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Fun Art Professor

Inspiring & Nurturing Creativity in Young Chidren

My Blog


The Gift of a Beautiful Thought

Posted on December 22, 2012 at 4:44 PM Comments comments (20)
If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.

- Unknown

I am a quote addict. Not only do I collect quotes in a file and own numerous books of quotes, I am compelled to uncover the identities of the people who make statements that are of particular interest.

(This person named, “Unknown”, is a very prolific philosopher, but is completely off the grid.)

Last Christmas, I gave several close friends the book, Joy,
by Dan Zadra. There was one quote in that book by a person I had never heard of, Fra. Giovanni Giocondo*. I googled the name and found that the quote was actually an excerpt from a longer letter written on Christmas Eve, 1513, to a dear friend.

So giving as the angels give, I am posting his letter below:

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.

Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.

Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.

There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look.

I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.
Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power.

Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you.

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there.
The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence.

Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.

Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.


And so at this Christmas time, I greet you; not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem, and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

*Fra Giovanni Giocondo (c.1435–1515) was a Renaissance pioneer, accomplished as an architect, engineer, antiquary, archaeologist,classical scholar, and Franciscan friar. Today we remember him most for his reassuring letter to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi onChristmas Eve, 1513.

Musings on School Projects

Posted on November 16, 2012 at 11:29 AM Comments comments (17)
I was in line at Michael's Craft Store today behind a mother with her 9 year old daughter. The mom and the checkout woman were commiserating about how expensive it was to buy the supplies for all the school projects that are required. “Maybe I'm old-fashioned.” the checker exclaimed, “but I don't know why they don't just have the students do reports anymore. They have to do projects for Science, History, English.” I joined in on the discussion, secretly relieved that those days were behind me.

Several projects of my own children came to mind. In fifth grade, my younger daughter had to do a diorama for a novel they were reading. Being her self sufficient self, she helped herself to our spice cupboard. Into the bottom of the box, she glued down what she thought was parsley to represent grass. Unfortunately, what she thought was a basically odorless green herb was in actuality, a spice blend call It's A Dilly, whose predominant scent was garlic. Her teacher kindly said that she enjoyed its “aroma”, claiming that garlic bread was her favorite food.

That project did not have the honor of joining the myriad of others still stored in our basement. Even though my older daughter is now approaching 28, I can't bring myself to throw out her beautiful foam core rendition of the Blitzkrieg. I also have so many fond memories of our trip to St. Augustine, FL, that I still gaze lovingly at my younger daughter's triptych of the city she created when studying Florida history in 3rd grade. However, one of the memorable projects did not survive the test of time.

In seventh grade, my son had to recreate an American monument. By the time he got around to picking one, all the easy monuments were already taken. He had the monumental task (excuse the pun) of sculpting Mt. Rushmore. Or should I say, “we” had the monumental task since it became a family project, spearheaded mostly by my artistically gifted daughter. We used sculpti clay to form the heads, but in order to be more economical, we made clay out of flour, water and salt to side the mountain. It did come out to be rather impressive, even though Teddy Roosevelt bore a striking resemblance to John Lennon. So after all that work, how could one possibly throw it out once it returned home? It was placed on a high shelf in the basement until one day when I decided it was time to retire it to the trash. As I reached up above my head to retrieve it, I was showered with mouse droppings. Apparently the flour based clay provided a very large and yummy meal for the creature which is now referred to in our family as, “the mouse that ate Mt. Rushmore.”

This posting will not be sharing any fun art ideas or instructions, but I will reveal a secret to parents who have these years approaching. Unless a school project is for an actual art class, do not have any compunction about pulling in whichever person in the family has an artistic bent to assist the one who does not. And when that day does come, or if you are in the middle of it right now, know that there is someone out there who feels your pain.