I needed a closing activity to wrap up our time with Frida. The perfect thing seemed to be a self-portrait! Big Sister was excited to paint for the afternoon while Little Sister napped. She warmed up with some free paint time, creating an abstract painting. Then we talked about Frida’s paintings and revisited the book ‘Frida Kahlo: the Artist Who Painted Herself.’ After that she was ready to create her own self-portrait. She very seriously chose her colors and brush strokes. It was fascinating to watch her at work! When she was done she added her sister to the portrait and some ‘me flowers,’ as she called them. She was on a roll at that point and decided that she would continue painting and now was taking requests. I asked for a painting of flowers. She got right to work and finished it before I got a couple of the shots I wanted, so I asked if she could add a few more flowers to the bottom of the page where it was a little blank. I thought this would buy me some more picture taking time. I had no such luck. She responded, ‘Painters don’t do bottom flowers,’ very seriously, and there was no persuading her otherwise. Her compromise was to add some dots to the bottom of the page to fill it in. She did tell me that she could paint another picture though, and that I could choose whatever I wanted because, ‘I’m a painter, I can paint anything.’ Except bottom flowers I guess. 😉
I’ll admit that part of the appeal of doing this project with my daughters was the opportunity to shop for cute outfits, dress up, and take pictures. It’s soooo much fun!! I can’t escape the former school teacher in me though, and there had to be more meat to what we were doing. So, we’ve spent some time reading, creating, and exploring Frida Kahlo’s life and her artwork through various methods. This aspect feeds my need to research and plan. 🙂
To start, we already owned the children’s picture book ‘Frida’ and had read it, but visited it again. The artwork is stunning, but the story is told in a bit of a depressing light(hard to avoid with her life at times) that required some discussion. It does do a good job of presenting true and accurate information though. I then picked up ‘Frida Kahlo: The Artist Who Painted Herself.’ This book is told from the point of view of a young girl learning about Frida Kahlo for a school project. It includes photographs of Frida Kahlo and her artwork, so it makes a nice reference book for young children. A great digital resource that we found via Mommy Maestra(a terrific site for lesson planning for Frida Kahlo) is a fun iTunes app called Frida’s World. It is a very cute story about Frida that you can read to your children or you can choose to have it read to your child. It also includes some coloring pages from the story. We really enjoyed this app and the story is very positive and upbeat. Speaking of coloring, we found some coloring pages online(a favorite and free download found here), and purchased a coloring book as well, but I have yet to receive it. Finally, we worked on some paper dolls. I ordered a book on Amazon of paper dolls, but they were too pretty for me to cut up! I instead found some online that you can order and print instead. 🙂 I may end up trying to scan some pages of the book to print and cut if I find the time. 🙂
Once we knew about her story I wanted to look a little closer at her style. A lot of who Frida was, she portrayed through her choice in clothing, hairstyle and decor of her ‘Blue House.’ La Casa Azul, is Frida’s house in Mexico City, Mexico which is now maintained as a museum to Frida. Last year they opened a temporary exhibit of Frida’s dresses and costumes(see video on the exhibit here). It is a fabulous website with a sections for Children and teachers here, and visiting the actual museum has been on my bucket list for some time now! We had a lot of fun looking at the website and seeing how the clothes we picked for the pictures corresponded to Frida’s own style.
I have been obsessing over this project for the last 6 weeks and have been so excited to take it out of the planning stage and actually start DOING it! There were some things I wanted to figure out first though, where to start, how to proceed, what components should it have or not have, should there be a limit to how many women we study, a criteria for who we would and would not study? I asked myself all those questions and many more. At first I was going to limit to 5 women and complete it by my daughter’s 5th birthday. Then I started to make a list of women to choose from. It was clear from very early on that there would be no way I could choose only 5 women. My next thought was to study one woman a month until my daughter’s 5th birthday, that would give me 10 women to choose from. Something about that didn’t work for me either. So, in the end I decided to leave it open ended. We would learn about as many women as we wanted and whomever we wanted with no constraints on time and just see where this took us. A blog seemed like the natural way to catalog our progress, and so here we are!
It was so hard to decide who would be our first step, there are so many wonderful women to choose from! Ultimately, it boiled down to who I wanted to photograph indoors since this has been a crazy winter in Chicago and many other women I have specific locations that I’d like shoot at for their photos. This narrowed down the field and I chose Frida Kahlo.
I have long held a love for Frida Kahlo’s very personal and beautiful art from the moment I first laid eyes on her painting, ‘Little Deer’. It was my freshman year in college during an art appreciation course and I’ve been in love ever since. As I learned more about her through her artwork, biographies, and her diary throughout the years, my love for her grew. I even had a cat named Frida! What an extraordinarily fascinating woman! I wanted to share a little bit of her inspiring work and her life with my daughters. We read books, colored pages from the internet and a coloring book, and made paper dolls from a book and the internet. We also downloaded a fabulous app. Our studies were obviously limited, as Frida’s life contains a lot of adult content. There is so much more to her life than her paintings and the little bit of information I shared with my daughters, but hopefully when they are older(and more things are age appropriate) we will delve a little deeper!
The pictures were a lot of fun to take! I got the shirt and skirt on Big Sister from Rancho Alpino on Etsy, and the rest I scoured from around the house, and I painted the backdrop. When I started taking pics of Big Sister, Little Sister decided that she wanted a part of the action too! After several photo bombs later we borrowed some flowers from Big Sister’s hair, got a little dress out of the closet that Grandma brought back from a trip to Mexico, and found another of Mommy’s scarves for Little Sister and we were off! I’m so glad she wanted to join in, those are some of my favorite pictures of the girls together. When I was trying to direct Big Sister on how to stand and to hold her elbows, Little Sister was listening too. I had no idea, until I looked at the pictures when I was done, what a good little listener she was! So adorable! I’m looking forward to many more steps together with these girls!