I’m happy to introduce you to my friend, art therapist and artist, Amy Maricle, who’s talking with us today about what adults can learn about how children create. As we get older, we often ignore our own creative desires, and observing children easily tap into their natural interests as makers is a wonderful reminder that this same set of skills has been inside of us all along.
The next time you sit down to do art with your kids, I’d like to invite you to approach it a bit differently. Without saying anything, let your kids lead the art activity. Observe them, copy them, and be inspired by them. Why?
Kids naturally know a lot about how to use art to manage their feelings. They let their anger, fears, and uncertainties speak through song, dance, storytelling, and drawing. Until they reach a certain age, they aren’t concerned about making “art,” or whether or not it’s “good.” We could learn a lot from them!
Kids make art for the joy of it. You could too.
Art is a powerful tool for being present, letting go, and expressing emotions if you approach it intentionally, but because we live in a society that says that art belongs to people who are “talented,” it takes a bit of practice to allow yourself to create for the joy of it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever teach kids art techniques. These tools are empowering tools for self-expression. However, you can help your kids hang onto their ability to use art for wild, free creation that brings release, joy, and meaning, and let them teach you how to do it too!
Recently, as I made a watercolor painting with one of my kids, he dipped his paintbrush directly from one color to the next, using them as his palette. At first, my perfectionistic side cringed as he “muddied” my watercolors, but I suppressed the urge to shut down his creative idea. He achieved beautiful color variation and created a pattern with a series of these multicolored brush strokes he called his “little onions.” I followed suit and took his idea to the next level, filling up the whole page with these gorgeous “little onions.” (Green onion, maybe?) This painting is one of my favorites and hangs in our hallway where I am reminded of this lesson and the fun we had frequently.
Here’s some tips for letting your kids teach you about how to express yourself through art:
- Cut a length of roll paper big enough for you and your children to work together.
- Observe: Let your kids initiate the art making. Watch how they hold art materials, apply them to the page, make choices about what comes next, etc.
- Let go of expectations/ Reframe your expectations: Know this is not “art,” it’s self-expression.
- Imitate and innovate: Imitate your kids’ techniques and images at first, and then take the ideas in new directions as you feel inspired.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments about how this kind of free expression works for you!
If you’d like to learn more about using art as a way to turn off your busy mind and just get creative for YOU, check out my new class, Free Guide to Creative Self-Care. I’ll teach you to take advantage of some easy, fun art techniques to let go of stress and perfectionism and use art as a tool for your own healing and self-expression.
Thanks to my friend Missy and her wonderful girls for allowing me to record their art making!
Amy Maricle is art therapist and artist based in Massachusetts. She is also the founder of Mindful Art Studio. She created Mindful Art Studio to share all that she knows about the healing power of art for ANYONE and EVERYONE. Find Amy on Facebook and Instagram.