The Good Coach
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12/04/2011


The Good Coach :: Wabi-Sabi and the Creative Life :: by Quinn McDonald


:: The Good Coach ::
Wabi-Sabi and the Creative Life
by Quinn McDonald

Quinn McDonald
The tree had been a great shade-provider all summer.Its delicate branches were hidden by fat green leaves. Now, at sunrise, it popped into view as soon as I rounded the uphill corner of my early-morning walk. The light tipped the newly-bare branches, giving the tree a delicate look. It has been there for decades but it looked fragile, as if it might not withstand the next hard wind. 

 An overwhelming mix of happiness, longing and recognition that this autumn moment was one of a kind flooded my senses. Nothing was important except the branches, the sun, and longing. Then the moment was gone. I walked on.

That fragile moment of recognition is part of the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi-- the beauty of things impermanent and incomplete. It contains a profound appreciation for things modest and humble. As an esthetic, it honors things imperfect, impermanent, and unconventional.

 In a creative life, Wabi-sabi embraces the release of control. Wabi-sabi recognizes and honors imperfection. Recognizing and embracing our imperfections allows room for growth.

 Living a wabi-sabi life means embracing a willingness to let life find its own pace. It allows for space to trust that opportunities will appear, and a willingness to let the world unfurl without having full control over every activity. It is a life stripped down to what is valuable, rather than randomly acquired. It is not living without, but rather within.

 In a wabi-sabi life, you recognize all things are impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete. Once you open the door to imperfection, a creative force rushes into your life, making it possible to risk, to trust yourself and your intuition, to try different solutions, to explore your creativity fully. That exploration and trust combines to create a full, rich and abundant life.

 We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We can’t control the unknown. And you don’t always have to be in control. Take off that heavy obligation of knowing and controlling and take three deep, slow breaths. Then decide right now. In this moment. To let go from your grasp what you cannot control. Wabi-sabi adds a rich patina of appreciation to every season of your life. Look carefully, and you will see it, too.

Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach, writer and book artist. She is author of Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art (North Light Books, 2011). Information on the book and Quinn’s coaching can be found on http://www.quinncreative.com/coaching/.

Quinn will be teaching One-Sentence Art Journaling in Studio CRESCENDOh. Enroll here.

11/12/2011


The Good Coach :: The Art of Writing an Email


:: The Good Coach ::
The Art of Writing an Email

by Amanda Crabtree Weston

Email Example 

Dear Crescendoh Readers,

We live in a fast-paced world, filled with instant messaging, text messaging, tweeting, and Facebooking. With the instant gratification modern technology has afforded us, it can be easy to become complacent or lazy in our online communication.

What I’d like to suggest instead is to take the same amount of care in an email that you would in a handwritten letter, the same amount of politeness and consideration that you would in an in-person first meeting, and the same amount of thought to grammar and good structure as you would in an essay you had to physically hand in.

I guarantee that if you take the time to communicate effectively online, you will see results. You will build more solid professional relationships, and you will be a better friend.

Sincerely,
Amanda Crabtree Weston

This may seem like an odd way to introduce my topic for this week, but I hope it helps you see the importance of online communication in today’s world. This is a harder topic to approach than the topics in previous weeks, because unlike a lesson on punctuation where there are cut-and-dry rules, emails are broad and varied, with no set rules.

Emails can be sent in a matter of seconds and are an easier form of communication than a handwritten letter, but that doesn’t mean emails are an excuse to be lazy. In an email, you still have the opportunity to share a message, build a relationship, and propose a plan, among many other things. Rather than be short to the point of rudeness, be casual to the point of disrespect, or be all over the place to the point of confusion, here are a few things to keep in mind when writing an email.

Start an email with a salutation. A salutation acknowledges the reader, and is a polite way to say “hi” before jumping right in.

  • Dear Crescendoh Readers,
  • Hello Samantha,
  • Hi old friend,
  • Hey Mom!

Be clear and concise. Say what you need to say and be done with it. This may include an introduction and a thorough explanation of your idea, but avoid talking in circles or including more information than you need to get your point across. It’s easy to write more than necessary because typing is often quicker than, say, if you were to handwrite your note, but just because you can type fast doesn’t mean you need to include every word you’re thinking.

But be polite and genuine. Just because you want to get your point across doesn’t mean you have the right to be short and rude. Even though it may feel like you are just writing to a computer screen, you are in fact writing to another person. Because the recipient of your email isn’t with you when they receive it, you need to be that much more careful that they don’t misinterpret what you are saying. Compliment them or thank them if appropriate, and realize that they are taking the time to read your email. 

Use good punctuation and grammar. Even in a casual email, it never hurts to use good grammar. Periods, commas, and correct spelling help to get your message across.

Close your email properly.  By saying Thank you or Sincerely or another version of a closing, you are indicating that your email is complete and that you appreciate the recipient taking the time to read what you have written.

  • Sincerely,
  • Best,
  • Thank you,
  • Regards,
  • Talk to you soon,
  • Cheers!

Of course we all write so many different types of emails, and the emails to our best friends will be different than the emails we write to our bosses. But in general, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the way we’re communicating online, because it is a reflection of who we are.

By no means am I perfect at writing my own emails, and I definitely don’t want to sound like I’m getting on a soapbox about this. What I do know is the emails that impress are the ones with a bit of thought behind them, so if anything, this is a friendly reminder to think before you hit “send.”

Amanda Crabtree Weston is the Senior Managing Editor at Stampington & Company, where she manages Belle Armoire, GreenCraft, Art Quilting Studio, Where Women Create, and Where Women Cook. In her free time, she loves to go on adventures with her new husband, experiment in the kitchen, and run. She’d love to answer any of your English language questions at a.crabtree28@gmail.com.

 

11/06/2011


The Good Coach :: The Art of That vs. Which


:: The Good Coach ::
The Art of That vs. Which

by Amanda Crabtree Weston

That vs Which ExampleSome phrases begin with either that or which, depending on the meaning.  I used to get so confused when trying to determine the right choice, until I figured out that it all boils down to this:

That=necessary information, no commas

Which=unnecessary information, surrounded by commas

A necessary phrase (technically known as a restrictive clause) should use the word “that” and not be surrounded by commas. An unnecessary phrase (nonrestrictive clause) should use the word “which” and have commas.

  • Spencer needs to be given the candy that is sugar free because he has diabetes. (The phrase “that is sugar free” is necessary to the sentence.)
  • Cotton candy, which is my favorite treat, is generally not handed out on Halloween. (The phrase “which is my favorite treat” is not necessary to the sentence.)
  • My shoes that are yellow have always hurt my feet. (The phrase “that is yellow” is necessary to the sentence; the writer of the sentence has more than one pair of shoes, and is using the phrase to help the reader know exactly what shoes are being referred to.)
  • My red shoes, which I bought in Italy last May, are still my favorite pair. (The phrase “which I bought in Italy last May” is not necessary to the sentence.)

An easy way to determine the right word to use is to remove the phrase from the sentence and see if it changes the meaning at all. Using the above examples:

  • Spencer needs to be given the candy that is sugar free because he has diabetes. (Removing this phrase is actually dangerous to Spencer’s health!)
  • Cotton candy, which is my favorite treat, is generally not handed out on Halloween. (Removing this phrase does not change the meaning of the main sentence.)
  • My shoes that are yellow have always hurt my feet. (Removing this phrase makes the reader think that every pair of shoes the writer has hurts her feet, which is not the original meaning of the sentence.)
  • My red shoes, which I bought in Italy last May, are still my favorite pair. (Removing this phrase does not change the meaning of the original sentence.)

To sum it up:

  • Use which and commas when an unnecessary phrase (nonrestrictive clause) is being used, which means you can take out the phrase and not change the original meaning of the sentence, and therefore the phrase includes unnecessary information.
  • Use that and no commas when a necessary phrase (restrictive clause) is being used, which means when you take out the phrase that the original meaning of the sentence is changed, and therefore the phrase includes necessary information.

Amanda Crabtree Weston is the Senior Managing Editor at Stampington & Company, where she manages Belle Armoire, GreenCraft, Art Quilting Studio, Where Women Create, and Where Women Cook. In her free time, she loves to go on adventures with her new husband, experiment in the kitchen, and run. She’d love to answer any of your English language questions at a.crabtree28@gmail.com.

10/30/2011


The Good Coach :: The Art of the Sentence by Amanda Crabtree Weston


:: The Good Coach ::
The Art of the Sentence

by Amanda Crabtree Weston

Sentence Example
Essays, newspaper articles, and books are filled with sentence after sentence. But, at the very base of it all, do you know what a sentence is?

The two main elements of a sentence are the subject and the predicate. There are many other names for each individual part of a sentence, but what it all boils down to is the subject and the predicate. (Of course, there are exceptions to the rule when a writer decides not to include both a subject and a predicate, but for the purpose of this discussion, and for the purpose of learning, let’s assume there are no exceptions. We’ll get into the exceptions, as well as the more complicated parts of sentences, at a later date.)

Subject in a Sentence

The subject of the sentence is the person, place, or thing that a sentence is about; the subject performs the action in a sentence.

  • Samantha ran up the stairs to meet her friend.
  • My dog can swim across the lake behind our house.
  • The blonde teacher taught us how to solder today in class.

Predicate in a Sentence

The predicate in a sentence is the verb in the sentence. It describes what the subject is doing. 

  • Samantha ran up the stairs to meet her friend.
  • My dog can swim across the lake behind our house.
  • The blonde teacher taught us how to solder today in class.

Creating a Strong Sentence

In order to create a strong, clear sentence, keep these three tips in mind:

1.     Place the subject and the predicate as close together at the beginning of the sentence as possible.

  • In order to make the deadline and because she wanted to be accepted for publication, Anne emailed the editor first thing that morning. (This is a fine sentence, but it takes some time to get to the point.)
  • Anne emailed the editor first thing that morning because she wanted to make the deadline and be accepted for publication. (This is a better sentence that gets to the point very quickly.)

2.     Make sure that the subject and the predicate of the sentence agree. Singular subjects need to have singular predicates, and vice versa.

  • Wrong: The artists wants to paint.
  • Right: The artists want to paint.

3.     Make sure that the predicate indicates the correct time in which the actions took place.

  • Wrong: My daughter drove to school yesterday and paint today.
  • Right: My daughter drove to school yesterday and will paint today. 

Amanda Crabtree Weston is the Senior Managing Editor at Stampington & Company, where she manages Belle Armoire, GreenCraft, Art Quilting Studio, Where Women Create, and Where Women Cook. In her free time, she loves to go on adventures with her new husband, experiment in the kitchen, and run. She’d love to answer any of your English language questions at a.crabtree28@gmail.com.

10/23/2011


The Good Coach :: The Art of the Comma by Amanda Crabtree Weston


:: The Good Coach ::
The Art of the Comma

by Amanda Crabtree Weston

Comma Example-1Before we delve into the big wide world of commas, I want to say that I’m thrilled to be here. I’ve always loved the written word, I studied editing at college, and I now work as an editor. I’m hoping that in my time here on Crescendoh, I can help make the English language a bit easier to understand — and a bit more fun.

Commas, though often seen as unimportant, can change the meaning and tone of any sentence. It can be confusing, however, to know when to use 'em and when to skip 'em. At its simplest definition, the comma separates sentence parts. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to commas.

Commas separate introductory words, phrases, and clauses.

If there’s an introductory phrase or word at the beginning of a sentence, and you feel like you need to take a breath before the main part of the sentence, add a comma.

  • After the layer of acrylic paint has dried, I start to add scraps of paper with meaningful words on them.

Commas separate items in a series.

If you’re listing three or more items in a sentence, add a comma after each one. 

  • I chose paints, chalks, and pencils as the tools for that piece.

Commas separate two sentences connected by a coordinating conjunction.

A coordinating conjunction is one of the following: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. If you have two complete sentences, you can combine them into one sentence by using a coordinating conjunction and a comma.

  • I measure a piece of flannel fabric, and then I cut it out according to the pattern.

Commas separate a word group from a direct quotation.

To introduce a quotation, use a comma.

  • Susie added, “I often write down interesting words from books I read.”

Commas separate sentence parts that if not separated lead to lack of clarity.

Sometimes commas are necessary for clarity (like the example in the photo above).

  • The bridesmaid wore a dress trimmed with lace, and pearls. (Implies that the bridesmaid wore a lace-trimmed dress and a string of pearls.)
    The bridesmaid wore a dress trimmed with lace and pearls.
    (Implies that the bridesmaid wore a dress trimmed with both lace and pearls.) 

Commas separate items in addresses and dates.

Add commas between cities and states and between days and years.

  • Sarah was born in Seattle, Washington, on October 28, 1955.

Paired commas enclose nonrestrictive modifiers.

A nonrestrictive modifier is something you don’t need in order to understand the sentence. A restrictive modifier, on the other hand, is something you need in order to understand the sentence.

  • The proposal, which the United States immediately rejected, was vaguely worded. (You could read the sentence as, “The proposal was vaguely worded” and it would still be a complete, clear sentence.) 
  • My sister, Ronda, gave me my favorite pair of scissors. (You can use the comma if you have only one sister and therefore don't need her name for others to know exactly whom you're talking about.)
  • My sister Ronda gave me my favorite pair of scissors. (If you have multiple sisters, you can't use commas because others need the name to know which sister you're talking about .) 
  • Baboons, which have always interested me, usually differ from spider monkeys. (You don’t need the phrase “which have always interested me” to complete the sentence.)
  • Boys who interest me know how to tango.
  • The ice cream, however, was delicious.

Commas separate adjectives that modify the same noun.

If you can put “and” or “but” between the adjectives, you need a comma.

  • The tall, distinguished tree inspired me to paint.
    I lived in a small yellow house.

Amanda Crabtree Weston is the Senior Managing Editor at Stampington & Company, where she manages Belle Armoire, GreenCraft, Art Quilting Studio, Where Women Create, and Where Women Cook. In her free time, she loves to go on adventures with her new husband, experiment in the kitchen, and run. She’d love to answer any of your English language questions at a.crabtree28@gmail.com.


10/16/2011


The Good Coach :: 21 Ways to Make Bad Art by Lesley Riley


:: The Good Coach ::
21 Ways to Make Bad Art
by Lesley Riley

Lesley Riley

As a follow up to  How to Make Great Art, my last Good Coach column, I thought I’d share some advice with you on how to make BAD art. It’s actually a lot easier than you think. In fact, if you’re not careful, you may be doing it without even realizing it.  We fall into so many traps trying to make good (did I hear you say, perfect?) art that we end up self-sabotaging ourselves in the process. While the road to great art is paved with good intentions, you just might find it easier to arrive at good art by following any or all of my 21 ways to make bad art. I’d love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below. Let’s talk!

21 Ways to Make Bad Art.

  1. Avoid Risk. Don’t attempt anything that might not come out perfectly.
  2. Wait for inspiration.
  3. Save your best stuff for a better piece.
  4. Never cover up a mistake, keep trying to fix it.
  5. Plan first and execute according to plan.
  6. Listen to everyone else’s comments.
  7. Don’t attempt doing anything that you have never seen before.
  8. Wait until you are 100% sure you know how to do it right.
  9. Wait until you have just the right tool, color, adhesive or brush.
  10. Listen to your inner critic.
  11. Finish it in one sitting.
  12. Erase.
  13. Try to get all the details accurate.
  14. Color inside the lines.
  15. Stop working on it if it’s not turning out the way you hoped it would.
  16. Always use premixed paint colors.
  17. Make sure everything matches.
  18. Never, I repeat, never make do with what you have.
  19. Do not make a mess.
  20. Always have your phone nearby and your email program open…just in case.
  21. Never trust your instinct, or even more important, your heart.

Lesley Riley is an internationally known artist, workshop instructor and author with a passion for spreading the magic of art. Though her company, Artist Success, Lesley provides resources, coaching and mentoring for artists, guiding them from where they are now, to where they want to be. For more information and resources, visit ArtistSuccess.com.

09/25/2011


The Good Coach :: How to Make Great Art by Lesley Riley


:: The Good Coach ::
How to Make Great Art
by Lesley Riley

Lesley Riley
The folks over at Continuum Innovation have hit the nail on the head. If you want your art to resonate with your audience you must, “Develop an ability to consciously select designs and elements that connect with our emotions.”

You know it when you see it. And you even know it when you create it. The piece just has a certain, ‘Je ne sais quoi’ about it. It sings. It makes you smile or feel good. It brings up a memory, elicits a surprise or stirs emotion. The piece speaks to something greater than the sum of its parts. My children will attest to the fact that I have literally danced around the room when I hit it.

Unfortunately, there is no formula. If there was, everyone would pop out a masterpiece every time. You and I both know that doesn’t always happen, even to those at the top of their game. Remember, you only see the good stuff…rarely, if ever, the bad. While there are no guarantees, no sure things, there are ways to improve your chances of arriving at the sweet spot. Know this: whether you hit the sweet spot or not you will always reap the rewards that the quest has to offer.

First and foremost, Increase your Odds - The more art you make the more chances you have of hitting it, for two reasons:

1) The more art you make, the better you get

2) The more art you make, the more opportunities you generate to make the masterpiece

Choose Wisely – Every element, ever color, every brushstroke or stitch should be there for a reason. No willy-nilly “stick it on heres” allowed. Everything should belong and add to the message of the piece. One thing I have noticed over the last decade is that with the proliferation and easy availability of design elements, materials, papers and ephemera, the voice of the maker often disappears. I don’t suggest you ditch all the commercial stuff. Hey, I use it too! Think carefully about other ways to convey meaning that are not the obvious clichés and choose more you than reaching for a ready-made solution.

Don’t Hold Back – There’s one thing that you need to put into your art that no store, no class, no one but you can supply – YOU. The art that speaks to you, the work that resonates so deeply with others and has a kind of universal and timeless appeal or even approaches skimming the surface of the collective consciousness, is the work that shows the most of the maker. Again, it’s nothing you can put your finger on. It’s the ability to put feeling into form, emotion into evidence and make thought tangible.

It happens by not holding back, by being willing to expose yourself, to turn your insides out. If you aim for it you just might land among the stars. When you are able to say something that is so true for you, you will see that it rings true for others.

And that my friend is why we create. Art is communication. It is our vehicle for communicating what words cannot express. Art now, or forever hold your peace.

Lesley Riley is an internationally known artist, workshop instructor and author with a passion for spreading the magic of art. Though her company, Artist Success, Lesley provides resources, coaching and mentoring to artists, enabling them to achieve their vision of success. For more information and resources, visit ArtistSuccess.com. Learn about Lesley's new book titled Create with Transfer Artist Paper here. 

 

08/27/2011


The Good Coach :: Why Your Coach Won't Give You Advice by Quinn McDonald


:: The Good Coach::
Why Your Coach Won’t  Give You Advice
by Quinn McDonald

People decide to start working with a coach because their lives are not what they imagined it would be. The shiny life of a happy parent, a well-paid employee, a creative and inspiring human being doesn’t materialize.  My clients want something different, something better. It’s hard to be a coaching client.
 
The process is rigorous. You don’t hire a coach to make you feel good. You hire a coach to work hard to make yourself feel good. A coach holds a big space for you to explore what you want in life, and decide how to get there. A coach also holds you responsible for your decisions, and accountable for your commitments.
 
Many clients get angry when they discover I don’t give advice. If a coach gives advice, the solution doesn’t come from the person who has the problem. If the client follows the coach’s advice, and it doesn’t work out, whose fault is it? The client isn’t going to embrace the conclusion that they didn’t work hard enough or realize they made poor choices. They are going to point at the coach and blame the “bad advice.” Then they will want more—and different—advice. After a while, the client swats away any idea that sounds difficult or unpleasant, and accepts only appealing projects. Nothing much happens, and the client quits coaching because “nothing happened.”
 
In my practice, clients don’t get advice. First my clients and i figure out what the goal really is—maybe it’s a new job, maybe it’s recognizing that being an “individual contributor” is a dead-end in the company, but being OK with that career choice. Maybe it’s finding a great hobby to fill out a life. It could be as complex as starting all over again from scratch, writing and publishing a book, or learning how to work deeply at an artistic work and let art change your life.

Clients hire a coach to be able to create a change, work through change, live with change. Or learn why they can't and live with that. I can't do creative work for a client. What does that mean to you? All the stories, the examples, the agreements in the world won't amount to anything if you don't do the work. Ah, and that's the horrible truth. . .I won't do your work. I can't do your work. Doing your work is how creative people succeed and live their lives. It's all about you, your goals, and your effort. And when you succeed, the sweet taste of success will be yours alone. And I know that.

A daily creative practice takes time and effort, but it's worth it the creative result.
Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach, writer and book artist. She is author of Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art (North Light Books, 2011). Information on the book and Quinn’s coaching can be found on http://RawArtJournaling.com.

08/07/2011


The Good Coach :: Creating a Daily Practice by Quinn McDonald


:: The Good Coach::
Creating a Daily Practice
by Quinn McDonald

Quinn
Busy. Time crunch. Overbooked. We are all of these things, and it’s depleting. Several years ago, I joined a group of people who create every day. We posted our efforts,  we encouraged each other, we supported our efforts.

 
I decided to blog every day. On days when I could think of nothing sensible, I wouldn't post. Over time the group dwindled. It was too hard to be creative every day. It started with one person promising to return as soon as her health issues resolved. Another said she’d skip just this one day.  Another said her life was “frantic” and flipped the priorities—from creating every day to being frantic every day. The tiny group that remained understood—who wants to demand time for creating when driving a car full of pre-teens must be done? Any other decision would be . . . selfish, right? 
 
Writing every day is a chore. But the more I did it, the better I got at generating ideas and putting them in writing. Making time for creating became a meditation of sorts. I developed a mindful creating habit.
 
Mindful creating is a soulful practice. It feels like prayer and looks like art. And before you whisper, “but I’m not an artist, “ I would like you to widen the aperture on the word “Art.” Art can be many things. There is mindful parenting, dancing, creating and performing music. Few of us are born experts. The change is slow and incremental, and often not noticeable to those of us engaged in it. Much like going to the gym, we experience the effort first, long before we notice the results. And the effort is often why we quit, which stops the benefits of the results before we can enjoy them.
 
But a daily practice is worthwhile. It conditions the mind, spirit and body in good ways. It allows us to get better slowly. It allows us to think over small issues, solve little problems, and try out little ideas. When we get good at that, it grows into nurturing those small ideas and projects while they grow into big ones. When we run into big problems, we have the expertise on how to handle them.
 
A daily creative practice takes time and effort, but it's worth it the creative result.
Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach, writer and book artist. She is author of Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art (North Light Books, 2011). Information on the book and Quinn’s coaching can be found on http://RawArtJournaling.com.

07/31/2011


The Good Coach :: 5 Messes to Make this Summer by Shona Cole


:: The Good Coach ::
5 Messes to Make this Summer
by Shona Cole

Following on from last week where we talked about not avoiding mess, here are some ideas of art projects you could tackle this summer. Plan to do at least one, or if you are very adventurous make it a goal to do each of these 5 suggestions.

Supplies_6 by Shannon Mucha

1) Take a sketching walk
Buy a sketch pad (a cheap one will do), a pencil and sharpener (those pencil nibs will break) and then go out for a walk. Look up and draw the clouds, look down and draw the little bitty stones.  Look around. Sketch the flowers or swim toys. Think about bringing some bits and bobs from your home with you. Lay them down somewhere on your walk, sketch some more or photograph them.

2) Have a craft day with the whole family
Pick a few different easy crafts to do. Get all the supplies ready, and set the date. Crafts could include beading, bracelet making, model making, painting finished wood frames (or other wood things – available at most craft and hobby stores), T-shirt painting, painting rocks, collage a card and so on. Plan to do at least three different crafts. Spread your things out on a newspaper and get working. Remember, the mess will be gone by tomorrow.  Have fun!

3) Create a self portrait
Take a photo of yourself or look in the mirror. Draw yourself in pencil. Add color if you like. Collage things from magazines that explain ‘you’ a little more. Add some words or poetic descriptions around the edges of the page. Stick the results on the fridge, regardless of how bad you think it is.

4) Take a photograph walk
Take your camera and go for a walk.  Look for interesting details, colors, shapes, compositions as you go. Upload the photos immediately when you get back and journal about which images you are happy with and why. Later you can print these photos out and create a little book with the pages.

5) Do some free painting with your kids
Buy some larger pieces of paper, newspaper or cardboard.  (Craft stores often have poster board or oversized notebooks and the inside of family size cornflakes boxes are also good). Lay out paint on paper plates and give everyone some inexpensive paint brushes. Let the paint fly. Remember do not hover over your kids work hoping for perfection!

When everything is dry either hang your art up and do a gallery show or cut the paintings up into little pieces and use them as collage fodder for thank you cards or even as the covers of little books.

Make the commitment

Make the time

Document yourself as you go.

Get creating!

Shona Cole is an artist and author of The Artistic Mother. Visit http://shonastudio.blogspot.com/.

Photograph courtesy of Shannon Mucha at http://www.blu-bambu.com.

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