Children who know the difference between Beethoven and Bach have a higher IQ. That is something I read years ago in a book on the great artist and Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci was a big advocate for whole brain thinking; to him, using and teaching to only half the brain just didn’t add up. If you find yourself nodding in agreement and singing the phrase, “yes to the arts” silently in your head or out load, read on.
Summer is the perfect time to supplement your child’s inner artist, and hopefully yours at the same time! It’s easier than you might think to incorporate this great sunny weather and creativity. I’ll assume you’ve already brought yourself and your most precious ones to our great art museums, galleries, and Fredrik Meijer Gardens. If not, start by showing your children art and encouraging them to “see.” To notice that, yes, most leaves are green but look at the variety of greens; it’s never just one shade, and what happens to the leaves when the sun is shining vs. when they are in the shade? My favorite lesson in seeing is to look up: There is a party going on in the sky just about every day – one only has to look to notice.
What you will need for your day of art:
- a sketch book to play with ideas
- a set of paints (I like acrylics or watercolor but anything
with color that leaves a mark will do)
- paper or canvas on which to work
- brushes, or just use your fingers, as I often do
- a roll of paper towel (I like Viva for strength)
- an old blanket
- piece of white paper with a square or rectangle cut out
of the middle, to use a s a view finder
It’s summer and we want to soak up as much of that warmth and light as we can, so let’s take this party outside and paint plain air, as the impressionists did. Your own back yard could work, but to add to the adventure let’s go to one of the beautiful parks we have in West Michigan. Spread the old blanket out on the ground and pull out the white paper with a hole cut out. This is our viewfinder to help us decide what area we’ll be painting. Once you decide on our composition, pull out the paints and have fun. Keep in mind, for children there is no wrong in art. Give them freedom to express themselves in color and they will. A hot pink tree can be much more interesting than yet another green one, so encouragement of expression verses expectations of realist representation will yield better results. Moms and dads, be sure to join in the fun. Kids learn by example and we don’t want our wee ones thinking fun with art ends after childhood is over.
For more inspiring ideas, look for “Stephanie Schlatter” on Pinterest, where I have a whole Pin board dedicated to kid’s art projects. You will find plenty of projects to keep you busy right up until the school bells sound again in the fall. Maybe you will be so hooked on family art projects by then, they will have become a part of your permanent habit and woven into your children’s memories of youth.
Stephanie Schlatter is a full time working artist. She is the founder of Art Aid for Tesfa a non-profit providing art education to children in Ethiopia. When she’s not in her studio painting you can find her teaching art and sharing her passion for creativity as a means for change.