Your children are more than refrigerator artists.
So, my daughter is turning 5 this week and, well, I’m wondering how that happened. She was just born like maybe 3 weeks ago, I believe. How. As I was putting together décor for her birthday party, she told me she wanted to make some butterflies to hang up, too. Her party is butterfly themed. I was like, no no just let me get this all up, and I was in a hurry to just get it all together and done. She was visibly sad and I then thought oh man no Kelli. Include her. It got me thinking about how sometimes I need to include her in my creative time as well. Don’t get me wrong, I do my BEST work when I’m alone. No offense to the girls, haha, but I think anyone gets something done to their fullest extent when there aren’t little kids around. My girls LOVE arts and crafts. I try to include them as much as I can, and also make time for THEM to have their creative time. Mind-blowing thought, right? They need that creative time too. All kids are into the arts at some point. All kids. It’s what fades are we get older, for some awful reason. We categorize children’s love for art as just a kid thing. What if we approached it differently? What if we categorized them as actual artists and made sure we made time for them to get messy and create. I’ll work on getting a sponsor from Bounty paper towels or something so we can get a discount on cleaning supplies. Ha! Joking sorta. Bounty I’m looking at you.
So I’ve come up with these ideas, these 5 points on how we can prioritize making art WITH our children, benefiting us and them alike.
Library Art Kits. You guys, the library is a wonderful place for more than just reading. They have so much to offer that they don’t even promote most of the time. My local library has STEAM kits, which if you’re not familiar with what STEAM stands for, it’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. You hear of STEM, but I’m a huge fan of adding the arts into it. These kits are available, for free, to pick up and do projects at home that work the left and right sides of your brain. Around Christmastime, there was an art kit my daughter and I did where we sewed and colored snowflakes to hang around the house. One project was a bird feeder that we hung outside a living room window. If you’re having a hard time coming up with ideas of how to create with your children, or perhaps you’re just too busy in this season of life, visit your local library and see if they have some free art kits to spark some imagination and fun at home. In summertime especially, the library has TONS of take-home activities.
Send pictures in the mail to grandparents and family members. Yes, mail where you have to put a physical stamp on it and spend 46 cents to send it across the country. Do me a favor.. close your eyes, unless you’re driving and listening to this, then please oh my goodness leave them open. Now, imagine someone who means so much to you, a loved one who may live far away that you haven’t been able to see in a while. Imagine them opening up an envelope with your child’s artwork in it, and tell me what you think their reaction would be. *pause* I can’t hear you speaking, but I know it’s probably awesome. It’s something we probably don’t do or don’t do often. It doesn’t have to be framed or even really, good, lol. Just something to brighten a family member's day, to show them that you’re thinking of them and sending happy memories.
Enter your children’s art into art shows and art contests. Did you know this was a thing? Your child can be in a gallery at a young age or even win an award for their sketches by entering an art contest online. Some examples you can google and look up – The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for Kids, Doodle for Good Art Contest for Kids, Global Canvas International Children’s Art Competition, U.S. Kids Magazine Art Competition, and various others. I found these with a quick online search of “children’s art shows to enter”. Some are free to enter, while some cost anywhere from $5 to an average of $30. I read, sit down for this one, that a 7-year-old entered an art show and their sketch won $80,000. So… so there’s that. But don’t do it for the money. Do it because HOW COOL.
I’ve always wanted to do a pop-up show somewhere. Love love love pop-up art gallery shows. A one-night, local art, and coffee in tow show. To go one step further, it would be really neat to do one for children in your community. Depending on age, it could be a pop-up afternoon show with cookies and milk. If you’re an organizer of events and love starting things, you should consider doing this! Schools have art shows, and perhaps big cities may do events like this for children, but a call to artists, specifically ones under 18, would make a little face light up. It makes mine light up just talking about it.
This one may be controversial, but hear me out, let them make a YouTube channel for their art. Don’t email me about privacy issues, I get it. But here are a few options: Keep it private. I have some family members that make private YouTube channels to share with only those with a link. Your son or daughter could create a drawing, painting, or maybe a tutorial on how to draw an animal. I love the videos of air-dry clay being molded into various superheroes or cartoon characters. There was a channel my oldest daughter and husband watched together, where this artist took My Little Pony dolls, completely stripped them of paint and hair, then transformed them into characters. They did Raya, and my 4-year-old had an absolute blast. Another option is to work with camera angles. You can have content online without showing your face. Have you seen the videos where the camera is angled down so only the artist's hands and pencil/paper are showing? Not even any talking, just a time-lapse of the creation. This is an excellent idea to document your child creating in the 21st century. And you can add film director, producer, and cinematographer to your resume. Haha. And by the way, why don’t YOU start a YouTube channel too, mom??
Lastly, keep it simple and make art for your home. If you have small children, embrace abstract art. I say that jokingly, and take no offense because I’m an abstract artist myself. But really, ditch Hobby Lobby and make your art. Changing the narrative on children’s art means putting their work in more places than the refrigerator. And making a piece together makes it even more special, giving a deeper connection to your home and becoming conversation pieces, too. Bringing up air-dry clay again, this is good for all ages. You can make small thumbprint bowls, vases, or actual sculptures to display on floating shelves or bookcases. Bookends! Just came up with another good idea, too.
These are 5 ideas to get your mind working on a creative goal that works for you and your family. Don’t stay in the box of kids' art going on the fridge and only coming from their crinkled backpack after school. Make art on purpose. Let your kids know that art is more than 30 minutes at school twice a week. Read books on artists that your children might take interest in. Again, the library is the best resource for really everything in life. I checked out some books on famous women artists that my daughter thought were SUPER neat. My nephew loves drawing characters and making comic strips. There are books for that too. Educate them on what is out there, the possibilities in art are limitless. Being a Disney animator is a job that they could have one day.
Let me know if you try any of these ideas, and I’d love to see artwork that you create.
Art is fun. Life is fun. You do you and definitely have your alone time making your amazing art. But maybe let’s give our children their specific time, too.