Category Archives: Art

Positive Parenting: Nurturing Our Children’s Creativity, Joy Bender Hadley

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One of my favorite memories from my childhood was listening to my mother play the piano. I loved how smoothly her fingers went from key to key, playing each note. She furthered my interest with an interactive musical game for my siblings and me. She would play various tunes, each offering different tempos. When she played the faster music, we would dance with quick moves around the whole house. As it slowed, we would too. It was a marvelous way for my mother to introduce us to the world of music. The bonus may have been that it also tired us out eventually. This was the beginning of my love for music and dance. My mother was always finding ways to nurture our creativity. Our house always had a supply of simple visual arts materials, and no end to creative ways to keep our imaginations blossoming.

The impact of the arts on the developing brain is essential.

The brain is stimulated in positive ways while creating art, dancing, or playing an instrument. The research for this is even included in the Search Institute’s forty developmental assets for youth. These are building blocks to help children grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. The more assets our children experience, the healthier they will be—not just as young people, but as they transition into adults as well.

By introducing creative activities into our children’s lives, we can help them develop skills that will create healthy habits. The arts can support creative problem-solving as well as celebrate our individuality, uniqueness, and diversity. Creativity encourages self-expression, a way to create something from personal feelings and experiences. This can increase self-worth and self-esteem.

Though here in the Upper Peninsula we may have fewer offerings such as art museums, programs, and concerts than a larger metropolitan area,

we do have abundant opportunities to share the arts with our children in many ways. We have art galleries and art centers in many of our communities. It is my belief that children are never too young to start interacting with or in art. Bring them to an art gallery, outdoor art fair, symphony concert, or take the time to pick up books about the arts at the library and start conversations with your child. If discussing art makes you feel nervous, that’s all right. Learn with your child.

This type of conversation does not have to happen only in a gallery or concert setting, though. You know the game of lying down outside on a blanket and looking up for images in clouds. That is a creative activity that can help stimulate your child’s imagination. Point out what you see and ask your child if they see it. Then ask them to find something. Observational skills are important to your future scientist, mathematician, artist, or engineer. The arts help greatly in fine-tuning those skills.

positive parenting, nurturing your child's creativity, U.P. wellness publication, U.P. well-being magazine

Studies have concluded that it’s very important to introduce art education at a young age because children are developing their critical thinking skills.

Our children fine-tune their motor skills while creating art. The cognitive processes involved in learning to draw, choosing shapes and colors, and creating detail in visual work help develop the skills associated with these tasks. The musical arts can translate into better math skills. Musical rhythms can provide a way for students to learn fractions, counting, and patterns.

We do have opportunities to meet artists, musicians, dancers, and performers in the Upper Peninsula. You know the Michigan State motto, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”? Well, I truly believe if you seek creative activities in this pleasant Upper Peninsula, look about you. Here we are more likely to meet talented artists face-to-face. We are a personable group of neighbors. Ask local friends and family about local opportunities. We have galleries, art class opportunities, creative businesses, and children’s museums.

As you introduce your children to these types of skill-building creative activities, you’ll be having fun right along with your child.

Try collaborating on a painting or drawing. One of my favorite drawing opportunities as a child was having an adult draw a simple scribble on paper. Then I would take it and see if I could make an image from it. A simple figure 8 might turn into a twirling dancer or an animal. That kept me occupied for hours. The adults seemed to have fun coming up with odd scribbles just to see if I could find anything to make out of it. I did this with my own children, and you can try this too. You might ask your child to make a scribble for you and you try to make something out of it. This type of dialogue between adult and child can help to develop not only the budding artist in the youth, but also help further communication between you and your child.

Through the arts and nurturing creativity, both you and your child will have fun while developing lifelong skills and the blossoming of imagination.

(https://www.search-institute.org)

Joy Bender Hadley is an award- winning art educator working in schools and as an artist-in-residence throughout the region. She believes in the importance of art education in the development of all youth. Aurora Artworks, her art service business, offers creativity coaching for adults.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Summer 2019 Issue Preparing to Roll!

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The printing press is preparing to roll and 10,000 copies will begin distribution this week!

Read all about “The UPsurge in the Arts, Acupuncture of Marquette, the Styro-Free movement and much more!

Click here for a pick-up point near you!

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Healing Hearts + 10th Anniversary Celebration

In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, Health & Happiness is posting some of its best articles from its first 10 years throughout the month of September.

If you like what you read here, please LIKE and SHARE this post, FOLLOW our site, and JOIN us on our Facebook page.

And if you’re in the Marquette area on Sept. 30th, please join us in celebrating our anniversary at YOUR Health & Happiness Forum from 1 pm – 4 pm in the Community Room of the Peter White Public Library.

Stay posted for more details! And please enjoy the 3rd article of 10 in our 10th Anniversary Celebration September Retrospective Series!

copyright Lucy Jeanette LaFaive

Creative Inspiration: Healing Hearts

by Lucy Jeanette La Faive

Five years ago, in March 2003, on the eve of the war in Iraq, I was very terrified that the United States Government was choosing to go to war. I was feeling helpless and fearful about what the outcome might be, fearing violence, destruction, and the death of many people. So one night I decided to finger paint my feelings. I feel very connected to my emotions when I use my fingers directly in the paint. I can literally feel my emotions move through my fingers onto the paper.

I started with dark colors – black and brown – then I just began dumping other colors on the paper and moving my fear, frustration, anger and helplessness through my fingers. Suddenly I realized the page was green. Green is the color of the heart chakra (energy center), also known as the bridge between mind and body. It is the color of healing.

The realization transformed me. I started to move my fingers in the shape of a heart. What resulted was a green heart. I later highlighted the heart shapes already in the painting with white oil pastel.

This painting transformed my feelings and me. It symbolizes that fear can be transformed into love. I painted two other paintings the same night. The second is mostly red, with hearts layered one on top of the other. The third painting is multicolored, with one large heart and two smaller hearts. I highlighted the colors and shapes already in the painting with oil pastels.

I titled the paintings “Healing Hearts: Transforming FEAR into LOVE,” because these paintings healed my heart by transforming my fear into love. I still had no control about whether the U.S. went to war, but I no longer was struggling with my emotions and a decision over which I had no control.

I could have spent the past five years living in fear, anger and frustration about a war that continues or I can live with love and joy. I choose to live with my heart open with love.

I feel love and joy when I see these paintings rather than the death and destruction I was stressing about at the time I started them. The love came through the struggle, the struggle I was having with my emotions.

I know that if art can be this meaningful to me, it can be healing, transforming and powerful for you too. So next time you are wrestling with something, give art a try.  Maybe it will transform you too!

Lucy Jeanette La Faive, certified wellness speaker, uses art for healing and self-discovery.  Lucy does coaching, workshops, and presentations on joyful living, self-love, self-discovery, creativity, self-care, healing, body image, personal empowerment, movement, and stress management. Free consultations. Contact Lucy at 906-225-1059 or lucyis@chartermi.net.

 

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2008 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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Your Goddess Is Calling

Tomorrow, June 6th, Discover the Goddess Archetypes that most speak to you and how you can benefit from their inspirational messages for personal growth!

Author, artist and intuitive Roslyn Elena McGrath will be sharing personally meaningful, helpful messages from her recently released books, Goddess Heart Rising: Paintings, Poems and Meditations for Activating Your Divine Potential, and The Third Mary: 55 Messages for Empowering Truth, Peace & Grace from the Mother of Mary Magdalene.

Some of the original Goddess paintings featured in Goddess Heart Rising will be on view.

The event takes place 6 pm at Panara Imports, 125 W. Washington St., Marquette, MI.

Free Admission. Autographed books and Goddess posters will be available for sale.

For more info., go to www.IntuitiveLearningCreations.com, www.GoddessHeartRising.com or www.TheThirdMary.com.

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Creative Inspiration – Contagious?

Every day, the actions we take influence others, for better or worse. Though relatively small in population, our area has quite a few women who have influenced others for the better through their public achievements. We asked a few of them, predominantly those in the arts, to tell us about a woman who helped inspire their own creativity and/or achievements.  

We also were fortunate to be able to include this year’s USA Weightlifting Champion and local USEOC trainee Vanessa McCoy, who has created a very significant accomplishment in a field until recently associated with men.  

We hope these nuggets will inspire you and remind you of those who have already inspired you as well. 

Nationally Award-Winning Water Color Artist & Instructor Kathleen Conover: Marquette resident Maggie Lynn is a dedicated artist, art educator, friend, wife and mother who continues to inspire not only in watercolor painting but in life. Though very busy, she always makes time to help others, even myself when she didn’t know me, a struggling newbie-artist. I called one day, asking her to critique my paintings. Without hesitation she looked over all my pieces very carefully, considered silently and shared her years of artist’s-eye expertise. Then she encouraged me not to quit!  I was off and running and so was our friendship, for over thirty years now.  I am blessed to have Maggie as a friend and role model in my life. 

Gretchen Preston, local author of Valley Cats: The Adventures of Boonie and River, and More Valley Cats: Fun, Games and New Friends: I discovered the books of Beverly Cleary in the Riverdale School Library when I was a fifth grader. Her many books are about the antics of the children who live on Klickitat Street in Portland, Oregon. My attraction to her stories was that not only did I live in Portland, but my grandparents also lived on Klickitat! This connection inspired me to write local children’s stories. My favorite Cleary books are Beezus and Ramona, and Mouse and the Motorcycle. Beverly Cleary is a Newberry Award winning author. Her enchanting stories have been enjoyed by children for over sixty years. 

Social Dance Instructor Camilla Mingay, co-creator and c0-producer of the Annual Blueberry Dance Festival and Holiday Dance Show: Marge Sklar, NMU Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the College of Business, has inspired me since my high school days, when she provided me key dance instruction, and throughout the years since. She gave me the opportunity to perform demonstrations for her college students, encouraged me to choreograph and perform at NMU events, and even brought me to my very first dance competition at Michigan Tech University, where my dance partner and I took first place! Marge has helped make dance instruction accessible to all ages and levels of dancers throughout the community by offering free ballroom dance classes at NMU, acting as advisor to student dance groups, and opening the Dance Zone, where people of all ability levels can learn different forms of social dancing.  

Winner of three gold medals in the 2011 USA Weightlifting National Championships and Marquette USOEC trainee Vanessa McCoy: I’m greatly inspired by Olympic weightlifter Melanie Roach.  Melanie has an incredible positive attitude and zest for life! She always seems to be smiling and having fun in competition. She’s also a master at life balance, managing a family of four children, including a special needs child and a husband in politics, while owning a gymnastics academy and training for elite weightlifting competitions.  Melanie’s perseverance has brought her to the top of her sport.  Her example of suffering a difficult back injury and coming back as the top finishing American 2008 Olympic weightlifter, male or female, pushes me to overcome my own obstacles.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2011 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine.

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From Family Treasures to Art

A Creative Inspiration article by Christine Saari

It all began with letters. Letters my father had written to me, his five-year-old daughter on an Austrian mountain farm, before he fell on the Russian front in April 1944. Heartrending letters about being a soldier far away. Letters of love and longing. Letters I could never read without dissolving in tears.

These letters were long my private treasure. But every time another war started somewhere, in Bosnia, in the Gulf, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, I thought of all the soldier fathers who missed their children, of all the children who feared for their fathers’ safety, of warriors who did not return.

One day it struck me – I knew I needed to share these letters, with my grandchildren, with young students, with as many people as possible.

That was the beginning of the inspiration to create “Family Album,” a collection of artful boxes, suitcases, bags and books that would incorporate family letters, documents and artifacts.

These mixed-media pieces would not only tell the story of three generations of my European family, but also the story of others.

They would tell the story of life and death, of celebration and grief, of childhood memory and the journey of immigration, of tradition and change.

I have been working on this project for nearly 20 years now and I keep being inspired in unexpected ways. When my father-in-law died and we found his WWII letters he had sent from Europe, I was struck with the recognition that our fathers were enemies. The result was “Make Love, not War”: three boxes containing letters – my father’s, my husband Jon’s father’s and our own love letters. When my grandson was baptized in the gown my grandmother had sewn, I created a triptych showing three generations of children wearing the same dress, three mothers in different parts of the globe linked by this dress. When we received Finnish Bibles after an aunt of Jon’s had died, I knew they needed a place to be kept. This became “Lutheran Songbooks and Bibles.” That led to “Catholic Childhood,” another container for treasures to honor my father’s and my own upbringing.

Frequently, the inspiration has come from an occurrence that jogged my memory of photographs and artifacts that needed to be in their own shrine. Maybe you have old letters, photographs, your grandfather’s shaving mug, your great aunt’s hair comb or hat? Don’t throw them out! Don’t leave them in a cardboard box in the closet! Honor them. Preserve them for your grandchildren and their children. Find a way to bring them out into the open, to make new from old. If you let yourself be inspired by the spirit of these items, ideas will come to you on how to create a visible record of your family story. You will see the links between the past and the present and you will feel connected to the rest of humanity.

And, do write letters, real letters, written by hand, sent in an envelope with a stamp. They will be priceless keepsakes for your descendants. They will tell them who you were, and remind them of their own place in the long chain of generations.

Christine Saari is a Marquette, MI artist, an Austrian and American citizen, and a packrat.

Reprinted from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Winter 2010 – 2011.

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