One of the joys of being able to educate our two girls at home is that they have had plenty of extra free time to teach themselves how to do new skills about which I have had no idea how to even get started.
Kelsi (now 15), decided when she was around 12 years old that she was going to teach herself how to do graphic design. Not having extra $$ to buy Photoshop, she downloaded GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) for free. Many adults and youth have learned how to develop designs and artwork with GIMP, while I've heard other adults also say that it is too difficult to learn.
Myself? I can barely draw much more than a stick figure. My art skills were never developed, although I can do many artistic things - just not draw. :)
Well, where there's a will, there's a way. Kelsi downloaded the free GIMP program to our computer. She got busy trying to learn how to use it. When she got stuck, she would look for online tutorials on what to do next. She searched the internet for tips and tricks on how to use GIMP effectively.
Meanwhile, Mom still had no clue.
Then, she began digitally painting horses of many types and kinds. She learned a lot about shading and highlighting, how to show action and muscles, and a lot more.
Me? I'm still in the stick figure stage. :)
She went through a horse craze like most girls do, and she illustrated horse after horse with GIMP. It was astonishing to me to see her skills develop!
"I can't draw horses that well, to tell the truth. You can think of this as more of an illustrating process. I find a free-use line drawing that is a simple outline of the horse, called lineart. Then I develop a theme and pick colors and begin to fill in the horse, and add shading, hair, and details. I add finishing touches and then make a background to match the theme."
After seeing Kelsi work on graphic design month after month, we decided to try to figure out a way to purchase Photoshop CS5 (Student and Teacher version) for her to use. We were able to get an educational license combined with a sale, a discount, and some Staples Rewards checks on one particular week about 18 months ago, so if my memory serves me correctly, we paid under $100 for the expensive software. (CS6 is the current version, but we aren't planning to upgrade anytime soon.)
This is some artwork she has completed over the last year or so. I love the variety!
Kelsi has been able to use her graphic design and teaching skills to volunteer at a small, local private school for 10-13 students. Once a week, while she was in the 8th grade, she would teach basic graphic design techniques and web design skills for about an hour. She is a naturally gifted teacher; she spent hours each week preparing handouts and lesson tips for her students.
Last summer, she began creating some artwork that demonstrated her faith in Christ. These are some of my favorites:
She went through a phase where she enjoyed making movie-inspired artwork, including spoofing movie posters.
And lately she's enjoyed putting together images that are very abstract...some with a logical explanation behind them, others just because she was bored. Ha!
"If you're a very big fan of Batman, and you enjoy looking very deeply into plots of films, or if you happen to speak Moroccan, this piece might make since. For everyone else, an explanation is needed. The words Deshi Basara are Moroccan for "Rise", "He rises", or literally, "come quickly". They are surrounded by ash and coal, which represent the pain and death that the phoenix rises from. The phoenix is on fire, flying away in its new glory from the shadow and gloom. All of this, however, was inspired by The Dark Knight Rises. The main chant or phrase that shows up again and again in the film is "Deshi Basara", first referencing the villain's rise to power, then supporting Batman as he escapes from prison. The ashes represent Batman's imprisonment and setbacks. The phoenix itself is Batman. The black cloth represents his cape.
By now you've probably realized that I read way too deeply into films, and that I might need to visit a psychologist. This is the curse of the author-artist-musician who thinks in a detail-oriented manner."
From Kelsi: "I was bored. I found these pictures and thought, wow, these would look interesting if I put them together. So I did. Normally I refrain from purposeless art, but looking back, this piece reminds me of certain dreams that you can have, that are very weird and don't make sense, but are still very pretty and interesting in their own way."
Kelsi has also done a couple of pieces for other people or organizations. She was able to do a mock-up of an idea for a different private school's annual yearbook front cover. She was also able to design the front cover of my uncle's biography about his life in a Japanese internment camp. That book cover turned out beautifully!
In our home, while my girls may spend hours on the computer each week, it's not all frivolity. :) Kelsi will spend her free time throughout the summer using the computer to create graphic design pictures like these, to write stories and books, and to develop speeches for 4-H county fair speech competitions.
Brittany has learned how to make and edit videos, and how to become a better photographer. She has also learned many international cooking techniques, some which were completely unfamiliar to me!
It's important to allow our children to pursue their interests. At times, I have been blessed to find just the perfect sale combined with coupons that will allow us to purchase that item that the girls are really needing next for their interests: a new video camera, software, etc. Without God providing the right opportunity at the right time, this wouldn't be possible for my family to purchase. If you are sensing that your child or teen needs something for his or her hobby that costs more than your family can afford, pray about it.
It also helps that the girls save their money and try to pay for as much of the new items as possible.
While not all children are as motivated to learn something new and as difficult as my children are, encourage your children. Explore a variety of interests. While sports are a great activity, they also take up a ton of free time where your children could be pursuing interests and developing skills that will help guide them as they seek a career or a future job.
And even if they are interested in something that you know nothing about, they can learn so much by googling for tutorials and tips on how to do what they want to learn. Allow them to explore!
Hi! I'm Julieanne!
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