Parent Resources

Interview with Artist Laura Frankstone of Laurelines

Crawfish in Sketchbook

Artist Laura Frankstone chronicles her daily sketching and painting on her blog Laurelines. Here she talks about her art and about raising two creative daughters, now grown, amidst paint and charcoal pencils. Note: Readers have a chance to win one of Laura's beautiful watercolors at the end of this interview!

Laura Photo

JEAN: I've been enjoying your sketches and watercolor paintings on your blog, Laurelines, especially your 101 faces project and your travel sketches. I'm also impressed by the sheer volume! Can you talk about what inspires you to draw and create everyday?

LAURA: First of all, thank you, Jean. I'm very glad that you like my work and my blog. A few years ago, I was able to quit my job working as a decorative arts and antiques curator and devote myself full time to my own artwork. In 2007, our youngest daughter finished college, which gave me an added burst of freedom. I know that I am lucky, lucky, lucky to be able to spend every day in the studio and I feel an obligation to do just that! I keep regular office hours. I don't believe in waiting for moments of inspiration. Inspiration comes as you work.

Monkey .

JEAN: Can you tell us about your growth as an artist?

LAURA: About three years ago, I turned away from painting to devote myself to drawing, to keeping sketchbooks and travel journals. I was stuck in the studio and needed new energy. I also started my blog Laurelines at that point. I work best within rather narrow parameters, so that first year I set myself a plan to immerse myself in the study of color. I devoted six weeks to each color in the spectrum and kept daily sketchbooks dealing with those colors. The second year, my goal was to become completely fluent in drawing. I divided the year up into twelve themes and drew within those themes every day of each month. Part of my plan that year was to spend a whole month in Paris, sketching—and I did! Last year, I gave myself a more free-ranging set of goals, but I was no less assiduous.

Water in Hawaii

This year, I've set a central theme for my work, a metaphorical (and sometimes literal!) search for water. This broad theme allows me to work my way back into painting paintings, without abandoning my passion for drawing. These three years of intensive drawing and study have helped strengthen my work. Telling my story on Laurelines keeps me at it, even through periods of doubt and frustration. I can't let myself and my lovely readers down! Finally, the death of my sweet father a couple of years ago forced me, among other things, to face the fact of my own mortality. His last gift to me was the spur to live life as consciously and fully as I can, in whatever time I have left here.

Sketch of Travel Items

Travel has been a huge part of that commitment to myself. The keeping of travel sketchbooks has been a large (and fun!) part of my recent art life. .

JEAN: Can you tell me about your art experiences as a child? Did you mostly create art at home or at school? What kind of encouragement did you have?

LAURA: One of the earliest memories I have is of drawing a portrait of my older brother. I was either three or four. I drew his round head, I made dots for his freckles, and little spikes for his hair. I was SO happy–I thought it looked just like him! I won a school-wide art contest in second grade and all through my school life, I was known as a good artist. Since we moved frequently, it was one of the few things I could count on to define myself.

Studio .

JEAN: You have two grown daughters–was art an important part of your family life when they were growing up? Can you tell us what sorts of art experiences you shared with them?

LAURA: I made sure my daughters had big newsprint pads and crayons and paint and brushes from the time they could barely hold them with their chubby baby hands. There's a photo of one of my daughters at 11 months old drawing on a newsprint pad on the floor before she was able to walk. [Jean's note: You can see photos of Laura's daughters drawing and painting on her post about Artful Children.]

I took them to museums all over the world. I talked to them about the work we looked at and told them stories of the lives of the artists represented on gallery walls. I chose the most beautiful picture books I could find to share with them. I took them on wildflower walks and taught them tree and plant shapes and names and colors. I drew with them and also enrolled them in summer and afterschool art classes. I wanted them to know the richness of our visual world and to feel confident in their own expressive abilities.

JEAN: Do you have any advice for parents (both from the perspective of an artist and also as a mother of two daughters) for raising creative children?

LAURA: Turn off the television! That's my first piece of advice. Though my daughters balked a little at this when they were growing up, it paid huge dividends. They are avid readers, by the way, which is one of the things I'm most proud of as a mother. Provide your children at an early age with drawing and painting materials and the space to use them freely. Talk to them about the things you see. Teach them to notice details as well as to appreciate grand panoramas. Take them to museums so they can see how various and rich the world of art is. And don't overschedule them. They need time to just be. .

JEAN: You mentioned to me that you "dragged" both of your daughters to art museums all over the world as they were growing up-can you tell us a little about that?

LAURA: I alluded to that earlier in the interview. Part of my reason for doing so was selfish! I wanted to see the artwork, too! Nothing benefits an artist as much as exposure to others' work. But, of course, I did it for them, too. I wanted to inculcate a love for art in them and teach them how to look at paintings and sculpture. .

JEAN: You said that one of your daughters is now an avid museum-goer and the other is an artist–can you tell us a little more about them?

LAURA: Both of my daughters faced the same choice I faced in high school and college–which path to choose, the academic or artistic one.

Kate

My elder daughter, Kate, chose art history as her major in college, which was one way of trying to have both elements in her life. She later switched to anthropology, but her love for art and artifacts is still strong. She's my museum goer. She remembers pieces of sculpture we saw at the Heyward Gallery in London when she was five! She always wants us to go to the state art museum for our Mother's Day outings.

Cecelia

My other daughter, Cecelia, is more interested in making her own art, even though she chose the primarily academic road in high school and college. She understands that she can't devote herself fulltime to art now, as she prepares herself for a profession, but she's seen, through my life, that one can keep that thread going, by hook or crook, if one has the determination to do so. .

JEAN: How were you able to find time for your own art as you were raising them?

LAURA: I put their playpens in my studio! I also had part-time childcare for a lot of their childhood,which was a tremendous blessing. .

JEAN: Thank you, Laura, for sharing your art and parenting experiences with us!

LAURA: You are most welcome, Jean. I love what you are doing with your own blog and I sense a kindred spirit in you in your devotion to your daughter's creative life. To learn more about Laura and her art, you can visit her blog, Laurelines.

Purple Orchids .

Readers who leave a comment on this interview by Friday, March 14th, Midnight EST, will be entered into a drawing for Laura's watercolor of the purple orchids, shown above. Winner will be announced Saturday morning.

56 Comments

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    lin
    March 10, 2008 at 4:24 am

    What a great article!!! I LOVE THIS!!!! And I so agree — turn off that awful TV ….wonderful wonderful interview and Laura’s work! Congrats on focusing on a truly gifted artist!

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    Leslie Brasher
    March 10, 2008 at 4:25 am

    Wonderful interview, Laura and Jean! Laura, thanks for pointing me toward this blog (through EDM). I am sure to pick up some tips to use with my 11-yr-old son.

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    molly
    March 10, 2008 at 4:29 am

    Thanks, this is a really interesting interview. I loved reading the section about how Laura has been working to grow as an artist. I am going to head over to her blog now and have a look around.

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    Dot McQuade
    March 10, 2008 at 4:43 am

    I love the advice of turning off the TV… not just for the younguns but for me too!! I love Laura’s work… I’ve been reading her blog for several months…always impressed by it!! Thanks for doing the interview!
    dot

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    Momma Roar
    March 10, 2008 at 4:46 am

    My kids are young (5, 3, and 1) and it is so hard for me to let them be creative because I tend to worry about the clean up – it is a struggle but I hope that I can get over it for the sake of my children. My oldest loves to draw (which he didn’t get from me) so I really want to try to nurture and develop it.
    Thanks for the wonderful tips and advice! You’ve given me something to work on! Thanks for the push!
    The watercolor is beautiful – I’d love to have it! :)
    Blessings,
    Leigh Ann

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    Robyn
    March 10, 2008 at 5:08 am

    Congratulations Jean, for drawing Laura out so beautifully.
    I dragged my daughter through the art galleries of the world too. I can remember her pleading in Vienna, ‘Please! Not another gallery, Mummy!’ Can you imagine my delight, years later, when we celebrated the end of her university degree with a trip to New York, to have her conduct me through the MoMA – lecturing me!
    Delightful to find your blog too, Jean. I have bookmarked it to pass on if I ever have a grandchild.

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    Kim
    March 10, 2008 at 5:19 am

    I am so glad I found this blog! We homeschool our three youngest and my twin girls (age 6) already know how to use real watercolor from a tube and know that you have to spray a fixative on their chalk pastel drawings so they won’t smudge. I feel it is my responsibility to expose them to all kind of media at their young age. Would *love* to win that beautiful watercolor, I love flowers.

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    threesneakybugs
    March 10, 2008 at 5:48 am

    Love the orchid piece! And love the thought you put into these interviews.

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    SAJ
    March 10, 2008 at 7:21 am

    Lovely interview! Thank you.

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    caseytoussaint
    March 10, 2008 at 7:55 am

    Thank you for a beautiful post! I know Laura, but I’ve learned a lot from your interview. What a great idea for a blog – I wish it had been around when my children were small!

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    Amanda
    March 10, 2008 at 4:07 am

    “Turn off the television!” Great advice :)
    I’d love to win that beautiful watercolor!

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    Lucia
    March 10, 2008 at 8:08 am

    It is wonderful to hear from experienced parents and thank you for the introduction to another beautiful blog. Beautiful work, Laura!

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    Steph in Roker
    March 10, 2008 at 8:14 am

    That was a great interview, giving me an insight into how a person can have a life full of art throught the many changes in pace family life contains.

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    Melanie
    March 10, 2008 at 8:24 am

    I am a reader of Laurelines – and now am so happy to have found this blog as well! Excellent – the interviewer and the interviewee!
    Thanks to both of you for taking the time to do this. I enjoyed every word and image.

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    jenny
    March 10, 2008 at 8:24 am

    one of my favorites. thank you for the interview – very wonderful to read!

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    bec
    March 10, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Thanks for this wonderful interview!
    I’ve so enjoyed Laura’s art and it’s nice to hear more about her. I totally agree with the “don’t over schedule your children… they need time just to be.

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    bec
    March 10, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Thanks for this wonderful interview!
    I’ve so enjoyed Laura’s art and it’s nice to hear more about her. I totally agree with the “don’t over schedule your children… they need time just to be.

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    Nina aka apple-pine
    March 10, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Great interview, Laura and Jean!
    I’d write more but have to run to draw with my son ;)
    Nina
    aka apple-pine
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    https://www.apple-pine.com/

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    Jeannette
    March 10, 2008 at 5:15 am

    I love that you dragged them through museums. I pop into our art museum with my 2.5 yo–he has stamina for about 5 paintings, prefers the fountain in the room to the Van Gogh, and thinks it much more fun to climb all the stairs even though at the top is medieval furniture he’s not allowed to climb. That’s why I bought a membership, so that we could enjoy 5 paintings at a time. ;)
    I went the history route with my music, and it bleeds into my love for museums.

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    tif
    March 10, 2008 at 9:18 am

    i am inspired by the way Laura was able to keep feeding her art interest while introducing it to her children as they grew. I also like the way she created her own structured study of color and drawing. Great interview Jean! Thanks!

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    Sherrie Roberts
    March 10, 2008 at 9:33 am

    This a Great interview. Gives me great ideas to pursue. I did not have a television for my children. How odd to be here telling you this today. My oldest gave me a surprise Birthday gift. A 42″ inch HDtv 1080. Whatever that means. When did they get TV back- Both Sons were JrROTC. When Dessert Storm began they had to have TV to keep up with the military tatics and the History of Warfare. Went to all kinds of Museums. The “Pink Palace” a favorite for boys, museum of Science ad History. We were there so much that when the Magna Carta visited. We helped take it out of the protective framing. My youngest son went to Chicago with me as I finished my BFA. He sketched with me at the Degas show. He is a electronics computer Apple employee. Brother is a Captain in the military and safely at His new assignment. Both have exciting lives. Yes, my art knowledge has even been used in military discussions. But how is a military secret.
    Thank-you, Sherrie Roberts

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    Linda T
    March 10, 2008 at 9:47 am

    This was really interesting. I’ve enjoyed Laura’s blog for some time now, and it was helpful to hear how she parented her girls and did her art at the same time.

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    sue
    March 10, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Lovely interview! I can’t imagine Laura having children who weren’t creative themselves. Children have such a fresh eye for everything: they’re just like little sponges, and if they’re given the encouragement to express what they are experiencing , they are so happy to “have at it.” It’s exciting to see them explore their worlds that way.

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    Mommy Bee
    March 10, 2008 at 11:10 am

    I love this advice from someone who’s been there/done that and now has grown children. It’s great to hear how Laura helped inspire her daughters. Her art is really beautiful. I’d love to win the watercolor.

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    Elaine
    March 10, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Thank you for a fabulous piece, on so many different levels.
    Laura is an inspiration and always a generous commenter.
    And now I’m going to read my way through your other entries here!
    E

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    Kate (Cathy) Johnson
    March 10, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    A wonderful interview, not surprisingly! I’m one of those fortunate enough to call Laura a friend, and I think your questions brought out wonderful things. I’ve passed it along to two old friends of mine who are both artists and mothers…reminded me of them, so much.

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    E-J
    March 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    I read Laura’s blog and enjoy her but didn’t realise she was the mother of two grown daughters. This is a subject close to my heart: for quite a while now I’ve been encouraging my daughter (now 18 months) to draw and paint, and am thrilled now that she has started asking for the paint or the crayons, by pointing at them and babbling away at me excitedly until I get them out.

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    Sara
    March 10, 2008 at 10:23 am

    She does beautiful work. I love the idea of keeping a travel sketchbook.

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    Patricia
    March 10, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks for this interview with Laura. I’m a devoted reader of Laurelines and I loved learning more about the person who creates those gorgeous images.

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    Sharon M.
    March 10, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Thanks so much for this interview. Laura’s blog and gorgeous use of color is so inspiring. It was interesting learning more about her

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    Erica
    March 10, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    What inspired drawings, and it was so nice to read another mom’s approach with raising creative kids! =)

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    Karyn
    March 10, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    What lovely sketches and watercolors! Thanks for the introduction to the artist.
    I’ve always wanted to draw, my fingers itch from it sometimes but the talent alludes me. Regardless, I do write and sketch when we travel and hope my little one picks this up as a habit of his own.
    Karyn

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    Linda
    March 10, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    I’ll add my vote to the idea of turning off the television! What a wonderful interview!!

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    Laurabeth
    March 10, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    To engender in children an appreciation of beauty is to bestow a benediction. What’s more, developing a mutual and life-long passion for the joy of self-expression is such a thoughtful way to show children how much they are loved and valued.
    I am inspired by the intentionality of your work and so grateful for your willingness to share it with us through your blogs!

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    sara
    March 10, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    I loved the interview. I’ve been following Laura’s blog for a couple of months now. I love the water theme this year. Also love how she structured her time these past few years. I am going to try that. my children are grown, but I always made sure they had art supplies and the time to use them. I love the orchid painting too! :)
    Sara Mathewson
    https://saramathewson.com

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    pepperpaints
    March 10, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    I am really enjoying the interviews that you do. I am so inspired by the rigorus goals Laura set for herself. The best way to learn things and get better at them is to really spend time getting to know them and practicing.
    Kristen

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    Irene
    March 10, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    I really enjoyed the interview with Laura and how she inspired art in her own daughter’s lives.

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    Rachel
    March 10, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    the purple orchids painting would look amazing in our purple bedroom!
    thx for all the thoughtfulness put into these interviews, jean.

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    jo
    March 10, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    A lovely inspiring article, thank you.

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    r8ermom
    March 10, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    once again, a wonderfully succint yet substantive interview with much food for thought. i’ve gleaned so many good ideas about inspiring creativity in my children. i’m now on my way to check out laurelines. i love, love these interviews you’re doing!

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    Decorative Arts
    March 10, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Great blog. I enjoyed the interview with Laura. She is a wonderful person. It was nice to know more about her and her passion for art. She is an inspiration.

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    Nel
    March 11, 2008 at 3:03 am

    Thanks for the interview. I too, read Laura’s blog and thoroughly enjoy it, and this was a really thoughtful look behind the scenes. And. let’s be real, who wouldn’t want to win that gorgeous painting? Thanks again.

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    Kristin
    March 11, 2008 at 3:36 am

    Lovely interview. This is a very inspiring blog! Thank you!

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    Cindi
    March 11, 2008 at 7:06 am

    I loved Laura’s method of improvement. It is hard for me to keep my hands out of paint but I need to concentrate on the drawing aspect of my art as well. Great advice!

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    bloomingheather
    March 11, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    What a great interview! I am the artist/mother of two young daughters and I’m trying to paint or draw everyday. Usually the only way I manage is by drawing or painting alongside them. Even the little one (22-months) loves to “daw! daw!” They love it when they can teach me things. Today I learned how to draw a castle and how to paint a rainbow princess.
    Laura, I’m so inspired by your advice, “Inspiration comes as you work.” That’s so true. Thanks for reminding us all to spend more time creating.

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    Julia
    March 12, 2008 at 3:08 am

    I’ve read Laurelines for over a year and enjoyed hearing Laura’s “voice” in the interview today. Great questions! I’m looking forward to reading your blog too – doing art with my daughter is one of the highlights of our day!

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    marlyat2
    March 12, 2008 at 5:40 am

    I’m glad to have read this well-done interview that manages to sum up a great deal about Laura Frankstone.
    The thing I like and admire most about “Laurelines” is that it makes a strong story. The blog isn’t wavery and shapeless but has an arc made from Laura’s striving and love of beauty and her self-transformation. The last of these is composed of deliberate actions that lead to unexpected flowerings. Each year, what starts as a tentative line of interest cast into the unknown becomes a grand sparkling web of interconnections and achievements.
    Her daughters might well have chosen other fields entirely, but Laura would still have sharpened their gifts and served an example of dream and act and discipline.

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    Julie
    March 12, 2008 at 9:18 am

    As a mother of two 3 year olds I appreciate the ideas and ways of integrating creativity into our every day lives. I haven’t a creative bone inside of me but have always admired those people that can make a living from their artistic skills. I’ve learned from Laura’s interview that there’s a great deal of commitment and hard work in doing so and I applaud her for her tenacity. And maybe one day I’ll join that watercolor class I’ve always wanted to….

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    Gwyn
    March 12, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Jean I am loving these interviews. It is fantastic to hear examples of parents who have poured their energy into their kids creative sides and to see that side fully developed as an adult.

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    Lee
    March 12, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Great interview, love the artists work… thanks for the post!
    – Lee (Editor, Drawn in Black)

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    Jenny
    March 13, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Thanks for reinforcing the notion that small children CAN benefit from gallery visits.I love the fact that one daughter still remembers visiting a London gallery ! I am a believer in exposing my two children to all the beauty and the beast that art forms offer . I will never forget when we took a mother-daughter trip to Paris . We viewed the wonders of both famous museums as well as so many other spectaculars.In the end I asked her what she enjoyed most of all the wonders and her response ,The Picasso Erotica exhibit that had just been released to the public…Hmmm..

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    Sheila
    March 13, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    So wonderful to learn a bit more about Laura. Turn off the TV, read, and create is excellent advice!! My children, now 18, 20 22, all grew up without TV are all avid readers and creative young people and a pleasure to be around. Thanks for the great interview and your blog.

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    Laura
    March 14, 2008 at 4:30 am

    Thank you for another interesting interview. i enjoy your blog.

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    Patte
    March 14, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Last weekend I moved my two kids’ art table into my office/studio, organized a tray of supplies on a nearby low shelf, and they loved its ‘unveiling’. At first I had to adjust to the running commentary accompanying the 4 year old’s creative efforts while I write, but a week into it, she’s made her first book that she’s filling with ballerina crayon drawings and my 7 year old asked if he could do his homework with us at that table! It’s a sunnier spot than the previous one and that alone is worth it!

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    sandyz
    March 15, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Great interview. I know I’m too late for contest but wanted to state how much I enjoyed the interview.
    sandy

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    Charlotte
    April 4, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    There is a definite difference in children raised around art. I’ve been doing art since before my children were born but until I set up a classroom and studio (instead of a tucked away corner) in my home, I didn’t realize how much my children loved to have the ability to do art accessible to them.
    They treat oil pastels like crayons and will do a watercolor painting instead of a quick marker drawing. My six year old was handed some playdough the other day by her Girl Scout leader and crafted a very lifelike dolphin in about 3 minutes.
    Not that my children are especially gifted (well..maybe :) ) but just having the exposure to different materials and being allowed to be creative has put them “ahead of the pack.”

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