Why I Framed My Ten Thousand Villages Bag

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Daphne's been drawing up a storm lately. She draws at the easel and on big poster board. She draws on little notecards and post-its. She draws in lined Hello Kitty notebooks.

And when we're sitting in the car waiting and I don't have any paper on me, she draws on shopping bags. (And then I hang the bags on our frame wall with all the other drawings and paintings my kids have made recently.)

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This is one side of the bag, with seven suns across the top, grass, a decorated logo, and more.

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And the other side, with yet another row of suns.

Plus an excuse to show off my purchase—a handbag sewn in Bangladesh from recycled saris. It's so colorful and happy, I just love it!

I'm not a big shopper and don't usually get too excited about things or stores, but I have to say I'm excited about this handbag. I went out and bought it from Ten Thousand Villages the same day I saw my friend Jennifer with one. 

But I digress.

Back to Daphne's drawings…

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At four she has entered an exciting new phase with her drawing, telling stories with her pictures both while she's drawing as well as afterward. 

She'll ask me to come see her drawing and start describing what's going on in the picture. Then says, "Wait! I'm not finished." and works on the drawing some more. The stories and pictures are fluid and both the drawing and the describing act as further prompts for her as she creates.

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For this artwork with marker on poster board, she said,

"I drawed four girls and one boy. All of them skateboarding."

She points to the skateboards.

"Oh, I forgot the necklaces for the girls. And the gracelets."

She pauses and draws necklaces and bracelets for all the girls.

"Oh, and it's raining. How do you draw umbrellas?"

I start to trace a semi-circle in the air with my finger and she says, "Oh, yeah!" and draws umbrellas for each of the kids in the picture. And then goes on to talk about what's happening a bit more.

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The next day she painted a clown skateboarding and when she was telling me about her painting, she said,

"And he's juggling, too. Oh, I forgot to add the balls!"

And she pauses and adds three balls along each arm. 

The act of telling the story of the artwork to me inspires her to elaborate on both the story and the drawing.

I remember and love Maia's storytelling with art phase (although if I remember correctly, she mostly just told the stories about the artworks after she was finished. I don't remember her continuing to add to them.)

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Daphne also often talks and sings while she draws or paints. 

She'll sing about what she (or the art material) is doing…

"Drip, drip, drop" or "splitter, splatter, splitter, splatter"

Or just sing songs she learned at home or at preschool.

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She talks about what is going on in the painting sometimes from the perspective of the artist/creator…

"I'm going to give you hair now. It's okay."

And sometimes from the perspective of within the drawing.

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Altogether it's delightful—both the finished artworks and the process Daphne takes to get there.

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Do your kids tell stories about, or with, their art?

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Christina
    October 3, 2013 at 10:03 am

    I love listening and watching the process. I try hard to write down the “story” before the artist moves on to something else. Something I’ve noticed with my younger son — he is creative every day. Looking back, my older son waited for me to direct the activity/bring out the materials while the younger one just grabs a pencil or crayons and goes. Hurrah for framed shopping bags.

  • Reply
    Sara Savel
    October 3, 2013 at 10:21 am

    My son loves art…he’s all about the process itself and not so much interested in developing narratives about his work at this stage. I think he saves the storytelling for his trains and cars! They go on many adventures. :)
    I laughed at your post title…there is a Ten Thousand Villages bag sitting right across from me on our coffee table as I speak! (My husband surprised me with earrings and barrettes last night.) Thanks to you, I’m inspired to save the bag for repurposed art of some kind.
    And I might have to get myself a sari handbag very soon! :)

  • Reply
    Sarah M
    October 3, 2013 at 10:27 am

    So sweet! I love the shot of your room with all the artwork up there. It looks beautiful. (I must say, your bag looks great, too!)
    It’s been interesting to follow along with your blog and to even recognize that there are different stages of drawings for kids. I noticed that my daughter was way ahead of my son (she’s younger) with her drawing, coloring, and art ability and my son is just now catching up to drawing people and objects instead of scribbles. My kids love to ship their artwork down south to where the grandparents are, so it is almost always given away…though there have been a few I’ve slipped and kept for myself :)
    Sarah M

  • Reply
    Holly
    October 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    What a beautiful record of this stage of her artistic development! I love how art and language and music are entwined!

  • Reply
    earleyml
    October 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    My oldest (almost 5) waits until she’s finished to tell me what she’s created. I love that her pictures actually look like what she says they are for the most part now. My little one is just shy of 2 and has really taken up to “drawing” pictures. This is a past time while I prepare dinner and it delights me when she stops for a minute “Looky mommy!” I praise her on what she’s created and then she gets right back to adding more to it. The look of focus on her face is adorable! I don’t remember what my oldest was like at 2 but they’ve both have been enjoy arts/crafts.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    October 3, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I try, too, but don’t always manage to do it! There’s so much! And sometimes I think I’ll just remember (I don’t) or I’m in the middle of something and don’t write it down.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    October 3, 2013 at 10:57 am

    :)

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    October 3, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Isn’t it interesting how different siblings can be? And to watch their art develop in different ways? I love it.

  • Reply
    Art Mom
    October 4, 2013 at 12:34 am

    I love this post! My daughter draws all the time also – she had drawn on bags, napkins, you name it. I love the expressive freedom in the drawings of our little ones and the explanations that go along with it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    October 4, 2013 at 11:12 am

    What a delight to see your new bag and this wonderful post about Daphne! I was just telling Carolyn a few days ago that Emily just drew her first really detailed realistic tree. Then she said, “Wait Mommy, I have to figure it out and then show you something.” She lay the paper on the floor to look at it, did the tree pose from yoga and went on to make up various other poses to match the other aspects of the drawing. After she had them all worked out, she brought them over to me and did performance art to match her drawing as she described it. I was so excited for her! Thanks for this post!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    October 4, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Absolutely! Btw, how old is your daughter?

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    October 4, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Ditto! It really makes me believe in “whole child development.” Everything is interconnected.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    October 4, 2013 at 9:35 am

    My older one always waited until she was finished before showing me what she created, too. And often she’d tell me NOT to look beforehand. :)

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    October 4, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Oh, I love that story!! How wonderful!

  • Reply
    Cristina
    October 5, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    How funny! My daughter seems to follow your daughter’s steps. She started doing human-like drawings almost at the same time as Daphne. She loooooooves drawing with different materials. Some days, it’s the first thing in the morning she does. She even asked me this week how to draw umbrellas!!!!
    It’s funny, how far we live from each other and how close we may feel.
    Thanks for sharing so many moments…

  • Reply
    molly
    October 7, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Oh this is just amazing. I love hearing the thought process out loud but as it is happening is just wonderful. I like seeing that she holds the pencil the same way my H does – the teachers try to correct him at school but he is clearly more comfortable holding it with the fingers at the bottom doing a lot of the heavy work. I have heard/read that a traditional pencil grip is easier for writing and keeps the hand from getting tired – I don’t know exactly if I should encourage him one way or another. Do you try to get her to change her grip?

  • Reply
    Sarah
    October 7, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    What a beautiful post. I have older children now who conduct themselves with a need for more privacy. This brought me back to that precious time when I could so easily observe them engrossed in their process. That wonderful lack of self consciousness.

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