Archive for March, 2015


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Pamela Kinsey

March 31, 2015

MAAI Teacher Leader series

This is the seventh blog post for 2015 on the Phase 4 Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s (MAAI) Teacher Leaders sharing their stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others. You can learn more about MAAI at and learn more about all 61 of the MAAI Teacher Leaders at!teacher-leaders/c1qxk.

Sunday best 1Pamela Kinsey serves on the MAAI Leadership Team along with being a Teacher Leader. She teaches music in Easton, Maine where her responsibilities include General Music K-6 (including Recorder), Beginning Band, Elementary Chorus, 7-12 Band, 7-12 Chorus and High School Jazz Choir. Pam has taught Music Appreciation at the High School level as well and she is the Co-Team Leader of the Wellness Team! She has been teaching music in some form since high school and gave private lessons. She has maintained a private ‘studio’ of varying numbers of students ever since. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education (with an instrumental emphasis on Flute) from the School of Music at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. Pam has been teaching in schools since 1984, and in Easton since 1988.

What do you like best about being an music educator?

One of the things that I like best about teaching music is that it gives me an opportunity to share my love of all types of music with new ears. I see students from a young age and watch them grow and mature into wonderful young ladies and gentlemen and amazing young musicians. I can look back at several of my students and see them still actively participating in music! It is very rewarding. I have second-generation students continuing in the musical paths of their parents. I take them to concerts of every type available in a region where that is not necessarily the norm. Seeing their eyes roll at the prospect of going for the first time to the American Folk Festival in Bangor and then seeing their eyes light up at the idea of attending the Folk Festival a second…or third or fourth time….that is what makes me love my job. When students come back and seek me out to tell me how things are going. When students call me on the telephone to chat. When students invite me to their weddings and baby showers because we became friends while we were making music together. Those are all reasons that I teach music. It is a life style, not just a job.

What advice to you have for young teachers?

My advice to teachers and students alike is to take advantage of as many of the opportunities that present themselves to you as possible. You never know when something new will be the thing that hooks your interest and it might just take you places unimagined and amazing!

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

Keys to any successful program? I think that first of all, you must love your art form. I think it is important to be out there, practicing our craft, and letting the students see us in that light. My students know that I play in a Community Band. I bring them on a bus to see the diversity of membership from young to old, all participating together. They know that they are invited to play in the group once they have the ability or the desire! My students know that I play in a Community Orchestra. Again, I bring them on a bus to see an orchestra in action. We don’t have a string program and I like them to see that art form live. They also know that I am involved in music at my church. Again, music is more than my job: it is my vocation, my passion and part of my daily life. Truly, I practice what I teach!

I think it is important to help students to succeed, but equally important to let them know that failure is OKAY! They have to make mistakes with their singing and playing so that they can learn from them and grow as musicians. It makes me sad when I ask students ‘Is it okay to make a mistake in music class or in school?’ and have them answer ‘NO’. I tell them of course it is okay…that is how we learn! If we make a mistake because we are trying, then we know it is there and it is something we can fix.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

I consider myself an ‘Old Dog’, and ‘new tricks’ come hard to me. Assessment in my classroom has forced me to re-evaluate how I am teaching and connecting with my students…especially the younger ones. We now have clearer reasons for doing what we are doing and the students are taking more ownership. Now when they create, I show them the rubric that tells them exactly what to do for each level of grading. When they try to hand that in, I remind them that they still need the rubric to complete the project. They can view and listen with discerning eyes and ears, because the expectations are clear. That is very powerful.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

Becoming involved in the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative has given me more confidence in my teaching and in my advocacy skills. Finding my way as a department of one was difficult, since there was no support system that understood what I was trying to accomplish. Now, I am part of a caring, safe and supportive community of Arts professionals, ALL of whom understand what I am trying to accomplish and the struggles that I encounter on a daily basis, since they are very often shared struggles.

What are you most proud of in your career?

In my career, I am most proud of the relationships I have built with students and the hope that they possess an appreciation of music that will stay with them throughout their lives. I am proud of the fact that others see me in leadership roles that I might not have seen myself in. I have built up a rapport with other Arts educators throughout the state and region as a result of these leadership roles. I am proud to be a past chair of the District VII Northern Maine Music Educators Association, the former Secretary of the Maine Music Educators Association and the current President of the Maine Music Educators Association. I am also very proud of the work of MAAI and I am pleased to be a small part of the amazing leadership team and ‘Argy’s Army of Artists’!

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

Sometimes, I think that all of the mandates for standardized expectations get in the way of teaching…and learning….simply for the joy of teaching and learning. There are expectations that our students have the very highest level of achievement, but we are allowed only the very minimum of time in a week to meet these expectations. Of course, funding is an issue in all of education. For me, time to prepare and collaborate with others would be amazing, but again, there isn’t time in the day for this type of group planning in the Arts, especially in a Music Department of one.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be do to “luck” or circumstances?

Hard work and determination are necessary in any job. I think that one thing that I have accomplished is a successful blending of a 7-12 Band. Many years ago, we moved our 7th and 8th graders form the Elementary School, where I had a proper Middle School Band, to the High School and I was told there was no room in the schedule for Middle School Band and the program would now be a combined Band. You can imagine my concern at the idea of mixing students with two years of playing experience with students with five years of playing experience. I feel that the people in the position of making that decision really didn’t understand what they were expecting would just ‘happen’. It was a real struggle, especially at the beginning. Now, however, it is a successful blending of abilities and the Band is pretty darned great in my opinion! On the surface, it was just expected, but I had to be creative and work very hard to make it succeed and not lose students due to frustration by being too difficult or too easy.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have funding like $500,000! I would begin by purchasing instruments, so that every student would have the opportunity to play an instrument, regardless of financial status. New instruments are psychologically better than used. In a rural, depressed area, often cost is the only deterrent to playing an instrument and I hate seeing students have that obstacle in their path. If I could put an instrument in the hands of every child to use for their entire school career, I would love that.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets? 

When I am 94, and I can only hope to have that longevity, I hope there won’t be any regrets! I know I won’t regret my career choice. I was fortunate enough to have a grandmother that had a very long life. When she was in her 90s she was still making music, playing in three hand bell choirs, and playing the piano. She is my musical success story for my students. If you have music in your blood, you will always have music in your life!


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MAAI Megas

March 30, 2015

April 2 and 3

At the end of this week over 100 visual and performing arts teachers will gather in two locations. UMaine, Orono on April 2 and USM, Portland on April 3. They will be attending the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s Mega-regional workshops.

Why would so many teachers choose to spend all day out of the classroom and not teaching you might ask?! The answer varies, but over and over I hear how isolating teaching can be and especially for a visual or performing art teacher who is the only one in their building and sometimes the only one providing arts education in a PK-12 school system. Not only will you have the chance to attend meaningful workshops in your discipline and discuss proficiency-based education and teacher effectiveness with your peers but you will have multiple networking opportunities. Everyone teachers, everyone learns!


Teacher Leaders Amy Cousins and Gloria Hewett will lead the afternoon session at the Megas on proficiency-based education and teacher effectiveness

If you missed the online registration you may still attend by arriving at 8:15 at the Collins Center for the Arts on the UMaine campus in Orono (Thursday) or at Talbot Hall on the USM, Portland campus (Friday). Please select the workshops you’d like to attend before you arrive at the Mega-regional by going to All the info, including the schedule is posted. These are the last two Megas scheduled for this school year.

To access the Maine Arts Assessment Resources please go to

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 8.24.57 AMIf you are considering becoming a Maine Arts Assessment Initiative Teacher Leader during phase 5 you will have a chance to speak to one of the 61 teacher leaders to learn more about the role and responsibility. The application will be available in the next two weeks so please watch for it here in the Maine Arts Education blog.

MAAI is a program of the Maine Arts Commission. To learn more about the MACs education programs please go to

Leading the Way

MAAI Teacher Leaders, Statewide Arts Ed conference, Leading the Way, Fall 2013



Alive Books

March 29, 2015

Reusing books in a very unique way

This is pretty amazing!


Best Coin Ever Spent

March 28, 2015



Ele and Secondary School Arts Ed Instructors

March 27, 2015

Institute of Education Sciences

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 11.17.33 AMThe National Center for Education Statistics releases Statistics in Brief on Public Elementary and Secondary School Arts Education Instructors

In the 2009-10 school year, among schools that offered art instruction, higher percentages of elementary schools employed full-time arts specialists than part-time arts specialists or classroom teachers to teach both visual arts and music. “Public Elementary and Secondary School Arts Education Instructors,” a Statistics in Brief that uses data from two administrations of the Fast Response Survey System (FRSS), presents findings related to the different types of school staff (e.g., full-time staff, part time staff) used to provide arts instruction in public elementary and secondary schools; the extent to which public elementary schools used arts specialists (i.e., education professionals with a teaching certificate in an arts discipline who provide separate instruction in that discipline) to provide arts education to students; and the prevalence of arts instruction facilities in public elementary schools. Among public schools that offered art instruction:

  • From the 1998-99 to the 2008-09 school years, low-poverty secondary schools reported an increase in the use of full-time staff to teach music.
  • In the 2009-10 school year, compared to the Northeast, Southeast, and Central regions, higher percentages of elementary schools in the West utilized classroom teachers to teach visual arts and to teach music.
  • From the 1999-2000 to the 2009-10 school years, elementary schools increased their use of dedicated rooms with special equipment to teach visual arts and to teach music.

This Statistics in Brief is a product of the National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education.

To view the full report please visit


Maine Student Film Video Festival

March 26, 2015

38th annual – submission deadline June 1

The 38th annual Maine Student Film Video Festival is approaching and now’s the time for students to start planning that award winning entry! This year’s festival features a $500 MPBN Student Film Award, as well as trophies and certificates for winners and finalists.

You’ll find our latest poster attached to the email. Please print it, distribute it via Facebook or email, or share it with young people you think might be interested in developing an entry.

One of the longest running student film festivals in the country, the MSFVF is open to Maine residents 19 years of age and younger currently in grades K-12. The submission deadline is June 1, 2015, and there is no entry fee to participate.

Student submissions are judged on the basis of originality, content, style, and technique, and are reviewed by the following divisions: pre-teen, (grades K-6), junior (grades 7-8) and senior (grades 9-12). For group productions, the age of the oldest authoring member of the group determines in which division the movie with be judged. There is no age limit for actors, documentary subjects, or musicians who may appear in the production. All film genres are accepted, including animation, documentary and narrative.

Each year the MSFVF selects award winners and finalists whose films are then screened at the festival’s Public Screening & Awards Presentation, which is held in conjunction with the Maine International Film Festival in Waterville. This year’s screening will be held on July 18, 2015 at 12:30 p.m. at the Waterville Opera House. Prizes include the $500 MPBN Student Film Award, a 1 year’s subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud with video editing software, including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, and Adobe Premiere Pro, and full festival passes to the Maine International Film Festival. In addition, all finalists will receive certificates of achievement and winners in all divisions will receive trophies.

For more information, visit the Maine Student Film & Video Festival website at



Who Are They?: MECA, Part 3

March 25, 2015

Maine College of Art

This blog post is part of a series called Who Are They? where information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

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This is the third post on the Maine College of Art (MECA) which is located in downtown Portland. Sarah Sullivan is a first year student at MECA and was kind enough to answer questions for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers. (Perhaps you’d like to share this with high school students considering art school after graduation).

What was your art education like in elementary, middle, and high school? Who or what has inspired you?

Elementary school? All I can remember from elementary school is cut paper that I made into a semi-picture, and then watching the Seasame Street art movie called “Don’t Eat the Pictures” (it was fantastic). In my free time at home I’d roll under the coffee table in my house and draw on the bottom with crayons. In middle school I was selected for the “Gifted and Talented” Art class, which wasn’t as big a deal as it sounded.

It wasn’t until high school that I really got involved with art. Yes, I guess you can say I’d always been creative, but when I got to high school, suddenly I had choices and freedom to do what I wanted. I could choose not only to do art, but what kind of art as well. It was two of my high school art teachers, Peter Morgan, and Megan Boyd who really inspired me to pursue art. Mr. Morgan taught Composition and Design, which was an introductory class where we learned the basics of how to draw still life’s and compose good pieces. Everyone had to take it, so he had to deal with a lot of people who didn’t want to be there. He had a sarcastic streak, but he was honest, and he encouraged me to continue to take art classes. He taught me a lot of the basics which I use today.

Going into my Junior year of high school though, I hadn’t thought of pursuing art in higher education, hadn’t even considered making a career out of it. As much as I enjoyed art, and classes like Mr. Morgan’s, I didn’t see how I could possibly make a living doing that. Enter Megan Boyd. She taught Graphic Design and changed my whole world. She showed me this whole other side of art that I didn’t even know existed. She became my mentor, encouraging me to push my artwork, and helping me with whatever crazy scheme I’d thought of. I don’t know if I would be where I am today without her. Even now we still talk, and I send her my work to get her thoughts on it.

Why did you select MECA to continue with your education beyond high school?

I first heard about MECA through my friend Nichole (who is currently attending with me), when we were both looking for colleges. We were all talking in AP Art about how no one had any idea what they were doing when it came to looking for colleges. We’d all heard of Rhode Island School of Design and Pratt, but then she brought up MECA, mentioning that she enjoyed her visit. MECA sent me a free application, which was a pretty great deal since most of the other colleges were asking for $50. After winning a scholarship, and visiting for an open house, I was pretty much sold. I mean everything was so personal, heck the Dean of the school shook my hand and told me to call him Ian.

How was your transition to college? How do you describe living and learning in Portland?

Hmmm… my “transition” to college? I’d say it was relatively smooth. I mean I think everyone had like a day or two of home sickness, and orientation was excruciating, but I’ve been having a great time. It never really hit me like, “we live here now”, it was more just slipping into this routine that my friends and I have built over the months. Living in Portland is incredible. It’s not a big city, but it’s got so much energy. On the weekends you can go out and explore art galleries or shops. There’s always something exciting happening to get involved in. It’s very different than a campus experience. It’s more than just walking in between your dorm room and your classes. At MECA, you work within this larger community, in the real world. MECA students are continually exchanging and working with the people of Portland. It’s something you wouldn’t get on a normal college campus.

What did you value most in your arts education growing up?

The most important part, for me, of my art education while growing up was getting feedback from other people, and learning how to take that. I mean, it’s great if you can make art for yourself, but as an artist, you’ve got to put your work out there for other people. The whole reason we create is to share it with people. You want it to be the best it can be, and part of that process is other people critiquing your work. I’ve had some great teachers and friends who have always given me honest feedback on what I’m doing. It’s always hard hearing people speak negatively about your work, but over the years I’ve learned it’s really nothing personal. It’s about your work, and you’ve got to be open to new ideas and suggestions. I think learning about that process and being a part of it has really helped me get to where I am today.

What is your passion? Medium of choice?

Graphic Design is my passion. It’s more than just art, it’s problem solving. Designers are presented with these design challenges, you know, you’ve only got so much space or a limited color pallette. I find these challenges exciting, and I enjoy solving the problems that people present. I enjoy working digitally, but I do a lot of hand work at the same time. It’s hard to pick a medium of choice, but I work in Adobe Illustrator the most.

What are you hoping to get from your education at MECA?

Hopefully, by the end of my time here at MECA, I’ll have the knowledge and confidence to go out into the world with my work. MECA has a great team of professors and administrators willing to help you however you need. I’m hoping to have a strong portfolio of work after my 4 years here, and the skills to market that work. I want to learn not just the core concepts and basics of design, but how to apply them effectively. I hope that I come out of this experience a well rounded artist able to hold my own in the world.

What’s the most creatively inspiring experience you have?

That’s also a really hard question. I mean I think we’ve all had those moments where you’re doing anything and suddenly you get an urge to paint or draw. Sometimes I’ll be going through a lesson and I have an idea for a piece or something. It’s easy to get inspired if you’re open to it. Walking around Portland at night, with all the street lights on, especially now in the winter, has a really nice feeling. I wouldn’t say that every night is inspiring, but I would say walking at night puts me in the mood to create. It’s really beautiful, and I think the city at night has that effect on everyone.

Why is art important to you?

For me, art is a method of communicating with people, in a way that my words can’t. Art is a way of working through what’s inside my head. When I draw or I design, it’s more than just putting pencil to paper. When you make art you put all of your experiences and feelings into the work. People respond to your work, in ways that you can’t predict. It has the power to change peoples’ mindsets, inspire change. I see a lot wrong with the world today, and art is my way of trying to change things for the better. I believe in the power that art has, and the spirit that artists put into their work, which is why I have to be a part of it.

How does learning about art impact other parts of your thinking? Your life?

Learning about art has given me quite a different perspective on life than other people might have. As an artist you’re open and curious about the world. You see the beauty in everything. In a world full of war and politics you stand out from the crowd. In one of my classes we read the book “Artists in the Time of War” by Howard Zinn, and it completely changed the way I thought about politics and art. I find that I’m more open to ideas and change. As a designer, I like to problem solve, so I find that in life I’m always looking at things and trying to imagine them better. I think that learning about art, whether it be movements or artists, you start to see the another side of the world and history than what’s just plugged into textbooks or media. As an artist, I’ve got to be open to looking for new perspectives, different solutions, and beautiful things.


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Michaela DiGianvittorio

March 24, 2015

MAAI Teacher Leaders series

This is the sixth blog post for 2015 on the Phase 4 Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s (MAAI) Teacher Leaders sharing their stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others. You can learn more about MAAI at and learn more about all 61 of the MAAI Teacher Leaders at!teacher-leaders/c1qxk.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 1.15.44 PMMichaela DiGianvittorio attended the Maine College of Art and graduated with a B.F.A. in Illustration in 2006. She taught pre-school at a local childcare center for a year and decided to go back to school to obtain a degree in Art Education. In 2008 she graduated from the Post-Baccalaureate in Art Education program at MECA. Michaela is currently a visual arts teacher at Gray-New Gloucester High School. She has been teaching art for seven years and has taught all seven at GNGHS. She is one of two art teachers at the high school. This semester, she is teaching Foundations In Art, Drawing, Multi-Media, Digital Media and Gifted & Talented Visual Art.

What do you like best about being an art educator?

I have a passion for art and a passion for teaching. What I like best about being an art educator is that I am able to practice what I love. It is not often that people love their job, but I truly do. Being an art educator is not just something that I do, it is who I am.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. Connections- Making connections with students, colleagues, administration, parents, community members and other VPA educators is crucial. Through connections you are able to collaborate, receive feedback, and advocate for your program.
  2. Life Long Learning- It is so important to be a life long learner. Staying up to date with new initiates, technology, and attending professional development opportunities will improve your knowledge, and keep you grounded/connected with your school/district and the field of education.
  3. Reflection & Revision- To have a successful program you need to be willing to make changes, take risks, and try new things. Making things new, exciting, and relevant to/for students will make your class more meaningful. Taking time to reflect, review and revise is so important in keeping your students engaged and improve your curriculum, instruction, and assessment. As a teacher, your job is never done. It can always be improved.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Assessment has not only helped me track student progress, but it also has helped in developing and revising my curriculum. When developing my rubrics, I organize and “unpack” the standards that are being assessed, then target what is essential for the student to know in order to meet each standard. This has allowed me to determine where there are gaps and also create essential formative assessments that help them be more successful when they are working on their summative assessment.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

Making connections with other art educators has been by far the most beneficial part of being involved in the arts assessment initiative. Also, it has made me reevaluate what I do and has given me ideas and inspiration for new and different methods in my teaching.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am very proud of everything that I have contributed to the art department at GNGHS. I feel as though I have made a big impact on our art program through curriculum development and also transitioning to standards based instruction and assessment. However, what I am most proud of is the connections that I have made with students. I know that I have impacted many students lives throughout the years, and in return they have impacted mine. Teaching is such a rewarding career!

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

I always feel like I could be a better teacher. The only thing that can really ever get in the way of becoming a better teacher is myself. To be a “better” teacher, you need to be a life-long learner. To be a life-long learner, you need to have self-motivation. Lack of motivation can definitely get in the way of being a better teacher. The trick is to find out what will motivate you when you are in that rut.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be do to “luck” or circumstances?

I honestly don’t know. I feel very fortunate and “lucky” to have a job in art education. I feel as though I have worked hard to get where I am, but some might see that as luck? Art teaching positions are few and far between. Being among so many dedicated and inspirational art educators, I could see how some might see that landing in a position could be do to luck or circumstance.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

Practice what you teach! It is so important to continue to nurture your own creativity, and when students can see that you are truly passionate about what you do, it helps to inspire and motivate them. Also, stay in the loop on new initiatives and keep up to date with technology.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

If I was given $500,000.00 I would start an international travel program for the art department!

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

I can’t really predict future regrets when I still have many years to live before I am 94 years old. At 32, my only regret is that I haven’t traveled much. If I went back in time I would look into opportunities to teach abroad for a few years before I got married and started a family.

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MAAI Winter Retreat

March 23, 2015

What a way to spend the last day in February!

Winter retreat Feb14On February 27 and 28 several of Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s (MAAI) 61 Teacher Leaders came together in Rockland to learn and provide their feedback on phase 4 and, all things MAAI. It is always fun to see everyone and catch up on what is happening (in person) in their classrooms across the state.


Pam Kinsey, Theresa Cerceo, Judy Fricke

Friday evening was spent with Sarah Swain, Art Director, Westbrook Schools who provided a workshop on making videos that answered these two questions:

  • How can video be used as an effective communication tool?
  • How can I create videos with visual interest that engage and inform the viewer?

Participants gave high marks to the opportunity to learn! Thank you Sarah!


Jeff Beaudry, Jen Nash

On Saturday we met at the Gamble Center at the Farnsworth Art Museum to review Phase 4 of the MAAI and imagine what Phase 5 could look like. The ideas and innovative thinking were plentiful. Below are some of the topics that generated long lists of ideas.

  • Teacher Leaders
  • Proficiency-based education
  • Bridging the regional gaps with opportunities
  • Arts integration – professional learning communities
  • Teacher Effectiveness
  • Teaching Artists
  • Arts ambassadors
  • Advocacy

Stay tuned for more information in the future. MAAI continues to respond to the needs of visual and performing arts educators. We are committed to the work that PK-12 arts educators are doing and during Phase 4 we brought Teaching Artists into the opportunities as well. In the very near future we will announce a call for Phase 5 Teacher Leaders. If you are considering participating as a Teacher Leader please update your resume which is part of the application. Watch for the announcement coming out soon. If you have questions please contact me at


Story of Matisse’s Childhood

March 22, 2015

The Nature and Nurture of Genius: The Sweet Illustrated Story of How Henri Matisses’s Childhood Shaped His Creative Legacy by Maria Popova

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 11.33.21 AM Recently Brain Pickings included an in depth review of the book called The Iridescence of Birds: A Book about Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Hadley Hooper on Matisse’s childhood and the influence and nurturing that his parents provided him. An excerpt from Brain Pickings review:

At 8PM on the last day of 1869, a little boy named Henri entered the world in a gray textile-mill town in the north of France, in a rundown two-room cottage with a leaky roof. He didn’t have much materially, but he was blessed with perhaps the greatest gift a child could have — an unconditionally loving, relentlessly supportive mother. Like many creative icons whose destinies were shaped by the unflinching encouragement of loved ones, little Henri became the great Henri Matisse thanks to his mother’s staunch support, which began with an unusual ignition spark: At the age of twenty, Henri was hospitalized for appendicitis and his mother brought him a set of art supplies with which to occupy his recovery. “From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands,” Matisse recounted, “I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves.” And that thing flowed from love, too — it was Matisse’s mother who encouraged her son, like E.E. Cummings encouraged all aspiring artists, to disregard the formal rules of art and instead paint from the heart. “My mother loved everything I did,” he asserted. 

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 11.33.55 AMThe illustrations by Hadley Hooper are delightful (and the colors delicious).

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To read the entire piece please click here


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