Dear Mom,

Pablo Picasso said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” When Molly visited you and Dad the summer she was six, the art project you set up that week required washing away the dust of the garage. For “the marble village” your grandchildren created, marbles became the people who lived in the papier mâché town built and painted on a big piece of plywood on the garage floor. (The French term made the result even grander.)

You were also the grandmother who discovered a safe-to-eat recipe for play dough. You wrapped the colorful wads in plastic, tied them with ribbon and shared them with children in the neighborhood and at Sunday school. For a long time, play-dough rings, bracelets and necklaces were local gifts-of-choice, with painted snakes and rolled paper-clip holders a close second.

Encouraging art projects was always your trademark with me, Mom. I added to the projects and passed them on to Molly, and now your great-grandchildren have joined the adventures. Recently, Grace and Gannon both made portraits of me–in the style of Picasso–and proudly presented them for framing and hanging. In our family, creativity is the result of both nature and nurture. We’ve created with sidewalk chalk, puff paints, clay, old socks and T-shirts, watercolors, sand and glass, pen and paper, and computers. It’s all good. Sometimes surprising and open to interpretation, but still good.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself.” (Or, in my case, figuring out how I inspired two Picasso-style portraits.)

Thanks, Mom, for encouraging our creativity.

With love from your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren

(Above: Gannon’s and Grace’s Picasso pictures of Mor Mor)

(Below: Molly’s 3rd grade Indian Art sculpture with yarn)



Filed under art projects, lessons about life, memories for grandchildren, neighbors, teaching


  1. Another great post, sorry I’ve been absent, but glad to be back.

    Over the last two weekends we have had our grandchildren visit and once again the colourings and portraits are fixed to the fridge and freezer doors for all to see. Shannon, our 6 yr olds pipe cleaner depiction of me sits on my bedside cabinet

  2. Let’s face it, at an art auction our grandchildren’s creations wouldn’t do very well….oh, wait, we would never put them up for bid at an auction. Your Shannon is 6; my Gannon and Grace are 7 and 8. It sounds like they could open an art gallery together.
    I’m glad to hear from you, Tom.

  3. Molly

    I remember making the marble village vividly….I remember making the Indian Weaving Loom vividly…..I remember all the creative things that you and Grandma always encouraged us to do vividly….but more than remembering vividly, I feel the love you both had for me (and everyone). Grandma is such an amazing role model in so many ways…..as are you…and I hope I am being! Thank you mom for sharing such a wonderful rememberance of Grandma. I love it!!

    • When I drove by the house in Ft. Scott, the new owners were spray-painting patio furniture and cleaning out the garage. It reminded me of the projects you and your cousins took on, sweeping and hosing down the garage, getting ready to do things. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, but now your children are almost the same age you were then. We both want the next generation to remember Grandma and her house and all the sweet things she did. These are important memories. Love you, too, Molly. Mom

  4. Grace

    I love you Mor Mor, and Mor mor mor too. Missed you tonight. see you tomorrow.

  5. Gannon

    grandma is really awesome. i love yor fish stix.

  6. Talk to me...I'm your Mother

    What a lovely post! Takes me back to all of the art projects. Now even the grandkids are past the age. Sigh…

  7. I was watching my grandchildren adorn our sidewalks with chalk, and I realized it wouldn’t be long before that was no longer fun and they would be driving off to do things with their friends.
    But the good news is that I can keep doing the art projects. Watercolors and play dough are kind of fun–more fun with kids, though–so I may have to borrow the neighbor’s children. Which should be easy. Moms are eager to have some down time for themselves!

  8. I think the Picasso portraits are the bomb! Makes me want to drag out the colored pencils and pens and PLAY.

    Lovely post.

  9. My goal is to also create a Picasso…of someone or something else! But I can’t help but love it when the pictures are proudly presented by my smiling grandchildren!
    p.s. Next week when we meet at Bon Ton’s, while you eat eggs, bacon and extra crispy hash browns, I’ll do a quick Picasso portrait of you, okay? Or maybe a soft sculpture out of oatmeal?

  10. Another gorgeous offering, Marylin. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Grace

    I’ll teach you how ,first you make a big U,then make half a line then draw any kind of nose and then finish the line ,also you need a design on your cheeks ,finally do any kind of hair.i hope you use your imagination!!!!!!

  12. Hi Marylin,
    Sorry I’ve been MIA lately…life just gets too busy…and I was away for a week in NH, taking care of my 3-year old grandson while his momma and dad were on a little vacation. What an awesome time I had!
    I love this post…those precious memories of crafting are important pieces in the quilt of the lives of your family. I especially love what you said, “In our family, creativity is the result of both nature and nurture.” I would love to quote you in a future post…may I?
    By the way, have you nominated your favorite library to win a copy of Show Me How? 🙂

  13. I still remember both Grace and Gannon at 3…oh, what fun and funny kiddos they were. The surprise for me was that every stage has been wonderful, cuddly and precious, and each stage is full of amazing surprises! Already, since I posted the Picasso-style pictures on this blog, their art interests have changed and grown. Yes, of course you many use my quote. I’m sure ours is not the only family where creativity was the result of both nature and nurture. It’s an exciting, life-affirming combination. Thanks, Vivian, and I’ll nominate our little Westside library for a copy of the book!

  14. Grace


    • Oh, Oh. How do you explain to your sweet 8-year-old granddaughter that the comment box on your blog is not the same as sending emails or texts??
      I’ll have her mom explain it to her…

  15. Love it. I do ‘tivities’ with my grandchildren, and they love it. It not only builds memories, it gives them skills they can use later in life. I have finger-knitted items all over my house! 🙂 Angie

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