Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Living with Art Prodigies

This post is brought to you by gooey, creamy, delicious KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese. Start making digital macaroni art at


Disclosure: I did not write the disclosure statement above, but rather cut and pasted it from an email.

When it became clear that Twin A (aka Cobra) was a prodigy in the visual arts, I was elated.  At first.

I mean, who wouldn't be?  The first 300 or so hippos that she drew immediately transported me to a watering hole on the Serengeti (or wherever hippos live).  I could practically hear the grunts of the noble beasts and smell the hippo-butt-scented water.  Then the next 750 hippo drawings spoke to me on a whole new level.  I was moved to tears, and beyond.  The series captured the whole range of hippo emotions in ways that mere words could never express.

Wistful Hippo

Forlorn Hippo

Horrified Hippo

Unhinged Bearded Hippo

Besotted Hippo With Duck Feet

It seemed that art was her true calling.  And with a portfolio like hers at the tender age of three, was there an art school anywhere that wouldn't clamor to nurture her talent?   

But then I started to become uneasy. What kind of life could she look forward to as an artist?  Laboring over her etchings in some squalid garret, too proud to take on any commercial illustration work to pay her bills?  Knowing that she was a genius, but that neither fickle art critics nor the dead-eyed hoi polloi would understand her oeuvre?  Going through life only hoping that she would be appreciated hundreds of years from now?

No.  I couldn't let that happen.  As much as it tore me apart, I stopped encouraging her hippo drawings.  When she drew one on her own and tugged my shirttails until I acknowledged it, my praise was faint at best: 'snice, honey.  Then, once out of her view, I would bite the heel of my own hand to keep from shouting, "Brava! It's a masterpiece!" and grabbing her and swinging her around and around.

As much as I failed to encourage her at home, her teachers at preschool allowed her to go on unfettered, even introducing her to new media: fingerpaints, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, and sparkle-glue.  Not only did she thrive, but her sister, Butterbean, started showing an aptitude for certain techniques as well.  So now I had two children whose dreams I would have to quash for their own good.

When I was offered an opportunity to write about Kraft's "DinnerNotArt" app, I figured the universe was reaching out to me.  Surely, my kids would be discouraged by the difficulty of making art digitally, and perhaps lose interest in any other creative pursuits that could only break their parents' hearts.

So I downloaded the app, the idea behind which is to save real Kraft macaroni noodles that might become objets d'art for eating, and use the digital noodles to create art.  After completing a project, the artist saves it and hangs it on a virtual fridge, and all of the real noodles he or she has saved by using virtual pasta are donated by Kraft to the Feed America charity.  Creative and goody-goody too.   I messed around with it for a while, shaping some rudimentary animals and faces by "gluing" the "macaroni" to the "paper" and "painting" it.  Then I let the kids take over.

Within minutes, they had created two stunning abstract pieces.



So now I have a new problem.  A fun, creative app that the kids love to play with, and that will add new dimensions to their artistic range.  And part of the rub is that it solves the age-old problem of what to do with kids' art.  My kids fill up books and tablets and rolls of drawing paper, and it breaks my heart to throw it in the recycling bin.  With this app, you just store the creations on the iPad or computer.  Aside from wanting to discourage my kids from leading destitute lives as artists, there's really no reason not to play with this app.

Should you download the DinnerNotArt app?  Of course.  I recommend this to other families without reservation.  Because it's highly unlikely that your children are art prodigies.  Don't get me wrong--your kids are fine.  But seriously: Did you see what mine made?


As part of the DailyBuzz Moms Featured Publisher Program, I received a stipend from KRAFT in exchange for my participation in this program.


  1. I need some modern art for my law office. What do they charge?

  2. Their souls must be filled with fire and blood and all the chaos of the universe. So cute!

  3. Now to see if Quaker Oats will put out an app for oatmeal smears, which my daughter practices on her tray every day at breakfast. We're running out of room to store the trays.

  4. I'm done. The !!!HIPPOS!!! The comedy, and the witty comments . . . It's too much hilarity and creativity.

    I'll download the app, but I'll prepare myself to be underwhelmed by my kids' efforts. Best I can hope for now are day jobs and 401ks for my mundane offspring.

    1. I really like those pictures. Print them and I'll take them to the show at the 1st Friday Art Walk in Bend!

  5. I beg to differ, my 4 year old's "Alien Series" is bound for the Louvre, I tell you. Can I just say, Nick Jr's Draw and Play and Glow Doodle for the iPod Touch are FABULOUS digital drawing apps. As a parent who has an entire kitchen cabinet filled with art supplies, I can tell you apps are WAY cheaper than all the brushes, acrylics, watercolors and watercolor paper I buy!

  6. Humor, art, joy and sorrow, along with good product placement? It looks to me like you could teach your little prodigies a thing or two to help them become "a little peckish" artists instead by encouraging them in the artistry of proper product placement.

  7. You have some seriously talented kids. But hang on to the macaroni... fine motor skills and finger strength, they're going to need that... well, I guess so they can make digital art. Never mind. Seriously good hippo.

  8. My kid draws a mean monster. I may as well download this. I mean, they already have my iPhone anyway.

  9. It's no pantsless astronaut, but it's good.
    And it beats my kids' best efforts on the wall with my eyeliner.

  10. Well you are way better than me because I sort of took over the computer and made my own noodle art BUT I did stay inside the lines.


Don't hold back.


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