Goals and accomplishments are part of our often too high-
pressured schedule. Perhaps we should enjoy non- pressured
times as well. The benefits may be subtle but they are
quietly enormous. The following applies to both our children
Time to be introspective takes different forms. Some need
time to meander around the house or take a walk through the
garden and consider the path of a butterfly or the growth
pattern of a seed becoming a flower. Others pick up a
comfortable book and get lost between the pages. The world is
vast and endless. Excitement and new discoveries in simple
quiet moments are as available as the air. Must we have an
excuse to relax and enjoy the breathing and vibrating
sensations of being alive and their roots to the greater
picture of life and creation?
Home recuperating from minor surgery with a few days of no
major responsibilities, I picked up a handful of bright oil-
wax crayons and a few special drawing pencils that I had
ordered for my art students. I myself had not sat down and
drawn intentionally in what felt like months without end. Now
I was going to sneak in some pleasure for myself or better
yet, pleasure to unwind and speak to myself through the
sensations of color and line. Drawing and color always spoke
to me like music and sound do to someone else. It is the
spice of life for me, but time and again, for the sake of
almost everything else that is more important in life, it had
been put aside. But now at home recuperating, I had an
Every teacher needs to actually do what she teaches. I
coerced myself: let's draw a landscape and use exhilirating
colors to bring it to life. A soft- mood- filled sunset over
a glistening river of five shades of blue will inspire me as
if I had viewed this majestic sight from the balcony of a
four star hotel in the bucolic mountains of Switzerland. Give
myself thirty- five minutes to indulge, phone
One hour later, our dining room table was surrounded by three
happy relaxed children drawing. In their hands were
motivational and brilliant colors. With names like violet,
lilac, purple and periwinkle blue, one had no choice but to
be carried away into a flurry of controlled inner excitement.
The gift of color in a colorless world. There are no words to
describe the munificent variety of Hashem.
If adults need a dash and sprinkle of a non-pressured time,
all the more so children.
Tehilla is a girl in the sixth grade. After school she has a
ceramics group. Tehilla knows herself and recognizes that she
requires time to unwind after the academic pressures of
school. In this case, the place was around a lump of clay
with her groups of friends. A small, highly motivated group,
they explore the properties of the clay and make dishes,
bowls, plaques, decorated boxes and the like. Gifts for
family and friends. Tehilla made a stunning fruit bowl on a
tall base. A simple project that took two months. It received
six coats of yellow acrylic paint. So many layers of paint
that we can no longer realize that there is clay under the
paint. Until she got the opaqueness of the color just so and
until she got the shape of the bowl right, two months
While other girls made more bowls and dishes and platters and
plates, Tehilla worked gradually and conscientiously towards
her goal. She had the intuitive wisdom of one who recognizes
that eight hours of sleep at night are necessary for optimum
performance during the remaining sixteen hours of the day.
Every moment of shaping, sanding and painting was a realizing
gesture for Tehilla. The inherent properties and the rhythms
of the clay spoke to her. She worked along with the clay.
Funny how unspoken conversations with clay direct from the
earth can relax someone. She wasn't in a rush. She could
afford to be relaxed. One afternoon there was nothing left to
adjust on the bowl and it was declared completed.
Later she made stocky doll-size clay furniture: a couch and
coffee table complete with tissue dispenser. Thick and
heavily painted in stage production colors, she took her
time. The ideas came slowly and were fruitful. From a photo
of a beautiful shell, more inspiration came. She worked out
the proportions of the shell until she had a life-size shell
coiled out of clay. Stunning! The ideas came slowly as they
matured in her mind with the give and take of the clay's
Tehilla sounds like a creative and imaginative girl. But what
if she never had that particular ceramics class with non-
pressured guided time? Yes, it would show itself in other
ways. But the dynamics of one thought building on another
would be somehow weaker.
Unscheduled, spontaneous time can be thought of as playtime.
Seemingly meaningless play can help release the inner time
clock in a person, whatever his age. This releases the stages
of thought and action that drive a child to accomplishing a
series of goals that refine and define his personality. Goals
and accomplishments are measures of achievement because they
mark time. Building bases for the future.
We are goal oriented and want to see results, sometimes too
fast for the sake of the child. He is not on our time
schedule, mentally, emotionally or physically. We want
results and to make sure he fits in or to impress others.
Often, early school age teachers worry about the parents'
reaction to immature art and crafts work. They send home work
obviously of the teacher's hand and not that of the child.
This unfortunately cheats the child of an opportunity to
create and use his voice as whatever level he happens to be
Drawing and Coloring Hour Around the Table
Put out a stack of white paper and drawing materials on the
kitchen table. Take a pencil in hand and begin. You are the
leader. Mommy is drawing. This arouses attention. It is
infectious and soothing.
Soon the little ones and some of the older ones will be
gathered around the table, trying out their hand. If Mommy
can do this, all the more so can they. They take their clues
from you. Show your excitement and wonder at the results on
the paper. Self confidence doesn't have to mean
Any "HOW TO DRAW" book you like
A variety of pencils and erasers
A stack of copy paper or drawing paper
A variety of colors: markers, oil, wax or paints and brush
Scissors and glue
Look through a "How to Draw" book and copy whatever appeals
to you. Consider yourself looking through a catalogue and
choosing what you would like to draw. Sketchbooks and drawing
and painting supplies often come with a drawing or
illustration to copy. The difference between this and
computer clip art is that we will actually do the drawing
with our hands. We touch, we direct, we feel and we think.
Follow the step by step instructions or copy as your eye sees
The main value from these books is that objects and people
are pre-drawn and arranged in a pleasing composition for us.
We don't have to set up a still life or go outside and choose
a view and make decisions. As we begin to draw, our own hand
takes over. Our style comes through.
Soft pressure, strong pressure? Do we choose to draw in one
corner of the paper or in the center? To which direction do
we gravitate? Take your time and above all, relax and try not
to worry how it comes out. You might notice your child's
personality coming through. Or catch a look at his level of
mastery with small motor skill control and his talents.
Encourage attention to details, movement and variety of line
pressure. Don't try to analyze. Enjoy the time together.
Talk about pencils. Explain that there are many types of this
seemingly elementary tool. Pencils come in all grades from
very hard to very soft. There are graphite pencils, charcoal
pencils, layout and watercolor pencils. They all serve
different purposes and all make their marks for you.
Have colors on hand to use as desired. Oil pastels, colored
pencils, markers, crayons or a high quality wax- oil stick
will add just the right amount of color and vibrancy to the
pencil drawing. Offer a variety with something to suit
everyone. Call out the names of the colors to acquaint
everyone with their presence and differences. Make light
conversation and point out familiar objects of the same hue.
We all know about red, blue and yellow. But how many of us
have noted the differences between light olive green and
yellow green or malachite green?
Scissors and glue are useful for rearranging and eliminating
sections of a drawing. Cut unwanted areas away and reglue
remaining sections of the picture onto new paper and continue
to draw in new areas. An example from a landscape would be to
cut off a scene of rolling hills from the top of the paper
and glue it to a new position on the bottom of the paper. A
new view and perspective of the landscape is the result of
When it is time to clean up, hang the finished work
(including yours) on the wall as a memory of the closeness
you shared drawing and coloring together.