Drawing on animal power
Minutes before Emma Bailey sat down to draw an elephant on a recent Saturday at the
Lumberyard Art Center, she and two other girls followed as Jane Taul demonstrated yoga positions inspired by the same animal.
The exercises allowed her start to capture the elephant’s traits in her mind before drawing it, Emma said.
“The yoga and the art really make you think about the animal and see it inside out,” she said. “It’s really interesting and helps in adding character and personality to the animal.”
Sitting next to Emma in their first session of the four-week class Jan. 15, Addy Trendel was in full agreement, adding that the shaking out she did before the yoga exercises helped her settle down to draw.
The girls’ words anticipated much of what Taul would say about the yoga/art classes she is offering Saturdays through Feb. 5 at the art center, with the early 9 a.m. class open to children 4 through 7 years of age and the 10:30 a.m. for children 8 through 12.
The art component teaches the youngsters to draw animals — on the first day an owl and elephant — using basic shapes to block out the core before adding three-dimensional elements and then finishing details. It is a drawing technique that reinforces the lessons of the just-completed yoga exercises.
“I like to do the yoga first and then go to the table to draw because I think that makes the kids a little more creative,” Taul said. “Then by putting it on paper and by drawing it inside out using the basic shapes, it ties in with what we are doing.”
The drawing technique links back to the yoga, in which Taul talks of animal’s physical and behavioral traits as they do poses named for the animals. While doing so, she reminds the students of the animals character traits, such as the loyalty and memories of elephants.
“We respect the animal and let them teach us about the nice qualities we should have,” Taul said. “How can we incorporate that in our own lives? How can we use the elephant nature or owl wisdom and watchfulness and quietude in our own life at school or at home.”
In one of those broader lessons, Taul told the children during breathing exercises they can influence others by sending peaceful thoughts to cranky brothers or even other countries.
The class combines two of her longtime interests, Taul said. She majored in art at Baker University while also studying psychology.
“My career has been in social service, but I’ve always maintained that art element, too,” she said. “Just recently, I finished certification to be a yoga instructor.”
Those different threads blended with the idea of offering yoga/art classes, Taul said. She started with adults before offering the two children’s classes this month at the Lumberyard Art Center.
“There is yoga for kids: that’s getting really popular,” she said. “They’ve found it’s really useful in opening up brain power, good circulation, helping them focus on their bodies and being healthier, too.
“As far as putting the art with it, that was something I just wanted to do.”