{Art Together}: Getting Started

I’ve talked about why the opportunity for process-based art is so important for kids (part 1, part 2, part 3) and about how making time and space for a family art habit was so valuable for not just my children, but for myself. Unsurprisingly, process-based creativity is important for adults, too. But I hear, and read, a lot of adults who just don’t know where to begin. What kind of paper? What kind of paints? What do we do with them? And most of all, “I can’t draw. I can’t paint. I can’t teach my kids art.”

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Family sketching at deCordova Sculpture Park.

If you have endured the typical education that marginalized the arts; if you were discouraged early on from pursuing anything creative; if you internalized the idea that art “wasn’t for you;” or if you’ve simply never had an interest…if any of these reasons, or others, have left you lacking in confidence that you can start an art habit with your children as an adult, I’m going to argue that you can. I received no encouragement in art from any teacher from kindergarten through high school, at which point I was told not to take anything more than the one semester of art required to graduate, because the Bs I received in art would lower my GPA. Somehow, despite that, I persevered in thinking of myself as a creative person, and when I found myself pursuing a second Bachelor’s degree, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I was already paying tuition and take an art class too.

In retrospect, I was pretty brave to sign up for that class. I think I even recognized that at the time. I felt kind of inadequate, but determined. And that class’s professor encouraged me to the extent that I ended up minoring in art. In my drawing classes, I often had to work for three or four times longer than the other students to get the results I wanted, but I loved sinking into the activity, even though it was hard work for me. I remember spending the better part of an entire Saturday drawing a skeleton. It felt like minutes. I believe this was the first time in my life I experienced flow, finding such joy and meaningful concentration in hard work.

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Drawing and painting irises in the yard.

I’m telling you: You are capable enough right now to sit down and make art alongside your kids (even if you think you can’t). If it only takes one person’s encouragement and that person hasn’t shown up in your life yet, I will be that person for you, if you’ll let me. Make some space, make some time, because we’re going to make this a habit. I’ll be here every Wednesday. You can join in at any point—just remember to start where you are.

This week’s task is simple. Think about joining me and spread the word, if you feel moved to do so. Check out my (new) materials page, where I’ve shared some of my favorite art supplies to have on hand. These are not necessary to begin, so please don’t feel overwhelmed. I’ll be back next week with a simple activity to get us started (and I promise it uses at-hand, everyday materials). I hope to see you here again next week.

Do not fail, as you go on, to draw something every day, for no matter how little it is, it will be well worth while, and it will do you a world of good.
Cennino Cennini

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12 Responses to {Art Together}: Getting Started

  1. Jen says:

    Oh yay! I love this idea! Lately Ree has really been into the “lets draw” frame of mind and I’m “but I can’t, I’ll just sit & watch you” while feeling guilty that I say/feel that way & afraid I’ll dampen her enthusiasm for drawing. Plus I don’t want her to think that she “can’t” do it because Momma “can’t”. Amy you are wonderful for putting this together & I am so on board and excited! :-)

  2. Michelle says:

    I’ve been slacking on this. And watching my kids I think how much they don’t need my help, because they draw so much better than I can already. But I forget to remind myself they’re better at it because they’ve had lots and lots of practice. And it takes, what, five minutes to sketch something?

    Looking forward to the series!

  3. Lori says:

    so excited for you and this new series! :D

  4. Karen says:

    fabulous idea for a series!

  5. Corinne says:

    Thank you in advance for this, I definitely need some help here!! My laetitia love drawing and I would love to support her in this field and do meaningful art activities with her!!! And even for my own learning…. I need this!!!

  6. amy says:

    Corinne, so glad you found your way here! Let me know as we go along if you have any concerns or specific questions and I’ll do my best. Welcome. :)

  7. shawn says:

    Yay, my kids and I are in! I actually was looking at an Intro to Art type class on Coursera today so I’d be able to give my kids SOME kind of guidance in their love of creating. Your series sounds a million times more awesome! I too have been guilty of telling my daughter I can’t draw with her because I can’t draw, knowing full well what an awful message that is to send.
    (btw, I’m a fellow #adultpbh-er (but so far just lurking), followed Lori’s link here; really enjoying both your blogs Amy!)

    • amy says:

      Shawn, thanks so much for delurking here and for your vote of confidence! (I’m going to have to go check out that class on Coursera now!) I’m in this as much for the adults as for the kids, you know. We need the creative outlet too. :-)

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