The other day we had the most amazing weather, so we set up a garden art studio…
When I was in college I always loved those teachers who took their classes outside on a nice day. So why not recreate that magic with our kids? Did you know that most children don’t spend enough time outdoors?
Why Making Art Outdoors is so Awesome
- Being outside is calming, restorative, and resets the mind.
- Nature is fodder for the imagination.
- Getting messy isn’t an issue.
- You can get up water some plants/play/dig a hole, and then return to making.
I offered my children a few after-lunch options that included reading in the garden, making art outside, and going on a hike. Can you tell that I wanted to spend some outdoors? The weather was that incredible.
My older daughter liked the idea of setting up a blanket on our lawn and helped me hatch a plan to create an art studio picnic.
Within moments of setting it all up, which took us about ten minutes, the girls were deep into making. At this point I gleefully broke out my new garden sheers and tackled mountains of overgrown plants. Hack hack hack. Things had gotten so out-of-hand in my poor garden, which now looks rather normal, that it initially appeared quite bald as I managed to fill our entire composting bin with greenery.
Meanwhile, I’d pop over to check on the kids periodically and captured 4-year old N as she decorated a big river rock with paint pens. More details on drawing on rocks over here.
Her little sister has been invested in painting lately and we knew that she’d enjoy easel painting. If you really can’t get outside, 10 Steps for Easy Indoor Easel Painting will help you bring the magic indoors.
I also have a stand-up easel, but I thought this would be a nice way to have the girls work side-by-side. It was a great strategy until the watercolor jars were knocked over onto the blanket. Ahem, we only own washable paints for moments like this.
Also, this little easel has a tray to hold paint on both sides and I knew both kids would want to paint at the same time. All in all, it was a fantastic afternoon and just the sort of experience that I imagine we’ll invest in all summer long.
Tips for setting up an Impromptu garden art studio
First of all, it’s important to address that you don’t need a sprawling lawn to make this happen. A patio, stoop, or balcony work just fine. The important thing here is to get outside and enjoy some fresh air!
- Wear play clothes, aprons, or nothing at all.
- Wait for a warm day.
- Keep the materials simple and choose one or two basic projects. We chose watercolors + easel and rock painting.
- Have a water source nearby for washing up.
- Set up a picnic blanket so that little makers can get comfortable.
- Make sure you have a camera to capture these moments.
- If you’re painting, lay dry pieces out on the ground to dry. If it’s windy, dry them on a clothesline or indoors.
Outdoors + Kids Resources
Start a Family Nature Club with this Nature Tools for Families Toolkit (FREE download) from Children and Nature Network. I’m dying to start one of these, so if you live near me give a holler if you’re interested! The Children and Nature Network is run by Audubon medal winner Richard Louv who wrote the bestseller, Last Child in the Woods.
If you’re in the Bay Area, get your hands on a copy of Bay Area, Best Hikes with Kids: San Francisco Bay Area by Laure Latham. I just got it and it’s awesome!
A fabulous roundup of ideas for building outdoor forts and shelters for kids, from Let the Children Play.
A question for you…
What one word comes to mind when you think of the last time you spent time outdoors?
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