Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kids, Crafts, Imagination, and Display

It may be hard to believe this but you don't have a be a great artist, or the most creative, to help inspire a child to do wonderful, imaginative, fun, projects for them and others to appreciate and enjoy.

Not all art work needs to land inside a professional gallery. It just has to be appreciated whether it be by one, the person who makes it, or more.

Art is relative. It can be whatever it is we envision it to be, something in our own mind's eye, and for our kids in theirs. The first step, especially when children are introduced to various arts and crafts mediums, and this may sound silly, is to just go in with no expectations and let them just create and have fun.

Art is not perfection. There is no science to it either. And, there is no right or wrong way of doing it.

As adults, we do tend to have our opinions and may like one type of art versus another. That's okay. We just need to guide our children to do what they feel. Their results will speak volumes.

Sometimes it's hard to start with a blank canvas, and this could also be a metaphor for life. However, with kids, they don't seem to look at a plain piece of paper the same way we do. They have the ability, and freedom, to see with possibility for creation and potential for something more without the stress of getting started.

I believe the hardest part for us as adults, and as parents, is that we have a perception of how things should look. Not all of us think this way, but some of us do, present company included.

If you are typically a "color inside the lines" kind of person, like I have been known to be, being a parent can help you to shift this mindset if you allow it to. It can be challenging and liberating all at the same time to experience this release of control, symmetry, and balance.

We try so hard to guide our children on a path for happiness and success. However, our perceptions can sometimes, many times, cloud our judgement, and theirs too, and stifle their ability to create with freedom. What we envision is likely different than what they see. We can actually learn from our kids many times.

We, and I include myself here too, need to let go of perfection and control and let our kids do as they wish to create. It will open up their world to so much more because there will be no boundaries or constraints to limit them. So, if there is one line or dot on the paper, all the paint is on one side, or colors combined that we think don't go together, back away, grit your teeth, smile and support your little artist.

I admit, in the beginning when I introduced art to Sarah it was not as much fun as I thought it would be. I had expectations of what it should look like. Who knows, maybe I felt pressure for her work to be up to par with what other kids her age were doing. However, once I let go of the control, art became so much more fun. She did what she did and I let her do it, and she would amaze me with her creations. With the pressure gone the fun became endless and enjoyable.

Not every child will fall in love with arts and crafts. However, the possibility is greater if they choose the direction and approach to how they want it done. If they walk away pleased with what they did, and interested to do it again, than that is a win.

A major mistake as parents is to compare our kids to others. (Yep, I am guilty of this.) I have certainly learned this lesson many times, and likely will continue to do so over time. No two children are like. While there are milestones they need to meet, when it comes to creativity, skies the limit. No two art projects can really be alike, nor should they be. There is only one Van Gough, Monet, Michaelangelo, and Picasso.

Once we let go of control of what our children envision then we can sit back and watch fresh, free-spirited, and fun masterpieces being made. It's pure unadulterated magic to watch a child just do what feels right to them versus doing what we tell them we think is right.

And, we all know, we are not always right.

Many times a child creates immediately what is in their mind without opinion or thought on how it will look on whatever surface they are working on. That is creativity without boundaries. I admire Sarah for this freedom she possesses and don't ever want to hold her back. We should look at our kids with admiration and find inspiration from them to just let go.

Not every child is going to create the Mona Lisa or a Charles Degas painting. And, we shouldn't expect them to. If we happen to have special art backgrounds that could be taught to our kids to help them, that it is encouraged to help them further excel.

These past couple of years I have learned a great deal, and been blessed to experience art in the eyes of of my young daughter. Not only has she churned out numerous drawings and paintings, many of which I would love to house in a professional gallery, I have instead proudly shared them through various displays at home. We also re-purpose art projects and turn them into cards for friends and family for birthday, anniversaries, graduations, and more.

Here are some ways in which you can showcase your child's art work:

Decorate the Fridge Door
The refrigerator is a major appliance in the kitchen that gets so much use and attention. Why not use it as a backdrop for displaying children's art work. You can place them high for adults to see and low for the kids to enjoy too, and be proud of. You can use magnets, magnet clips, and even magnetic luecite frames.

Pin it Up
In our dining room we have three brown corkboards to match the room's decor. Balanced symmetrically (works well with my Type A personality) or asymmetrically on the wall, art work can be added there for color, conversation, and design. The best part is that art projects can be switched out easily for new masterpieces.

Frame Them
Another approach to displaying art work in a more controlled manner, and an ideal way to build into a room's decor is to frame artwork in decorative frames, behind glass, in shadow boxes, and more. You can place them together in a cluster of frames of the same color and various styles to keep them cohesive or individually throughout the home.

Art at All Heights
A nice way to display art work is in a fashion that is most visible to our kids, and at their height. Therefore, you want may to consider an approach that I also implement and involves using clothes pins and bendable framing wire (that's used for hanging pictures). Our children no only can see them more easily, but they can safely move around their pieces of art or switch out their creations when new ones come in.

Along with help from their teachers and camp counselors, we as parents can play a important role in helping to introduce arts and crafts to our kids and engage them to explore with various mediums including crayons, markers, chalk, pencils, paint, glue, glitter, writing, taking pictures, and more.

Especially with children under the age of five, there are so many amazing ways to get creative without having a degree in the fine arts. There are a number of different and easy ideas that can be done just with your child's hands and feet alone, elbows too. The ideas are plentiful. Many of the parenting magazines and blogs online offer cool, creative tips worth trying. Pinterest also has some pictures online if you are seeking inspiration.

It's amazing how much inspiration is around us, especially in nature, that can lead to great works of art. For example, recently, Sarah and I were working on a school art project and decided to collect sticks, rocks, pebbles, and more, for her to glue on to paper and poster board.

It's important that we find our inner child and get to creating with our kids. Engaging them to want to explore with art is a good first step. And, remember, we just have to want to have fun with no expectations or boundaries. A limitless experience is rewarding, invigorating, and freeing.

Enjoy the art of creating with your little ones and opening your eyes, and their's to new experiences.

Happy creating.

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