Art of Preservation

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” ~ Pablo Picasso

We, mothers, in particular, become increasingly nostalgic and sentimental once children enter our world. We start to save everything in hopes our child will grow up and desire that curl from her first haircut, the unused preemie diaper (just to prove how small she was), her first holiday dresses, a stack of graded reports or test scores, and so on.

The feeling gets stronger once said child enters school – be it preschool or kindergarten – and starts proudly pulling glued, finger-painted and glittered artwork from her backpack each day. You marvel at her talent, compliment her creativity, and toss each masterpiece into a folder or envelope; over time, these items tear, yellow or become otherwise less incredible as the years eat away at them.

I was incredibly lucky to have a cedar “hope” chest, handmade by my Grandpa Black, in which my parents stashed years of childhood mementos. It held everything from my christening gown to my high school diploma. It housed swimming medals; brochures from vacations; annual school and prom photos; blankets and jewelry; summer camp and school art projects; reports and stories I’d penned; and local newspaper clippings from awards and other accomplishments. While I loved to see much of those items as an adult, I wasn’t committed to saving each piece, thus I tossed most of the swimming medals, tourist brochures, and half-destroyed macaroni ornaments, keeping only the most treasured items to accompany me on my life journey.

cedarchest

It’s my goal to give Gemma a similar treasure trove from which to recall her favorite school and family experiences; and while I’ll still keep her lock of hair and that preemie diaper, I hope to take advantage of some modern technologies along the way to best preserve and organize her school-year memories. This summer I started the annual “look book” project (with help from Shutterfly), in which I’ll compile Gemma’s previous year school projects (art, stories, photographs) into a special book to commemorate her life journey. (And, while I would love to keep all of the original works of art, I plan to save only a handful of items from each year in case she wants to use them as art for her own home or children’s playroom someday.) Preschool has proven a great time to start because there are so many colorful art pieces to create beautiful coffee table books to share with family and friends. 

Here is a peek at the two books I created for Gemma’s 2- and 3-year old preschool years…

kidartbookcover

kidartbookintro

kidartbookfirstday

kidartbookart1

kidartbookart2

kidartbookart3

kidartbookart4

kidartbookclasspic

I love the ability to document her growth (physically, intellectually and artistically) and preserve her childhood experiences in this colorful and creative medium.

Special Notes:

  • There are so many companies offering photobooks these days; you can use any one of them to create your own “look book”. I find Shutterfly easy to use and high quality (and they regularly offer great coupons for big discounts on photobooks).
  • To get the artwork in digital form, I set or taped each piece to an art easel, took a photo of it, then cropped and adjusted the exposure and/or other elements to get the best rendition before uploading to my photobook folder online. I would estimate it took me 5-6 hours (in total) to photograph, edit photos and layout the book.
  • This is also a great way to create special gifts for grandparents or other family members. I used one particular art series in which Gemma used her handprints to create a themed art print each month during her 2-year old preschool year…each month became the artwork for a calendar we gave to her grandparents this year in honor of Grandparents Day.
  • FYI…Gemma does not have aliens in her class. I blurred the faces of her fellow classmates out of respect of their privacy.

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