"Into the Wild" - A Collaboration with my Toddler

August 15, 2015

A Collaboration with my Toddler

"Into the Wild"

by Eve & Ruth Oosterman

"Into the Wild" started off with Eve and I playing around with some acrylic on a wooden panel and slowly morphed into a new collaboration. I had broken out a bunch of plastic utensils with the intent to show Eve how to create texture and patterns using tools other than a paintbrush. Although at first  intrigued, she quickly explained she would rather just use a paintbrush and I had to leave it at that. As a parent you quickly learn that lessons are better learned when the desire is present, forcing knowledge is the quickest way to turn them off of something! 

This led to me playing around with a plastic knife, mixing colors Eve had picked, to create the grass at the bottom. As with most of our collaborations I had no idea where this one was headed but something seemed strikingly familiar about it! As the paint dried and the more I stared, I saw a similarity to "Under the Red Birch Tree," and a forest grew before my very eyes. The inspiration for this piece had been so clearly laid out through Eve's wonderful strokes of paint and the stories we have been creating together.

Bear with me as we go off topic (although I promise it relates).... Eve isn't necessarily a picky eater, but she IS a slow one. Slow isn't even the right word... let's just say you pretty much have to tie her down to the chair to get her to eat, as her mind goes a mile a minute. It simply does not make sense to sit still and eat when she could grab and go do a million other things, she loves multitasking... which leads to crumbs galore and the unfortunate discovery of "leftovers" hidden all around our home. O joy. However, I recently made a fantastic discovery on how to get this kid to finally eat at the table!!!  We have now turned meal time into story time!

At the beginning of our meal we determine the characters or our story, usually the lead role goes to Princess Eve, and her two knights named after her best friends join her on these quests. I will begin spinning a new tale and she will add her input in between each bite, guiding the story's direction and leading to all sorts of adventures. Of course, these stories have multiple cliffhangers that conveniently happen when she has stopped eating, if she wants the story to continue she must take several more bites.

I have never seen her eat so much!

To get back onto topic, these stories we have weaved through verbally collaborating have begun to inspire our visual collaborations. Princess Eve's adventures almost always happen in the dark and magical forest filled with creatures, both good and bad. It is a forest unlike any other with trees that move and talk, clinging to stories of their own that beg to be told. In one of our stories, Eve must save them from certain doom and so she releases her beloved butterflies into the wild to help her, together they save the day! (One day I hope to actually write out all of these collaborated stories to create children's books, illustrated by Eve and I... BUT one thing at a time right :P )

The girl in the painting is wearing red on Eve's request. That morning Eve decided to dress herself (as you can see below) and had chosen her favorite red dress with plenty of accessories to compliment. Eve watched as I painted the piece, providing her input, and asked that the girl be dressed just like Princess Eve. It is always important to me to not only include her vision, but to keep as much of her brush strokes visible as possible. For this piece I tried to limit the number of branches and trunks so the magnificent colors she chose could shine through.

We had a lot of fun creating this piece together and I hope you enjoy it! I know the very concept of painting with a child seems overwhelmingly chaotic and messy, but I promise it is so very worth it. You can create a collaboration together based on your child's favorite story, whether a book or made up, and hang it on their wall. It is such a bonding experience that will leave you with a tangible memory to be passed down, a story to be told for all time. 

Don't forget to watch the video time lapse!

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