March 10, 2014
Guest post by Amy Hood of Amy Hood Arts.
Making art with my kids means I get to make art, too. I’m not being selfless here. I’m not arranging things solely to benefit my kids, although they do benefit.
I need to mess about with paint and such just as much as they do, and while it’s easier for me to find time to do this on my own now that they’re older, it was impossible when I still had a toddler in the house. When I finally figured out that we could just all make art together, yes even the then-two-year-old, it was soul-saving.
Never mind that sometimes I only got ten minutes of drawing in. I got my hands into the charcoal, and it felt restorative.
Here is the thing about making art alongside children: they remind you that it’s play. It’s exploration.
If you have very young children in the room, you’ll notice it doesn’t even occur to them that they’re “not artistic.” A toddler doesn’t see paint as intimidating; she sees it as another interesting item in her world.
My kids and I sit down together to explore open-ended, process-based art.
What on earth does that mean?
It means we have no set end product in mind; our creations will all look different. And it means we are often learning or experimenting with a new process, technique, or material.
If you think about that - no set finished product, coupled with experimentation and learning - you might see that nobody has to be an expert.
We have no model of what our finished artwork “should” look like, and we are learning together. In a very sneaky way, so sneaky that I didn’t even realize it at first, this approach takes all the pressure off the adult. I don’t have to be a perfect, polished artist. If you don’t feel you are at all artistic, truly, this is an excellent approach. You don’t have to be.
But, I would argue, you should really sit down and make art alongside your kids anyway, even if you think it’s just something for them, not for you. I would suggest you give it a try, with no end goal in mind.
Get out some materials and play with them. Use what you have on hand - pencils for sketching, or scraps of paper for collage, nothing requiring a trip to a store - and experiment.
If you have children, I’m guessing there are many places they’ve taken you that you never thought you’d go. All my children, as toddlers, slowed me down, and that was a gift. I coached a soccer team of preschoolers; that was certainly a surprise. I’ve never even played soccer.
Making art with kids is the same. If you don’t consider it your thing, you might surprise yourself, and you just may discover a satisfying outlet for yourself as well.
And if you do have that urge, even if you have time to pursue it on your own time, something magical happens when parents and kids are fellow art adventurers.
Ideas zing. Creativity expands. Conversation wanders. It’s time spent together. And even when I’m in our art area working on my own after my youngest is in bed, often one of my older children will come in and sit with me, to read in my company or to watch and ask questions.
I like how comfortable we all are together there, how the art area is a busy, messy, used part of our home, and how the rest of the house is populated with art-making materials as well.
We’re not just creating art, we’re creating a shared life. We make art together, and we are all the better for it.
Renee here: A couple years ago I wrote a little ebook about nurturing creativity in our lives as busy moms. One of the things I believe in, strongly, is creating with our children.
And as a blogger with artistic children I field a lot of "how do you get children interested in art, what supplies, what materials did you use?" type questions.
For these reasons I am so happy to bring you today's guest post and resource.
Amy Hood is an artist, writer, and homeschooling mama living in coastal Rhode Island. She’s passionate about inspiring confidence and creativity in artists of all ages, and she believes we are all artists.
To that end, she has created Art Together, the e-zine of artistic inspiration for children and adults. Each issue is packed with activities, resources, supply lists, and more to explore fun, open-ended art-making alongside children.
The spring 2014 issue of Art Together is Printmaking. I've read it, it's inspiring and hands-on informational for making art together. I love the artist spotlight.
I think these magazines would provide all the inspiration and direction you'd need for planning an art component to your homeschool curriculum, or would be a great supplement to anything you're already using.
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