Note: This post was originally published on my personal/family blog, UrthMama.com, back in 2013. I came across it the other day and wanted to repost it here. Enjoy!
All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. – Pablo Picasso
Today I’m talking about creating a home that encourages creativity and art! I get asked ALL the time how I promote art in my home – and here are a few very simple and easy things that I do to create a home that welcomes creativity and expression.
I hope this encourages you! Let me know what you do to promote art in your home!
1) Have Quality Materials Available – Always:
I heard once that the way to encourage your child to play piano is to place the piano in the center of the home. That way, the child sees the piano as something of value, and will be encouraged to play often.
That’s how I think of art materials. I leave them out (yes, even with a toddler) so my children can stumble upon them at all times.
I have art materials in every room. Simple plain paper and crayons in some rooms – nothing fancy. In other rooms, I have paints and oil pastels available which are IN reach of my big girls (ages 7 and 4) and OUT of reach of my toddler.
Crayons and pens are always available to use to draw. Is it messy? Sometimes, yes it is! 😉 But it’s a small sacrifice I’m willing to make in the name of art!
2) Display Their Work:
Put your child’s artwork up in EVERY room. I can’t think of one room in our house that doesn’t display our children’s artwork. Some of it is in a frame, and some is scotch taped on the wall. Yes – we have it on the fridge, too! Everywhere my girls look, they see that their parents value and appreciate their art. During the day, we’ll point to different works of art and talk about what they were thinking or feeling when they created it.
We rotate out drawings as more come in – and some (my favorites) are pretty much permanent fixtures on our walls. I love that the art in our home has so much personal meaning to our family. It may not be Monet – but it’s even better than that to me!
3) Develop An Appreciation of Artists From A Young Age:
It’s never too young to teach your children Art History. We started taking Paprika to Art Museums when she was just a baby – and we still take everyone to Art Museums often! I know that we have that opportunity living in Los Angeles and trips we’ve made elsewhere – and that if you live in a rural setting, things look different.
What I’ve done when I can’t get to an Art Museum is log onto the computer (or iPad) and seek out those great works of art for my kids to see online. There are so many amazing resources available for kids.
4) Encourage Your Child:
After reading this article, I changed what I said to my girls when they’re drawing. Instead of commenting on the colors they use or their technique – I simply started saying: I love watching you paint. I love to watch you draw. I love to watch you create.
It’s a powerful thing – simple, authentic encouragement. I have watched my children blossom just by saying those few simple sentences. It’s amazing – try it!
5) Stay Away From Crafts and Coloring Books:
I know this is controversial and I am going to get some panties bunched up here! But seriously: Do you think Van Gogh glued cotton balls on popcicle sticks and called it art? No, he did not.
There is a time and a place for coloring books and crafts – but it’s not art. Instead, use crafts as a jumping off point – and freely put materials out for children to create their own designs. Instead of paying all that money for coloring books – why not just use simple paper and have your child draw their OWN coloring books? I swear, it’s just as fun!
6) Think Outside The Paper:
There are so many amazing ways to create art – not just with paper and markers. If your child has access to a computer or iPad/Tablet, there are literally hundreds of programs that can be used to create art!
My children regularly use Microsoft Paint to draw on the computer. It’s an old program that practically everyone has on their computer – but never uses! Ginger (age 4) started using it when she was just three years old and could spend hours drawing her own creations. If you have a color printer, you can even print out their drawings! Or you can upload them to be printed online.
My point is that you don’t have to run out and buy the fanciest, most expensive software. Take a look at what you already have and you may be surprised to find that you have programs you already own that your children can begin using to create art.
7) Have Private and Public Spaces To Create Art:
This is HUGE for us in our house. Like I said before, we have art materials available in EVERY room in the house. I make sure that even our toddler has access to crayons and paper whenever she wants them.
Now, it gets very noisy in our house sometimes. We live in a small beach bungalow where space is a premium. Our house is about 1300 square feet for 5 people and a dog!
I have found that often my older girls need quiet spaces to create art. So, I have a room in our small house – where they know that they can go and have it absolutely quiet to create. We call this the: Art Studio. That sounds official, right?! Incidentally, it also doubles as our office, guest room, and laundry staging area. But they don’t know that. To them, it’s the Art Studio! Ha!
My girls know that when they need quiet to concentrate, they can always go into this room and paint, draw, get out the messy materials…and their toddler sister won’t bother them. I’ve even installed a lock on the inside of the door that they can lock for privacy (but I can also easily unlock it from the outside). This keeps out the Toddler Tornado – and also is a signal to others that “serious art” is being done inside this room and to respect that. In other words: Do Not Disturb! 🙂
8) Don’t Worry About The Mess:
Really! It will get messy…and that’s okay! I know it’s hard to get out the paints and know that half of them will end up on the floor. But these messes are worth it. There will never be a better time than right now to help your child create. If you wait until the right moment comes up and all the stars align, it will never happen. Even after you’ve JUST picked up and mopped the floor – it’s a great time to paint. It’s always a good time to paint! And if you can take the paints outside (weather permitting) – then even better!
9) Welcome Imperfect Creations:
One of my children is a perfectionist, and she would get so frustrated when she was drawing because her vision never matched what she could do on paper. Paper after paper, I’d find crumpled on the floor. She would curl her mouth into a frown and sometimes cry.
Aside from art lessons, lots of practice, and even hand/eye coordination catching up to a child, there’s not a lot we can do in the short-term to overcome those frustrations. They happen to everyone!
So, what did I do?
I gave her the permission to make mistakes. Literally.
I sat next to her and held her hand and told her that we ALL get frustrated sometimes.
And that: In Art, There Are No Mistakes!
Then, I got out a piece of paper and drew next to her. I “made mistakes” (I don’t like calling them that because there ARE NO MISTAKES). But anyway – I showed her that my vision wasn’t coming out the way I had hoped. And then I improvised, and changed things. I laughed about it.
It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually she stopped balling up those pieces of paper. And she started drawing – voraciously! Now she draws and paints all the time.
10) Affirm The Artist In Every Child:
This last one is so, so simple! Every child needs to be reminded by the person they respect and look up to the most in this world (YOU!) – that they ARE an artist! There’s nothing more that they need to do to become an artist – they already ARE an artist.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my 4 year old’s face light up when I say to her: You are a GREAT artist!
Just like that – she is inspired to create art…to make real her own vision. And that’s what it’s all about. With those simple words, I am doing more for her than a thousand art lessons could ever accomplish.
I hope this post encouraged you! Please let me know in the comments what you do to inspire art in your home!