Friday, October 17, 2008

Seasons of Hope

I led bookmaking, cut paper collage and writing workshops for women at a correctional facility in Maryland yesterday through the non-profit Project Youth ArtReach in Silver Spring, MD. that places professional artists from around the world in correctional facilities for arts programming. We talked about our theme "Season of Hope". I read from several children’s books including my book Grandma’s Purple Flowers that takes readers through four seasons and explores the hope found in a blossoming flower after a difficult and icy winter. I also read books by Eric Carle and a rhyming book by Mem Fox. The women always seem to enjoy being read to and exploring the art found in picture books.

I asked the women to close their eyes and identify themselves with something in nature. They did some free writing and came up with key words to describe themselves and the object and wrote imaginative first drafts of poems and stories. We discussed how rhyme and rhythm works in a story and how some writers claim that children find comfort and predictability in rhyme. Using blank sheets of paper and oil pastel, they planned the sequence of their stories.

Later, using bright papers that they painted in an earlier session with paste and tempera paint, they began to dutifully illustrate their stories and poems, step by step, cutting out large shapes and gluing them down. Bright red, green and orange patterned and textured papers were used to illustrate tropical birds, flowers, gypsy moths and chipmunks that they identified with. These illustrations will be later matched up with words in an accordion book that they will construct in a later session.