A lot of the time when we are doing crafts I look up a project on Pinterest, set everything we need up, and then tell Aiden what we are going to be making. I select the projects based on things I think he will enjoy, and he nearly always does enjoy making them. Sometimes though he wants to just play with the art supplies I have out in another way. I have realised (and I do hang my head here) that I have been saying “no, that’s not what we are doing, that’s not what we are making” more and more frequently and it is crushing his creativity. So put a stop to it I will! And what better way than to use something he loves as a tool to help mend the situation. Books!
Laurence King Publishers sent us a whole variety of wonderful, enticing books a while back and we have been enjoying making our way through them. Out of all of them, the one that Aiden has returned to most has got to be Arnold’s Extraordinary Art Museum (£12.95) It is such a clever book as it follows Arnold and his gang of wacky (Aiden is mad about them all) friends on a tour around an art gallery that showcases some of the worlds greatest (and weirdest) pieces of art. The illustrations are in the form of a comic book and Aiden has been really enjoying the sense of going and seeing these pieces of art with the cartoon characters in the book. It was this book that got me started thinking about this weeks #littlemakes as it is a great book to start a child discussing art in a really relaxed and fun way. The characters (and pieces of art work) are often really funny in this book so Aiden loves us talking about them and laughing. If I could just let that laughter and enjoyment transfer over onto him making his own art completely unguided then I will have cracked it I thought.
Aiden’s art work has already taken over a whole room in our house with paintings and drawing up in frames and hanging from washing line style displays so he knows we value it but I wanted him to really appreciate that what he creates can be just as important as art in a ‘real’ art gallery, just like Arnold’s art museum. So next we looked through an absolutely beautiful book called Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories: A Children’s History of Art (£19.99) He easily spotted some of the paintings from Arnold’s trip so we had a nice discussion about ‘important’ works of art which led us to a rather funny moment when Aiden full on kissed the canvas he was about to paint as he told me artists really love their drawing!
This book is probably aimed at older children,and it will certainly be extremely useful when Aiden has art projects in school that require some background information on specific artists and movements but I also think it is a beautiful book for younger children too. Aiden has come to believe that bigger/thicker books are more important books because they contain more ‘things’ and I can’t really fault his logic there. This book then he deemed to be exceptionally important and Aiden spend quite sometime flicking through before I suggested he picks some of his favourite pieces of arts and has a go to see if he can make some marks that look similar. He was a bit apprehensive to start with and kept asking me what he should be doing but once he understood that he really could just do whatever he wanted, well there was no stopping him!
Another two of the Laurence King children’s art books that we were send certainly helped Aiden loosen up and have fun with the paint and different techniques and they were The Painting-in Book (£12.99) and Art Play (£12.95). These books are similar in purpose but both have their own unique style and many many different inspiring activities to do. These books offer the child a prompt or an invitation to be creative if you like. So for example a page might have some black coals already drawn on and it will ask the child to add in the flames of the fire by mixing yellow and red paint to make orange. Aiden wasn’t quite ready to paint or draw in these books as he thought they were too special (honestly you couldn’t make this stuff up and I love him all the more for it!) but he was more than happy to read through the books and then do some of the activities on the canvas he was working on.
The Art Play book is a great tool for both children and adults as it contains alongside all the fun activities, an absolute anthology of practical art theory. There are colour charts and pencil techniques that I am sure will be extremely useful on many occasion. I love that Aiden can get all this information out of a book rather than looking it up online. I think technology and the internet can be a great tool for learning but there can also stop creativity in it’s tracks as you get distracted. With all these books we were able to read through them in advance at our own pace and then we also had them to hand at the table as Aiden was painting his canvas so he could refer t any of them which he did. He was inspired by Pollock’s drip paintings although I have to promise we would do a proper huge one in the garden when the weather gets nicer as I feared for my while walls! Straw blowing the paint also proved itself a huge hit and he only breathed in paint a handful of times so all in all I am chalking this one up as a success. You only have to look at the photo of Aiden in hysterics to see that he very much enjoyed following in the footsteps of some of the great artists mentioned in these books and using the innovative ideas that are presented in the others.
You can purchase all the books mentioned about directly from the Laurence King website here. While you are there take a look at all the wonderful grown-up art books too. There is sure to be something to inspire both your kids and you to get making and creating!