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Friday, July 15, 2011

Practicin' what I be Preachin'

Chephren is an artist too (yes, he is only two, but remember, we are ALL artists)!  To reinforce/cultivate this belief in him, we try make time for art very regularly - at least once or twice per week but lately, given his interest in it, more.  I have a great supply of art materials leftover from my one art course in University (where I myself was beyond shocked to learn for the first time that gasp! I myself was an artist).  As you know, I am still working on re-building that belief system, but that is another entry (or twenty), so let's focus instead on the next generation... bringing us back to Chephren and his burgeoning creativity.

Today we started our creative time with watercolor paints (I stayed there, Chephren went on to experiment with chalk pastels, glitter, felt markers and pencil crayons).  Here are the results of today's endeavors:

The felt-marker piece
The chalk pastel piece
The watercolor piece
As you can see, Chephren excels at experimenting within each of the mediums, exploring primarily color, but also different brush sizes (with the painting) and different techniques (blending colors with his fingers in the chalk pastel piece).

If you are interested in exploring art with a young person, here are some tips that I can offer you (some of them mine, and some of them from my course in Uni):
  • Set your space up so that you aren't worried about the MESS -- art can/should be messy.  We do art either in the basement where I don't care about the mess or at the kitchen counter where it is easy to wipe up spills/messes.
  • If you are painting or doing anything wet, it is fun/practical to designate an 'artists smock' for such activities.  Chephren picked his from an old stack of shirts and loves wearing it.
  • Don't impose any rules on them (especially at such a young age)... when they are older, you can begin to discuss techniques/themes/mediums/effects, WHATEVER, but the main idea here is to make it FUN!  Encourage them to play, experiment and gosh-darnit, do whatever the heck that they like!
  • 'Art' goes beyond coloring books (although these do have a limited purpose in teaching fine-motor skills and yes, I do have one in my 'restaurant bag'), BUT, this isn't the time/place for them.  Enough said.
  • Don't be afraid to let them try out new/different tools/mediums.  This way, they will come to know which ones they love to play/experiment/create with and it won't be imposed.  Of course, choose materials that are non-toxic and if possible, washable, but think outside the box in terms of what those little people are capable of.  If you are worried about how they treat the materials, build that into the 'lesson'. 
  • Display your child's work with pride.  I have an 'artist's wall' in our playroom and Chephren gets to choose which pieces go onto the wall.  We also have conversations about playing around or practicing vs. doing our 'best work'.  Encourage your child to sign their work (if they are a bit older) and to give it a name.  Discuss what they created and why... (again, more for older children).  If you are planning on keeping the pieces for a scrapbook, it might be fun to record what they tell you on the back of the piece as well as the date.
  • We like to play music in the background while we work... doesn't have to be kids music either.  Pick something that you will both enjoy.
  • Lastly and maybe even most importantly: PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH.  Hence the subject line of this post.  When Chephren and I sit down for 'creative time', I do just that, sit down and create alongside him.  That way he sees that indeed, we are all artists and that art is important enough to make time for... at any age.  Who knows, you might just like it!  Here is my watercolor piece from today...
    You might recognize this from a photograph that I took in Kelowna... hey, I am not quite as inspired Chephren is... yet!
  • Oh, and one more thing: it might be fun to do a piece collectively... and just see what comes up.  Here is one that we did today:

And all of this advice from someone who is creatively 'blocked'.  Huh.

Happy creating!

Marebare (and Chephren)


  1. Hmmmm... maybe I should get my cats some fingerpaints...

    OK, so I have never read The Artists Way, but I have a dear friend, Tabetha, who really took it to heart. She never painted until the age of 30. As the story goes, her younger sister was killed in a car accident and Tab "inherited" her painting stuff. One night she was missing her sister and got out the painting stuff just to be with her sister. She said as soon as she started painting she knew she was home. She's now a professional artist.

    Here's her website if you want to be inspired:

  2. So fun! It makes me want to stop "monday cleaning" and do some art! Actually, I find that there is a lot of art in cleaning:
    -dust off that shelf and take the time to lay some new stones or pressed leaves
    -sketch on a scrap piece of paper and use it to put your soap dish, plant, lamp, on.
    -post some old postcards inside a cabinet so that you can enjoy a little art each time you open it
    -redo your fridge display

    I love cleaning!

  3. @ecocatlady: WOW! That is inspiring! If you ever do get your cats to 'paw-paint' - you most post pictures (or even better, a video!)

    @Mrs. Letailleur: Forgive me Tess, but you are a DORK! That, and I love you! I wish that I felt the same about cleaning... although I did just 'dust my ceileings'.... xoxo