In the 21st century world of video games and “entertainment only” programming, I wonder if there are enough finger paintings, chalk doodles, home-made comic books and fridge magnet-worthy masterpieces being created. How do we instill a passion for creativity in our children, and nurture it into adulthood?
The “Muffalo Potato way” of drawing – creating artwork by using nothing but numbers and letters – was inspired by drawing with my father and my sisters at the kitchen table, almost four decades ago. Using combinations of symbolic shapes that we were already familiar with, he would create fantastic art right before our eyes. We often got the chance to “start” the picture with a letter or two, before he added his magic touch. Looking back on those wondrous mornings, I can’t think of a more clever way to develop, introduce and practice both letters AND drawing… and did I mention it’s fast?
Over the years I’ve discovered that the “trick” of drawing in this manner delights everyone from 3 to 93, but it is much more than a gimmick. Although we use this digital on-line medium to deliver Muffalo Potato to you, this art offers a chance for creativity and personal expression away from screens and digital pads. With pencils and crayons in hand, drawing stimulates imaginations, improves fine motor skills and exercises problem-solving strategies. It improves visual and perception skills. It becomes hours of fun without electricity and will fill up refrigerator doors with delightful pictures when the day is done.
We’ve made our on-line episodes short and fun to watch for 4 to 8-year-olds, who are developing their small motor coordination, forming legible letters, words and sentences (and should be well into enjoying their doodle years). It satisfies their desire to produce recognizable works. Older kids and tweens think the drawings are clever and cute, which is why I try not to talk too young for this audience. Always, they can’t wait to draw one, and then another. Of course, it goes without saying that my grown-up friends absolutely love to have a Muffalo Potato lesson. It’s funny to me because when they say, “do another one!” they sound just like kids!
I believe I have fixed the problem of confusing “how to draw” lessons by creating “Muffalo Potato.” It’s simple, and easy to rewind or pause. I always draw the letter or number FIRST in the air (with my magic chalk finger) before I put it to paper, and the final cartoon is surprisingly complex and clever-looking. We have taken every effort to “streamline” the creation process, so that drawings are completed in anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes. There is no quicker way to jump into drawing and doodling and I feel that with immediate results comes reinforcement and the energetic desire to create more art.
Parents, jump right in with your kids and enjoy Muffalo Potato. You may want to practice a few times with me and teach them on your own (I won’t take it personally), or simply follow along with your child.
And for all you art teachers out there, if you need certain episodes burned to DVD (I assume some classrooms aren’t super digital yet) or you have questions, suggestions or requests, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We’re having so much fun over here at Muffalo Potato, always learning… and always creating!
I hope Muffalo Potato helps encourage art and creative thinking in both the young and the not-so-young, so that we may all become and remain artists throughout our lives.
And remember, It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be fun!
John & Muffalo