Growing up, I was not an artist. I was a reader, a musician, and a thinker. My sister was the artist, the athlete, and the dancer. As an adult, I didn’t do anything artistic. I worked as an engineer and made spreadsheets as a hobby. I really don’t like museums. I truly loathe live musical performances (although I do enjoy the music on my own time).
But having children changes you, and one of the things I have learned is the value of art in the lives of my children. It gives them time and space to think and experiment without fear of failure. It gives us time together, sitting around the table, to talk and create things as a family.
Several years ago I walked into our school space and saw a mess of art supplies left by my oldest. I probably heaved a sigh and started to clean it up, only to happen upon this:
We hadn’t even talked about 9-11, but she printed pictures off the internet and had her own time of contemplation.
A few years later we were transferred overseas, and had to leave our beloved Florida home. The kids were terribly sad to leave their friends and say good-bye to the only home most of them remembered (we move a lot…). We spent a few weeks creating a piece of Florida to take with us. They each picked out a favorite animal. We hung a piece of butcher paper on the wall and laid a tarp on the floor.. I sketched, they painted.
Soon after we arrived in the UK, the kids were going stir crazy because they didn’t have any friends. They decided to make “paper friends.” This picture is 2 of the perhaps 8 paper friends that were made — complete with packing tape — and played with nonstop for several weeks.
Don’t leave out art! Don’t fear the mess. We keep a tarp, supplies, and a few of dad’s old t-shirts (art smocks!) in an easy place, and haul it all out at least one day a week. I provide a structured art experience usually once a month, and the rest of the time they are free to explore.