Mountain House Monday: The Search for Sentimental/Family Inspired Art
I suffer from chronic “sentimental-memory-making.” The #1 symptom usually involves me orchestrating a big and messy project to do as a family that the kids aren’t even ready for, but it makes us (me) so happy and yes creates memories that I KNOW we’ll all keep. Ever tried building and decorating a gingerbread house from scratch with three 2-year-olds? How about papier maché with gallons of glue? “Building a birdhouse” with a 3-year-old boy and two hammers? Nail polish marble art like out of real nail polish full of chemicals and toxins that don’t come off their hands or faces for days? I’ve been accused, and have pleaded guilty, of so many parenting fails in the name of my selfish “memory making.” But it’s my crime to commit, my mess, my children and continue my serial record I will.
As we keep trucking on the decor phase of the mountain house, I increasingly want to bring in as much personal, family and sentimental pieces as possible, without adding too many “things” up here. So the natural way to do it is in the art and textiles. I’ve been brainstorming, obsessed with personalized art that is pretty, feels curated, unique and furthermore trying to figure out how to involve the kids in the actual making of it. Here are the ideas that I’m exploring, some of which I’m VERY excited about.
My kids pick them and while I know this is normal, the ritual of running into the house and yelling “mama I picked this beautiful flower for you!” will NEVER not be special. Up here, they are more branches and pretty leaves, manzanita and pine. I am a massive fan of flowers and trees (this blog was first called The Brass Petal, after all) and I grew up pressing flowers myself. Plus, I’ve put two forest murals in my house so this seems like a very natural collection.
The question is how to do it in a new way that feels more unique to us and this house? We always try to take a good idea and reinvent it, right? So here’s what we have so far: I want to tweak the scale by going BIG. This could either be big flowers/branches, OR we could press a ton of flowers and wait to put them in a frame until we have a massive amount, then frame a huge huge huge collection, in an interestingly arranged, curated color palette. No pics of that to reference because we haven’t seen it done yet (thus making me really excited about it). I don’t love the idea of an organic collection creating a gallery wall up here (I love it in general but I want it to be more clean and modern) so I’m thinking either a large scale grid or one big piece that we make over the summer together.
Not exactly like this, but you get the idea. Pressed flowers, done EHD style.
Curated Kid Paintings & Paper Collage Art
Art you actually love looking at. I’m sure every mom in the history of parenting has tried this, but here’s my new attempt that I’ve already started: I pulled out all colors in the color palette of this house—muted greens, blues, grays, blushes, blacks—and gave them materials in all of these colors.
This included pastels, watercolors, acrylic paints, colored pencils, ripped up fabric, tissue paper, origami paper, watercolor paper, newspaper, construction paper and let them go at it. Charlie isn’t that into drawing but he sure loves ripping up paper and playing with glue. This is going to take some time, but it’s super fun and they know they are working on something with me that will live up at the mountain house.
The inspiration for this comes from two of my current favorite artists whose work I have purchased for both homes: Kirill Bergart and MaryAnn Puls. Both of these artists create really inspiring, highly provocative mixed media pieces that are quiet and interesting. I love to stare at both of them.
Now, do I want or expect my kids to do anything like this? Am I teaching my kids how to knock off adult artists? No. They are 3 and 5. This is just the inspiration that got me excited and made me think that curating the materials might actually produce a piece or multiple pieces that can adorn the walls of this house and remind me of this age and time. I’m even thinking that I can take all their work and collage them together on one big piece of beautiful paper or canvas. Maybe I can add some embroidered bits. I’m not sure, but so far I’m loving the process with them. This is more about the process, doing it together than the final outcome. It’s an experiment in doing an art project over time together, and if it is attractive then all the better.
I have ALWAYS loved sun art and last summer we started doing it together up here. The kids love it because all you do is leave an object on top of a piece of sun paper and let the sun bleach it out. You then add water to stop the reaction. It’s scientific, quick, colorful and pretty. So I’m going to find a way to integrate sun art that, again, we do with the kids up here. Maybe it’s all leaves they forage, or maybe it’s their current favorite toy. Then we can either collage them all onto one big piece or create a grid down the hallway.
Hold on to your granny on this one. I grew up quilting and have an affinity toward pieces of fabric sewn together. I made some very similar to that above, but this would be different. My kids are a bit young to quilt with me, but I’m VERY into textile art right now. So I have a plan and it sounds creepy, but I’ve been hoarding some of their baby blankets or my favorite, nostalgic clothes of theirs. Not a ton as I’m such a purger, I wish it were more, actually, but I can’t seem to donate their baby blankets specifically because all I do is picture the first months of their lives in them. Some of them are in bright colors that clash, so here’s what I’m thinking: I’ll dye them all the same tone OR bleach them out. You’ll still see the pattern and get the texture, but it will reduce the color palette. I was telling my friends about this and they looked at me VERY skeptically but then I was in a store and saw the work of Adam Pogue and I said “SEE THIS IS IT.”
Turns out he follows me on Instagram and is based in LA so I’ve reached out to see if he wanted to work with me on it, even if it’s just giving some advice or yes, if he WANTS me to drop off the blankets/clothes and give him free reign to create a large piece of textile art for our house I WILL NOT SAY NO. I’m still waiting to hear back and if he’s not involved then I’ll do my best and likely create something ugly, but if it’s all blue or all bleached and combined with simple washed linen or denim then I think it could be pretty enough either for a piece of art, headboard or a blanket at the foot of the bed.
The next two ideas are pretty basic, but I think we can execute them well and frankly, they are always good ideas.
Black & White Family Photo Wall
The reason for this began because I have SO MANY already and they just aren’t popping in our LA English Tudor as much, but when I brought them up here with the dreamy light and simple modern architecture, they sing. They are quiet, interesting and obviously very personal.
I like the idea of putting them above the bench here in the front of the house by the staircase:
I need more interesting shapes and texture, more photo strips, Polaroids, etc. But it’s the perfect fit up here and it makes me super happy. Part of me wants to mix in other wood tones, but I have so many in white frames that I’m like “why not just keep it simple?” I will mix up the white frame profile and the matting, though so that it looks interesting.
Lastly, another long term photo project because I suffer from an incessant need for sentimentality (my scrapbooking has gotten out of control). I got a polaroid camera from Jess for Christmas and while I’m still learning how to actually take a good picture, the kids love it and will actually let me take photos of them. So ideally, we’d do one a month, but I think that’s a bit ambitious. Maybe one a year each? Or one summer, one winter each every year? I don’t know. I just love seeing them altogether in a grid and there is something inherently nostalgic in a polaroid that gets lost in a printed photo.
So that’s where we are at. Family memory making in the form of art projects that with some luck, curating and discipline, we can ACTUALLY put on the walls and always remember how we did it as a family. Anybody need any pink, red, orange or yellow art supplies?
I’M JOKING 🙂
Any other ideas? Any good references that you’ve seen on the internet? Memory making family art projects?