If you follow me on Instagram or frequent my blog you will know that we spend A LOT of time making art as a family and I get asked lots of questions about our process. Once in a while I like to share my thoughts on "creating with a kid" here on the blog. (Please note that I am not a childhood development expert or a kids' art teacher- I am simply a mom who is an artist!)
The older Lucy gets and the more time we spend making art together, I am learning so much about the entire process of what it means to learn, grow and develop creativity! At two and a half years old, Lucy seems to be developing her own preferences in color, techniques, supplies and process. We have suddenly moved out of the "toddler making a mess for the sake of making a mess stage" into what seems like a real understanding of the art making process- she now spends a lot of time focussed on one project, requests specific colors, thoughtfully applies lines and brushstrokes onto her surface and has a knack for creating a narrative (all of her art has a very detailed story behind it).
It is becoming more and more evident that this kiddo really enjoys being creative- and THAT is the ENTIRE reason why I have been making art alongside Lucy since she was born. I believe creativity and the ability to think in a creative way it one of the greatest gifts we can give our children and while I am always evolving as an artist and mama, I am learning so much as I watch her develop her own creative voice. Today I thought I would share a few recent discoveries:
I continue to believe that giving Lucy independence and freedom has helped her develop her own creative voice. Instead of telling her when, where and how to make art, I continue to give her the choice, with no pressure, to make art. I always invite her to draw, paint and craft, I give her choices of materials, I invite her to be part of the projects that I am working on (even work in the same surface), I let her use special supplies and I let her sit next to me and work. While some days she would rather play legos, most of the time she is ready to dive right into a drawing or painting session.
FIND A BALANCE BETWEEN TEACHING AND FOSTERING:
As someone who teaches art for a living, I've had to find a balance between telling her what to do and letting her make discoveries on her own. Thankfully I am a teacher who believes in a "hands off" approach- I like to demonstrate all kinds of techniques and supplies and then let students decide what appeals to them. I strongly believe that regardless of your age, some of the most profound creative discoveries happen when experimenting on your own and without a teacher correcting or criticizing you. This is my teaching style and it is the way that I try to "foster" Lucy's creativity. For example- I take time to show her how I pick colors, use supplies, mix paint, apply paint, etc and then give her the freedom and choice to work with the things that appeal to her. For a long time she picked anything that made a big mess (who can blame her!) but lately she's been making more calculated creative decisions that are less about mess and more about her individual art making process.
Along the same lines of staying hands off with teaching, I personally take it a step further and avoid at all costs drawing specific things for her. It is easy to sit down and show her exactly what a flower looks and how to draw one- but at this age I want her to feel confident in interpreting what she sees. Instead, I like to ask her what she thinks a flower looks like and when she slops black and brown brushstrokes all over her canvas and calls it a flower, I don't correct her...in fact I am thrilled and inspired! I know all too well there is only one time in our lives when we think 100% in abstract and colorful ways and that is when we are kids. As we get it older is it hard to hold onto abstraction and expression and often get caught in the trap of feeling pressure to make art look exactly like something. Watching Lucy paint a giant purple brushstroke with hot pink splatter and then call it a shark swimming is such a great reminder of how wonderful raw creativity can be!
CONTINUE TO EMBRACE THE MESS:
Something I get asked more than anything is how do I deal with the mess and what about her clothes?!?! To be honest paint on stuff still doesn't bother me. I know from my own experiences that when you are in the groove and lost in creativity you will make a mess. I don't ever want Lucy to feel like she can't relax and get lost in the process because she might make a mess so I just continue to embrace it. Sometimes it's stressful and a pain to clean up but overall covering surfaces with drop cloths, wearing painting clothes (most of her closet is painting clothes) and just going with the creative flow works for us. The latest development is that better dexterity has resulted in less mess (the kid has got control over a paint brush now), also involving her in clean up has become a great teaching moment!
ITS ALL ABOUT LOVE:
More than anything, I want Lucy to witness the love and passion that both Andy and I have for making art. As she has gotten older and can communicate better and better, we've had so many cool opportunities to answer her precious toddler questions like, "mama, why you pick that color?", "mama, what is that picture of?", "papa, can I use your pencils?, "mama, why you making that?". These are the simple moments that have inspired bigger conversations about what it means to create, why we create and how important it is to do something that you love. We've never cared if Lucy grows up to be an artist, we simply want her to know what it means to be creative and to love what you do.
You can check out all of my creating with a kid posts HERE
To follow my entire journey as a mom and read more about our creative collaborations you can visit the Life With Lucy link in the right hand column.