Monday, February 13, 2012

Nursery Update #1 - Fairy Tale Paintings!

We've pretty much decided to turn our guest room into a nursery.  That room gets the most light and it is next to our room, so it seems like a sensible choice.  We'll rearrange the storage room to also fit the bed from the guest room, and that way we will still be able to accommodate guests.

I'm still working on convincing Jeff that it is worth painting the nursery.  Right now, it is a beach room, but from like 20 years ago.  All of the walls are a drab gray-blue color, except one wall, which is an orangey-brown sand color (and a weird texture, too).  Jeff thinks it doesn't matter too much; there's a decent chance we'll move in a couple years anyway (or at least finally move up to the front of our house).  I think that's perfect!  If we're probably moving anyway, we can go all out and really let it be a nursery, because it won't even have to become a "big kid" room later.

I joke with Jeff that I'll just paint it sometime while he's at work.  The funny thing about that is, when Jeff first bought this house, when we were still dating, I decided to paint the fence for him, to surprise him when he came home from work.  The renters were wanting to attach metal fencing to the interior of the picket fence, and I knew that once there was metal fencing attached, there was no way we would paint the wood fence, because it would be too hard.  The wood fence was very worn out though.  It really needed to be painted.  So, I bought a few gallons of paint, and figured I could have it done by the time he got home.  No problem.

Except, dried moss covered lots of little spots, so I had to sand the fence a bunch.  And the wood was like a sponge--it sucked up a TON of paint.  By the time poor Jeff got home, I had finished about 1/10th of the fence, maybe, beginning with the part right out in front by the street.  It became a huge project that we worked on together, over and over again.  Jeff was not too thrilled, to say the least.  (Our neighbors were, though.  We got a ton of compliments on it, because it made a huge difference in the appearance of the property, and the neighborhood.)

It's been long enough that now we can laugh about that.  And maybe one of these days I'll tape everything up for painting while Jeff is at work...but I won't actually start painting until Jeff is on board with the project.  For now, I'm working on organization of the storage room, so that we can move a bunch of the stuff from the guest room into the storage room, so that there will be space for nursery furniture.

I had an idea the other day for how I think I want to decorate the nursery.  I decided to try painting pictures from fairy tales.  That sounds cute to me.  The idea came from my friend Ashley, who is also pregnant, because she keeps painting cool stuff to go on her son's wall.  And then, I kept seeing other neat nursery paintings on Pinterest.  I liked how they looked, so I was trying to think of something I could paint that would be cute for a little girl's room and I had this fairy tale idea.  (Not princesses, because I don't want my daughter's self-concept to be all wrapped up with Disney's marketing.)

These are the fairy tales I think I'm going to do:

Little Red Riding Hood;
Goldilocks and the Three Bears;
Rumplestiltskin; and
the Princess and the Pea.

Not totally sure on all of them.  I could also do Jack & the Beanstalk, or Hansel & Gretel, or something else completely.  (Jeff hadn't heard The Princess and the Pea before, so I told him the story.  He was like, "Do kids even know these stories anymore?"  I said, "Hm.  I don't know.  I think so.  Ours will.")

At first I thought I would be totally original, and draw and paint everything myself.  And then, I realized, why reinvent the wheel, I could spend hours and hours obsessing over Little Red's arm not being quite the right length, and more hours trying to get her nose in the right spot on her face, etc, OR, I could just find pictures to trace.  So, I did that instead.  I found coloring pages online, printed them, and traced them onto canvases.  And then I painted them how I wanted to.  I still feel like they're original enough, because I started with black and white images, made some little changes, picked all of the colors, and spent hours painting.  There are no other paintings in the world that match the ones that I'm doing.  And, I'm not trying to win any art contests or pretending I drew them.  (Besides, the baby won't care.)

So, that's what I'm doing.  I still haven't decided whether to paint colored backgrounds or paint backgrounds that match where the characters are.  I like the idea of doing Rumplestiltskin, but the coloring book pictures that I'm finding are not the way I want them to be.  For instance, it seems like most artists don't know how spinning wheels actually work, because they illustrate Rumplestiltskin "spinning" straw to gold in ways that physically wouldn't work.  (Like, they have him working at the wrong end of the spinning wheel.)  Now, maybe that is what is magical about his process, but to me it just looks ignorant on the part of the artist.

The other problem I'm having is that a whole bunch of artists draw really sexy versions of fairy tales.  Like, the coloring pages are intended for kids (I think?), but the fairy tale girls are often so busty that they have huge cleavage overflowing at the top of their dresses, and skinny skinny waists.  People, these are stories for children.  I know that a lot of clothing designers make scandalous clothes for little girls, and I'm expecting to have conversations with our daughter about how God gave us our bodies and we dress them modestly for these various reasons...but, seriously, am I sometimes going to want to censor coloring pages? And yet, if a little girl has grown up coloring fairy tale girls that dress scandalously, and we treat that like it is fine, when it comes time for her to make decisions about her own clothes, why would we expect her to think scandalous little girl clothes are any different?

I'm not saying I plan to be militant about how we raise our kids, because that isn't the plan--we want to teach them to make good decisions, and I think an overly authoritative parenting style disrupts that.  And I know I certainly can't control every aspect of the environment our kids grow up in (not even close).  But Jeff and I try to be deliberate about the things that we do, and I just keep realizing there are so many different things we'll have to think about and decide about.


MamaErin said...

Evy is starting to get into the Disney Princess craze. She LOVES playing dress up, has a Disney Princess tent and bedding set, and I bought her a Snow White playset and a Beauty and the Beast play set for her birthday :) But we are definitely not going to let her self image be wrapped up in being just as super skinny and super busty as they are.

Evy's room has pink walls, brown ceiling and brown carpet. The wall decor is big white letters spelling out her name, with wooden butterflies and dragon flies painted in coordinating colors surrounding her name. I really like your fairy tale theme- and I think you chose good ones :)

Emily said...

Erin - It seems like most little girls LOVE Disney Princesses now. Maybe sometime I'll write a blog post just about this, but to me it's kind of like that quote about being a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of someone else. Instead of collecting expensive marketing stuff and having our daughter wear it everywhere, and hearing her quote movies all the time, etc, I want us to do things that encourage her to develop character, and her own sense of identity. Maybe I'm just a fun-hater. I don't know. It seems like a tough balance to strike. And maybe I'm just being overly idealistic, since I'm not even a parent yet anyway ;)

Evy's room sounds super cute! The room we're going to use as a nursery has fake-wood floor. I want us to paint the walls white (or ivory? or something?) and then just do an accent wall that is light pink with a white (or ivory, or whatever the other walls are) stencil pattern over the whole thing. I love when people use letters on the wall to spell out the kid's name. If we ever decide on a name, I want to do that too. :)

MamaErin said...

You're not a fun hater :) I do see where you are coming from. Part of the reason I don't mind Evy being all about Disney is because that is how I was when I was little- totally in love with Disney. Heck, I still am LOL. However, I never once remember comparing myself to the princesses, wishing to be just like them in real life, etc. and unhappy that my physique wasn't just like theirs. If that ever starts to become a problem with Evy I plan on putting a stop to it.

I like the plans you have for your lil girls room :)

Anonymous said...

Sad to say but most children nowadays only know fairytale characters from Shrek!