8. Inspired by Children.

One of my stated objectives when applying for this grant was to "give back to the community by helping to educate students and the general public about the value of art in their lives while encouraging them to become personally involved in the Arts."

For the second year I am involved with the Florida Sherrifs Youth Ranches (www.youthranches.org) Summer Art Program at the Museum of Fine Arts here in St Petersburg, FL. The mission of the FSYR is to "develop young men and women who, because of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, are able to face the future with a sense of direction, ability and hope." Every other Saturday 30 at-risk children come to the museum to learn art skills from local professional artists.

Yesterday was my turn to lead the class. I chose to introduce them to a version of the Exquisite Corpse Game which was invented by the Paris Surrealists in the early 20th Century. The goal of the game is to create an imaginary figure or animal that would not otherwise exist in nature. The students were supplied with three sheets depicting a fish, monkey, and eagle. After cutting them apart and rearranging the pieces the students then colored them using markers.

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I was amazed at how quickly and easily they understood the objective and then expanded upon the concept. I never expected them to subdivide the pieces even further but they took it upon themselves to take every advantage to explore all the creative possibilities. They even experimented with the properties of the markers and used them like paint by adding water.

One of my struggles as an adult artist is to retain that childlike sense of adventure and freedom. As Picasso said, "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."

All the finished pieces are shown here. Enjoy!

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