bztat

Sep 152016
 

In August, I shared the first five illustrations of the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book here. I also shared the basic story line for the book:

In the beginning of the book, Mia Meow, a small cat with big dreams, looks out a window from the inside of her home. Although she loves her home, she longs for adventure, desiring to play with the squirrels and birds that she sees from her inside perch.

Mia Meow lives in a creative place with her human companion who is an artist. Her particular art tends to be creating havoc!

In a bout of mischievous play, Mia Meow discovers a red crayon on the floor. She whacks the crayon around the floor as cats will do…

…and then she hits it so hard, it sails through the air onto the table. On the table is a collar and a piece of paper.

Being a curious cat, Mia Meow dons the collar. Cats are not naturally given to drawing, but with the collar, she feels a creative impulse that she has never experienced before. She begins to draw with the crayon. As she draws, she discovers that the collar has given her magical powers, and her drawing comes to life off the paper.

Throughout the story, Mia Meow discovers her magical power is her creativity, and her imagination takes her on a grand adventure! 

(Read the post and see the first 5 illustrations here.)

I have the next sequence of illustrations ready to share. As the story proceeds, Mia Meow wears her magic collar and uses her magic crayon to create new friends and new adventures along the way. (Note, some of the illustrations are missing the collar, which will be added to the paintings later.)

“Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book Illustration Squirrel and Bird in tree

First, Mia Meow uses her crayon to draw the squirrel and bird that she usually watches from behind her window on the inside, and watches as her imagination comes to life! Mia befriends the bird and squirrel that she has created.

“Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book Illustration Farm animals

Next, Mia creates a cow, a pig, a goat and a chicken and she enjoys visiting her new friends on a farm.

“Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book Illustration Forest animals

After visiting the farm, Mia explores the forest, creating new friends, including a bear, a raccoon, a skunk, a fox and a rabbit.

Mia has a few more adventures ahead of her, and new friends to meet. Stay tuned for more illustrations and more of the story!

The book and the illustrations should be completed within the next month. My plan is to have the book self published and ready to have preordered copies shipped before the 2016 winter holidays in time for gift giving.

You  can preorder copies of the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book  which will be published in the near future. Preorder your copy here. All hardcover preorders made before 9/15/16 will include a pdf copy emailed to you for mobile device reading.

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

Aug 112016
 

The process of creating the illustrations for the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book is in full gear! I have been spending a lot of time creating paintings that will tell the story along with the written words for the book. Each illustration is a 30″H x 40″W acrylic painting on textured wood. Below are the first four illustrations.

1-Mia-Meow-book-illustration-window-scene-LR

In the beginning of the book, Mia Meow, a small cat with big dreams, looks out a window from the inside of her home. Although she loves her home, she longs for adventure, desiring to play with the squirrels and birds that she sees from her inside perch.

1-Mia-Meow-book-illustration-studio-havoc-LR

Mia Meow lives in a creative place with her human companion who is an artist. Her particular art tends to be creating havoc!

1-Mia-Meow-book-illustration-pouncing-crayon-LR

In a bout of mischievous play, Mia Meow discovers a red crayon on the floor. She whacks the crayon around the floor as cats will do…

1-Mia-Meow-book-illustration-finding-collar-LR

…and then she hits it so hard, it sails through the air onto the table. On the table is a collar and a piece of paper.

1-Mia-Meow-book-illustration-scribble-LR

Being a curious cat, Mia Meow dons the collar. Cats are not naturally given to drawing, but with the collar, she feels a creative impulse that she has never experienced before. She begins to draw with the crayon. As she draws, she discovers that the collar has given her magical powers, and her drawing comes to life off the paper.

What comes next?

Throughout the story, Mia Meow discovers her magical power is her creativity, and her imagination takes her on a grand adventure!

Stay tuned for more illustrations and more of the story!

The crowdfunding campaign for the book has concluded, but you now can preorder copies to be published in the near future. Preorder your copy here. All hardcover preorders made before 9/15/16 will include a pdf copy emailed to you for mobile device reading.

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

Jun 262016
 

Children love Mia MeowI have done a lot of important things in my life. As a therapist for children and families for over 20 years, I helped many young people overcome difficulties in their lives. As an artist and teacher, I have enriched many lives with my creativity.

Each person that I have encountered in my work has been as important to my life as I have been to theirs. My pursuits have been driven by the sentiments in this often repeated quote:

“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” ~ Forest E. Witcraft

I have taken pride in knowing that I have helped others throughout my career. Still yet, I have always wanted to do more and reach more people. I have a desire to make a difference in the lives of children around the world, regardless of whether I actually meet them.

I know that the stories and artworks of Mia Meow have already made a difference in the lives of the children who have been in my art classes. It would be so wonderful to bring that same joy to others on a grander scale.

You can help me make a difference by helping me bring the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book to countless children around the world. Each contribution to the Indiegogo Campaign brings us one step closer to publishing the book and sending it around the world. Part of the campaign is making the book available to children via schools and other child serving organizations. You can choose to make a contribution that will allow me to donate books to worthy groups as well as secure first edition copies for yourself.

You can join me in the exciting adventure of bringing the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book to the world by clicking on the link below:

“Oh My, Mia Meow!”

Indiegogo Campaign

Please visit the link, and share it with others. If you would, please share why it is important as well as sharing the link.

The success of a crowdfunding campaign is determined by how many people help to get the word out about it. Even if you choose not to participate yourself, someone you know may wish to do so.

Thank you so much for your support!

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

Jun 222016
 

Mia Meow Children's Picture Book  Indiegogo campaignThe Indiegogo campaign for the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” – Children’s Picture Book  is now live! Be among the first to contribute and join in the fun!

Contributing to the campaign entitles you to special rewards, including copies of the book and Mia Meow artworks. You can also have your contribution go towards donating copies of the book to schools and other child serving organizations. Read about the book and how you can help in its creation and publication process.

Please share it with others, too, as the success of a crowdfunding campaign depends on getting the word out!

Thanks so much for your support!

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

Jun 172016
 
Little girl looking out of a window - child portrait by BZTAT

Art by BZTAT

As much as we would like to, we can’t always protect our children from hearing about the scary things happening in our world. They may hear things on the television or internet, or they may hear other children talking about recent events. It is important to respond to your child’s interest and awareness in a way that helps them process their thoughts and feelings.

In light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, Florida, I thought it was pertinent to share some ideas on care for children when they learn about scary things.

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Tips for Helping Your Child:

Some tips for talking to your child about scary things in the news* include:

  1. Be open to discussing the events. Sometimes we think it is better to avoid discussing scary things, because we think it will disturb the child. Talking about it in age appropriate terms, however, will help children feel more safe and secure. Acting as if nothing has happened, on the other hand, can be confusing for the child, and it can lead them towards finding inappropriate ways to address their anxieties.
  2. Be prepared with what you want to say. Consider your child’s age and his or her unique ways of reacting to things, and then organize your thoughts in advance. Share with a spouse, partner or friend if you can. Preparing your words will keep you from feeling caught off guard by questions and help you be sensitive to the child’s feelings.
  3. Find a time where there is little distraction. You want the child to be the center of your attention, so find a time when you can be completely present with the child.
  4. Listen as much as you talk. It is important to find out what the child knows and help them assimilate what information they have. If your child does not have the words to share his or her feelings, encourage them to draw pictures. Ask them to tell you about their pictures and give them opportunities to share about their creations.
  5. Talk about your own feelings. Children are very attuned to their parents’ experiences, sometimes more so than their parents are themselves. You can acknowledge your feelings to your child without burdening them with the responsibility to care for you. Feel with them and let them know it is OK to have uncomfortable feelings.
  6. Be honest with your child. You do not need to share all the details, but giving the child accurate information appropriate for their age helps them understand. It is OK to say, “I don’t know,” when you don’t.
  7. Be supportive and reassuring. Let your child know that you are there for them, and that you will do all that you can to protect them. Keep an open dialogue so that they feel comfortable sharing with you if they feel troubled as time goes on.
  8. Take care of YOU. The better you tend to your own needs, the more available you will be to your child. Take breaks from incessant news reporting and do active things. Spend time with your child having fun, but also make an effort to have quiet time for yourself.
  9. Get help if you need it. Children and adults experience emotional distress when they are exposed to traumatic events, even if they have no direct connection to the actual event. If you or your child become overwhelmed with stress, professionals can help you through it. Signs that a child may need help include: persistent sadness and unusual bouts of crying; poor sleep and/or nightmares; unusual clinginess and fearfulness; increased irritability and behavioral acting out; problems in school, etc. Find a licensed mental health provider in your area here.

*Information summarized from the American Psychological Association.

My heart is with the Orlando victims and their families. My heart is with you and your child, as well. Mia Meow and I send many hugs your way. Take care and be well.

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

 

Jun 052016
 

Mia Meow Children's Picture Book Project about a creative catHave you heard about the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book Project?

I have done a lot of special projects through the years, and all have been important in some way. This project, however, rises to a whole new level of importance for me.

The more I get into it, the more I realize that this book can have significant impact on the lives of children, and there is nothing more important than making a difference to a child.

The book itself is simple. An ordinary cat faces everyday obstacles and seeks to find a way to overcome them. In the process, she discovers her power through creativity and ingenuity, and she becomes a very extraordinary cat. She explores new environments and meets a variety of animal friends along the way. It is an adventure that is revealed through colorful illustrations that intrigue and enamor children, and thus, inspire their imaginations.

Simple books for children can have a lot of power. Life lessons that are revealed through endearing stories and imaginative illustrations help children develop perspectives to shape their understanding of the world. Tapping into children’s imaginations allows us to broaden their understanding so they can create their own worldview.

So, what is so important about this book project?

  1. The stories and artwork of Mia Meow grew out of my work with preschool children. Their enthusiasm for the character, the artwork, and the story is what inspired me to create the book.
  2. The Mia Meow story teaches children that they can overcome obstacles with creative thinking and imaginative resourcefulness.
  3. Our culture tends to emphasize idealized stereotypes of power and mastery. Typical childhood “superheroes” have unrealistic strength and mythical weapons to demonstrate power, and they give children an unrealistic vision of how they should engage with their world. The story of Mia Meow lays a more realistic foundation for a child’s belief in his or her own creative abilities as a source of personal power.
  4. The story encourages arts integration as an important learning process for young children. The arts are key to childhood learning and healthy emotional development, yet so many schools struggle to maintain arts programming due to funding cuts. Mia Meow offers a creative and fun approach to learning which is supported by research in its effectiveness.
  5. The book engenders a love and empathy for animals, encouraging children to be considerate and respectful of all creatures.
  6. The book project and crowdfunding program, which will be launched soon, has a goal of raising funds for creating and publishing the book, but beyond that, there is also a goal of donating books to programs that serve children. My hope is that the crowdfunding campaign, once launched, will raise enough funds to donate books to:
  • Preschool classrooms of schools involved in the Artful Living Program, where the Mia Meow story and art were inspired.
  • The Canton, OH Police Department Community Policing Program, as a way for police officers to develop positive relationships with children and families in challenged neighborhoods.
  • Libraries in Stark County, OH and surrounding areas.
  • Other school and youth programs designated by contributors. Although my own focus will be local programs, my hope is that contributors will consider donating books to programs worldwide.

I will be launching an Indiegogo campaign soon for the “Oh My, Mia Meow!” Children’s Picture Book Project. I am using this online program to allow others to be a part of the project to gain seed funding for publishing the book and also to encourage donation of books to worthy programs. I hope that you will consider helping me with the campaign by contributing and/or sharing it with others to get the word out. Thanks so much for your interest in the project!

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

May 272016
 

How to make an abstract cat drawing-children's art projectMia Meow wanted to share a creative adventure with you today!

Here  is a simple abstract cat drawing that can be easily created by children 5 years old and up. It is a fun drawing that challenges children to follow sequential directions to achieve an image that looks like a recognizable subject. Despite the sequential directions, the project offers a lot of room for individual expression, as well.

The abstract cat drawing can be created with a variety of media. The image that you see to the left is an oil pastel drawing on black paper, but you can do it with crayons, colored pencils, markers, paint, etc. I like oil pastels on colored papers, as they tend to create interesting contrasts and textures. (Use them with discretion with children who put things in their mouths.) Crayons on white paper create bright contrasts too!

Whatever media you choose, follow the drawing sequence that you see below. Begin with a simple cross grid drawn with an oil pastel (or crayon, marker, pencil, etc.) that offers good contrast. Using the same oil pastel, add a “U” shape that crosses the top two squares. Add details as you go, eventually completing the features of a cat.

How to make an abstract cat drawing -children's art project

It is best to do the sequence quickly and spontaneously without laborious fussing with details. The drawing needn’t be perfect. In fact, imperfections give it more character!

After the drawing is complete, encourage the child to color in the different shapes with a variety of colors. They can add designs, too if the want!

Examples:

How to draw an abstract cat -children's art project

Crayon

How to draw an abstract cat -children's art project

Oil Pastel

How to draw an abstract cat -children's art project

Acrylic Paint on Canvas

Share your experiences with your kids drawing the abstract cat in the comments. Happy creating!

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

May 092016
 

Oh my Mia Meow! #miameow #cats #tortie #tortiesofinstagram #catsofinstageam

A photo posted by BZTAT (@bztat) on

Mia Meow is a real live cat! The artwork and stories of Mia Meow are inspired by a real cat who lives in my home.

I often post photos of Mia and my other cats on my Instagram. Each week on Mondays, I will share one of those photos here for your pleasure.

In this photo, Mia is lounging on the back of HER recliner (I rarely get to sit in it myself) in my home art studio. I like this photo, as it shows the character of her long whiskers.

Enjoy your day this Meow Monday!

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

May 072016
 

Child cutting out shapes with scissors for a paper collageAs the summer months approach and the school year winds down, parents are beginning to ask themselves, “How do I keep my child learning and creating during the summer? How do I keep my child’s mind active and curious without the structure of a classroom?”

Learning does not need to end when the last school bell rings for the summer. There are many ways to stimulate imagination and encourage self learning as children explore their worlds beyond the classroom. With a little bit of creative thinking and planning on your part, you can make your child’s summer a time for fun and enrichment.

Five Ways to keep your child creative during summer months:

  1. Encourage Reading – Reading all year long is very important for children of all ages. Reading to children who have not yet developed reading skills is also important.You can encourage your child to read in a number of ways. Visiting the library and reading great books with your child on a daily basis is one very important way to maintain reading and literacy skills.  Enlivening the stories a child has read by creating games and art projects around them is also a fun way to make reading and literacy fun. Have your child draw pictures of the main characters, or have them act out some of the stories in a play or puppet show. The more the child engages with the story in a creative way, the more valuable the reading skills become to them.
  2. Explore New Places – Visiting new places and trying new experiences with children inspires their curiosity in addition to teaching them new things. Take your child on day trips to museums, parks, nature centers, art exhibits, etc.
  3. Listen to Different Styles of Music – Music stimulates creative thinking and mathematical understanding. Encouraging children to explore a variety of musical styles broadens their minds, and it is fun to learn about different cultures through music. Free streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify bring a world of musical experiences to you and your child at the push of a button. Challenge yourself to listen to different musical styles with your child and Google to learn more about them. Dance and enjoy the music with your child!
  4. Engage in Activities with Pets – Children learn valuable lessons about empathy and responsibility from pets. Building relationships with pets can also lead to many creative endeavors that enhance overall learning. I remember as a child, my cat Pyewacket was a great listener as I tried to master the guitar (a failed endeavor, but I learned a lot about music anyway). Pyewacket also participated in numerous concerts and plays, and he was the subject of many drawings and other creative projects. Learn more about creative engagement between children and pets at Crayons and Collars.
  5. Follow Mia Meow’s Latest Creative Adventures! – Each week, we will be posting new creative projects and activities here that you can share with your child. You can subscribe to receive her latest adventures by email using the form in the right sidebar.

I hope that you and your child enjoy many creative adventures together this summer!

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

May 022016
 
Mia Meow painting Cat character from Children's book waving

Artwork by BZTAT

Mia Meow and I are a little sad this week, because it is our last week to visit our preschool friends for the school year. We have had so much fun visiting classrooms and making art with our good friends this year!

Some of our friends will be back next year, but many will go on to Kindergarten. We are so excited for the learning adventures ahead of them! We hope we will see them in the hallways next year as we meet new preschool students.

We also hope that they will visit us here! We plan to keep the creative fun going by posting new creative art projects for our friends to make over the summer.

Each week as I bring our art classes to a close, I ask my students, “Want to say goodbye to Mia Meow?” They always send her off with great love and enthusiasm and wish her well for the week. This week, we are saying goodbye for the school year, but also encouraging students to visit us here with their families.

Mia Meow’s end of the school year wish is that all of her friends will keep creating and learning as the school year ends and as summer begins.

Stop by here regularly to join in Mia Meow’s summer fun, or sign up to get our latest creative adventures in your inbox. Mia Meow is looking forward to creating with you!

Life is and Adventure!

BZTAT