fingerpainting the moon: happy holidays!

 |  December 22, 2011

This year seems to have been my year of collaborations with some really wonderful artists- Jen Worden, Seth Apter and Hanne Matthiesen. And hopefully next year will bring another one with Roxanne Evans Stout which I am really looking forward to.

But I don’t often write about the collaborations that happen every week right at home with my children. My son is 4, almost 5 in a few weeks. And my daughter is 22 months. We are always making things, whether it’s in my studio or in the kitchen. I make Stuff, so it’s only natural that I share this with my kids.

{Noah when he was 2 working on a large acrylic painting that we gave my husband for his birthday that year. It hangs in our dining room and it is the first thing people see when they come through our front door.}

After college I worked in speech and language therapy in the school system here in Chicago and I worked with ages 3 to 14. My favorite way to incorporate therapy goals was through creative projects. It wasn’t something that I could do often, but what I learned was that everything you do with children is a learning opportunity for them. I’m not saying it’s easy. Nope, not at all. I’m not saying it’s not messy, nope, not even close to that. Not saying that it’s smooth sailing. Nope, sometimes it’s a disaster! But the point for me is to involve my children in projects that we can all do together, to give them a sense of creative identity, to be proud of what their hands and minds can create.

I thought it would be fun to occasionally share our creative projects on my blog in a series called “Fingerpainting the Moon”. My goal too is to show how projects with little kids don’t have to be all about googly eyes and cotton balls. Those projects are fun, yes. But if we challenge our kids to be creative and expressive and to enjoy the process, rather than have a finished product that looks like everyone else’s, then it encourages them to think outside the norms.

Those of you who visit my blog for the art, don’t worry, this is not going to turn into a craftsy-mom blog. This is just an occasional thing. But I do hope to inspire other creative parents who want to do things with their children, but are intimidated by the whole messy ordeal. Once I changed my perspective on keeping my art world and my childrearing world separate and began bringing my son into my creative process, it transformed my world….and his too. My daughter made her first mark on paper around 1 and her face just lit up with excitement and pride because for so long she had watched not just me drawing all the time, but also her brother. I’ll never forget that moment.

The finished card on our mantle

This project we did together was for our family Christmas card. This is less of an expressive type of project than what I just wrote about, but it was important for me to have them contribute to the card we send out to our family and close friends.

First I took photos of them and designed the layout in photoshop and printed our card out on cardstock. And then I had Noah help me put the cards through my sewing machine. This year has also seen a lot of stitching show up in my artwork, so it’s only natural that I included it in our card design. The snowflake design is just a button on the machine. Easy!

Rule #1: He presses the pedal, but Mommy is in charge.

After that he wrote “HoHoHo” on the back of the card. I am so proud of my little guy with his emerging writing and reading skills. And he is too. By having him contribute in this way, it reinforces letter-writing and that I value his emerging skills.


I wanted Grace to help out too so I had her make red dots on the back of the envelope and draw whatever she wanted.



Anyone who has even spent 5 minutes with a 1 year old knows they don’t have much of an attention span. And that you can’t force a 1 year old to do anything they don’t want to do. So we had to do this in spurts. And while she was drawing them, I would take the finished envelope and lick it to seal. Apparently Grace saw me do it and started grabbing all the envelopes and licking them all over! At first I was like, um what in the world is wrong with my child?! Then I realized that she saw me do it and thought that was a totally appropriate behavior. Anyway, the last batch of holiday cards were naked on the back as I had to end the project right then and there. Oh well!

And yes, I am well aware that this creation of ours will most likely end up in the trash after everyone’s holiday decorations come down. But as it is with my paintings, it’s not always about the finished product. It is about the process, the time we spent together making these cards.

If I don’t get back to blogland before Christmas, just want to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday! Whether you celebrate Hannukah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas wishing you all a peaceful and joyful week. Festivus for the rest of us! (Yes, we are Seinfeld fans in our house.)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!May your holiday season be perfectly imperfect and be centered on love, hope, and goodwill.


  1. by Sabah Iqbal Rana on December 22, 2011  4:04 pm Reply

    so excited to see that you're sharing your art with kids ideas with the rest of us! i look forward towards more fingerpainting posts!

  2. by laruelapalooza on December 22, 2011  8:44 pm Reply

    What a beautiful post! You are such a wonderful mother Bridgette.
    Happy Festivus! (love it!)

  3. by Lianne on December 23, 2011  4:16 am Reply

    Merry Christmas to you too. My one year old (2 in March) and I spent the majority of yesterday collaborating over some work. We've done a few projects together where she starts something and I finish it or vice versa. I also enjoy copying her naive style- as an abstract artist it's very intriguing. At the same time though we really bond and interact over it.

  4. by Velma on December 23, 2011  8:14 am Reply

    wonderful how your children and you are doing art. it was like this for me, and now they are grown up, artists both, and bookish, too. they had their own small room, where they could get messy and paint and draw. there were times when it was a bit wild, but it was totally wonderful and worth it.

  5. by Jen Worden on December 23, 2011  1:54 pm Reply

    Collaboration whether with like-minded artists (xo) or our children are always a highlight. Your rumination made me realize that each year my children ...first my sons and now my daughter... returned from Uni, there was a mad rush to help them with whatever project they'd decided on for their presents. I'd grumble as THEIR needs overtook my carefully laid schedule only to realize that they were taking on what I had taught them as young children: Handmade trumps bought gifts every time. Something to look forward to!

    The very best of the season to you and your family, Bri! xo

  6. by windrock studio on December 23, 2011  7:54 pm Reply

    Good for you, Bridgette, wonderful ideas and really cute kids!
    Merry Christmas to you all and a beautiful New Year.

  7. by Kelly Jeanette Swift on December 24, 2011  2:30 pm Reply

    I had always tried to encourage my boys when they were growing up to be creative. Children make the best artists because they don't feel limited or pressured to make good art.

    Merry Christmas, Bridgette, to you and yours! And have a Happy New Year!

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