Welcome to MAMfA!

I have been teaching visual arts curriculum to college age students since 1998. First, I taught drawing and design as a graduate student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, then professionally at California State University Long Beach and Indiana University. I am currently a painting professor at Warren Wilson College, which is nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

In 2009, Todd Frahm (my husband and sculptor) and I welcomed our first born, Atticus. Twenty-five months later we completed our family by giving him a little sister whom he named Moon. Life has been a not so delicate balancing act ever since. Between parenting, teaching, committee meetings, household chores and the almost non-existent date night – making time to work in the studio can end up at the bottom of my to-do-list. So as soon as my kids could put pencils to paper I put them to work in the studio. Encouraging my kids to make art has allowed me to get more of my own work done, but more importantly it gives them hands on experience as they learn to navigate the world around them. In the spirit of “it takes a village” I hope to share my expertise with new parents, so that you can get more of your own work done, or at least get a few quiet moments to yourself.

Fall is a very good place to start…


These three pictures were taken on the same day during our last autumn in Indiana. I couldn’t help but notice the secondary color scheme of gradient greens to orange and that I had serendipitously dressed my son in the same fall colors.

I have been a leaf collector since childhood who has mothered an enthusiastic tree climber. Last fall in NC we collected many leaves and looked at the interesting patterns, color transitions and combinations. While observing color in nature I often think about collage assignments I give in my design classes to create the illusion of middle mixtures. Some can be so convincing you’d swear you could peel the translucent film right off! So how can we talk about mixing chromatic neutrals with a 3 yr. old?


With paint of course!


I will often tape newspaper down onto a counter top in the kitchen or on the floor in my studio. Then I tape a sheet of heavyweight paper, cardboard, or the inside of a cereal box on top of the newspaper. The tape creates a nice border for your child’s artwork, making it ready to matte, frame and gift to a doting grandparent. Note: To create an even easier release tape, so that you don’t tear your child’s artwork, take the painter’s tape and stick it to your clothing before applying it to the painting surface. The lint from your clothes will make removal easier.

So after collecting all of our leaves last year we arranged them according to hue (color) families and proceeded to organize them into a gradient row of leaves ranging from green to red to orange to yellow and back to green again. We stitched them together with some thread and adorned the new fort Todd had built for them a couple weeks earlier. We plan on making a much bigger installation this year and I may preface the project with a viewing of Andy Goldsworthy’s “Rivers and Tides”. Happy leaf hunting!



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8 Responses to Welcome to MAMfA!

  1. ginny October 27, 2014 at 9:40 pm #


    • Lara October 30, 2014 at 4:30 am #

      Here you go!! More to come…

  2. Annie October 28, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

    I’m so happy you have started this! May I reserve a spot in the future to be guest Artist Mama blog-poster??

    • Lara October 30, 2014 at 4:31 am #

      Consider it reserved!

  3. Elizabeth(Beth) English October 29, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    You are brilliant! I have been telling people lately that I wish I could teach children art. Any form of art. I am so afraid that with the schools not emphasizing the beauty and skills that today’s generation won’t even realize that its an option. I will share this site with as many people as I can. I wish I could study under you. I have had very little “formal’ education, and terminology eludes me. Even though I knew at a very young age that this was a massive part of who I am, and I attended all sorts of art classes, I am lacking in so many phases of the art. I am almost like one of those musicians that can “play by ear”. I just go with what feels right. Keep this up, I am listening!!

    Your friend and “in-law by marriage”,

  4. Lara October 30, 2014 at 4:42 am #

    That’s so sweet of you to say, thank you! Last time my parents came to visit they made watercolors with A&M for nearly 3 hours. I am thinking of throwing Atticus an art party for his birthday in March. I could totally see you working with kids. You could start with your grandkids and who knows maybe you’ll get more grand babies one of these days… ; )

  5. Don Smithivas November 6, 2014 at 5:20 am #

    Love this, Lara! Makes me feel like a kid again..

    • Lara November 26, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

      Happy to hear, maybe you can post some art projects you do with the little ones in your family? Applying for a show in the Chicago area, hopefully I get in!

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