EEEEK! I am so excited for this post. I somehow tricked two of Manila’s craftiest (and cutest) moms into sharing their wisdom in finding common ground with their passion of art and creating with their children.
AMA: How do you approach creating with your children?
Nica: “In the beginning, it really just sort of happened. I didn’t plan it but I would be playing around and painting to de-stress, then, Summer who had just entered toddlerhood at that time would always try to get in on what I’d be doing until I decided to just let her. I would bring out my old, less nice, watercolor sets and some brushes and just let her have a go at it. And it amazed me how she stayed in one spot for more than 15 mins! Yes she would spill water and get covered in paint but I thought it was a great way to contain her, so she’s not just running around creating havoc all day, and at the same time, introduce love for art. So I started including painting in her daily routine, eventually Emma’s too.”
AMA: Did you ever have to in the right mindset before approaching creating with kids?
Nica: “Oh yes. I had to come to terms with the fact that it will always get messy and that the output will never be as I had imagined! So instead of ending up feeling frustrated every time, I just adjusted by doing things like: take off their clothes while doing art specially when working with paint, cover the table in newspaper or plastic mats, take it outdoors altogether and let them go crazy. It can take a bit more prep time but then it keeps me sane. I also realize it gets better as they get older. I also learned that I can only really make suggestions but, in making art, it’s always better to let them do things the way they want to. Trees can be blue and the sun can be pink! It’s not wrong, they’re simply exploring, which is a great thing!
Also, they will not always be game to paint or draw. They have moods too. So I learned never to force them. Art is everywhere anyway. And at the opposite side of things, I have to expect that they will always want to join me when they see me working on something. When they see me paint, they will want to paint. When they see me carving a stamp, they will want to stamp. When they see me making something, they will also beg to make something. And I’ve learned to accommodate by giving them something to do alongside me, specially if it’s the time of day when they should be getting their hands busy. It doesn’t always go right. Sometimes I end up not being able to work on my project but to just remind myself that this is how they learn and explore and grow.”
AMA: What is your philosophy for creating with children?
Nica: “Wow, I’ve never really thought about it but I guess it would be this: In order to foster creativity in kids, make the tools accessible to them at all times and expose them to different types of art. If I want them to love art and get interested in it, it has to be fun for them. Seeing their parents love it and have fun doing it, helps a lot too.
What have I found that has been successful…
1. When I make art WITH them and not just oversee what they’re doing
2. Taking them to art shows piques their interest, specially when there’s live art painting or demos
3. When they feel like there’s a purpose, like making a birthday card for a friend or a thank you card for their grandparents who took them to the beach
4. Not to control their creative output and to always be encouraging. They get frustrated too specially when they’re not able to do things the way they had imagined. It’s important for them to know that it’s OK to make mistakes sometimes.
5. When I make a big deal of what they make like put it up my wall or take pictures of it. Always makes them want to keep making artwork.
AMA: When do you raise the white flag of defeat, if ever?
Nica: “Usually, when it’s obvious that they’re too sleepy or tired. I know it because they just complain and whine about everything, whatever they’re trying to do is “not working out, Mom!” Also when they just keep fighting or they obviously just want to make a mess. Hehe. And what happens… Most of the time its all tears and foot stomping, sometimes even art supply throwing but I wrap it up, put them to sleep or take them out and they forget about it soon enough. I just give them a break until the next day or until I feel like they’re in the right disposition.”
Apol: “My approach to creating with kids is really simple: I let them be. I set out the paints, paper, glue, beads, or whatever else the activity requires on the table, I help them get started, and then I let them take the lead. I give them the freedom to do what they want. You definitely won’t see me insisting that they paint trees green and brown. If they want it tangerine and teal, then so be it!
Creating with kids is genuinely one of the things I enjoy doing the most. I love watching them paint and cut and glue. I’m affirmed every time I see that they “get” it. They instinctively tap into that creativity we are all born with. I know they won’t be a nervous grownup who keeps asking me if what they’re doing is right, or hesitate very long over technique, or giggle nervously and look at what the others are doing. They’ll all be just making art, completely engrossed in the moment.”
AMA: How do you handle when projects go terribly awry?
Apol: Given all that, things never go ‘terribly awry.’ We’re all going with the flow. As there are no rigid rules, no strict definitions of right and wrong, things almost always turn out fine. If the kids are not in the mood for the activity, then I always have a backup. My house is sort of a never-ending source of things to do.
One thing though: No rules equals lots of mess in general 😀 Now that my kid is 6, and her friends around that age, I find that the mess is much more manageable, but when she was a toddler! Ohmy! For example, we ended up painting the sliding glass doors of our house a few times, and her painted along with everything else. The solution? Mother’s love. I just cleaned it all up.”
Thanks Nica and Apol for your wisdom. It’s no wonder you two are successful artist but mothers as well. It was most interesting for me to hear feedback about the approach and philosophy. Often times when I am crafting with my kids it doesn’t go how I had planned and I am a bit too rigid. I am looking forward to letting my children guide and having less control, I think we will all be better for it. I hope you have found something that can help you invest in your motherhood.
Other posts in this series:
- Investing In Motherhood: Introduction
- Investing In Motherhood: Toys and Play
- Investing In Motherhood: Books
- Investing In Motherhood: Board games
*Bonus: I have partnered with Magformers Ph for a giveaway on my Instagram, amommabroad. Magformers Ph and I are giving away a standard 30 piece set to one lucky follower. Go over to IG for more details. You don’t even have to have children yet. This can be for a niece, nephew, grandchild, whoever! Just comment who you will play Magformers with, follow my account (amommabroad) and Magformers Ph on Instagram and FB. You must live in The Philippines. Give away ends next Tuesday March 22.