Family Masterpieces: Creatively Capturing Children’s Artwork

Watercolor illustration of postcards
Illustrations by Judy Jamieson.

By Ann Dorer 

When I was a young mother and my daughter, Kate, was about 4, I kept a Kate-size table and chair in my kitchen for her to have a place to draw, color, and paint. Above this little table I stretched a string across the wall like a clothesline. We used clothespins to hang her artwork here.

One day, I was particularly taken with what she had drawn. Her picture looked just like a reindeer. “Tell me about it,” I said. (I had learned you were not supposed to ask, “What is it?”)

“It’s a reindeer,” she told me.

I decided to showcase this adorable drawing in a different way. I traced the reindeer onto some white fabric that I had on hand. Then I embroidered the outline, using a simple stem stitch. And even though this was Kate’s design, I added a small clump of grass at the reindeer’s feet because I thought the picture needed something to give it balance. Finally, I sewed this needlework onto a red hand towel, stitched a casing across the top, and ran a dowel through it to make a small wall hanging.

Many years have gone by since then. Much has changed. My Kate is now a young mother herself with a 5-year-old daughter.

Sketches of small cartoon birds
Recent drawings by Ann’s daughter Kate.

Yet Kate still draws. Recently, I noticed a series of quirky little birds she had drawn in her sketchbook. They had so much personality, I had to borrow them. At home, I chose three birds I particularly liked and enlarged them. I traced them onto some fabric I had on hand. Then I embroidered the outline, again using a simple stem stitch. To Kate’s design, I added a telephone line for the birds to stand on and also a few feathers on the outside birds to give the picture balance. I sewed this needlework into a pillow.

Much has changed over the years. But as for me, clearly, not so much.

Pillow with embroidered cartoon birds
The pillow Ann created using Kate’s sketches.

Watercolor painting of roses

Every few weeks, former editor and consummate Southern lady Ann Dorer shares her reflections on life in our beloved region. See her previous essay on Becoming a Southern Lady for more of her thoughts on the feminine characteristics we love to celebrate.