Meet Maddie Edwards, age 9. At 2 years old, Maddie would sit for 2 hours at a time painting abstract watercolors. Abstract to the viewer, but very much filled with meaning to the artist…”this is a crocodile in tall grass”, “this is a bear with big eyes”, etc. As her fingers became more dextrous, she began exploring paper collage, drawing, crocheting, knitting and now sewing. But her most favorite of all, is writing. Stories flow out of her young mind, stories she spends hours perfecting and illustrating. The following is an interview I had with her over breakfast one morning, discussing some of her latest works:
JE: Do you think of yourself as an artist? and why?
ME: Well, I do think of myself as an artist, but just not making my whole life of art. I want to be able to play, help mom in the kitchen, and go outside!
JE: What is it you love about painting?
ME: I like painting because sometimes I don’t know what I’m painting and then I turn it into something. I like taking a blue and putting in a red to make purple, my favorite color! I like painting non-real things, like a purple bunny that has one eye…that type of thing. Like this painting here…
…I was just blobbing some colors onto the paper and some water made a line and color flowed into it. So I got a dog crashing into a dinosaur and the dinosaur was crashing into a dragon. There was an orange path and beside it was a whale fin. Then around that was lots of blue, green, and purple. I can’t believe I made this at two years old!
JE: Where do your ideas come from?
ME: I get one idea and then others come from that one. Like if I paint a fish, then I think, oh I can make a mother fish and a baby brother fish and stuff like that.
JE: Did you get to choose your colors on each of these paintings you did at school, or did your teacher guide you in which colors to use?
ME: Yeah, I get to choose the colors I want. But you can’t mix the colors in the containers. So I have to mix the colors on the paper.
JE: Anything else you want to tell me about these three paintings here?
ME: With the portrait [above], I couldn’t make my face blue…only skin color. But I could make my outfit any color. And for the reflection painting, I had to choose the same colors for the reflection as I had chosen for the buildings.
JE: Recently, you’ve been working with fabric and sewing stuff. Tell us about this most recent fabric creation.
ME: I was wanting a pillow and I wanted an animal. So I chose a fish, found this pretty fabric, and I started sewing.
JE: You had this cool idea for wire in the tail…how did you think of that?
ME: Well, I didn’t want to put stuffing in the tail. And I held up the fish to see how it would look to hold it up. The tail was floppy so I asked myself, hmmm…I wonder how I can get the tail to stay up without stuffing it, and so I thought of wire. With mom’s help it worked great!
JE: Recently you had a couple of huge days of testing for AG. The last day, you were exhausted, but you said the thing you wanted to do when you got home, was to create something…why?
ME: When I create something it kinda cools me down…like relaxes me.
JE: Yep. I see that in you and I understand that. And just this week, you’ve been working on a massive project to create a shave ice stand just like one you saw in an American Girl Doll Magazine. It is incredible! Tell us about why you wanted to make this?
ME: First of all, it was $115 dollars!! So I wanted to make it so I didn’t have to actually like, buy it. I was saving up for an American Girl Doll, Kanani, who is the Hawaiian girl.
JE: Tell me more about how you went about making the shave ice stand?
ME: I looked at the page on the magazine and I thought what kind of cardboard I could use. I went out to the garage to look for all the cardboard I needed. I got other supplies and tried to think of how they could help. Like I thought of my plastic easter eggs and they could help with the shave ice. I put those in cups from my food box. I begged my mom to cut holes in the eggs and go buy some bendy straws to put in the hole in the egg. I got some help from putting the straw canopy on the top. It kept on falling down. Finally, after lots of work, I ended up with a mailbox on the top and we fixed the paper towel rolls so they would stay up. Then I made menus and napkins, and I made a pineapple out of one egg with holly leaves in the top. I think it turned out pretty good…it’s the perfect size for my American Girl dolls.
JE: Tell us about writing…it’s your favorite I understand.
ME: I get ideas for writing from what I make. So that pillow fish I made, I also thought of another fish I want to make which is Rain Fish. There’s a story about him that he makes it rain every day in the winter and he can’t help it. Other fish try to avoid him because they don’t like rain. So I want to write this story this summer.
JE: What is it you want to do when you grow up?
ME: I want to own a shop that sells stuffed animals that I make or people could buy packets of the type of animal they want and then they could make it at home. It has a bakery in the back because I also love to bake! I keep changing the name of the shop…right now it’s Toys & Treats. I also want to write and illustrate books for kids.
JE: Do you also want a garden?
ME: Yes, in my back yard. But just for my food. Not a huge garden. I want some veggies, fruits, and fruit trees.
JE: Anything else?
ME: Well, this summer, after our vacation, I want to sell my baked muffins to neighbors on my bike. That would be fun!
JE: Is there any other creation you would like to talk about?
ME: Oh yeah…my duck/carrier/phone! I got so many shells at the beach I didn’t know what to do with them. Well, I found two shells that looked like they matched. I put them together so they can open and close, and then put a head with eyes and beak on it. I also drew the eyes on as well. I noticed, when I opened it, that it fit perfectly in my ear. So I put the numbers inside the shells. It can be either frontwards or backwards…I made the eyes so it could do that. It looks so cute!
JE: Thank you, Maddie, so much for doing this! Is there anything you’d like to say to close our interview?
ME: No…I just want to get back to my projects!