Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How do you "unschool" Art?

A friend asked, "How do you do art with your kids?" Honestly I hadn't thought about that much. I spend far more energy on "How do you get your kids to clean up after they do art?"

It's a legitimate question, so I'll try to answer. Like so much here, it just flows from our regular life. Art involves seeing, looking, perceiving, and then sharing what you see/interpret in a physical way. Understanding this helps me see art as a frame of mind, as an intention, a meditation, and a way of exploring our world.

Mostly I have supplies and idea books around and the kids pick up what they want. There's always paper, crayons, colored pencils and washable markers around. When I notice a good sale I stock up on card stock, pastels, oil crayons, tempera paint, etc. I have a supply of rubber stamps and stamp pads from my pre-kid times and let the kids use those as well. Scraps of fabric, glue, yarn from the thrift shop, and found odds and ends, round out our supplies.

We find inspiration everywhere, at art museums, local kids art shows, art and craft books, stories we're reading.... It can be fun to try some recycled art - using found or recycled objects create a piece of art. Some books we've liked are The Big Messy Art Book, Crafts for all Seasons, The Little Hands Art Book, and Look What You can make with Dozens of Household Items, as well as those I've mentioned in an earlier post, Drawing with Children, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and Making Things.


All my kids love making pottery, so they have all had classes at a couple of local pottery studios. This love of sculpture first showed it's face with play dough when they were very little. Play dough is great. You can make it cheap. It cleans up pretty well and the kids love it. It doesn't last forever though, even if you bake it. Thus the move to clay when they got old enough to take classes, and the use of sculpty here at home. (Sculpty is expensive, so I wait for sales and coupons and stock up as I can. Here's where the kids get to learn about economy.)

Mostly though, as with all of our homeschooling I've found that if I want the kids to try something they haven't come to on their own, the best way to get them to try it is to do it myself. An example comes from just a couple of days ago.
I had bought some oil crayons, which on their own, didn't seem to inspire my kids. They just couldn't see how they were different from the regular crayons that they always use. So I pulled out some sketch paper I'd gotten on sale, opened up the package, sat down with paper and pencil and set out to make a picture for myself to color.

That was all it took.

They bugged me, "What are you doing".

Me, ignoring them: "I'm busy. I want to try these new crayons."

Them: "Can I try?"

Me, vaguely: "Sure."



Here are the results:
11 yo's "red car" 9 yo's "painting turtle"



5 yo's "explorations in brown" April's "I'm easily bored pineapple" 11 yo's "Oooh, me!"


You don't need an expensive curriculum to "do art". Spend the money on supplies and field trips, classes if your kids want them, and just have some fun with it!

1 comment:

Laura said...

I agree! Just be open to creativity and give in to the creative mess at times.

Great post. You're doing great stuff with your little ones.