Mint Artists Guild is creating a lot of momentum in our programs and community activities. Now, we have extending that to merchandise. We just developed a new line of beautiful and inspiring stickers, all based on youth art.
Stickers have been around for decades. They started as bumper stickers to share sentiments on cars and trucks and grew to include stickers for laptops and devices, for nails, for water bottles, windows and other places.
For Mint, stickers are a way to share youth art and encourage and inspire individuals to more beauty, faith in themselves and their futures and generosity. That’s why we sell our stickers in twos or threes. So when you buy them, you have one to share and one for yourself.
Generosity, after all, is beautiful. Just like our stickers!
In challenging times, the world needs heroes. We invite you to find one in these small portraits created by Mint Artists Guild.
These 15 small paintings will carry a big impact. And as the exhibit’s title Heroes: Now & Then reminds us, heroes may not be heroic every day. Occasional heroes and unknown heroes also deserve celebration.
Each portrait was created by a Detroit youth artist working for Mint during the pandemic, working from their homes. They chose their own heroes – and they are a diverse group from many eras and from today’s headlines.
The show debuts this Wednesday, Sept. 2, at the Scarab Club and will be up through Oct. 10.
The Heroes: Now & Then show shares at least three lesser known heroes:
Willem Arondeus, a Dutch writer, artist and activist, joined the resistance against the Nazis. His main job was to falsify papers for Jews in the Netherlands. Painted by Mint summer worker Vianca Romero, Arondeus saved hundreds or perhaps thousands of Jews from death, only to be executed himself. His final days are the subject of a short historical film called Willem.
Woman from the Gulabi Gang. Started in Northern India in 2006, this group of women activists protect other women from domestic abuse, violence and the patriarchal system. Gulabi means pink in Hindi. “I get a lot of respect and dignity when I wear the pink sari,” says Maya Davy, a mother of five told the CBC. Painted by Mint summer worker Zora Flourony, some Gulabi Gang members now drive taxis, taking on that male bastion.
Note that we are not sharing images these portraits in our blog because we really want people to go to The Scarab Club to see them. The show is upstairs in its beautiful and historic building, next to the plein air paintings. Plus the main exhibit is photographs, so now we’ve shared three reasons to visit. (The Scarab Club is open 12 to 5 Wednesday through Sunday, and has a small parking at 217 Farnsworth, Detroit, directly behind the DIA.)
After you’ve visited our heroes, please wander a couple of blocks to Hannan Center to see our Abuela, Grandma, Bibi exhibit through Sept. 30. (It is closed weekends.) Because of covid-19 limits and safety protections, please call Hannan ahead to reserve; 313-833-1300 x. 0. Or head to the DIA Museum Store or the Detroit Artists Market and buy Mint greeting cards.
Please subscribe to our blog. In a future post, Mint will recommend hero books for children and teens, books mostly selected by independent bookstore staff.
When we leap into something new and big, it helps to bring along an optimist and a make-magic-happen person like Will Langford.
Known as Will The Poet, he has a history of helping Mint and our young artists. And he also served as the voice of Michigan State University’s “Empower Extraordinary” campaign. He will use his positive energies and extraordinary network in Detroit to lead Mint in a new initiative: the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition. It launched this week and runs through Aug. 4.
He was the first and best choice when Mint executive director Vickie Elmer came up with the idea to create a competition to engage and encourage children to be creative in these challenging times. He immediately said yes.
“I’ve engaged in the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition because I believe that Detroit is wealthy beyond our wildest dreams—in that our youth bear such light, intellect, and sheer talent,” said Langford. “And Detroit is home to that undeniably spirit of hustle and hope, because when I look around me, I see artists, educators, parents, business owners, and co-conspirators who are committed to the growth of the Motor City.”
Children and youth who are age 21 or younger, as of Aug. 4, and live in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in Michigan are encouraged to create visual art or poetry based on the three prompts Will wrote.
Those prompts and a lot of other information about the Youth Arts Competition are available on our website. Completed poetry and art also may be uploaded there.
Will Langford is a Detroit native, a poet, teaching artist, and Fulbright scholar. He is the 2017 Motown Mic Spoken Word Artist of the Year. He divides his energy between education and community development projects in his hometown, East Africa, and the East Lansing area, where he is a Ph.D. student at Michigan State in curriculum Instruction and teacher education.
Will joined the Mint board of directors in January. Yet he already is well known as an active Mint supporter, a volunteer and ambassador who buys Mint art.
His idea for blackout poetry was featured in the Mint blog series Creative Ideas for Challenging Times. And since Mint regularly brings poetry into its Creative Summer Jobs program, it was easy and smart to add poems to our competition this summer.
Now Will is working to bring in businesses and nonprofits that believe in children and creativity and will donate prizes, awards cash or promotion to our competition. He and Mint have landed some beauties including Arts & Scraps, Avalon International Breads, Confident Brands, Jo’s Gallery, North End Customs, Sherwood Forest Art Gallery and others. We welcome your organization to join us in this joyful initiative; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
And we hope that you or your children, grandchildren, nieces, cousins, siblings, best friends, roommates and others who are 21 or less will enter the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition. Will cannot wait to see what you write, draw or create!
This summer, more than most, artists need to economize. They may find themselves with no art fairs, with galleries closed or gone and regular buyers feeling frugal themselves. Unemployment is high and uncertainty is too.
So it’s the perfect time to learn to live and create on the cheap. Follow the lead of model and television star Tyra Banks, who said: “I’m frugal. I’ve always been this way. When I was young, my mom would give me my allowance, and I’d peel off a little each week and have some to spare.”
Create a more independent approach to living by cutting your spending – and increasing your future possibilities. Here’s some ideas for emerging artists:
Develop a frugal outlook. Some people grow up with this, following their mom or aunt to yard sales. Others must work to ingrain a make the most with the least mindset in their lives and creative practices. Start with a living life large on the cheap mantra, or borrow mine: “I live an abundant life on a modest paycheck.”
Get creative. Reuse items in your art. Develop a mixed media series glued and painted on old cookie sheets. Or concoct a project using blueprints as the backdrop. Create a list of possible materials: Old windows and doors work well as canvases to paint and some artists create on records or books. Sculptors may remake old metal shelves or rakes and shovels.
Find joy in the journey. Your approach to frugality should make it fun or an adventure. Create a “cheapskate challenge” with your siblings or friends. Plant peppers or potatoes or find one of the many free food handouts that are all around these days. Plan dinner with four friends at home instead of heading to a bar or restaurant. Log how many days you go without buying anything online, and celebrate when you hit 30.
Find it for free on Craigslist and Nextdoor. Search in a few areas, starting in the “free” section. Then look for garage sales, gigs and other items for sale. If you are really looking for something specific, consider placing an ad as a way to land what you need. Be clear that your budget is tiny.
Shop garage and estate sales. You will find plentiful options in the summer and fall. Head to estatesales.net or download a garage sale locator app to identify where you’re going. Look for multi-family sales or church sales for a wider array of items. We recommend showing on on the final day, when prices are discounted by 50 to 75 percent.
Find flea markets and junk yards. Grab your mask and gloves and go after some real bargains. But don’t buy it just because it’s affordable. Buy it because you need it for your art, your family or your future.
Summertime art and creative play deserves to take place outside, or using materials picked up in a park or woods.
So we are offering four new ways to engage your creativity and make something joyful outdoors, in this new chapter of our Creativity for Challenging Times posts.
Plein air painting. You don’t have to have a huge wall for a mural. Start with a small canvas or board and set up your easel in your backyard to paint. Or sketch the scene, if painting seems too difficult. After you practice a few times, you may be ready to head to a city park to paint or sketch. Here are seven pointers for beginners from Draw Paint Academy.
Rock their world. Paint some rocks with bugs or flowers, birds or pigs or other natural elements. Or perhaps you want to paint faces on them.
Some people put simple messages – Kindness rocks or Unity or Love – on their rocks. Remember to choose smooth flatter rocks and clean them thoroughly before painting. If you want to join the rock sharing movement, this blog post offers helpful ideas and some beautiful examples.
Family water park. Get creative on how this looks in your yard, from an old fashioned sprinkler to a water balloon piñata and more ideas from Kiplinger. A kiddie pool could be more fun if it’s filled with bubble bath or if everyone has to share a five-sentence fairy tale about the magic pond before they can step in it.
Artsy walking stick. Find a sturdy stick or branch that has dried out a bit. Bring it home and paint and decorate it with ribbons, leather ties, feathers or other items. You will end up with a beautiful one-of-a-kind walking stick or magic stick.
It’s time to explore the world, to meet artists and to share our rainbows of everyday or surprising objects .
This week’s Creativity for Challenging Times episode features three ways to add a little joy and newness into your life. For more ideas, we recommend going back to the first one or second one to score some other ideas.
Here’s our new projects in episode nine:
Doodle. Set your timer for 30 or 35 minutes and just daydream with your pencil. Draw anything and everything that comes to mind. At the end of that time, head to Doodlers Anonymous or a similar drawing site to join communities and drawing challenges. Challenge yourself to doodle for an hour a day – or 30 minutes if your schedule is slammed – every day for a week.
Rainbow scavenger hunt. This idea from Living Arts teacher Stephanie Mae works as a competition between siblings or a challenge among art friends. Gather many items – in the rainbow of colors. Then group them and pose them and photograph them. Post your work and be sure to tag Mint and Living Arts.
From hopscotch to tic-tac-toe, there’s plenty of ways chalk can cure your boredom. It’s perfect for spring and summer activities. So we hope you join Mint Artists Guild’s Cheerful #ChalkChallenge.
We launched this last week and already are seeing sidewalk art and encouraging messages in Detroit and around the country and the world, some under the #chalkyourwalk hashtag.
So here’s two more ways to join the chalk fun and two other creative ways to engage while sheltering at home:
Chalk caricatures. Chalk is a tricky medium to work with, messy yet fun. Test your own and a friend’s artistic skills and draw each other as funny exaggerated characters, using phone photos. If you’re up for a real challenge, try doing it together – at least 6 feet apart. Funniest drawing wins all the marbles.
Have a family photoshoot. Family photo shoots and portraits have been around for centuries for royalty and wealthy families, then for more families through the 1960s, 1970s and 80s. Let’s bring them back. Pastbook offers 30 creative family photo ideas. Put on your fanciest or silliest threads. Set up your smartphone/camera and take a photo to document this monumental time in our history.
Spread the creativity and inspiration. Go around your neighborhood leaving inspiration quotes for all the world to see! You’d be surprised at how much the little positive things affects others greatly. So grab some chalk and go make a difference.
Create your family tree. With everyone being safe at home, this is a perfect time to interview relatives who live with you or call those who don’t. Turn this into a fun interview-style activity to learn more about your roots. Use this family history questionnaire – 175 questions from Bobcats World – to start a journey of discovery. Follow our previous posts with advice on interviewing your Grandma.
Check back next week for more creative activities for challenging times. If you want to recommend some, please email us your ideas!
Dance like nobody’s watching. Learn how to ballroom dance – fox trot, cha cha or other steps. Or try modern dance or tap dance – as long as your dance partner is yourself or someone who is at home with you. Dance inside – our outside. Look into one of many free online lessons from The Dance Store or Learn to Dance or others. Or check out dance options from Dance Lives in Detroit, a new local nonprofit resource.
Create with sidewalk chalk. Join Mint Artists Guild and several other nonprofits in the cheerful chalk challenge, a way to encourage families to go outside for activity and play and then create an upbeat message or piece of art using sidewalk chalk. Follow all safety rules as required by state and federal mandates. Share your chalk art on social media with the #chalkchallenge and #chalkyourwalk hashtags and send your best image to us to share.
We are in our sixth week of sharing creative activities for youth, for all who are staying home to stay safe. Some of us are feeling bored and uninspired. Others may need something different to break up our usual creative work. Others may be wishing they could take a “spring break” from real life, but know that isn’t possible right now.
Instead, we suggest you take a break from your usual and try something inspiring or surprising – right in your home or back yard. We’ve got you covered this week with an array of offerings for all ages:
Put poetry into your painting. Pair poetry and painting, and you have something twice as wonderful. Perhaps you will insert a line of poetry into your art work. Or perhaps your piece will be inspired by a piece of poetry. Choose a poet whose work is filled with imagery such as Mary Oliver (try “Song for Autumn” or perhaps “Spring”) or by Lucille Clifton (perhaps “My Dream About Time” ) or Eleanor Lerman (“That sure is My Little Dog.”) Or maybe you want to write your own poem and then illustrate it! It is still National Poetry Month.
Look back on our five previous posts for more inspiration and look forward to more coming next week from Mint Artists Guild.
In uncertain times, we need something creative to lift us up and give us hope. We need poetry and drawing and creative projects because they build us up.
The Artists’ Way author Julia Cameron sees courage and conviction in taking up the pen or paint brush. “Faith is almost the bottom line of creativity; it requires a leap of faith any time we undertake a creative endeavor, whether this is going to the easel, or the page, or onto the stage,” she said.
So take a leap of faith and jump into one of these activities that anyone can learn or try:
Create a special thank you. Scientistis have shown that expressing gratitude brings many rewards, from fewer aches and pains to higher self esteem. So in the next week, create a handmade thank you note to your favorite teacher or mentor or ally. It doesn’t matter if you create it digitally or using collage or colored pencils. What matters is that it is personal and heartfelt – and that you send it to the person promptly. (If you truly have no skill in creating a thank you note, then buy cards from Mint Artists Guild on our new Facebook shop LINK and write a personal note.)
Write blackout poetry. If you need training wheels to write poetry, try blackout poem, also known as an erasure poem. This idea from Mint board member and poet Will Langford requires a page covered in words, from a magazine, newspaper or brochure. Then follow these instructions from Scholastic – and as Langford wrote: “Be creative, use materials you already have at home and have fun!”
Practice face painting. This could be the start of a new creative enterprise, once things are safely open again. You may learn this skill by watching some good instructional videos and here are a smorgasbord of choices from FacePaint.com. Also download the beginner’s guide from the International Face Painting School. Then you need paints – here’s a recipe by the blog Mommypotamus, using flour and food coloring and here’s another from Green Kid Crafts that uses avocado, tea or other colorful foods. Now practice on the people living with you- and please post your best results tagging @mintartistsguild !
Draw blindfold challenge. These challenges pop up on YouTube and elsewhere, encouraging artists to cover their eyes and draw something. Watch Canadian artist Mei Yu draw Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen in this fun video. Thanks to Mint marketing intern Journey Shamily for this idea and recommendation. Then choose a familiar character or favorite object, find or create a blindfold – and try this yourself.
If you really love poetry, we recommend a daily dose – write one one day and read two the next. We will share some more poetry next week. And the National Poetry Writing Month people have prompts for writing and advice to make it easy.
And if you have some very creative ideas for youth, please share them with us in a comment or send us an email.