Written for Parents who want their Children to Love Art￼ by Amy Amdur
Children Are Born With A Desire to Create
From the early smearing of baby food on a tray, to the scribbles with chunky crayons, children are born with a desire to create. As Pablo Picasso said:“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up”
So, as a parent, the best guidance in raising children who love art is to support their attempts, expose children to art and model art loving behavior.
Be Visually Aware And Visually Verbal With Your Children
When you notice the colors of flowers, the glow of the sunset, the dynamic rhythm of a fence, talk about what you see with your children. This very simple act of talking about what you see visually is a lot like learning a language. Talk about the soft glow of pinks and reds in the sunset, and your children will tune in visually and have the capacity and experience of seeing similar situations on their own.
Notice the colors of the world, of the food you eat, of the spring green leaves in the trees and the rich colors of autumn leaves.
Help your children learn color names. A fun way to do this is to buy the biggest box of crayons and even before they can read, talk in descriptive color names. Go beyond Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange and Green. Learn scarlet, maize, cornflower, eggplant and raw umber. Need to brush up on color names? Take a fun visit to the Crayola web site.
Going to the hardware store? Let your child pick a few paint chip samples from the paint department. There’s no telling where this can lead. Take a look at the work of adult artists Jennifer Lashbrook, who makes her huge collage pieces entirely out of paint chips. SEE JENNIFER’S WORK IN PERSON AT MANY CHICAGO AREA ART FESTIVALS…INCLUDING Gold Coast Art Fair, Port Clinton Art Festival and Third Ward Art Festival in Milwaukee.
Interesting fact: The human eye can see 7,000,000 colors.
Expose Children to Art
Read the many art books made for young children. A great place to start with your very young child is the Mini Masters Series. Suzanne Bober and Julie Merberg are co-authors of the successful Mini masters series (published by Chronicle Books): A Magical Day with Matisse, A Picnic with Monet, Dancing with Degas, Dreaming with Rousseau, In the Garden with Van Gogh, On an Island with Gauguin, Painting with Picasso, Quiet Time with Cassatt, Sharing with Renoir, and Sunday with Seurat.
Older children may enjoy books like Linnea in the Garden where Linnea has been in Paris. And she has visited the painter Claude Monet’s garden! I love Mike Venezia’s books on famous painters called “Getting to Know The World’s Greatest Artists. They are entertaining and educational covering the many greats of the art world. Check these books out here.
Have An Art Filled Home
Have Art in All Rooms of your home…pears in the kitchen, a handmade wall mirror in the foyer, artist made side tables in the living room, unique artist made lamps bedside, fun art in the bathrooms, a collection of sculptures in the powder room. When children grow up with art, they see art as the norm in their environment.
Visit Art Museums Locally and When you Travel
A visit to an at museum can be fun…when done with a bit of planning and restraint, and children are usually free. The biggest mistake people have when taking children to an art museum is staying too long. So keep the visit short, and keep these points in mind:
Preview the Top Pieces in the Collection on line. This is a great way for you to know what you want to see on your visit. At the Chicago Art Institute, they have an excellent web site to visit before you step in the famous front doors on Michigan Avenue. The Chicago Art Institute web site for Family Info.
Rules: Typically,back pack baby carriers are not allowed in galleries. Strollers are usually allowed, check before you go.
Time: Keep Visits Short. Make if Fun, not a Marathon. Try to go on a free family day so that you don’t feel compelled to stay longer to get your money’s worth.
Eat: Don’t get hungry..stop and snack. The Beauty of the Museum Cafe is that the food and surroundings are generally very nice. The Chicago Art Institute has a very family friendly cafe on their lower level.
Do: Sketch in the Gallery, Check with the Museum beforehand for any restrictions. Bring a small unlined paper sketchbook and colored pencils (remember the sharpener) with you. One setup for each person, including you. Go to a painting that you have pre-selected….like American Gothic, and sit down on the bench and sketch away.
Do: Visit the Gift Shop First and Last. On your way in, let each child pick out and buy 2-3 art postcards of work in the museum. Now, play a game and go find the art. (best to have a quick talk with a museum staff person so you know where you are heading). The fun starts when you enter the gallery where the art on the postcard is and your child actually finds the painting.
Do: Often Art Museums have special youth art programs on the weekends. Check the museum web site in advance.
Listen: For slightly older children, cough up the bucks and get audio headphones when possible. The Chicago Art Institute has special kid friendly audio at special paintings indicated with a cute lion symbol.
In Chicago, try the MCA., the Museum of Contemporary Art. The MCA offers special Stroller Tours once a month, where you will feel every so comfortable with other child toting adults.
In Washington DC, try the National Gallery of Art. In New York, there is MOMA, the Guggenheim (the building alone is worth the trip) and of course the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art. Traveling abroad? Try a museum. Even the Louvre can work with children. Just follow my suggestions above for a good time.
Visit Art Shows
Keep it al fresco, in the fresh air, and near by. Local art festivals abound in the summer. These shows are often free admission and can be a great chance to have a fun family outing. Remember to put on Sunscreen First. Take snacks and water. Preview the show on-line before you go. Look for kid friendly areas like a youth art tent, and art demo area. Check out our festival listing on our Website.
I suggest making a game with kids…with young ones, go on a color treasure hunt. Each person looks for their own color. Vary the game with animals to keep it fresh. Don’t overstay your visit. Tired kids can’t have a good time. And go early to avoid the mid day heat.
For Tweens and Teens, try giving them a real budget for art for the or their room. I’ve found that kids on a real buying mission are very involved in looking for something they like. You set the budget…and be amazed at how interested your child becomes in the art show.
Some art festivals have a youth art division where local youth can participate by showing and selling their work at the festival. Local Chicago area shows with youth divisions include the Port Clinton Art Festival in Highland Park and The Art Center’s Festival of Fine Arts in Highland Park, Illinois as well. Side note: I was in my first art show as an exhibitor when I was 5 years old.
Take Studio Art Classes
Nothing builds appreciation as much as understanding and nothing builds understanding as much as making art. What to look for: Classes and teachers that support the creativity of the child, not just a look-alike outcome. Painting, ceramics, cartooning, mosaics, and more all are great choices.
Great youth art classes are as close as your local art center.
Highland Park, Illinois’s The Art Center has year round classes and special youth Art Camp classes for a creative summer. For a full listing click here!
The Earth without Art is Just “Eh”. Let’s make sure our kids have an Earth full of art.
For more info on Chicago and Milwaukee area art shows, go to Amdur Productions.