Family Draw Time Art Show

 

Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


 

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We engage in plenty of hands-on activities around here, but I still consider myself more of a crafty mom wannabe. I love the idea of crafting with my children, but I’m averse to the mess that sometimes comes along with it (although I’ve become much more laid-back when it comes to messy chaos as my family has grown). And the truth is, I’m not so good with using my hands to create (unless the creation happens to be words pieced together with the combination of my hands and a pen or a keyboard).

It’s not that I’m not creative. I had a runaway imagination as a kid and used to immerse myself in some pretty intense imaginary play. The rope hammock in our family’s backyard was a giant spiderweb; our pool an enchanted lake. I still don’t have any problem coming up with creative ideas, and a lot of my friends call me creative, but making the inspiration in my head come alive in a 3-D, Technicolor reality through the world of crafting and art can be more of a challenge for me.

I remember loving to doodle when I was younger, although I never thought of myself as an artist or even as someone who had much (if any) artistic talent at all. The artists in my family were my dad and older brother. Oh, and my mom painted briefly, and I love what her brush strokes created (we have one of her paintings hanging in our powder room), but she doesn’t think she’s talented either. My younger brother was the athlete. And I was the drama queen, equestrian, singer, and dreamer (and sometimes brooder).

Still, even when I was all grown up, I can remember doodling on the margins of legal pads during a slow meeting at work. There was something soothing about drawing vines studded with flowers along the edge of my paper or even just writing my name in a fancy script.

When I became a mom, I knew I wanted to nurture creativity in my own children. I wanted to arm them with toys that were open-ended and encouraged creative play. The batteries-not-included variety. It turns out my kids didn’t need much prompting from me. Each of my daughters’ minds is a hot bed for creativity. They find inspiration in everything. Rocks become little animals. Flowers homes for fairies. A simple blanket is a magic carpet, a superhero’s cape, and then a colorful howdah atop an elephant in India.

It was so refreshing to realize that my children didn’t need much or any real prodding from me. We didn’t need to produce elaborate crafts either. We’ve stuck to simple craft times. Sure, I sometimes seek out inspiration from some of the uber mom crafters out there, but I try not to be competitive or comparative.

One of the most treasured – and simple – traditions we’ve embraced more recently is regular family draw time.  Amanda Soule’s wonderful The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections Family Draw Time Art Show inspired us to start this last fall. The girls and I each have our own sketch pad that we only pull out during designated “family draw times.” We doodle whatever we want. Madeline has drawn everything from a pirate to a portrait of what our baby might look like. (I’ve shared some of the art below for our mini art show!) We also date each picture, so we’ll have a record of what was on our mind as well as our artistic progress.

At first, I picked up my own set of markers and colored pencils just to encourage my children to do the same. I wasn’t really thinking I’d get much out of drawing or that I’d even be able to come up with many ideas to sketch out. Remember, I’ve never thought of myself as an artist! But, surprisingly, I immediately took to the activity and found ample serenity in the simple act of using my hand to produce something as elementary as a set of shaded shapes with the help of some stencils. I also found that, like my children, I had endless ideas about what to draw.

Now I sometimes suggest we have family draw time when I feel emotions are running high, we’re all on edge, or the weather keeps us from moving about outside. A few crayons and a sketch pad never fail to bring peace to our home – and our hearts.

This designated art period has also helped boost the confidence of Rae, my middle child. Madeline, my oldest, has loved to draw from the time she could first hold a crayon. While most 15-month-olds probably eat any crayons they could get a hold of, I used to tape a piece of paper to my daughter’s high chair while I cooked dinner, and she would doodle for 20 minutes or more.

She still loves to draw, and everyone is always commenting on her artwork, and I started to notice that we were inadvertently labeling her as the artist of the family.

One day Rae scribbled something for me and after placing it in my hands, she said, “I can’t draw like Maddy.” Her words crushed me, and I realized that we all needed to draw simply because it was fun and try not to make a big fuss over what the finished product turned out to be. So much of art is subjective anyway. There are people who find refined beauty in modern art; I personally have always been drawn to Impressionism (and I can always see the genius in my children’s doodles!).

Likewise, I needed to silence my own inner critic and not say things like, “I’m not much of an artist,” or even, “I’m not very good with crafts.”

We just needed to draw, craft, or create for the simple joy of it.

One book that has really inspired me to encourage all of my children (and myself to draw) is Mona Brooks’s Drawing with Children. Brooks is the founder of the Monart Method, which hinges on the belief that everyone can learn to draw, develop their own style, and become artists. Her book not only provides easy-to-follow art lessons to use at home with your children, but it also offers suggestions for parents on how to create a home environment where self-expression and creativity are encouraged. We haven’t actually started the book’s formal lessons yet, but its philosophy alone has helped me to see that “drawing is a teachable subject and artistic talent can be developed” (p. 7).

I help invite the artist within to come out of each of my children – even those who don’t see themselves as having natural artistic ability. In fact, it’s the children who may not immediately pick up a crayon and start drawing who may need the most encouragement of all.

Brooks writes,

“…some of the most resistant [art] students come from a family with a designated artist as one of its members. These children often refuse to draw at all out of fear of being compared with the artist in the family.”

I knew I didn’t want my Rae to stop trying to draw out of the fear that she wasn’t as talented as Madeline. So, ironically, it was my more reluctant artist who really inspired me to initiate family draw time.

What’s more, I desire all of my children to draw, paint, sculpt, and create just because they enjoy it, and it forces us to slow down and use our imaginations in a life that can sometimes feel like a relay race. Our family draw time has shown us that drawing just for the sake of drawing is a wonderful outlet.

Brooks shares other guidelines on how to give the artist within our children (and within us) the permission to unfold such as remembering that there is no right or wrong way to draw (and I’ll say the same for crafting!), listening to your “silent critic” and learning to retrain it and stop judging yourself, and being patient and keeping in mind that all artists – even “real” artists – are not always completely satisfied with everything they produce.

At any rate, I highly recommend the book – and I highly recommend establishing your own family draw time – even if it’s just for 20 minutes a week.

Without further ado, here’s a small sampling of some of the artwork we’ve created during our own family draw time. (Mary Elizabeth, who’s only 2, sometimes draws along with us, but I’m only featuring the older artists for today.)

*Oh, and please forgive the photo quality. Pictures were quickly captured using a Smart Phone.

Madelines castle 1024x768 Family Draw Time Art Show

Madeline said this was a fierce, funny dragon lumbering toward a castle.

Madelines pirate 768x1024 Family Draw Time Art Show

Madeline has had a thing for pirates for over a year now.

Madelines family tree 768x1024 Family Draw Time Art Show

Madeline drew our family tree.

Madelines tree 768x1024 Family Draw Time Art Show

Trees are one of Madeline's favorite subjects.

Raes tree 768x1024 Family Draw Time Art Show

Rae has started painting and drawing trees, too.

Raes stripes 768x1024 Family Draw Time Art Show

Rae's colorful stripes.

Raes doodles 768x1024 Family Draw Time Art Show

Rae's kaleidoscopic explosion!

my sunflower 768x1024 Family Draw Time Art Show

My sunflower

my shaded shapes 768x1024 Family Draw Time Art Show

My shaded shapes

my name art 1024x768 Family Draw Time Art Show

I can remember tracing my name with a color pattern when I was younger. Thanks to family draw time, I discovered it was still a lot of fun to do. :-)

 

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Enter the Conversation...

22 Responses to “Family Draw Time Art Show”
  1. I didn’t even have an artist in the family, and I grew up feeling inadequate about art. I think part of it was every time I’d do something I really liked in art class, I’d get a mediocre grade. I love the idea of helping kids find their own style and to take pleasure in their own abilities. I’d never heard of the Monart Method — I looked at the site, and now I want to check out the book, too!

    Your name looks really vibrant — I love it! :)

  2. mudpiemama says:

    “We just needed to draw, craft, or create for the simple joy of it.” Wonderful!!! thank you for sharing your reflections.

  3. Family draw time sounds like such a fun concept. And I love that you’ve been consciously trying to eliminate things like “I’m not a great artist,” etc. from your vocabulary – that’s something we’ve been doing as well, because I don’t like hearing Kieran downplay his abilities. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I just love this post. You are all wonderfully creative! Inspiring!

  5. Fantastic post – I could have so written that first paragraph! All my creating happens in my mind then slides own my arms into a poised pen and awaiting paper, but my DD LOVES glitter, glue, paint and chewing up paper like a hamster. (and yes, I doodle in margins with flowers and vines too ;) )

    Isn’t it beautiful to see our children’s creativity shine and to remember the wonder in simple pleasures? I love the idea of your family draw time and I should make more time for this myself. My daughter loves to draw with me and I will join in sometimes, but at others I’m ashamedly ‘too busy’.

    Thanks for the recommendations, I’ll be checking them out and you’ve definitely inspired me to make more time for family drawing …

  6. Kate, I love how you find magic in your kids’ spontaneous creations! Thank you for the book recommendations. For those of who are only crafty with pen and paper, it’s very useful to have some practical ideas. Family draw time is a great one!

    Btw, I dare say Rae’s rendering of the tree is incredibly artistic!

  7. Kellie says:

    Wow! What a journey of self consciousness! When I started reading this post, I was clenched up, feeling the judgement in your words.

    “The artists in my family were my dad and older brother. Oh, and my mom painted briefly, and I love what her brush strokes created (we have one of her paintings hanging in our powder room), but she doesn’t think she’s talented either. My younger brother was the athlete. And I was the drama queen, equestrian, singer, and dreamer (and sometimes brooder).”

    But when you said:

    “We just needed to draw, craft, or create for the simple joy of it.”

    I just breathed such a sigh of relief! What a wonderful transformation to make for and WITH your children! Congratulations on silencing your inner critic. :D

  8. I love your post as well as the finished art! It is sad to hear a child say that someone else is a better artist than he or she is or to be frustrated because they don’t draw as “well” as a sibling or friend. It’s so important to stress how you feel when you make art. I LOVE the idea of a family draw time, and that you guys pull out the sketch pads when things are tense or emotions are running high. What a great way to release energy and transform emotion into something constructive!

    Also–and please don’t take this the wrong way–but how cool is it that the paintings created by your kids have so much life to them compared with the one of your shaded stencils? I love that, and how you let go and tapped into your inner child with the drawing of your name at the end.

  9. “It was so refreshing to realize that my children didn’t need much or any real prodding from me” – this is something I have just realised myself and such an important thing to learn. I think as parents we often forget that our job is to inspire, sometimes nudge or direct a little, but never to prescribe. Teaching a child how to play or create is like telling them how to solve a puzzle: they need to work it out for themselves and in their own way and very likely they will find a way and an answer that is different from our own, which -naturally – will surprise us. And that’s the wonderful bit!

    I love the idea of family draw time and your pictures are wonderful! Very inspiring post – thanks :)

  10. Thank you, what a great post! I’ve heard about family draw time from one of Amanda Soule’s books too and love it — so glad it’s working for your family! We’ve got to try it! It sounds great to work it in when emotions run high or you need a change of activity or pace. I certainly need more ideas of things to do TOGETHER at times like that.

    Glad to have discovered your blog, too! Looks great!

  11. I’m often amazed, impressed, and/or amused by children’s artwork, especially when I get to hear them tell me about it in their own words. Such creative little minds and active imaginations. Arts and crafts are definitely a lot of fun. I’ve taken to bringing pictures the kids at school or of our friends give us and hanging them up on our door or the fridge. It is remniscent of their innocent, giving, and loving nature, and reminds me to pray for them by name when I’m at home.

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