A Child's space for Art

{click on photo for notes of what everything is}

I’ve been getting questions about our family studio and about how we handle art supplies around here. So I thought I’d write up a little about what we do, what we use and why.

Our studio is located in our dinning room, the center of the house. We chose this space because of how central it is. Since Alder choose when he does art and what he uses it is nice to have him near by so if he needs help or company we are near by. There is another consideration with the placement of the studio, as a family we spend a lot of time making things and doing art, we want it to be a focus in our lives, so when choosing what to use the space with felt that an art studio would be nicer than a computer table (which it used to be). I’ve found by moving the computer out of the center of the house we use it less, only when we want to not just because we’re “bored”

Room View

We found it very freeing to put the supplies out for Alder. Every time we introduce a new medium or idea we do a project with him so he learns how to use it and care for the supplies. We show him how we use them, what projects inspire us and then let him follow his own creative process when using it. We rarely have to remind him how to treat the different supplies because he knows that if he uses them up quickly that we will be out of them for a while.

This isn’t a form of punishment but a practicality that comes about through the choices of supplies we use, we can’t afford to replace them very often. There are very few “kids” style products in our collection, with the exception of pipe-cleaners and stickers. We generally use student quality or better (student quality is what high school and college students use). Especially for paints, there is nothing worse than dipping your brush into a pan of water colors that look vibrant and finding a watery light colored line end up on the paper.  Similar to this is why their aren’t a lot of crayons in our house, or at least not for drawing, they are disappointing. Last Fall we bought a few boxes at a back-to-school sale and they have languished in their boxes waiting for something (probably a project like this).

It took one day of draining a bottle of paint and the following month of no red paint for Alder to realize that it was better to use the supplies wisely. This doesn’t mean that he uses dime size dollops of paint but that he thinks a little more about what he’s doing, the aim of his project. I’m not sure if this is coercive or not but it is a reality in our family, we have a budget for learning and art and we can’t go over it.

The other part of art making in our house is the child led nature of it. After years teaching art I can’t bring myself to do another prepackaged craft project. I am happy to find inspiration for Alder, websites like Crafty Crow  are great for that, and I also help him realize the projects he comes up with himself. But I really dislike prepping a canned project, this is a personal thing not a condemnation of projects.

Though we call the space Alder’s studio we all use it and we are all learning more about creating art almost everyday. Tomorrow I’ll have a list of what we use.