The ‘Art’ of Family

The Boating Party by Mary Cassatt

Have you ever wished you could capture flashing moments with your family, like the fireflies in a bottle, and preserve them forever? A picture speaks a thousand words, and with the click of a button on our smart-phone cameras, we have the moment captured.

Just as we capture moments with our cameras, an artist captures moments with a paintbrush.

What is the difference between capturing a moment with a camera and capturing it with a paintbrush?

With our paintbrushes, we can express tiny brushstrokes of texture, color, value, line that cannot be expressed with a camera.  The heart of the artist pours out onto the canvas in a way no camera can capture.  True, moments are preserved in both cases, but the heart is expressed with the brush.  

Take a look at this painting by  Mary Cassatt, a female master artist from Pennsylvania, who spent most of her adult life in Paris, France, entitled “The Boating Party.” Mary Cassatt is famous for her mother and child paintings.  I had the privilege of basking my eyes upon the real painting this summer at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.  I gasped as I studied her brushstrokes, one by one, and gazed upon the richness of her color. I saw her heartbeat on canvas, stroke by stroke.

  • Where do you focus your attention when you look at this painting?  The’ focal point’ seems to be the baby.  
  • Where does the baby seem to be looking?  The baby seems to be looking at the man, possibly her father.
  •  Assuming the woman holding the baby is her mother, where is the mother looking? At the man.
  • Once our eyes go from the mother/child to the man, what leads our eyes back to the mother/child again?  The man’s outstretched arm and the oar lead our eyes away from the man, down the oar, to the sail and back to the mother/child again.
This composition ‘trail’ that Mary Cassatt leads us on, keeps us focused on the mother and child, and tenders our hearts to them.  The man is a symbol of strength, the oarsman, who steers the boat.  The mother and child look to him with fondness and trust.  The Art of the Family is born with brushstrokes of love.
Children learn much by being exposed to the great masters in art.  You don’t have to understand everything there is to know about the elements or art or principles of design in order to instill great design into your child.  Trust the art of good artists already speaks for itself and your child will learn by “seeing” as much as telling.  It’s poetry for their eyes and nourishment for their souls.
Join us at Coffee and Canvas Wednesday August 27, 2014, for our Fireflies Blog Art and Literature Workshop at 10:00 am where we will explore more “good” art and read “Rocket Writes a Story.”  We will paint a canvas that will remind your child of this wonderful book and enjoy time creating our own unique brushstrokes from the heart!  Reservations required. $19.95 each plus tax.
See you in the studio!
Laura Bird Miller | Owner, Artist