Artist Ruth Oosterman's Collaboration With Her Two-Year-Old Daughter Turns a Child's Drawings into Beautiful Paintings

Having a bad day? I hear you, so here’s something that will make you feel so warm and fuzzy inside that it won’t even matter: Toronto-based artist Ruth Oosterman’s ongoing collaboration with her two-year-old daughter, Eve, has resulted in some of the most beautiful paintings you’ll ever see. And they’re not just beautiful because they’re art. They’re beautiful because of how they’re created.

According to Oosterman’s blog, The Mischievous Mommy, her little girl’s interest in art shot through the roof when she hit two years old — especially since she sees her mother painting all the time. So, she decided to turn painting time into a mother-daughter activity: By taking sketches of Eve’s and using them as a springboard, Oosterman has opened up a whole world of artistic possibility — and the fact that they’re doing it together makes it all the more wonderful.

Oosterman posted the first piece that emerged from their collaboration, “The Red Boat,” on her blog at the end of July. Since then, several more have followed, each one more stunning than the last. The process is simple: First, Eve creates a drawing with an ink pen; then Ruth goes in with her watercolors, taking the original sketch to a whole new level while Eve watches. “I try to work quickly and let imagination and play take root into the painting, rather than taking it too seriously,” Oosterman wrote in her post about “The Red Boat.” “This way I can encourage Eve’s contribution without making it too ‘grownup.’”

While the paintings themselves are gorgeous, the coolest part is this: Oosterman shoots timelapse videos and posts them to YouTube, allowing us to see the whole process from start to finish. Watching each piece go from doodle to painting is really something else—but don’t just take my word for it. Experience it for yourself. Here’s the video for “The Red Boat”:

Ruth Oosterman on YouTube

And here’s one for a piece called “The Bookworm’s Dream”:

Ruth Oosterman on YouTube

And here’s one of my favorites, “The Lady and the Fox”:

Ruth Oosterman on YouTube

Oosterman explained in a more recent post that if Eve doesn’t want one of her drawings to become a painting, it doesn’t; furthermore, if she ever stops wanting to do these collaborations, then they’ll stop. She hopes, though, that if they keep going, eventually they’ll be able to flip the tables, with the beginning sketch coming from her and the painting getting finished by Eve. Oosterman also wrote that through this collaboration, she has learned as much from Eve as Eve has from her:

“As a child there is no box. It is just endless freedom to explore any and every possible avenue of creativity and adventure. Although children look up to us for guidance and instruction it is equally as important that we take time off from our busy lives to just sit and listen to them, no matter how strange their ideas may seem. Take a turn to become the student and let a child be the teacher, let them help you remember what it is like to just let go and run free!”

Like what you see? The mother-daughter pair’s paintings have become so popular that they’ve opened up an Etsy shop, Eve's Imagination, to sell prints of each piece. Head on over there to see more, and don’t forget to check out Oosterman’s blog and website while you’re at it.

Image: Ruth Oosterman/Facebook