By Nadia Maria Smith

CS&T Staff Writer

Dawn Harris, a former homeschooling mother, took her love of art and teaching and the Catholic faith to develop a children’s DVD series called Granny Bee’s Art Angels, the latest in her homegrown business venture.

When she was homeschooling her two children she searched for entertaining programs that incorporated faith, but had a hard time finding them. That’s when she decided to take her talents and the help of her family to produce her own.

The series, which has been a few years in the making, is about Granny Bee, a puppet character that leads the children in prayer, storybook and art activities. She also gets the help of her friends to keep the children active and participating in the show. Once a child has participated, he or she becomes an Art Angel and has his or her own creative piece of art to show for it.

For almost a decade now, Harris has been running a business taking an art program she designed into schools, daycare centers and libraries. While she tells the children a story, she shows them how to draw one of the characters. She teaches them the basics of art including shapes, colors and light and shading effects, as well as listening, verbal and eye-hand coordination skills. She incorporates the same technique in the Granny Bee’s Art Angels series, but the main difference is that she can mention God and her Catholic faith.

“In the stories I develop for my art program I include the Beatitudes but I have to make it secularized, so my dream was to be able to openly include my faith, which is what I do in the Art Angels series,” Harris said. “I believe you have to include your faith in all aspects of life. We have to give children a good base so when they get older and venture out, they’ll have a good base to fall back on.”

That’s what her series is meant to do, she said.

Granny Bee teaches the children a number of prayers at the beginning and end of the show in addition to the art lesson.

“Doing the illustrations for the prayers was my favorite part,” Harris said.

She also does the voice of Granny Bee while her children and nieces recite the prayers and her husband does the voice of Coach Charlie and provides all the technical support. Even her two dogs make an appearance.

She took all the props for the show to her pastor, Father Richard Maisano at St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother Church in Avondale, to bless them before she started production, she said.

She prayed a lot during the ups and downs of production and attended Mass frequently. Mass has always been a constant in her life and a source of comfort, she said.

Through her series, she hopes children ages 3 and older will not only learn art skills but be nurtured in their Catholic faith in an entertaining way.

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