How Would a Visual Artist Use a Commonplace Book?
Collage Faces: Class #2

Studio Visit #10: Art with my Three-Year-Old, What Works for Us

For today's studio visit, I'm sharing a bit about my approach to making art with my three-year-old. 

It's worth noting that every child is unique, and what works for us may not work for others. Each child has their own preferences, interests, and developmental stages. So, I always pay attention to my son's cues and adapt our art-making experiences accordingly. 

Here are the basic ideas from the video:

  1. Thoughtfully choosing tools and materials: By providing your child with tools and materials that are easy for them to handle, you're setting them up for success. This could include paintbrushes, crayons, markers, brayers, and so on that are easy for them to hold onto and use. That said, I use real artist products with my son. Highly pigmented materials ensure that his creations are vibrant and visually appealing.  Too often products marketed to kids are cheap (aka lacking in the expensive pigments that make artwork gloriously colorful).

  2. Protecting the space and the child's clothes: Recognizing that art-making can get messy, I take precautions to cover my son's body and the surrounding area. We use aprons and smocks to keep their clothes clean and place a drop cloth on the floor when we're using wet media.  I always have baby wipes at the ready.

  3. Fostering independence: I believe that by allowing my child to feel in charge of the art making process, I am creating a sense of ownership and empowerment. I try very hard to refrain from telling him what to do or how to create, letting him explore his imagination freely. This approach encourages his decision-making skills and helps him develop confidence in his creative abilities.

  4. Playtime versus art lesson: Rather than approaching art as a formal lesson, I prioritize art as playtime. This creates a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, removing any pressure for specific outcomes or skill development. My focus is on the process of creating, rather than the end result. This approach allows him to explore, experiment, and discover his own relationship to art tools and media.

  5. Setting out the rules: It's not a total free-for-all in the studio.  He knows that there are rules.  But I have a short list of rules and they're all good habits with many applications -- listen to mama, clean up your mess, ask questions if you don't know, stay in the designated area, and use the designated tools.  That's pretty much it.  Early on, if he'd break any of the rules, we'd immediately leave the studio.  I wasn't mad, but he wasn't allowed to stay.  He very quickly understood that he needed to follow those five rules in order to stay in the studio.

As I said before, it's important to remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. By paying attention to a child's individual needs and interests, you can tailor your art-making experiences to create a joyful and rewarding time for both of you.

I'd love to hear about what you do with your kiddo(s) in your art space!

Thanks for stopping by!


P.S. Every month members get a Personal Vlog with lots of art and family adventures.  In addition, each month Maker and Super Learner Members also get a Studio Vlog, which is entirely art focused.  Join today and view all past vlogs.