Greetings from the Art Corner! My name is David Cain. I was born in Unionville, Pennsylvania in 1946. One of my memories growing up was the hours my dad spent outside growing vegetables and tending to his flowers (especially his roses). I remember the long summer days, usually capped off by a dinner consisting of fresh, sliced tomatoes (with a bit of salt and a dab of mayo), yellow crookneck squash, and a tossed salad next to chicken, burgers, or steak. I also grew up surrounded by music, thanks to both mom and dad, and infused with a love of drawing. The music, art, and gardening have been gifts I’ve enjoyed throughout my life. I thank my parents, Betty and Dave, for nurturing and encouraging my appreciation of these gifts.
I just retired from teaching. The last three years I spent teaching art at Greens Prairie Elementary School in College Station, Texas. This year I was given the honor of being that school’s teacher of the year. Unbelievably, I later became the district Elementary Teacher of the Year. In teaching art, I found everything in my professional life come together. Having spent most of my career as a classroom teacher, I have a unique perspective on how valuable art is (as all of the arts are) to the education of our children. I also have a secret: both art and working with plants hone the higher level skills we so desperately want to cultivate in our children.
At my previous school I planned and established a school garden. Over an eight-year period, many children learned the joys (and magic) of growing their own vegetables. Over that period we donated about three tons of fresh organic produce to a nearby food pantry. One of my most vivid memories was the day we harvested some carrots and I washed them and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Before I handed them out I asked the twenty-two children “How many of you have ever eaten carrots?” Six. “Okay. how many of you have eaten carrots picked right out of the garden?” Two. I passed the carrots out and heard the surprised exclamations from the children. “They’re sweet!” “These are good!” “Could we have more?” I learned a lot that day.
What I would like to do in this blog is open up an ongoing conversation about how art relates to the plant world. I will give teachers some ideas for lessons and I will give kids and parents some activities they can pursue at home.
This endeavor will mean nothing without your input. You can find plenty of lessons about how to draw or paint the human figure or a still life on YouTube. In contrast I would like each of my blogs to be a starting point. I can’t wait to see where you all take them. I would love to post pictures of art projects done by our new JMG art community. I expect to learn a lot from you.
I’m hoping you’ll share your own ideas, variations on lessons I suggest, your thoughts about art and its relationship to natural science, and your questions. In addition to being a creative expression and an occasion for ongoing problem-solving, I believe that art is a social pursuit; it is nurtured by ideas that have gone on before, and those that are happening in the present. I always loved observing children excitedly sharing discoveries and new ideas, as I enjoyed the children who decided to take a project into a new, totally surprising direction. This communication revolution enables us to include ideas and conversations from all over the map. I would love to hear ideas from kids, too. After all, this is JMG for Kids!
I look forward to visiting with you again soon!