Painting in the Park

Every other month or so, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater LA coordinates Match Meet Ups (MMU). They bring together the Match Support Specialists (MSS) and the matches in their caseloads, as a way of creating an in-person touch point between the MSS and the match. MMUs also create an opportunity for other matches to meet each other and bond over a fun activity!

This year, my MMU was at Griffith Park’s Crystal Springs Picnic Area, along with 2 other MSS’s case loads. The agency organized a picnic and art at the park event, where we would bring a picnic and receive instruction and materials to paint. I was really excited to attend with my Little, who is a self-professed artist and lover of creating art. Her typical medium is drawing, so I figured this could be a good balance of something new and something she is accustomed to. We arrived a little early, so while we waited, I taught my Little how to play Exploding Kittens. She absolutely loved the funny cards and game play! I highly recommend the kids version of the game to anyone with a Little.2017-06-10_11-41-52_152

As I mentioned in Card Games + Bonfires @ Dockweiler Beach, one of our match goals is to help my Little feel more comfortable with having conversations with others. There were just over 30 people in attendance, which was a great turnout that allowed us to socialize with other matches, but not get too overwhelmed.  I knew a few of the Bigs from the BBBSLA Junior Board, so we made introductions with our Littles and picnicked together. Luckily, I’ve never met an unfriendly Big Brother or Sister, so I always feel like we’re in good company at these events 🙂

Robert, the husband of a Big, is an artist, and generously donated his afternoon and painting skills to show us the ropes. We also received donations from Blick Art Materials, in the form of bags, canvases, paint brushes, pencils, and paint! After enjoying our lunches, we collected our canvases and supplies, and settled in for an art lesson. Robert showed us how to create a rough sketch of our subject using basic shapes before we began to paint. Some kids powered through their sketches and got right into painting. After the sketch, Robert demo’ed how to apply the paint, starting with the background color, followed by us putting those learnings into action.

Ever the perfectionist, my Little had a hard time with the painting portion of the activity, frequently exclaiming that she’d “messed up.” She’s grown quite critical of her work lately, and doubts her abilities more than she should. Once everyone had completed their paintings, we each took a turn presenting our artwork to the group from the easel. As soon as we formed a circle around the easel, my Little told me she really didn’t want to show her painting.

2017-06-10_13-03-45_892“It’s so good, though! Everyone that’s seen it loves it. You did an awesome job,” I said.

“They’re just saying that- it’s really ugly,” my Little responded. I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable by forcing her to present her work, despite how creative it was, so I let her know she didn’t have to present if she didn’t want to. She hurried back to the blanket to put her painting away, while the others began to present. Throughout that time, I asked her if she had second thoughts- maybe she left more confident after seeing others show their artwork? But she remained steadfast in her opinion; it was clear how frustrated she was in herself for not living up to her own standards.

As fun as painting in the park was, it revealed to me that there’s still more work for us to do, as a match, to make my Little feel more confident in herself, and okay with not being perfect. It also was a chance to open up a dialogue with my Little’s mom, who had also noticed her daughter’s troubled behavior. Together, we’re looking for ways to motivate and inspire her so she can realize she can be who she is without fear of judgement.

Crystal Springs Picnic Area is a large park with a many parking spaces, right smack dab in Griffith Park. They have a baseball diamond and barbecue pits- we saw many birthday parties being held. You can find painting materials at Target, Michaels, and Blick stores.

How do you and your Little get creative? Have you had to address social or confidence issues before? Let us know in the comments!



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