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Appreciation Bouquet

My friends Amy and Anna are getting married today.
I wanted to get them a toaster, but instead of presents they asked for appreciations.
Here is the appreciation gift I made for them.

The little tags are tied onto the flowers with hot pink raffia, and each card
contains an appreciation like "I love Amy's giggle"

Speaking the truth on a deeper level

Our speech is one of the most important ways we can take into the world the lovingkindness, or metta, that we develop in meditation .

I’ve said already that mindful speech should not only be honest, but should be meant kindly. One of the most effective means of being kind in our speech and of helping others is to express appreciation of them.

This is an excellent practice.

From Wildmind.org

Summer Paintsicles

Summer is almost upon us and the weather is heating up.
Keep cool this summer with natural paintsicle painting with Clementine natural paint.
All you need are some popsicle molds (or an ice tray and tongue depressors) and some Clementine natural paint.

Pour the paint in the molds and freeze overnight.

Dip in a warm water bath to demold.

Paint on heavyweight paper. Outside is a good place.

ART Revolution: In the Spirit of Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution was a chilling look at the state-sanctioned junk food we have been feeding our children in America. In three months, an energetic, passionate chef from Britain made deep inroads into the supremely heart-clogging, processed food habits of 'the unhealthiest town in America,' sparking a glimmer of optimism for the health of our nation's citizens.

Sir Ken Robinson is my Jamie Oliver. What Sir Ken lacks in celebrity, he provides in substance. He believes that our children are in trouble; that our schools are doing children a disservice by favoring convergent thinking. He believes that creativity should be taught with the same vigor as the basics; reading, writing and math. What is missing in our schools is a deep appreciation and support for the creative process. Regular engagement in the creative process stimulates rich child development, and will provide nourishing, and innovative answers to our global dilemmas in the same way that fresh, healthy foods will nourish our growing children.

In his book Cities and the Creative Class, Richard Florida discusses three main prerequisites of creative cities; Talent, Tolerance and Technology. Art and creative explorations foster all three. Creative cities are important, he argues, because they are economic and intellectual hubs of activity and growth.

We need an Art Revolution inspired by Jamie Oliver and Sir Ken Robinson. Why not start at home? Boulder certainly doesn't qualify as the 'least creative city in America.' On the contrary, by Richard Florida's definition, we might even meet the prerequisites for one of the most creative cities (at least according to the New York Times). But there's no place like home.

I'd start by tossing the tests. Standardized tests are an ineffective measure of what children know, and a waste of precious time. I'd replace the tests with portfolio assessment - a multi-layered and holistic assessment tool that requires children to engage in goal setting, creative expression and problem solving. Second, I'd hire an art teacher for every school so children can do more art. Once a week art classes teach creativity as effectively as once a week reading classes teach children to read. Finally, I'd get out the paints (mess be damned), set up the art space (or art corner, or folding card table), and start making stuff!

No excuses. The fate of the future is in our children's hands.

Let the Revolution begin!

Crayon Bits Begone!

The Wax Melter Crayon Maker might be my favorite new product. Who doesn't have piles and piles of broken and nubby crayons around the house? What are you supposed to do with them? I always feel wasteful throwing them away.

This awesome contraption allows you to make super, new crayons! Pretty enough to give as gifts. It's $49 at Discount School Supply. What an idea...

Or, if you're not into thingamajiggies as much as I am, you can always use mini muffin tins and warm them in the oven. Don't forget to pop 'em in the freezer so they'll release easily.

Happy crayon recycling.

How to Grow A Creative Child (for the Planet's Sake)

My contention is that creativity is now as important as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.

-Sir Ken Robinson

Cultivating a creative child is oddly similar to gardening. You heartily prepare your soil, sprinkle some seeds, choose your tools, tend with love, and cross your fingers for a bountiful harvest. The difference lies in the fact that for many, a backyard garden is a labor of love. Oh, if that could only be the case for creativity.

We must support creativity. Not for it’s own sake, but for the sake of our increasingly complex world struggling under the weight of disease, war, Global Warming, poverty, hunger and vanishing resources. We can expect the world’s population of approximately 6 billion to become 12 billion by 2054 if the current rate of growth continues. Every ounce of innovation, problem-solving, and divergent thinking will be required to bear this load.

The ‘one right answer’ approach (think: children spending the day shading ovals in number 2 pencil) is not sufficient to tackle these grave, global issues. One May 10, 2010, The New York Times proclaimed The Battle Against Aids is Failing,’ while an estimated 3.9 million gallons of oil has spewed into the Gulf since the April 20 explosion. We need citizens with big ideas here.

Sadly, our children are being educated in another direction. Mainstream schools, led by No Child Left Behind legislation, and US cultural trends promote direction-based thinking. I fretted over evidence of this fact every day at Clementine Studio. Inevitably, a child would approach a table laden with inspiring and colorful art materials and ask “What am I supposed to do here?” afraid to make a step in any direction but the ‘correct’ one.

In order to balance the educational and societal trending toward like-mindedness and objectivity, and to encourage the development of creative thinkers, we must start with our youngest citizens. Art experiences provide rich, developmental opportunities for the development of creativity. Since art is an open-ended and unstructured activity, it requires independence, decision-making, problem-solving, and the creation of something new, all essential components toward the development of a creative mind.

What if we tackled the beast with a trowel? I love the idea of merging a sense of urgency with a labor of love. Applying the very same careful and disciplined techniques used in a bountiful garden also work to inspire creativity in children. Learning to think creatively is accessible to every human mind, and requires patience and practice. Most of the work of growing a creative child has to do with adjusting our own, perhaps uncreative habits, judgements and expectations. Here’s how you can get started:

1. Prepare the Soil: Create a space for creating where your child has room, independence and permission. Think of it as a space of possibilities. Help your child to stock it, maintain it, and use it. Resist the temptation to use stencils, craft kits with directions, and rubber stamps.

2. Choose Your Tools: You can set so many creative examples by reusing, recycling and reinventing old materials, trash and other ‘art’ supplies. Corks and paper rolls can be sculpture, fruit trays and vegetables can make prints, and old tin foil can be a costume. Resist the temptation to use overly processed art supplies. It’s the same idea as food. Simple is healthier.

3. Fertilize Your Garden: Children will develop independently, but think of how much more rich the outcome when they receive caring, but non-judgemental support. When children begin to make art to please you, you’ll know it’s time extract yourself, and give them some space to please themselves. Resist the temptation to judge or name your child’s art. That’s a job for the artist.

4. Enjoy the Harvest: Celebrate your child’s art! Hang it up in your home art gallery, make it into a ‘book’ at the copy center and read it, and with permission, give it away! Also, don’t limit yourself to visual art. Perform a play, sing a song, and dance with scarves. The more you encourage creative thinking and self-expression, the more your child will prefer it. Resist the temptation to edit or ‘fix’ your child’s art. That is also a job for the artist.

Drawing Dreams Foundation

These images were created by children, sick with cancer, who had the opportunity to express themselves through a non-profit called drawingdreams.org.

Check out their gallery. There are so many excellent children's paintings.

'Wish for the Earth Flags'

In honor of Earth Day, we made 'Wish for the Earth Flags' inspired by Tibetan Prayer Flags. In Tibetan culture, these flags are printed with woodcuts on colorful fabric and hung high in the mountains of the Himalayas so the wind will spread the prayers far and wide.

The Garden School Foundation Party

Clementine Art products attended a very pretty party in Beverly Hills in support of the Garden School Foundation, an organization that brings nutrition education to inner city children through community gardening, one of our favorite green initiatives.

Supermodel Amber Valetta gets into the Clementine paint.