Collaboration is a wonderful concept. It involves harmonious cooperation and joint contributions and mutual engagement—in other words, you’re working together. Collaboration is desirable when it comes to a doctor/patient relationship, co-parenting, and passing new legislation, among other things.
But what about art? Can collaboration take place in the creation of a work of art or must there be a single and singular artistic vision? Clearly, an author and illustrator work together to produce well thought-out picture books, as do a composer and lyricist on an appealing new song. What happens when there are two writers or two illustrators, two composers or two lyricists working on one project? Sometimes…magic!
What has triggered this meditation on collaboration is an article written by the illustrator, Mica Angela Hendricks, recounting—and showing— the impromptu creative experiment between her and her four-year-old daughter.
Ms. Hendricks reluctantly agreed to let her curious and persuasive young daughter add to her unfinished sketches, and the results were unexpected and extraordinary.
Why not try a similar blending of experience and youthful creativity with your grand or the child in your life? Sharing your talents and passion with your child in such a collaborative way will only lead to good things.
Put judgements and expectations aside. Approach your project as an experiment and keep it fun—for both of you.
You’ve probably read many stories to your grand—try writing one together. Blank books are readily available in various stores or online and might inspire you. You can make one together the old-fashioned way using paper, a hole-puncher and yarn, ribbon, binding rings or staples. On a recent shopping trip to Whole Foods, I found an inexpensive spiral mini-sketch pad with acid-free paper that would be great for pencils, charcoals, markers and crayons.
Pick a subject that is of interest to your grand and take turns writing in the book in whatever form works for you. A child who is not yet capable of writing will gladly instruct you on what to write. Or perhaps your story will be a wordless picture book or one told through cartoons or with the help of stickers.
You can use photos to illustrate your story or you can create a photographic journal. Set off around your neighborhood or town with a camera and take turns capturing fascinating people, places or spots. Write imaginative captions for your photos. Perhaps the pictures will lend themselves to a story, possibly a mystery or clues for a treasure hunt.
Try your hands at co-writing a poem in which you alternate lines of verse. Have it rhyme—or not. If this sounds challenging to you, find an easy poetry template; there are many examples on Mrs. Mitchell’s Virtual School. You will be delighted at the result.
Maybe your collaborative creative endeavor won’t be a book, at all. What captures your imagination might be developing a new recipe or a twist on an old favorite, a collage, a song, a dance, a crossword puzzle, a map or even a (private) blog (check out WordPress). The only essential ingredient is that you do it together.