ages 6 and 3, are always creating pieces of art that I proudly display throughout my home.

I have a bedroom door dedicated to the girls’ rotating exhibits. At the beginning of each month, their latest art, typically around 20 pieces, is displayed on the door. Additional, more permanent art is displayed throughout the house on windows, mirrors and, of course, the refrigerator.

One of my favorite art projects with the girls is handprint art. Whether using pencils, crayons, markers or paint, handprint art is a visual documentation of the children’s growth.

Our most recent handprint project was last week. Using an 11-by-14 stretched canvas on a wooden frame, I painted a background for their handprints using a combination of several light colors. While it dried, I painted the girls’ hands, one at a time, using a brush so the paint completely covered their palms.

The girls, stretching their fingers wide apart, let me “stamp” their hands onto the canvas. After it dried, I added a folk-art touch by painting multicolored tiny dots around their handprints as well as the perimeter of the canvas. After the paint dried, I sprayed it with a sealant. Using small hooks and a hemp cord, I displayed the painting on a bench. I have two smaller handprint paintings hanging on the doorknobs of a china cabinet.

It’s an inexpensive and meaningful piece of art, and, more importantly, the girls are well aware of how special their handprint art is to me.

While I was busy adding my folk-art touch to the girls’ handprints, they created their own artwork on 5-by-7 canvas frames. I gave them total artistic freedom and was amazed at the results.

Tilleigh painted a smiling butterfly. Using each of the 11 colors available, the painting was striking. Evie, also using all the colors, coated the canvas in horizontal streaks that resembled an evening sky.

After the paintings dried, I applied the sealant and hung the artwork, within their reach, in a bathroom. I hung both paintings at their eye level so they can easily admire their own work. Evie takes them down to show our guests. I like that she’s proud of their art.

Years ago, a talented artist friend of mine taught me to appreciate “original” art. I find myself doing just that every day.

Contact staff writer Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karennazorhill. Subscribe to her posts on Facebook at facebook.com/karennazorhill.

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