“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Art is meant to be joyful thing. Too often though it’s reserved for children and the professionals. While almost any child I know will happily play (for hours on end) with paper and crayons, what happens to us as adults? Too often we hang back, fearfully declaring “Oh, I can’t draw. I’m not an artist.” Indeed, we seem to take an perverse pride in it! What a tragedy… not to mention a waste of our creative gifts.
That’s right, you heard me. I said “our creative gifts”, not just your kids’. All of us are creative, whether we know it or not.
Imagination is vital: for adults and kids alike. Art is also one of the best ways to develop this skill. Often dismissed as frivolous and expensive though, art is usually neglected -or worse, completely ignored. Especially in our school systems. Yes, yes, number facts and phonics are important, but true education goes beyond mere factual recall.
At best, art seems to be used as a time filler. The after thought. Make cutesy little crafts with no room for personal expression (remember those identical hand print turkeys?), and then “art” is crossed off the to-do list. It is so much more than that, and deserves better. Playing with paints, cardboard and paper is one of the best ways to help imagination grow. Creativity can be applied in everything else we do- not to mention that art is just plain fun. So how do we better apply it? How can we be more artistic, to build that creative muscle-plus help our kids to do the same?
My Art Odyssey
As a passionate art advocate, I’ve learned a trick or two. Although I trained as an elementary teacher, most of my experience has been gained at home with my own four kids. I will never be a professional artist, and the only gallery my work will be displayed is at home-but who cares? We all have fun, the boys keep busy, plus I conquer my own insecurities (thank you finger painting!).
Sick of colouring books and what too often passes as artistic expression, I began when our oldest (Jared) was still a baby. Once a week I tried to do a specific art activity together.
Nearly twelve years later and we’re still going.
Right now, I’m down to my last preschooler. While we still do weekly art playdates , my school crowd misses out on those. Thanks to a wealth of art supplies, spontaneous art still happens, but summer time is when we really go to town! Creative time is a big part of our daily summer survival plan. Special projects are also a regular, weekly sanity saver.
Here’s how to make that happen- without things escalating into complete mayhem.
Art Secrets of Success
1. Process over Product
Forget about staying in the lines and making the most perfectly perfect masterpiece to brag over. Who cares if your self-portrait doesn’t look realistic? Kids often don’t care, and neither should we. What matters is that you did it.
2. Structure Saves Sanity
Guidelines aren’t restrictive: they’re the blueprint for creativity. The safety net that gives us the courage to leap. It could be as simple as “Today we’re using pastels” or “Illustrate your favourite part of the story” but trust me, you get happier artists who spend more time with their project when they have something to spark an idea of what to draw in the first place.
3. Stock Up
A well-stocked stash leads to more impromptu art, and ease in making this happen in the first place. Buy the nicest supplies you can afford.
4. Be Prepared
Set up before the kids know what’s going on: keeps things moving smoothly. Nothing sidetracks little artists like a lost paintbrush of broken pencil sharpener.
5. Embrace the Mess
Thanks to drop cloths and painting smocks (I use old t-shirts from the thrift store) mess can be minimized. Home need not look like a tornado tore through… but things will not be pristine. Making memories and having fun is seldom tidy, but that’s what a mop is for, right?
6. Enjoy the Journey
Remember: if you’re not having fun then you’re doing it wrong! Relax, breath, and just savour the moment.
Unleash Your Creative Beast!
That’s it. My secret to making art happen regularly around my home.With these tricks you can do it too. Grab some paper and felts, gather the kids and let your inner artist out to play.
Need some inspiration on projects and supplies? Check out my new Pinterest board, lots of our favourites are there! Stay tuned, because next I’ll be sharing some top books to inspire lots of art fun for you and yours!
Any more questions? Need some good resources? Comment below and I’ll be happy to help out.
Until next time, happy art adventures to you all (just try not to eat the glue)!