Thinking Like an Artist

I had just finished feeding the kids breakfast when I felt it coming on...the energy shift.  Sometimes Sam has a difficult time transitioning from one event to another.  The downtime in our day, whether it is two minutes or two hours, often leaves his mind and its ever-spinning gears without something to focus on.   A negative energy settles over the house that I can immediately sense, and others who know Sam really well can often feel it coming on, too.  It's like when the wind chimes clink in the breeze in a disaster movie - you know that's your clue a tornado is on its way.   

The older Sam gets the more obvious it becomes that his mind craves more stimulation than what can usually occurs organically throughout the day, and he needs help redirecting the energy that comes from these downtimes into something positive.  So, ideally, (though often not possible) it's best to stay a few steps ahead of him and have things prepared for him to do, even if it's just throwing a few riddles at him or playing a game of "questions".  It calms him and gives his brain something to do.  


Thank goodness it was sunny and dry when I looked out the window after breakfast.  He needed more than just something to read or learn about today - he needed to get outside, and Evie and I did, too.  It's been a very rainy spring, and since Sam and I had not practiced photography together in a couple of weeks, the plan was a no-brainer:  take a walk - to Lake Providence this time - with our cameras in-hand to see what can we find!

While we were getting ready I suggested to Sam that he have something specific in mind to work on while he walked and photographed.  My idea was to make sure he had a clear subject in mind for each photo; a flower pot, a tree, a neighbor, etc.  He replied with OR!  I could photograph different textures I see along the way and when we come home you could guess what they were and we could make a texture collection!

Ummm, yeah!  That's waaay better than my idea.  Let's do it!

So off we went, Evie with her baby, baby stroller, and bunny purse filled with baby's bottles, and Sam and I with our cameras, bending over taking photos of grass, puddles and concrete.  I'm sure we looked like quite the crew walking through the neighborhood!  

Sam's eye for texture was really good, and he'd get excited about the textures I spotted for him as well.   Strangely enough, he found a piece of sandpaper on the sidewalk by the lake - how perfect was that?  We also found some clams on the shore, which totally made his day.  He brought home twelve clams, one seashell and one lucky penny, and made up a song about being Sam the Clam Collector.  He kept saying this was the best day of his life.

He was so proud to show me each picture he captured on our texture walk.  And he was open to the photography advice I gave along the way, like when I reminded him to slow down, keep his breath still and watch for his focal point when shooting.  It's amazing how many "keepers" he gets when he takes his time.  

Sam Straka, age 6

My favorite image of his from today was of this snail.  It was one of those itty-bitty snails and it was sliding through a small, muddy patch in someone's landscaping.  How Sam saw it I don't know.  He has that radar for all things creepy-crawly that little boys seem to possess.  

When we got home, Sam observed his critters for a while, arranged them in an old Tupperware bowl, found the perfect spot for them in his room and drew them a picture.  When Brian got home from work they read an article about clams and watched some YouTube videos to learn where they come from and how to cook them.  They even saw a video of a clam licking salt off a kitchen counter!  It was a fun morning, with the clam-collecting being the highlight, for sure. To see the rest of the images from Sam's texture walk, go to his gallery or click here.