Friday, November 5, 2010

Making Time for Art

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
~Pablo Picasso

Does art continually get pushed to the next day in your home? Maybe by the time you made your way through all the essentials, the energy needed to pull out the paints and brushes is pretty much gone. I've been there. But when I do bring out the art supplies, I am always thankful I did.

It brings me so much joy to see my children light up with creativity and individual expression. A delight in the process, not only the result, is something I hope to encourage in each of my children. I have a strong desire for our home school to be rich with artistic experiences. What I don't have is a lot of time to spend coming up with beautiful and varied art projects, but I have found a little planning can go a long way.

1. Keep basic art supplies on hand, and all in one place. Replenish your art supplies each year when you are busy buying curriculum. Most of the big craft supply stores have a store brand, student-grade line that is very affordable. A well-stocked art supply should include:
  • Paper - smooth drawing paper, watercolor paper, assorted colored paper (including black), and colored tissue paper. I also like each of my children to have a small sketchbook that can easily travel.
  • Nice colored pencils such as Prismacolor Pencils or Dick Blick's Colored Pencils.
  • Markers in a broad variety of colors.
  • A pack Sharpie markers.
  • Watercolors. Crayola is a great place to start, but I prefer the versatility of tube watercolors. And a few plastic mixing trays.
  • A student pack of paintbrushes in assorted sizes.
  • A basic set of oil pastels.
  • A basic set of chalk pastels.
  • Crayons.
  • Pencils.
  • Glue (not glue sticks).
  • Masking tape.

2. Have a few favorite places you go for ideas and keep those ideas bookmarked. I keep all my art books together with favorite pages marked, possibly with a quick note about what supplies are needed. I also keep a bookmark folder on my computer with links to projects I think my kids will enjoy.

3. Pick one afternoon a week for art. In our home, Wednesday is 'Art Afternoon' and I keep it on the calendar so as to not fill that time with something else. Some weeks we spend the entire afternoon immersed in art, some weeks it is 30 minutes at most. It's important to keep it open and flexible, especially if morning lessons are still lying around unfinished. Pick a project you have bookmarked that fits the time you have, and pull out the art supplies you need. Of course, this will be easy because you are well-stocked and it's all in one place.

4. Keep the mood light. Put on some beautiful music. And remember this is not math.

5. Change the scenery every so often. If you always do art projects at the dining room table, go in the backyard and sit on the grass, or maybe just to another room in the house with more natural light. My personal favorite is to throw the sketchbooks and colored pencils in a bag and walk to the park.

6. Sit down and do it with them. Let you children see you enjoying the creative process. It is always so nice to slow down and do something quietly alongside them. Also, I find it is helpful to model what it looks like to work with mistakes.

7. Display their work. And then make sure to keep the family art gallery current. It's amazing how a basic, black frame can make a child's creation really pop. My kids are always thrilled at how their art looks framed and on the wall. What a lovely and affordable way to decorate! And if there are no empty frames, there is no shame in masking tape.

8. Make sure you get them to help clean up. Get all those art supplies back in their proper place and make sure the table is clear for dinner. That way you'll be more likely to pull out the paints and brushes again next week.

Here are a few of my favorite places to find inspiration...

The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas
Discovering Great Artists, Kohl & Solga

Art Projects for Kids
That Artist Woman
The Crafty Crow
The Artful Parent


  1. Since discovering your blog, I have incorporated art into our homeschool days. I recently tried your Eric Carle-style art idea with my kids, doing animals from The Very Busy Spider. I am so thankful for your blog-full of ideas and edification!

  2. I agree whole-heartedly! I have decided that Fridays are Fine Art Fridays now. We do minimal math and language, spelling test, and then spend the rest of the day with art project, drawing, composer, artist. No science or history or writing. It ensures that the children get the fine arts, without me trying to cram it in during the week when we are busier.

  3. I clicked over here after reading this article over at Heart of the Matter! You have a lovely, encouraging, and uplifting blog! I needed this reminder about art today. At the beginning of the year I committed to "Start with Art" on Tuesdays, and I haven't been faithful the past couple of weeks due to some lack of supplies. Maybe today I'll go get those supplies!

  4. love this idea!!! I am curious though, what are those thin boards in the picture (you have the art paper taped to them)? those would be great!

  5. I just wrote yesterday on my blog about changing up our art study, among a few other things. I love your tips!

  6. We have art daily. Our problem is science. I am excited to be a new follower. Have a great week.



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