An artful grandmother
BY LINDA ROWELL-KELLEY
As a Maine Island artist and grandparent, I consider my seven grandchildren, grand students of the arts. Opportunity and inclination are important factors in catching their attention.
Our seven grands range from sixteen to one, and love to be together in a group or one-on-one in my studio. The three oldest are girls, Faith, Caitie, and Abby and they were the first to toddle down the path from our house, through the pines and birches to my one-room studio, built by their grandfather, Terry. Of the four boys, Logan and Peter are close in age and the two youngest are the newest students, Wiley and his brother Ohlin. The students find seats, wait for background music, paints to be squeezed onto a pallet, and work on a self-guided project.
My method of teaching is to include good materials, soft pencils, high-quality surfaces to draw and paint on as well as nice brushes. It is a way of offering the opportunity to do art projects which are free from technical problems. Artists go outside to look at how the trees move, to smell, to listen for the concert of birds, and recognize one color from another.
“Learning to observe and understand light and movement on shapes is the key to the way artists see.”
I love being a grandmother to my seven “grand learners” who have spent time learning to see first and draw second. They make interesting sculptures, collages, and paintings in my little shop in the woods.
In this environment, the children have the freedom to get to know me without distractions as we are at work together. There are times of quiet and times of chatter. It is during the latter that I have been asked pointed questions, such as, why is my hair gray, how long ago was I a child, did I always know how to draw, how long does it take to be an artist (I always say ten thousand hours), do I make money with my art, and who did I vote for in the last election?
“I set the stage for learning and teach as if I too am the student.”
My most recent one-on-one student is our four-year-old, Wiley. He and I had been discussing his curiosity about the importance of coloring in the lines. In response, I told him it was his choice, but art is not about being perfect.
Each child is coming from a different internal space and gathers information when they are comfortable. I set the stage for learning and teach as if I too am the student. Coloring in the lines, or even over the lines should not be a struggle for perfectionism, rather, it should just be part of the process.
Grandmother, Linda’s work can be found in coastal galleries, restaurants, local inns, and businesses and you can find her on Facebook here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – LINDA ROWELL-KELLEY
Artist, grandmother, Linda Rowell-Kelley with her husband, Terry, Mount Desert Island, Maine. A lifelong student of art, Linda studied sculpture, painting, and graphics at the Portland School of Art (MECA) in Portland, Maine. She is a prolific painter, who works “outside the box” making political and spiritual statements through art. As a Reiki practitioner, her work has a healing quality, a mixture of what is seen and what is not. She walks the line between realistic art, impressionism, and abstraction.
Enjoy more of Linda’s photographs
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