whale painting

A week or two ago, I discovered that beloved children’s songster Raffi will be performing in concert here in Vancouver next spring. I didn’t grow up with Raffi’s music, but most of my Canadian friends did. So I bought tickets and set out to spend the next few months introducing Owen to all the songs so we’ll be able to sing along in the audience oh so many months from now.

How fascinating to watch Owen immediately adore this music. The kid’s always loved music, but with Raffi he was smitten in ways I hadn’t seen before. After just one evening of singing along, he was hooked and has asked for Raffi time every day since. And, building on his love of watching YouTube videos of every sort of vehicle imaginable, he started saying things like, “Mama, let’s search for a video with a whale with a polka-dot tail!” To which I replied, “Owen, why don’t we make our own pictures and stories about a whale with a polka-dot tail?”

So last weekend when he was miserable with a cold (that has managed to persist all week and drag Greg and me down with it), we newspapered the table, found some big pieces of paper, and took out the paints. And we both set out to paint a whale with a polka-dot tail.

Now, Owen’s not yet three, and all of his paintings look the same. So I knew that my goal for our painting activity was to make a discernible whale with a polka-dot-tail. Thing is, I’m no painter. I paint about as well as I draw, which is not at all well. But god-dammit, I was going to paint him a polka-dotted whale’s tail. I’d apologize for it later.

Kids are the best audience for shitty crafts, have you noticed? They don’t know good from bad, skilled from unskilled, pretty from ugly.

As I fell into my groove painting this beast of a thing, I found myself letting go of even caring that it’s “bad”. And good thing, too, because I had a lot of fun making it. And then, with a big smile on his face, Owen said he wanted to hang it up in his room. And so we did.

And so now I see that whale every day, and I’m not even remotely inclined to apologize for it. It makes me and Owen smile, which as far as I’m concerned makes it an indisputable win.

Even if you don’t have kids, you should make stuff with kids at every opportunity. They will love what you make, guaranteed.


[box] I mentioned this painting in my Creative Mornings talk in 2014, on the topic of failure. Watch here![/box]

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Is Raffi targeting a new generation of kids or adults these days? Fred Penner was here last week, performing to a crowd of PJ clad grown ups reliving their childhood. Hilarious, brilliant and reportedly awesome.

Sara B

We’re called “Beluga Grads” because we’re the old baby beglua fans that are not raising our children on Raffi. We’re going to the Nanaimo concert and I’m SO stoked!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x