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What A Masterpiece


If you think art for kids is defined by wheeling a dirty crayon from one side of a paper to the next (and eventually to the table), think again. Art has gotten far more sophisticated over the years and our children are doing all sorts of things that we parents never got the chance to.

While art can be taken up at any age, it is always most useful when it provides a new language with which your kids can express themselves and when it enhances the physical and mental tools at their age. These new languages and new skills go hand in hand not only with all-round development, but are good for morale, for developing individual identities and for expanding kids' abilities to think laterally.

Art therapists agree that creative processes are also good for both children and adults psychologically. One key element in the practice of art therapy is talking about the process of any creative activity following its execution. So once you start delving into art-making, always encourage your children to articulate their ideas behind their creative decisions. This will not only empower them, but will help you get to know them better as individuals

How To Get Arty

Age 4 - 6

What To Expect

Many parents shove their children into art classes at the age of four, expecting them to be transformed into Picassos. Many end up poking a hole in their kids' self-esteem when they start asking disparaging questions about what the drawings are actually supposed to be. Kids aged four through nine tend not to have the necessary motorskills (nor attention spans) necessary to execute equivalents of the Mona Lisa, so don't expect magical results.

Ways To Grow

Good activities for kids this age comprise simple one-step processes (no waiting for something to dry, harden or set before something else needs to be done.) Anything that involves paint (acrylic or any thick paint) is always a good idea. This way, your children will get hands-on experience about the effects of mixing paint (color), gravity (tilting paper to drip paint in different directions) and force (different results depending on how one applies the paint).

Try This With Your Kids

Get some detergent, some cheap poster paint and a simple bubble blower with which to blow through. Mix the solution in several small containers with different colors of paint - put just enough to tint the mixture and not too much so that it thickens - and get a few sheets of mahjong paper. Blow colored bubbles together with your kids and catch them on pieces of paper. The effect is stunning. For interesting results, try iridescent paint like silver and gold.

Age 7 - 9

What To Expect

Kids in this age group are learning to process information through memory and applying thinking skills to answer maths and science questions. Encourage art forms that enhance your kids ability to formulate results.

Ways To Grow

Paper clay is great, because it allows a two-step process that helps them progress. Teach them that paper clay dries out pretty fast, so if they are going to make anything at all, they have to do it reasonably quickly.

Try This With Your Kids

Roll some paper clay into coils like sausages and challenge your kids to try and make as many things as they possibly can with these coils. If they're stumped, inspire them with examples; create his/her name in cursive, pile rings of coils on top of each other to make a pot; the list goes on.

Give the products a night to dry and they're ready to paint the next day. Just brush some acrylic onto the work and varnish it once it's dry. Tip: Children tend to add lot of water to their clay to prevent it from drying out. This often results in a great big pile of mush. The only thing they need to moisten is their fingertips.

Age 10 - 12

What To Expect

Tweens think they're too old for baby stuff, so this is a great age to let them try something more adult, like contributing to the household. Involve your children in activities that remind them that they are part of the family. Teach them that the word "recycle" does not just revolve around empty cans and crumpled paper. Everything can be recycled: Paint used jars and turn them into stationary or candle holders, string up used cutlery into decorative hanging pieces. 

Try This With Your Kids

To get your kids really excited about how materials can be transformed, get an old mirror, some white glue, some toilet paper, a large container and used materials or trinkets of your choice. Now fill the container with one part glue and two parts water. Start mashing toilet paper into the mix - it should dissolve quickly with some help - until you get a nice mash.

Add a few drops of paint to the paper mache until you have a nice, even tint. When you are done, start placing and smoothing the mash onto the borders of the mirror, embedding whatever materials you have chosen into it: buttons, pieces of plastic, even parts of photographs. Varnish the final work for a fabulous finish.

Age 13- 15

What To Expect

Teens are adapting to secondary school life, as well as new forms of peer pressure; art can help by teaching them to develop their individual language. They're terribly self-consciousness when learning new skills, so it's important to encourage them all the way. Look for places that allow parents and kids to learn new art skills together; preferably something neither of you have tried before, so you can genuinely learn alongside your child, reminding her that learning is a lifelong process.

Ways To Grow

Technology-based art is always a good bet. Get them hooked on the different types of art that involve cameras or video cameras. Attempt stop motion animation. Experiment with digital photography. Manipulate moving images.

Try This With Your Kids

If you aren't particularly hip when it comes to technology, try photographic transfers. Make photocopies of pictures from your photo album - black-and-white is great, but color can be far more interesting. Get a bottle of thinner and some washing gloves. Place the photocopy face down on some paper and dip the rag into the thinner. Use it to rub the back of the photocopy and peel it off the paper. Transfer prints make great postcards, posters and art pieces. Vary the amounts of thinner used for different results and combine varieties of images together.

 

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