Guardian - A Collaboration with my Toddler

July 26, 2018

A Collaboration with my Toddler


by Theodore & Ruth Oosterman

Collaborating with another artist is an extremely delicate balancing act. 

Not only must you maintain their original brushstrokes as the foundation of the piece but also include their vision by intertwining it with yours to create the collaboration. It is a story being told by two people as their imaginations embark on a journey hand in hand to create something neither could have by themselves. 

In my opinion, collaborations are pure magic appearing in an artistic form.

This particular collaboration between my two-year-old, Theodore, and myself is one of my favorites because the balance was found. It has been an ongoing learning experience to fully understand and grasp the delicacy of this art form and the "Guardian" portrays all of Theo's original work and vision. He told me he was painting water and his brushstrokes created the entire foundation for the story, using watercolors and his linework I was able to intertwine my vision and his personality. 

Theo is by far one of the happiest go lucky children and I am so blessed to be his mother. He wears his heart on his sleeve and from the get-go has been what I call a caretaker or in other words, a guardian. When someone around him is being harmed he is there arms crossed ready to defend, if there is an ant in his way you'll see him kneel down and herd it to "safety." Wherever we are Theo will come and hug me to check in almost every 20 minutes on the dot, watching and guarding those he loves. The level of empathy I see in him inspires me to be better, to forgive quicker than I am to judge, to become a guardian of the world just as he is.

This piece was inspired not only by his personality but also a recent infusion of pets into our household, 41 to be exact. There was a tent caterpillar infestation this summer and my dear children took it upon themselves to "save" as many as they could... it was all I could do to prevent them from infesting our home so I negotiated an outdoor home. I sacrificed a massive storage tote to which they created the loveliest of homes, one that included a party room, disco ball, slides, houses, a rock pool... the list goes on and the bright light here for me was they emptied my recycling bin to do so. 

Watching the two of them work together to create this safe haven for all of their "pets" was beautiful to watch, it reminded me that we are all born with a natural desire to protect, to guard. Life has a way of throwing things at us causing our instincts to become tainted with bitterness, we would rather protect our hearts than guard others and therein lies the beauty of a child's heart. Their innocence reminds us of who we once were and the selfless visions we once had to save the world; we are happy when we help others, that fact has been scientifically proven time and time again so hold tight to that instinct, do not let your heart be swayed away from the light we all carry within. For when you guard others it gives them the time they need to blossom into their full potential by coming out of their cocoon, help them through their storm so that they will continue on and help others. 

Be a guardian.  

Don't forget to watch the time-lapse video!

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