When you have small children at home and you are trying to practice your art, they will most likely want to practice with you. Unfortunately, small children have a way of breaking your focus and concentration and making terrible messes. So, it’s hard to practice art with them and really get much done at the same time.
So, how do you add children to your art practice? In some ways, this depends on the needs of the child. Small children require more attention, but they get bored with the project much more quickly. Older children might need a prompt and a little bit of instruction, but then you can both work side-by-side with few interruptions.
Some of the art my daughters have created when we paint and draw together
When children are small, it might be a good idea to have some inexpensive art materials on hand so they don’t destroy yours. It takes a while of reminding kids not to smash their brushes into the page before they remember. They also use a lot more paint than they need on their paintings. Especially if you happen to have their favorite color.
Cardboard boxes make nice art desks. A paper plate can be a palette. I dispense the paint so that they don’t use the whole tube. They paint happily for a few minutes. If they’re painting, I usually pause my project and paint with them. When the paint on the plate is gone, we’re done. It goes quickly.
With my older child who loves art, she likes a prompt of what she should draw. She also likes to look over my shoulder and ask questions about what I’m doing and why and how. If I’m sketching something, she may pull out her sketchbook and sketch the same thing and compare pictures.
The young artists in our home
After the painting or sketching or prompt following, or if they’ve completed a project on their own or at school, they all want to know the same thing. They show me their picture and ask, “What do you think?”
What they really want to know is, “Is this good? Am I an artist? Am I getting any better?”
I look at my own pictures and wonder the same thing.
I tell them, “That’s really good. You are a wonderful artist. I can tell you’re getting better.” Because it’s true. I think it’s true for me, too. I hope so.
I also find something they did well and point it out. They are happy and I’m happy. Sometimes they give me the picture and I hang it up on the fridge. Sometimes I put it away with the schoolwork I’ve saved. Sometimes they keep it or give it to a friend or a teacher.
There are times when they ask and I’m in the middle of a project and I say we’ll paint or sketch later. And sometimes it doesn’t happen later because something else comes up. It’s hard to change focus and pause sometimes. That’s okay, I think, as long as there are the other times where we do spend time together.
I’ve been nurtured and encouraged as an artist, and it’s good to pass that on to other artists. Who better than my children? The beginning of learning anything can be messy, but it can be fun too. As long as I make sure I have time where I can focus without being interrupted, it’s good to be able to paint and draw with my children, too.