Shapes of dirt in a grassy field have a high aesthetic value in Spy Garden. It is fine art at its finest as it will soon have the added bonus of being incredibly practical (food! exercise!)
Robert Smithson is a big inspiration for Spy Garden. Check out this website to learn more about Earth sculpture: http://www.robertsmithson.com/
Picasso said something to the effect that: all children are artists, but the trick is maintaining the creativity as we age. So often people say “I’m not good at art” or “I can’t paint/draw/etc” but 99% of “being good at art” is enjoying the process and doing it freely. As you draw, paint (or dig!) tell yourself you are a raving genius and don’t over-think it.
No one should ever say “I don’t get art”. When looking at a painting/sculpture ask yourself: “Do I like it?” If you can answer that question, congratulations, you “get” art. I don’t know why people try and make it so much more complicated. Don’t be afraid to say “That painting is repulsive” instead of “I don’t get it”. Opinions will always differ but all you have to do is have one to “get” art!
Art is anything you find interesting or attractive: anything you like enough to look at on a daily basis. Art is something that exists chiefly for aesthetic value, but can also have practical uses. Even if all the produce in Spy Garden was, say, eaten by deer, the garden can never be a failure because of its great aesthetic value!
Sometimes the trick in creating a masterpiece is snatching up a painting to dry at the precise moment when the paper is just completely filled up and “done” (“doneness” being something of an aesthetic judgment call). If a kid (or anyone really) continues to paint past the point of the “doneness” he or she will inevitably swirl the colors round and round until they all mix into a hideous brown-mauve monotone mess of paint. In the creative process you must stop to take breaks and reflect on what you’re making so you don’t miss the point of “doneness” and end up, say, digging up your entire front yard!
One point perspective is a fun and simple lesson:
1. Draw a tiny dot (the vanishing point) in the middle of the paper then
2. Draw a horizontal line dividing the paper in half horizontally at the level of the dot you drew then
3. Draw two diagonal lines originating from the dot toward the bottom left hand corners of the paper and proceed with a simple landscape of your choosing! The ocean’s horizon! A vanishing highway!
The principles of the lesson are the same whether being taught to an adult or child. The same vanishing point, the same horizontal line. The experience of the simple lesson is not so universal. Because every time you complete this lesson the paintings/drawings will all be different and each experience will be different. Typically a young child will follow the instructions, then freely paint shapes and color on top of the diagonal lines, not pausing to ask “Am I doing this right?”
In the artistic process you must have an ego. Not just a big head, but a belief and understanding that the work you create is innovative and fantastic, or at least contains these possibilities. When you step away from a painting/drawing/sculpture and out of this ego-mode, you are able to use critiques to enhance the positive things in the work that you felt so proud and enthusiastic about while painting/drawing/sculpting them. When you see your picture/work and say, “This is hideous. I’m not good at painting,” you need to nail down the specifics of what you find unattractive and instead say, “Yes, this part isn’t so great, but look at this combination of colors I’ve got over here, that is just perfect.” Then enhance the rest to showcase the part you like. This method of critique works for both kids and adults and in any artistic medium, paint to dirt.
Tell yourself you are a raving genius and don’t be hesitant while painting, drawing or digging shapes in the dirt. Take breaks to reflect on your progress. Voilà you’re an artist. Happy creating!