Taking a Moment
Bringing art and beauty into a child’s life is a wonderful gift. With today’s hectic overscheduled parents and kids, sharing art and beauty with a child is an opportunity to teach a visual lesson in “stopping to smell the flowers.” Still, for many of us busy parents, finding the time seems like a most daunting task. And yet if you stop and look around you will see that art is everywhere! Georgia O’Keeffe shows us that art is in every one of the flowers we pass by in the grocery store floral department.
It is in the vibrant red pepper we cook for dinner. It is in the dappling afternoon sunlight on the leaves of a tree outside our front door. It is in the sleek design of an airplane or the crisp lines of a building. All it takes is a few minutes here and there to stop and take in the beauty that is around us. To share that moment with our children can make it all the more beautiful.
Finding our own inner artist
Give children a blank sketchbook and they start filling it with magnificent castles, dragons, flowers, forests, and more. Give an adult a sketchbook and for many of us, that blank page seems awfully intimidating – what should I draw? What if I can’t get it to look exactly right? We throw up our hands and say, “I am not an artist!” Look again at your children. Their creative joy and expression can be catching! Next time your child brings out paints or clay, roll up your sleeves and join in. Let yourself go and paint or sculpt wherever your imagination leads you. Bring a sketchpad or paints on a family vacation and enjoy a quiet afternoon painting the landscape. Bring sketchpads and colored pencils on a museum trip and create interpretations of favorite works. Your child will love spending special time with you and you will be teaching that creativity is not just for kids. It is a lifelong venture.
Keep it clean
Today’s world has so many competing activities and products for children, many of which are produced with packaging and marketing aimed at making kids want – really want – that product.
With this overcrowded landscape, a box of crayons or set of simple watercolors seems paltry. Yet children keep coming back to them. The drive to create might just be stronger than modern packaging! What we can do as parents is make sure our children’s art supplies are as appealing as possible. An old paintbrush stiffened with dried paint, a box of worn down colored pencils, or a jar of crayons with only a few colors left are not appealing. Collect your child’s art supplies and make a shelf set at a child’s eye level or below with wonderful and enticing supplies. The supplies don’t have to be new, but they should be kept as fresh as possible. Imagine colored pencils sharpened and ready to go, a paint box cleaned up with a fresh brush, or craft supplies separated into boxes of beads, feathers, yarn, fabric, and such. It’s a lot more enticing than old and dirty supplies thrown on various shelves or bins. You might even find that clean, well-organized, and ready to go art supplies are the best defense against the often-heard child’s lament, “I don’t have anything to do.”
Making a mess
It used to be that kids would spend summer days outside exploring their world, coming home at the end of the day covered in dirt and sweat. In these days of organized events and programs, we often have nostalgia for that “messier” era. The fact is the creative process often requires mess. That doesn’t mean your living room carpet has to become a drop cloth or your walls a canvas, but it’s important to give kids opportunities and space to make a mess. Buy a box of oversized men’s t-shirts so they don’t have to worry about keeping clean. Bring their artwork to the biggest canvas – outdoors! Let them paint Jackson Pollack in the snow, sidewalk chalk the whole driveway, or lay an old sheet out on the grass with a few buckets of washable tempera paint and let them create with their hands, feet, elbows, and more. The next rain will wash away the mess, but the memories of unbridled creativity will remain.
For more ideas on bringing art into your family’s life, visit our Kid’s page or check out our blog, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter. If you have a great idea that added a creative spark to your family, please share it with us!