Fingerpainting the Moon: paper plate flower garden

Earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is an entry that I have been meaning to write for over 2 years. 2 years! Been in a whirlwind of sorts since 2012. Actually, it’s been longer than that, but for certain reasons, I mark 2012 as the beginning of a lot of upheaval. Oftentimes people ask me how I am able to do my art, show, teach and raise young children without having help. Well, to be honest, there are a lot of things that get pushed to the side that don’t ever get done. Or that I plan to do, but it just never happens. Or there’s a lot of late nights getting stuff done after the kids are in bed. Which is why I’m always moaning about being too tired these days to continue that practice. There’s a lot of things that I say no to as well. Whether you’re a stay at home mom or full time working out of the house mom, or the not sure what category I fall into type of mom, motherhood is about multitasking and getting all the crap done, somehow, someway. And what doesn’t get done, well, then it wasn’t that important if it falls to the wayside, right? Balance. And acceptance when we end up teeter-tottering because really, who has it all balanced out?! Not me, that’s for sure.

I am grateful for the time that I do have and the kids and I are constantly creating. I just really haven’t been very good at documenting for the past few years. And now since my son is in school all day, we do a lot less of our projects than we used to do. I do want to get back to this series though as I love kids art. And I love when people from around the world write me about using my projects with their own kids or in their classrooms.


This project is something that just happened organically in my studio. I had a stack of paper plates in my studio that I was giving the kids to use as their palettes for when we paint. As I recall, I needed to get something done in the studio for some looming deadline and I needed my kids to be occupied and I couldn’t find paper anywhere for them to use! So I gave them a paper plate and told them to decorate them. With my older son, who at this time, must have been 5, we started together. He worked on a plate and I worked on a plate right next to him. We drew a circle in the center and I talked to him about drawing off of the circle in a radiating pattern. He took off with that.


My daughter, who was 2 at the time, joined in the fun with her scribbles and mark making. They made several plates over the span of a few weeks. When we had a pile, I was looking at them and thought, these look like wonderful, colorful and fantastical flowers! The kids and I excitedly decided to make a garden on my studio wall. These photos show them taping the paper plates to the wall.


I rummaged through my bin of scraps of handmade paper and pulled out all the green paper and commenced cutting out stems and leaves and we taped those to the wall too.


I loved stepping into my studio and seeing our paper plate garden we made together! I loved it to so much that I actually started gluing and sewing it onto this big huge sheet of brown kraft paper that I had. Around that time though I had to pack it away as as we had sold our house and were moving into temporary housing. When we moved into the new house I had pulled out our garden and attached it to the studio wall so we could continue to build on it. And then the flood happened and it was destroyed. I still love this garden and the idea behind it. Maybe we’ll do it again. It was such a happy addition to my studio.

So crazy to look at these photos- my kids look so little! Time flies.


  1. Hi: I hope you have recovered from the flu and feel better. I love the project with the children. Beautiful, both the kids and the idea and then the garden. Thanks for sharing.

    1. thanks trish. I am on the tail end now- still coughing and a bit of a headache, but I am up and about! Not at full speed yet, but hoping that by the end of the week, I will be.

  2. That is a wonderful project; I can see why you loved having it in your studio. It reminds me of things I used to do with my kids to keep them busy while I was doing work for my BFA – can’t beleive I ever got through that! Maybe you can do another project with the kids to christen the new studio…

    1. I can’t imagine the hard work you went through at that time! Wish I could sit with you and hear your experiences of raising little ones and doing work for your BFA. Maybe one day!

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