About Lara Nguyen

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Happy New Year!

A new years resolution for this mama is to get rid of clutter. In my house I am the biggest pile creating offender, but I do have help. My kids make a lot of drawings. Together they average about a dozen sheets of paper daily. I LOVE their drawings, but there are heaps of them. Since most of the drawings are made in the kitchen, I have a portfolio in my pantry for the keepers. When A&M first started putting pencil to paper I held on to every single doodle, but about a year ago I sorted my collection into three piles – 1) Back in the portfolio for safe keeping 2) Use the backside for future masterpieces and 3) Parrot cage liner (which eventually gets downgraded to kindling for the fire pit. So what can you do with drawings that are not necessarily portfolio worthy, but not yet destined for the cage?  

Paper Diorama Jam-mas!    



While visiting family in the Midwest, Atticus made several drawings with his road trip markers. He had drawn a friend’s trampoline, a couple cars, a swing set, a fort and a rainbow. He started to cut out some of the drawings, which gave me an idea – Paper Diorama Jam-mas! I initiated the process by taping the rainbow to a plain sheet of paper that would serve as the ground plane and leaned the rainbow up against a wall. The plain sheet was on the kitchen floor. I gave him the tape and he set up the rest. He added trees, the sun and a body of water for his creation. He extended the ground to the right because he wanted to add a racetrack with a tape bridge/tunnel. He then added toy cars and we made a short stop-motion video with the IMotion HD app, here it is…    




Watching Atticus get so into this project made me think about paper art and dioramas that I LOVE. Since being introduced to Yuken Teruya’s delicate paper cuts of trees using fast food packaging (www.yukenteruyastudio.com) and going crazy for Lori Nix’s amazing work (www.lorinix.net) I have had diorama aspirations of my own. This past fall, I was in complete awe standing in front of Red Grooms’ “Loft on 26th Street” on view at the Face Value exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC until January 11, 2015. If you are in the DC area that piece alone is worth the trip!  

red grooms 26th

“Loft on 26th Street” (1965) by Red Grooms  

I have started planning my own diorama, which might take a lifetime to complete. Until then, I will help my kids give their drawings a second life…

All the best for 2015!      

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Halloween is just around the corner… wait, scratch that. Halloween was almost a month ago, which is when I started typing up what was suppose to be my 4th entry, but then this happened…

 Gradient Seasons Project

… earlier this month, I gave a lecture on color gradients and simultaneous contrast to A’s kindergarten class, which was followed by a group painting project demonstrating the concepts presented in the lecture. We looked to the four seasons for subject matter and color palettes. I used contact paper to make stencils and the kids applied the paint with cotton swabs moving from dark to light in the opposite direction of the gradient background.

Then we had multiple birthday parties to attend. There are a lot of November babies!

birthday sawyer

skeeball Atticus 

I also made a deal with A’s piano teacher and traded some coffee filter/felt/cotton ball sheep hats and a recital backdrop for lessons.

 sheep hats

Luckily, I am married to a sculptor, who managed to make the structure for the backdrop with cardboard boxes, brown paper and a few choice adhesives in just a few hours. The kids had fun painting the snow and now I think we need to paint a mural together somewhere…

bus mural progress 2

bus mural progress

I cut out holes for the red bus lights, taped colored transparent film to the back and placed a couple light stands behind the backdrop to create this effect. This was all our piano teacher’s idea and we were so happy to help bring it to life. It was a wonderful night of music and A is super proud of his medal and his snow.









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Fall Break at the Beach Part II

The beach is such a wonderful place for exploring, making and learning. Todd has been working with Moon to spell her name. This year at the beach she did it all by herself. Drawing in sand and building with it comes so naturally to kids. 

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As a kid my dad taught me how to make drip castles, now I get to pass this mysterious and meditative play on to my kids.


Shell hunting never gets old. Talking about their form and function with Atticus and nesting a dozen of clam shells according to size with Moon helps to create tactile memories. Studying a multitude of shells from our morning walks, we talk about what a handful have in common – the spiral. I did not give a lecture on the Golden Section or make them memorize the Fibonacci sequence, but we did talk about the spiral hidden inside the red cabbage I sliced for slaw a week or so ago.


As we dug in the sand to make a moat for yet another castle, I suggested we make a spiral. Everyone was in agreement…


I was way more excited to watch the water rush in then they were,


but we all enjoyed it in our own way.

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One day I would love to take a family road trip to see Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake. If your kids are old enough to remember such an adventure there are some great pointers on the Tips for Family Trips website at


Until then we’ll make our homage in the sand.

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