Being arty and creative is not something that all of us are blessed with. However, it’s a common misconception that you’re either born with the potential to become the next Michelangelo, or you’re forever doomed to losing at Pictionary. Artistic skill, just like learning the piano or teaching yourself a foreign language, is something acquired through a mixture of natural ability, and lots and lots of practice. In other words: there’s hope for all of us.
If you’re a creative parent keen to set your kids off on the right track when it comes to the art world, there are a few things you can start to implement into their weekly routine – and they’re all things mum and dad can benefit from too!
Visit Art Galleries and Museums
This is one of the easiest things you can do to get your kids interested in art. No matter where you are in the UK, you’ll be able to find a fantastic art gallery or museum offering free exhibitions open to the public.
According to the experts, toddlers respond best to brightly coloured geometric shapes and sculptures of people. School-age children, meanwhile, will enjoy looking at figurative paintings, drawings and sculptures that “tell a story”. You might also introduce older children to famous artists, asking them to seek out several works by the same person and identify what makes their style so different and special.
Don’t forget that – whatever the age of your child – they will enjoy the artworks most when you’re interacting as well. Turn it into a game by asking them to think about what colours and shapes have been used, or how the artists has achieved a certain effect. Knowing about the history of the art can also be interesting, so if you don’t want to brush up beforehand, make the most of the free information and guides supplied by the gallery, taking care to translate the key information into “kidspeak”!
You can also encourage your children to think about the gallery as a whole. What’s the lighting like, and how does that affect how the art appears? What kinds of picture frames have been used? Do they think the other people in the gallery are enjoying the exhibition too?
You could even come equipped with some paper and pencils, and allow your little ones to create their own versions of the artworks. This works best with older children but little children can respond well too – provided they don’t go drawing on the actual canvases…
Start Having Art Sessions at Home
Your children might have art lessons at playgroup or school, but it’s also important to introduce sessions at home. These don’t have to be daily, but carving out a few hours every weekend can create a fun routine that your children will look forward to throughout the week. In sunny weather, spread an old sheet out in the garden and let them experiment with paint, glitter and craft materials. In the colder months, a more controlled indoor session with pencils, pens and watercolours can be fun.
Age-wise, toddlers tend to enjoy working with plasticine or Play-Doh – and their fine motor skills benefit from it too. Encourage them to craft models of their parents, siblings or pets, or to make cars, buses, trees or houses. They’ll also love drawing and filling in random shapes with brightly coloured crayons or poster paints. Slightly older children will love being let loose with coloured paper or card and a pair of kid-friendly scissors. As they grow, you can encourage them to start making collage images.
For kids aged seven or older, drawing tends to become the most fun activity. Invest in some nice heavy paper and soft pencils and let them create your portrait, try their hand at a still life, or even dash out a landscape the next time you’re at the beach or taking a countryside walk.
Frame and Hang Their Art
One of the best things you can do to encourage your children’s art skills is to show appreciation of their work. While it’s not necessary to stick up every single page of their sketchbook, it is important to engage with your little one and let them know that you love their art and think it’s really special. Don’t forget that they’ll have opinions on their own art – if they tell you they don’t like something, don’t make a fuss over it. On the other hand, if they come to you beaming and holding a drawing or painting that they’re really proud of, that’s the perfect opportunity to give it pride of place in your home or office.
Don’t just settle for tacking art to the fridge with a magnet, though. Treat the art that your children are most proud of as you would treat a print or painting you paid for at an auction house. Sculptures can be arranged on a mantelpiece or kept on mum or dad’s desk. Paintings and drawings, meanwhile, can be kept in a nice picture frame and hung in a hallway or room where they can be easily seen and admired. When visitors come round and ask about it, encourage your child to engage – what materials did they use to make it? What was the inspiration? If they’re proud of the piece, they’ll love getting the opportunity to talk about it like a real artist.
Appreciate Their Style
Lastly, bear in mind that little kids’ minds work differently to ours. That means they might occasionally draw something a little odd. Resist the urge to disapprove of their chosen subject matter (unless it’s obviously very inappropriate), as this may put them off art altogether. Instead, encourage them to keep exploring different styles and inspirations. And remember that kids go through phases – they might be obsessed with drawing vampires at the age of six, but that’s unlikely to be a permanent thing!
If you’ve got a little one’s masterpiece that needs a frame, head to our picture framing page. You’ll find a variety of custom picture frame and picture mount options to choose from.