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Last year I went through a deep, deep, deep cleanse in our house and got rid of a lot of things (most of our furniture, most of my clothes, a lot of my art, most of our books – and the kids, in following with the trend, purged a lot of their toys as well). It was spiritually cleansing and it opened the doors for a greater level of simplicity and peacefulness in our home. It also allowed us to slowly surround ourselves with things that we love, cherish and that bring us joy, rather than relying on the old, ugly things that we used because they were cheap or free.

In part of that process I took down all of the art from the walls until we could all decide on pieces that we all loved and that brought us joy.

The kitchen walls have been empty for a year.

A few weeks ago I was inspired with what to do with the kitchen walls – a rotating art gallery for the children. Each time they create a new piece of art work that they are particularly proud of, we will hang it up in the kitchen. In the photo, Fiona’s art is on the left, Isabela’s in the middle and Diego’s on the right. The rest of the art gets hung up in the hall way on a string with clothes pins.

It is a technique that I use for myself with my own art – after I create it, I hang it up above my computer so that I can see it regularly – as a visual prayer or affirmation of what I want in my life. I allow myself to soak up the image and it becomes a part of me.

Hanging up the children’s art in the kitchen, the one area of the house that we spent the most time in, has brought me an immense amount of joy. It has given the children a sense of pride with their work and I think it gives them the message that they are valuable contributors to our family and our household.

Shortly after I hung up the children’s art, I went to the library and picked up a book called The Creative Family, written by a crafty mother, whose blog I have read from time to time over the last few years. It was wonderfully inspiring (she also frames and displays her children’s art on the walls) and it also made me realize that one of my biggest issues is that I have not learned how to integrate my creative, artistic life with the raising of my children. They are two very segregated activities at the moment. I usually create art when I have time off, usually on Saturday mornings (my husband and I trade weekend mornings off) and occasionally during the kid’s nap time or after their bedtime (but let’s get real, all I want to do then is just lay down on the couch and rest). This is the key issue that I need to learn.

What I loved about her book is that she gave so many wonderful and practical examples about how to to create and environment where creativity can flourish and you can nourish your own creative life and and your children’s all at the same time.

One of the things I am going to start is a Family Drawing Time, where each person has a sketchbook and you all sit down together to work on your own drawings.

This is Fiona doing her first ever painting. She was in heaven.

She is a year and  half, and actually, I could have started her much earlier, but perhaps was slightly traumatized from early painting experiences with Diego. In fact, it was my very first blog post, just over three years ago.

Tempera paints, good watercolor paper and little water (even though she eventually spilled it all over herself) was quick and easy to clean up. I used to use an art table cloth too, but that thing was harder to clean up that just washing the actual table. I usually just take off all their clothes and throw an old art shirt on them (one of my shirts that I no longer want).

Now, if I could just learn how to do my own painting at the same time…

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