Part 1: One Artist’s Journey – 0-10 yrs old

ed and audrey Gruger

These are my parents, Audrey and Ed Gruger. Before I can talk about my artist journey. I have to give thanks to them for bringing me into this world! I was born in Seattle in 1959, the youngest of three children. My parents have always encouraged my creativity and inspired me with their passion for the arts!


They were art collectors and had many pieces of art, especially abstract pieces, decorating our home. They were art lovers and often took us to art museums and galleries during family vacations.

I have to say my dad’s side of the family has more artists then my mom’s side.  Frederic Rodrigo Gruger (he signed his work F.R. Gruger) was the most recognized artist/illustrator and many of his illustrations were created for the Saturday Evening Post and other publications from 1898 to 1943.

I consider my Mom very creative. I remember her drawing pictures and painting when we lived in California for 3 years while my Dad was finishing his degree. My Dad was creative too but in different ways, like wine making and photography. They would read to us at night before we drifted off to sleep. Although not every night, since they would take turns with each child.

My early memories of creating art are from gradeschool. I remember drawing a giraffe in Kindergarten. But my parents gave us art supplies and I remember making things at home as well.


I would close myself in my bedroom, make something, then come out and with a sweep of the arm say, “see what I made”. There was always something to be made, a big white castle with leftover styrofoam, a cardboard house for frogs we found in the yard, a raggedy ann doll made from scrap material, a winter snowman.snowman

I drew people and animals and hung them on my bedroom door.  I was always encouraged to create and now looking back, I am so grateful for that!

Part 2 in this story will be next Thursday.

Do you have memories of making things as a child? Do you think your creativity was nurtured?

10 Things You Can Do To Nurture Your Child’s Creativity

1. Encourage your child to be expressive and to come up with their own ideas. Withhold judgement and let them talk. Let them dance, paint, make a fort out of the kitchen chairs and blankets, dress up their stuffed toys with doll clothes, make music with the pots and pans, put on a play with hats and old clothes as costumes

2. Encourage originality, if they want to use their toys to do something else with them, let them, don’t be critical!

3. Let your child tell you a story. Encourage them to make up imaginary characters and plots, have a puppet show or draw a cartoon strip

4. Encourage your child to enjoy the process. Put on music, spread out the paper and let them have free rein. Ask them to paint the music they hear or how they feel, emphasize the process and not the final product.

5. Let them use their hands, give them play dough to make things, legos to build things, crayons to draw with

6. Let them play dress up. As children we liked to dress up and pretend we were old women, wearing high heels and stuffing the front of our old lady dresses with pillows. Let them have a tea party and invite their favorite dolls and stuffed animals as guests.

7. Encourage simplicity. Let them make toys out of what you have on hand. Pans become drums, spoons can become an instrument, boxes become play houses, chairs and blankets become a fort

8. Go outside and take a nature walk. See how many flat, round rocks you can find, take them inside and let the kids paint rocks. Have a picnic and then lay back and watch the clouds. Ask them what animals they see in the cloud shapes.

9. Cook something simple together. Try different foods and/or combining different foods together. Marshmallow and peanut butter on toast for example.

10. Set an example. Let your children see you being silly, they will see that you are an imaginative, creative person and know that it is okay and valued.

To read Part 2 of my Artist’s Journey, go here>



3 thoughts on “Part 1: One Artist’s Journey – 0-10 yrs old

  • January 22, 2010 at 1:04 am

    Thank you for commenting Kristen and Jaime. I think it’s fun to see what one remembers from ones childhood. The stories are what ties us together and what makes friendships and helps us get to know others. I’m glad you both were raised with creativity around you and have and are nurturing it in your kids! We need more creative people in this world. 🙂

  • January 21, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    oh I love this post! I am trying to instill creativity and expressiveness to my son now. He will be 4 in March. I was appalled to find out just yesterday that the school he will attend (a year and a half from now) only offers art class once a week! Can you believe that?! In these days of digital this and digital that, I think it is extremely important to use your imagination and work with your hands and just create.

    I was raised in a very creative family and they nurtured creativity in me all the time. My dad still does and my mom did up until she died. Luckily, my mom saved just all kinds of my artwork and it is a hoot to go through it now.

  • January 21, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I was utterly delighted to see pictures of your parents. I’m seven years older than you are – almost a decade – and it all looks so familiar. I think the first thing I remember actually noticing artistically – we had these illustrations in our Collier’s Childrens’ books – the cow jumping over the moon – and my father charted those and a picture of the Blue Fairy and made to-scale hand drawn copies so he could cut them out of wood and hang them on our walls. The memory stays with me – a lesson in line, scale, color -but also in a human being’s ability to do things, to take the environment in hand, to create something perfect. Even if it’s a copy of old illustration.

    And I can’t believe you did that giraffe in KINDERGARTEN. Just like that girl I told you about, the one I ached to be like in second grade. But I look at that giraffe and the character in its face and I begin to understand why I respond to your line and shape and color the way I do.

    We tried to do all the things you outline with our own kids. And it paid off. We have an artist, a video guy, a jazz sax player, an animator – now if we’d only added skills you actually get paid for . . .


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