Friday, February 20, 2015

creating with a kid

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!)

Last week I shared a peek into another of our family collaborations and today I thought I would share a follow up post about creating with a kid. As my long time readers know I've been making art with Lucy from day one. From riding on my back while I filmed online classes to letting her create with me in the studio, it's been a priority to share the art making process with my daughter. 

My philosophy is....

As I have mentioned in the past it is important for both my husband and I to incorporate Lucy into as many creative projects as possible. And while it makes no difference to us if Lucy grows up to be an artist, we do want her to be a creative thinker. 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. 

I am learning that with every development stage, there are all kinds of challenges and success in our creative process. Now that Lucy is three things have started to feel and look a lot different from age one, two or even six months ago. She is no longer dazzled by paint! I used to be able to pull out the paint and she would be endlessly entertained. Now paint is not so dazzling, instead it's just another supply that she is comfortable using. And while I love this, it also makes the collaboration and creative process a little different. Here are a few new discoveries that are working for us:


We used to slop paint on a canvas and call it a day but Lucy wants more- more challenges, more techniques more narrative. In other words she continues to develop her creative voice and we have to keep up and find ways to foster it. I've found that showing her how to use different materials and share new techniques has provided the challenge that she is craving.   Things like stamping with all kinds of materials, expressive mark making, painting and drawing shapes, letters and patterns, using different size brushes, painting with a brayer, sticks, hands and feet and embracing all kinds of craft projects are all things that really capture her interst. Through this process I continue to find a balance between teaching and then letting her discover her own way.


Mixing paint is a favorite process for Lucy right now. No matter what the age, there is something exciting about making your own colors and getting to have "ownership" over selecting and mixing colors. When I paint I am always trying to avoid making muddy colors but I try really hard to stay hands off when Lucy is mixing her colors. I show her some simple color combos but most of the time I let her figure it out on her own. The freedom to mix color, without being micro-managed has resulted in making her own discoveries that really get her excited. In the last six months she has discovered, through trial and error, how to avoid making mud.


In the past six months Lucy's imagination has exploded. She loves telling stories, she plays make believe, she creates characters from her imagination and she even stays in character for weeks. What we know for sure is that a story or a narrative is really important to her. Right now art has become a vehicle for Lucy to tell stories and I want to foster this! Those days of slopping paint on a canvas has been replaced with a story that she draws and paints. Her entire art making process is all about these stories. Often when we are working alongside each other we do a lot of talking about her stories. We ask open ended questions that prompt her to create and expand her creations. As an artist I know how profound it is develop a narrative within your work and to see Lucy doing this at only three years old is incredible!


These days Lucy has a mind of her own and while we love giving her freedom to make her own choices we still want to provide structure within the activities that we take on. When it comes to making time for art I've found that creating "hype" about a technique or a project creates excitement and willingness to try new things- regardless of her toddler moods.  If I make a plan to take her to my studio in the afternoon, we will begin hyping it early in the morning- we chat about what we'll make, what colors she will select and what tools we will use. This process make for a smooth transition between activities.


We all really enjoy creating together on our own individual projects. This rhythm has been a part of our lives since Lucy was born so it is natural for our family dynamic. At age three, it seems she is most comfortable and focussed when she is able to be interactive and social while making art. What is really cool is that we are all able to from each other learn simply by observing and working in the same room. From drawing a face to making polka dots to creating shapes- I know that many of the things that Lucy has learned has been from watching Andy and I work on our own art- not from us telling her what to do.  While I know this will change as she gets older, for now it works for all of us and we really enjoy these times together.


The common thread in all of Lucy's creative stages is the need for patience. I used to only need patience for the mess making but these days my patience is wrapped up in her developing personality. While she is the sweetest kid, she can be stubborn, moody, intense and has A LOT of energy. All of this can affect the time that she spends creating. All I can do to stay patient is continue to remind myself that she won't be a toddler forever and this time teaching and fostering her creativity is precious!

To read and see more of our time creating with a kid check out the entire series posts HERE


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