Today is my last Friday guest post! For the last two months, I have enjoyed so many diverse voices on the blog each Friday sharing experiences making art with kids. I love this guest post from Betsy Finn from BPhotoArt.com. Art is such a great way to connect together, and this is such a nice story of her experience making art with her family. Please be sure to check out Betsy’s blog after enjoying her post here. 🙂
Art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was a toddler, my grandfather would invite me to paint alongside him (read more about my memories of painting with Grandpa). He enjoyed using a variety of media, but I most remember him teaching me how to use watercolor paints and mix colors.
Through my school years, I always enjoyed art classes, and my mom bemoaned the fact I would always come home with paint all over me. Many a nice outfit was ruined in this manner. Even as an adult, I’m still a messy artist. But I’m ok with that. Art has stuck with me all these years, and while my profession is now photography, I still enjoy using other media as a creative outlet.
Several years ago, I joined a local artists’ association and heard about a plein air festival that was just getting started. In case you’re wondering “plein air? huh” — let me explain. Plein air means in the great outdoors, on location, painting what you see before your eyes, rather than from a photograph. If you’ve never created art “en plein air” …you’re missing out.
I’ve participated in the plein air festival for two years and plan to do so again this upcoming summer. The festival has some rules that I’ve had to work within (locations where you can paint, time frame for completing the paintings, etc), so it really was a great motivator. In one week’s time I was able to turn out several paintings that were a pleasure to create.
But what’s more, I included my son(s) in the process. The first year of the Plein Air Festival, my older son joined me, under the supervision of grandma. After a picnic lunch in the grass, we painted for several hours. Okay, I painted for that long; my toddler ate slowly, painted for a brief time, and then played cheerfully with his grandma. But he was excited to be making art with mom. We even framed his artwork, just like mom’s (all the pieces created during the festival were hung for a weekend-long show).
The next year, Grandma accompanied us again, and this time was gracious enough to help out with my toddler and the newly arrived baby. While my younger son slept, the three of us set up shop and painted. Again, my toddler didn’t paint the whole time, but he did enjoy the process, being outdoors, and having his own paper, paints, and brushes to use.
I love how my son has taken naturally to creating art alongside me. My plan of action has been simple. I encourage and invite Toby to paint and create with me. More often than not, it’s an unstructured activity. I prefer projects that allow for creativity and out of the box thinking. I don’t want to sit there and say “no you can’t put that color paint there.”
Often, we will paint outdoors — it eliminates my worry over keeping the mess contained, and then I can encourage my mess-conscious toddler to let loose and get messy as he creates. And it’s tough when things don’t according to plan, but I try to remind myself that ultimately, the creation process is not an experience “for me” — but for my son. It’s important to me that my toddler feels in charge and at liberty to experiment and try without worrying about doing things “right.” It’s ok to let the plans go and go with the flow (I blogged about one such outdoor painting activity where the rain enhanced our creative experience).
All in all, I am glad that my son loves to join me in my creative endeavors.
Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr.,CPP, lives with her husband, two boys, and two cats in Michigan In addition to being a full time mom, she has a portrait photography studio and enjoys capturing memories for her clients. Betsy blogs about life as a mom, activities that have caught the interest of her boys, capturing every day memories, and other parenting topics. Some of her most enjoyed posts are:
- Finding Ways for Kids to Discover Nature,
- The ABCs of Photography (an Educational Series for Kids)
- 50 Things You Can Do With Your Toddler While Caring For Your Newborn