Saturday, January 15, 2011

Our First Class--We Were Flying!

So we did it! Our first class is over and it was a huge success (I think). When the seven girls were all in the studio (and seated at the tables, oh my gosh! I had no idea how amazing it would be to work with all girls, they were sitting quietly and waiting for instructions--not climbing the walls and wrestling each other to the ground like my two brave boys would have been!) SO of course I cranked up the music and told them to get up out of their seats and come hang with me on the floor. We started out with our belonging circle*. I asked them to tell each other their names, and share their mom's names and if they had sisters, who their sisters are, too. I have two sets of sisters in the class and the four of them are cousins also, so they know each other pretty well. But still, it was fun to hear them talk (or shout) and they made me laugh. I had a ball of rainbow colored yarn and we talked about belonging, how they belong to their families--to their mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers and sisters, and then we also belong to our friends and to this group. We belong as girls and artists and to this group every week. As we talked I wrapped the yarn around their wrists several times and then began on the wrist of the next girl until we were a complete circle. They were very excited about their new "bracelets" and asked if they had to wear them next week. (of course, I told them no showering all week to keep them pretty...) After we took a picture of our circle, I cut the yarn and tied them to their wrists as a reminder that we belong here together!

Then I gave them each a piece of paper with a name on it. We talked about what the word validation** means. I told them that it means to encourage, to support, to give a thumbs up, or to empower each other. In other words, to give each other positive encouragement instead of tearing each other down. I told them they had a secret mission to observe the girl whose name was on their paper for the next few weeks. I asked them to think about that girl and make a mental note of things they admire and like about each other. We'll come back to this later and they'll learn more about validation.

Then we got down to business and they were off and running with acrylic paint and brushes and brayers. We're repurposing some old board books and I encouraged them to grab a paint color they wanted to start with and begin layering the paint on the pages. After about 15 minutes I realized they were asking me a lot of questions: "Amy, can I use orange? Amy, can I use this brush? Amy, can I use glitter glue on top of this color? Amy, can I use blue now?" So I yelled, "STOP!" And then I told them under no uncertain terms that in this class there are no rules. They can do absolutely anything they want. Once in a while I might give them instructions on how to accomplish a new technique, but basically anything goes. Any color. Any style. Anything their hearts desire. They can decide. And best of all, there are NO mistakes. In fact, sometimes mistakes are the best part of art. A happy accident can make something look completely different, and maybe even way better, than you ever expected. So play and experiment and do anything you want! Important lesson learned for the brave girls. Here are a few of their books so far:

The last thing we did was make some fun jewelry for them to take home. I gave them piles of paper and fabric flowers and sequins and we made necklaces and rings and barrettes for them to wear. I loved the way they chose their flowers and spent time picking out the combinations they liked best. They looked awesome and every girl left wearing their new accessories.

My favorite moment was when their moms came to pick them up and they were giggling and talking and trying to tell them everything we did all morning. They couldn't speak fast enough or remember it all quickly enough--and their smiles were huge. I hope they had as much fun as I did. I can't wait 'til next week!

Oh, yeah, one more thing... I sang a lot and loud. And even danced a little. And so did they. And it didn't matter if we didn't have the right moves or we sounded like frogs, we didn't care because we are brave and we love to have fun no matter what anyone thinks!

*, ** Deep gratitude to Wendy Cook and her Mighty Girls for the ideas for these ceremonies. It's great to be a girl and to feel like we belong to a rich and varied circle of women, here in the United States and around the globe. I know they feel the connections already, and so do I.


  1. Happy Tears! Very Happy Tears! xoxo

  2. AMY! So happy for you! this looks like a fabulous time for everyone there. I bet the mom's are jealous that they don't get to participate. I would be.

  3. oh my goodness! I am so proud of you Amy! How incredible. Can I come one day to play along with your brave girls. This is totally awesome!

  4. sooo happy and proud of you!!! wish I could of been there but I think I really was :)