Ryan Trares on parenting: Making memories at art camp

Our home came into a new centerpiece work of art this month.

Poised on top of a shelf in our kitchen, a papier mache cat looms over our family while we eat. Tall and lean, its googly eyes watch us with a surprised look, its curled tail pointing out at us.

This new addition is the result of Anthony’s week-long immersion into creativity and art, after signing up for an art camp this summer.

The program was perfect for him. Anthony has loved to make things since he was a small child. First it was abstract crayon creations, then drawings of his favorite cartoon characters. We still have a picture that he made of Spider-Man, Superman and Batman taped to our refrigerator, each of them greeting visitors with a friendly “Hi!”

At the start of the pandemic, I bought him a ream of 500 sheets of white printer paper, a quick fix to keep him busy for however long we were stuck at home.

He went through that paper in a matter of months.

Making is good for him; it’s a way to let his imagination run wild as he puts superheroes, monsters and his favorite cartoons in the mountains or a lava pit or the beach. Whatever his mind can dream up, he can put it down on paper.

Both my wife and I have our own creative outlets — music for her, writing for me. So it’s nice that he found his own niche in the world of art.

This is actually the second year he’s attended this particular camp. We learned about it through the preschool he had previously attended; one of his teachers was organizing it, and encouraged us to sign Anthony up. He spent the week making cool crafts such as a guitar collage made from pieces of old CDs and other shiny supplies.

They even allowed him to work on an actual canvas. The painting of a pineapple is framed and hanging on our wall.

Even though he didn’t attend that school this year, Anthony still wanted to come back for the art camp. The first day he arrived, he reunited with two of his friends from his previous class. They hadn’t seen each other for an entire year, but it was evident in their smiles they were happy to see one another.

This year’s projects have included a wooden collage adorned with construction paper, magazine pieces and paint, a oil painting done in orange, white and teal, as well as plenty of freestyle drawing and coloring. On the third day, Anthony brought home a drawing of Sonic the Hedgehog with an Iron Man version of Sonic. He liked it, but was disappointed in some parts.

“I didn’t know how to draw Iron Sonic’s face,” he said. “I’m going to practice it.”

His prized creation is the cat, though. Anthony was so proud when he showed it to us. It gets a place of honor in the most popular room in our house.

Until his next creation, that is.