Review: Create With Me

When I saw that Stampington & Company had a new magazine, Create With Me, dedicated to “Artistic Adventures with Children,” I was pretty eager to get my hands on a copy. (I bought it myself, at Joann’s; all opinions are solely my own and influenced by nobody.) Most of what I do, especially with my older children, is either an artistic collaboration or creating right alongside them. It’s one of my goals, right there in the About page. While the Internet and even bookstores are full of creative ideas geared towards toddlers and preschoolers, I’m not always successful in finding examples of process-oriented (or at least open-ended) art for older children, so I was excited at the idea of a magazine that included kids of all ages and was not craft-oriented. And I’m happy to say that this magazine delivers what I’d hoped: inspiration and ideas that I can use with all of my kids.

This first issue draws on some successful bloggers, such as Maya Donenfeld of Maya*Made and Jennifer Casa from JCasa*handmade. There are some articles on how to be creative with children and how to be creative when you have children (definitely a delicate balance—part of my solution was to decide I was going to create alongside my children and put my own projects on backburner, sometimes for years at a time). And then there are the projects, which go all the way up to high school age and run the gamut from crafty (paper dolls, fabric wings) with a child-executed component, to collaboration, to completely child-executed process-oriented art—and my favorite here is definitely  the abstract textured painting done by author Danielle Henriksen’s son Liam. She writes, “This project is an example of a painting that is fun, process oriented, and always has a unique outcome. We love projects like this that allow for freedom of expression.” YES! And, she introduced me to acrylic molding paste, and I can’t wait to get some for my kids (and myself!) to experiment with.

I can’t quite tell if the magazine is lacking an editorial focus, or if the focus is to be all-inclusive, mainly because of the disparity in advice given in the various articles. For instance, the “words of wisdom” in one article includes, “Be sure to let the child you are crafting with help you gather everything. Part of the fun is helping choose colors, stamps, and objects.” The very next article advises the parent to get everything out and ready ahead of time. That same article states that “often, young kids want to run on ahead and get their artwork done as fast as possible; they are happy to slop something together and call it good.” I find this to be a pessimistic view of children and their artwork, especially as the article in question isn’t presenting a project for what I’d consider a young child—say, five or under. It looks far more in depth, more suitable for an elementary-age child, and I’ve never seen my own children “slop something together” (oh, that word slop, it’s so insulting) and rush off, but perhaps that’s because they are given latitude to choose their materials and their project and they’re invested from the start. In fact, when N was working on his Collaboration entry—which eventually won first place overall–he refined his ideas and process over three pieces before he was satisfied. The ideas, execution, and desire to participate were all his own, as I feel it should have been.

That was the only article that I felt really advocated for the parent taking total control of the studio setting, and that’s certainly one point of view…which is more or less my point: there doesn’t seem to be one cohesive viewpoint throughout the magazine, so as with any other child-related advice, follow the “words of wisdom” that speak to you. I, clearly, fall more in line with the process-oriented folks who give their kids choices; I have an obvious bias. (It’s also helpful to know your reviewer’s biases, don’t you think?)

Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Kristen Robinson’s instructions for creating various art kits for gift-giving. They’re wonderful; I’d like one of each for myself, please. (You can see a picture of them in the main link to the magazine above.)

I found many ideas for things I’d like to share with my children here, including some materials completely new to me, and I found some blogs I’d like to start reading. Fifteen dollars well spent, if I come away feeling inspired.

How about you–will you be getting a copy? If you already have one, what projects are inspiring to you?

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One Response to Review: Create With Me

  1. rachelle says:

    Great review, Amy. I haven’t picked up a copy yet, but I’ve heard about this publication. I linked through to look at the art packs that you recommend, and found that they’re taking submissions until August 15. Just in case you’re inclined to join the fun :)

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