So you have an artist at home? No matter their age, the beginning of a new school year is a great time to nurture that creative spirit. Here are 9 tips to get creative with the young artist living in your house.
1. Get to know your kid's art teacher
If you have artistic kids in elementary school, go meet your art teachers at back-to-school night. Learn about the projects your kids will be working on and the materials they will be using. This will give you specific information to talk with your kids about when they come home from school on an art day. (By the way art teachers don't get as many visitors as classroom teachers on back-to-school nights, so they will be delighted to see you).
For those of you with middle or high school aged kids, if your student loves art then this is a really important time for them. They may be considering a college degree in an art related field or they may want to pursue something creative for a career. Art teachers will be your best resource for college programs or careers in the arts. Meet the teachers and get to know the courses your kids are taking.
As a note, remember a lot of art class is about process not product. Don't get hung up on the end result of your child's work from art class. There is a ton of learning and developing that goes on while making the art. And if your kid loves making it, it really doesn't matter what it looks like in the end. And if you love making art, it really doesn't matter what it looks like in the end.
2. Take an in-person extracurricular class
Research a local art center in your area and sign your kid up for a class. The classes are usually reasonably priced. Keep in mind, you will likely bring your own art supplies based on a list provided by the art teacher. I have found that these instructors are some of the most interesting to learn from because they are working artists. They often have full time art careers and teach on the side. This is an awesome way to encourage young artists to take their artistic pursuits a step further. And if outside art classes aren't in your budget, a lot of these places provide scholarship opportunities to help cover the cost of classes.
When I was a kid, I took a bunch of classes at the Silvermine Art Center in New Canaan, CT. They have awesome classes for kids and adults. As an adult, I took some excellent classes at the Torpedo Art Factory in Alexandria, VA. If you are not in either of these areas, do a google search of "art center near me" and let us know in the comments what you find.
3. Take a virtual class
You can find a lot of great content on artist's websites (hello, I'm one of them!). If you find an artist you or your art student likes, research their website. They may have an online class they offer for a fee or for free. This is my preferred way to take an online class rather than going to a large site that offers many classes, try to support an individual artist through their own site when you can. Here is one I like, OC Art Studios with Larissa Marantz, which has great programs for kids and adults related to drawing, animation, and illustration.
3. Watch art videos
I think watching art videos on YouTube or Instagram is a really fun activity for any artist at any age. For young kids, make sure you pre-screen videos for art subjects you may not be ready for them to focus on (read: nudity), but otherwise have fun searching artist videos. You can look for how to's to practice a certain skill or simply look for videos of artists making art. Some of my preferred search terms are: "timelapse art," "trompe l'oeil art," and "watercolor portraits."
If you have a specific artist you like to follow, look for their videos. Almost every artist I know shares some process videos at some point and you can learn a lot from watching those. Here's my YouTube page here and of course all of my 5-Minute Art videos are on my website as well.
4. Try some new supplies
Grab some materials your kids have never used before and keep them at home for evenings and weekends when your kids feel like continuing their creative ideas. For elementary aged kids, I recommend air dry clay and opaque watercolors if you've never tried them. For your secondary aged students, I would go with a crow quill pen and ink or an inexpensive set of gouache paints. Those are advanced materials and super fun.
5. Make art together
I know some adults are a little shy when it comes to their art skills, but I am here to tell you to get over it! Kids love spending time with their adults and one great way to do that is over a piece of blank paper and a bunch of drawing supplies. Wouldn't it be nice to chat about your days while doodling or crafting together? You don't have to have an end product in mind - remember art is about process not product.
6. Talk about a new artist every week
Choose an artist of the week and read a little bit about them. Share the artist name and information with your kid. Look at videos and samples of their work. It's a simple way to get a little more art in your everyday life. If you don't know where to start, I would pick the type of art your kid is most interested in and do a Google search of that material + "famous artist." For example, you might search "watercolor famous artist" and see what comes up.
Another option would be to pick an area of the world and research art from a specific city or country. Try a search like "Mexican mural art."
Artists I like (and there are many): Yayoi Kusama, Kehinde Wiley, Keith Haring, Fernando Llort, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keefe, Artemesia Gentileschi, Edouard Manet, Takshi Murakami, and a million more.
7. Visit a gallery or museum
Many museums and galleries are starting to open back up. Check websites (as we should for any event these days) and read their policies on attendance to their locations. It is likely that you will have an easier time visiting a local, small gallery than a larger museum. However, the larger museums will probably allow you to purchase admission in advance to manage their numbers, so you will know in advance that your spot is saved.
8. Go on a virtual museum tour
One of my favorites is La Casa Azul, which is Frida Kahlo's former house in Mexico City, Mexico. You can see a lot of her art, the art of her husband Diego Rivera, and other artworks from their personal collection all while visiting the house she lived in.
9. Read a book about art or about an artist
There are kids books about all your favorite visual artists and lots about artists you've never heard of before. Pick a kids book about an artwork or artist you like and share it together. This encourages language arts and visual arts at the same time!
Here are a few of my favorite books for kids and adults about some of my favorite artists from some of my favorite independent bookshops:
Books on Frida Kahlo from Harriet's Bookshop in Philadelphia, PA
Books on Yayoi Kusama from Scrawl Books in Reston, VA
Books on Keith Haring from Northshire Books in Manchester, VT
That's a lot of suggestions and ideas. Just remember, at the end of the day, we are all artists, so don't be afraid to get involved. Encourage your young artist to be creative and to make something everyday. Do this by looking at art, talking about art, and making art together. And if YOU are the artist in your house, these suggestions work for you too.
Have fun! Please share any additional suggestions in the comments below. I'm especially interested in your local art center where you like to take classes.