One of my major goals as a parent is to raise a creative, artistic child. That doesn't necessarily mean a child whose drawings amaze others. It means a child who loves to create, who really looks at art and responds to it, and who uses her hands to communicate and express herself. How do I pursue this goal? Well, you may have noticed we do a LOT of artist studies around here...
Here are some ways to help your children develop artistically:
1. Keep your house stocked with art supplies.
Children can't explore and create if the materials aren't available to them. And don't lock these away for special occasions; use them weekly!
Paint - For an extremely washable, multi-use paint I love Colorations Washable Tempera
Watercolors -Spring for the Crayolas. The colors are much more vivid than cheaper brands.
Paintbrushes - Get a good mix of brush sizes and some foam ones.
Construction paper - 9x12 and 12x18
Markers - both washable and Sharpies
Oil Pastels - These are used like crayons, but they can also be blended with your fingers.
Clay - There are a million choices here: oven bake, air dry, modeling foam. Choose your favorite.
Strong Glue - I love Beacons 3-in-1. It is SUPER strong and dries very quickly.
Collage materials - magazines, fancy paper, rhinestones, glitter, feathers, foam shapes, etc.
Acrylic Paints - Once your kids are past the toddler years, you may want to buy some acrylic paints. These aren't washable, but look much better on surfaces like wood or clay.
Spiral-bound Sketchbooks - for drawing on the go
2. Buy a good book of art ideas or art "recipes"
Here's a little secret: I'm really not that creative. I spend a lot of time gathering ideas from books and the internet. To save you some time, I've listed two of my favorite books.
Scribble Art: Independent Creative Art Experiences for Children (Bright Ideas for Learning)
Complete Book of Art Ideas
3. Look at art
Buy books about art and artists or check them out from your local library. Discuss the differences between artworks and styles and what you like or dislike about them. Don't panic! Discussing art doesn't require an art history degree. If you don't know what's special about a particular artwork or movement, read a children's book about it. The authors have already done the work for you by figuring out how to explain its significance in child-friendly language. After you've looked at books, see art in person. Visit an art museum, sculpture garden, or art show. Again: discuss, discuss, discuss!
4. Encourage your child to step out of his or her comfort zone.
If your daughter likes to keep her paint colors separate, encourage her to mix them once in a while. If your son always draw with dark, thick lines, ask him to try drawing with light, sketchy lines. Your kids love to paint, so you encourage them to sculpt. Trying new techniques is so important this stage! Don't let your kids fall into rigid habits. (But do let them revert to their favorite styles when they initiate the project.)
5. Change your decorating style to Kiddie Art Chic
Displaying your children's art lets them know how important it is to you. My entire house is covered with paintings, drawings, collages, and other crafts. It's not pretty. But it's teaching my daughter that creating is important. It's showing her that what she does isn't just "refrigerator clutter" -- it's worthy of my wall space and our attention.
These ideas should get you started. Before you know it, your walls will be covered and your six year old will be asking to go to France to visit the Monet museum. Mission accomplished!