Posts Tagged ‘art’

MoMA Mia!

June 14, 2014

The weather in New York wasn’t great during our stay. We didn’t go up the Empire State Building because whenever we looked up at it with the idea we might, we saw this:

Still there were touts at the bottom asking "You going to go up today?"

Still there were touts at the bottom asking “You going to go up today?”

So when an indoor day was called for, we decided to head for MoMA.

You can get a free audio guide from a desk at the museum, and it’s like a mini iPad. You can dial up the artwork you’re looking at (they have numbers next to them for reference) and hear about its history – many of them have special audio for kids as well.  You can take photos, and you can search for particular artworks and find them on a museum map. Then at the end of your visit it can email you all your photographs and a summary of your visit – which galleries you visited, what you saw and so on.  It’s great!

Of course, the children were far more interested in having an audio guide than in actually looking up to see the art on the walls.  I kept begging them to “just look!”.  There are also Art Cards you can collect from the Family Desk which highlight a single piece of art each, with an activity to do either at the museum or at home.  This is great for a big museum; it’s much easier to have a purpose and things to do, than just to walk around aimlessly trying to soak in everything.

We spent a long time on the 5th floor looking at the classics – van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Rousseau…

Babess absorbed in Rousseau's "The Dream"

Babess absorbed in Rousseau’s “The Dream”

… a woman stopped and spoke to me about how amazing it was to see a young child so absorbed in the art, as Babess listened to the kids’ audio.  Then Babess finished listening and carefully explained the artwork to me.  Even more adorable.

Fainjin & Babess work on an Art Card activity & look at the audio guide in MoMA

Fainjin & Babess work on an Art Card activity & look at the audio guide in MoMA

The kids weren’t so interested in the 4th floor of American art, although Fainjin thought the Jackson Pollock works were pretty cool.  We saw the Bell Helicopter on the third floor, then the kids discovered a display on Minecraft and we nearly lost them altogether despite us pointing out that they can watch Minecraft almost anywhere.

So we headed down to the Art Lab, next to the Sculpture Garden.  I would happily pay admission to the museum in future just to go to the Art Lab. It is a bright, welcoming space full of amazing things to do, with quiet places to sit and read and loads of opportunity for creative endeavour. I said, “I’m so glad we have kids with us so we can come here!” and the assistant laughed and assured me there’s no age limit – you don’t need a child with you to go into the Art Lab (although it is very well set up for children).

Pearl spent her whole time making a stop-motion film, which we were then able to share on YouTube (if you know us in real life & want to see, let me know – it’s under her real name).  Fainjin & Babess enjoyed making films too but also explored the rest of the lab, reading books, making mini-sculptures and playing with the toys and activities.  We were in the lab for over an hour and would have stayed longer except it was after 3pm and we hadn’t had lunch!

Babess works on a movie

Babess works on a movie

Film-maker Fainjin

Film-maker Fainjin

Pearl hard at work animating

Pearl hard at work animating

From there it was a short walk to Times Square where we secured tickets to Matilda The Musical for that night.  Then we went for an early dinner at a nearby restaurant and wandered for bit before the show. We ended up having a great chat with a mounted officer of the NYPD, who was very friendly.  He and his partner were clearly on PR duty, chatting with tourists and posing for photos.

Our NYPD friends

Our NYPD friends

The show was great, a very enjoyable performance from a mostly very-young cast.  Babess appears to have learned a couple of the songs just from watching the show, so we have been listening to them over and over…

It was a very late night, but on the way home, we saw not one but two Empire State Buildings…

Empire State Building & reflected glory

Empire State Building & reflected glory

© UpsideBackwards 2014.


March 7, 2013

Babess has been doing very intricate and detailed drawings lately.  At the weekend she drew this lamp, which I really liked:

She had already started on the next bit of her picture by the time I took the photo

She had already started on the next bit of her picture by the time I took the photo


I thought it captured the essence of “lampness” rather nicely.  But she wasn’t finished, as you can see from the hook next to the lamp above.  She carried on drawing while I did the dishes, talking to me the whole time, then found some coloured pencils and finished it off:




“Babess, tell me again what’s going on in this picture?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s a picture of the light trying to catch the lightbulb,” she said.

I think we’re going to see some very interesting art from this little girl in the coming years!

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Holiday snaps

December 22, 2012

We’re on our way to see Grandma and Grandad – and uncles, aunts and cousins – for Christmas.  Usually we fly all the way, but this year we are driving from Brisbane.  We landed mid-morning Queensland time, but lunchtime in NZ, so as soon as we had picked up our rental car we headed for some food.

After lunch, we gave the kids quarter of an hour in the playground to stretch their legs.  I popped into the adjacent shop for some snacks and water bottles for the trip, and as I put them in the car I noticed the parking sign.

“We might be in a spot of bother,” I informed The Dad, who was supervising the kids at the playground.  He looked concerned, and I said, “We might have to stay a bit longer than we planned…”

Minimum 2 hours?!

Minimum 2 hours?!

Luckily, no-one tried to stop us when we left after only 45 minutes or so.

The drive is more than one day, so we have stopped for a couple of nights in a small town to recover from yesterday’s long journey and acclimatise a little bit.  The place we’re staying has a children’s programme, and the girls enjoyed making Christmas decorations.  Fainjin didn’t want to make an ornament, so he asked for some paper to draw a picture.  When he was done, he brought it to show me.

Fainjin's picture

Fainjin’s picture

“I decided to draw the water cycle,” he said.  “With a crocodile.”

As you do.  He even drew in some sunspots.  That’s the sun in the upper left of the picture – it does have rays, but the yellow is difficult to see.  He’s written “sun” underneath, in case of any doubt.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Winning things

October 10, 2012

I am quite good at winning competitions.  I enter whatever appeals and is easy – email and twitter competitions are great, and there are several in the local newspaper or some magazines that I enter as well.  I certainly don’t win everything (or even close to it!) that I enter, but I suppose I enter enough of them that the prizes – usually small ones – come gratifyingly often.

The Dad often laughs and shakes his head when I tell him excitedly, “I won something on twitter today!”

I am passing the lucky gene on, too.

This morning Fainjin came looking for something to do.  I was sewing for the school fair, and had my netbook next to me with my twitter feed on screen.  Right at that moment, I saw this tweet:

We have 5 kids bags to give away. Tweet us a drawing of an elephant before 2pm today to be in to win!

— ASB Bank (@ASBBank) October 9, 2012


“How would you like to enter a competition?” I asked Fainjin.  “You might win something!  Or not, because it’s a competition and not everyone can win.”

“OK!” he said, and went off to draw an elephant.   He drew a robot elephant which had just won a race.

See the blue ribbons for winning the race?

And he was a winner!  He was very proud of himself, and is looking forward to getting a parcel in the mail in the next few days.

The Dad laughed and shook his head.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


August 28, 2012

We went to the zoo at the weekend.  Fainjin and Babess were incredibly excited, and ran around like mad things trying to see all the animals as quickly as possible… until they found the playground, then they wanted to spend all their time there.

Next to the playground, a marquee was set up with activities for children – face-painting and so on.  There was also a colouring competition, and rather to my surprise both Babess and Fainjin were very keen to draw a picture.  Pearl was not in the least bit interested, so she and The Dad went off “to look at some animals”.

The competition asked you to “draw your favourite animal eating their lunch”.  Fainjin drew a giraffe eating a tree, and Babess drew a very creditable monkey with a banana.

But the best bit, the very best bit, was when the young lady who had been helping them with the pictures – bringing entry forms, making sure they had the coloured pens they needed/wanted, feeding them free bananas, asking my permission to take their photo as they posed cheesily – said to me, “Your children have the loveliest manners!”

That was the best bit.

A monkey eating a banana for lunch, by Babess

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Gold Star

March 20, 2012

Fainjin came home with a gold star from the art teacher.  It’s an impressive thing, about 8cm across, a cardboard star outline with yellow paper stuck behind it, and she has written his name in the middle.

“Wow!  How did you get a gold star?!”

He grinned.  “It’s because I was SO good!”

I carried it home for him, keeping it safe in my bag but he had to check every few minutes that I still had it and hadn’t dropped it.

I saw the art teacher this morning, and told her how thrilled he was to get a gold star.  She smiled.  “He’s such a studious wee fellow…”

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Anniversaries and art

February 22, 2012

A year ago today we were reeling in shock.  It’s been a hard twelve months for the people of Christchurch, and their friends and families too.

We remember.  And not just on the anniversary.


Fainjin had his first “art day” at school today.  He did a very good sketch of a sunflower, and a lovely picture of himself driving a spaceship.  The kids drew vehicles of their own choice, and stuck photos of themselves “driving” in them.

His picture really stands out among the others… because his photo is upside down!  We asked him about it, and he explained that in his spaceship, the driver rolls around (a bit like a hamster wheel, I gather).

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

I’m so smart I can…

February 9, 2012

As one of their first activities, Fainjin’s class have made self-portraits.  They are lovely, paper-plate faces on top of blocky paper cut-out bodies.  The kid-drawn faces have yarn “hair” glued to the top: Fainjin’s is almost exactly the right shade of red.

On their “tummies” is written a list of three things they can do, with the intro “I’m so smart I can…”

Fainjin’s list is:

  • count to 100
  • run fast
  • make lego

I’m not sure that he can count to 100, but perhaps he can.  He knows lots of numbers, so maybe he can sometimes, even if not all the time.  I  love that he thinks it’s an impressive and important skill.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


December 30, 2011

Fainjin has a friend who is dinosaur-obsessed.  He has learnt a lot from this friend.  We found out just how much when he received a box of plastic toy dinosaurs for Christmas.

Actually, Babess must have learnt a bit too.  She appeared in the kitchen to ask, “Mummy, why are dere two pteranodons?”

There’s not really a good answer to that question.

The Dad was helping Fainjin count and sort the dinosaurs, and afterward asked me with a puzzled expression, “So… are kids just born knowing all the dinosaur names?!”

Today Fainjin drew me a picture.  He was very proud of it, and wanted to label it himself, so I had to spell out the words for him.

Long Neck Ankylosaurus (but you could read that yourself)

“It’s like a ankylosaurus, but it has a long neck, so it’s a Ankylosaurus Long Neck.” (He wrote Ankylosaurus first, then had to write the rest above because he’d run out of room.)  I love the detail in the clubbed tail.

Fainjin’s Christmas thank-you letters are also decorated with dinosaur drawings, which I have been called upon to label for him.  He told me one was a “‘plodocus”, so I wrote “Diplodocus”, and he lovingly ran his finger along the word, repeating “‘plodocus, ‘plodocus”.

He is so ready for school.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.


Crafty kid

December 23, 2011

Fainjin finally got to go along to the craft holiday programme today.  He has been looking forward to it for ages – I wrote about it here in July.  Amazingly, today he started off by saying he wanted to make a rabbit for Babess – I hadn’t realised until just now that this was such a long-held ambition!

However, today’s workshops were not about making bunnies, it’s the wrong time of year for that.  Instead, they were making their own stamps this morning, and using those to make gift tags and wrapping paper.  In the afternoon, they made peace doves to hang on the Christmas tree.

So at the start of the day, everyone sat down with paper and pencil to design their stamps.  “Draw Christmas pictures you’d like to make stamps from” came the encouragement.  Fainjin drew a snowman (or possibly Father Christmas, it was hard to tell and I didn’t ask just then), and a car.  Then he started another little picture.

“This one is a toilet,” he informed us, with a cheeky grin on his face.

Ah, four-year-old (nearly five-year-old) boys!

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

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