Run Free and Explore

Who said it best?
Ah, yes, Pablo Picasso.

Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

And since it’s Easter, a time of beginnings, it seemed like a good time to think about children and art — art in all its many forms.

To get us started, here’s a poem I wrote for children:

Looking Up

Walking to the park,
I stopped to run in
circles like a bird
in the sky.

But I got dizzy and
fell in a heap to the

So I stared up at
the ocean blue,
over me like a
warm blanket.

And wondered if
God thought like
that too.

by da hickman

Can you remember staring up at the sky as a child?
What were you thinking, imagining?

What was it like to be a child — to venture into the world of adults one step at a time.  Bravely.  Fearfully.  With great curiosity.

To help us along, I invited artist Sarah Arkanoff into SunnyRoomStudio to share her insights on children and art.  Sarah lives near Indianapolis and I know you will enjoy meeting her!   Welcome, Sarah, and thanks for bringing your many talents, warm spirit, and creative light to this sunny space for kindred spirits.

Run Free and Explore
by Sarah P. Arkanoff

I was honored when Daisy asked me to be her guest in SunnyRoomStudio.  I’ve admired her writing and have called her a friend for several years now.

Specifically, Daisy wondered if I’d like to write about children and art since I’ve taught children’s art classes and have a B.A. from Indiana University in Painting & Art History.  Plus, ever since I can remember art was a huge deal for me.  An artist myself, when daughter Lucy joined us about 14 months ago, I wanted her to discover her personal creativity, as well.

My Artistic Roots

I was so competitive when it came to coloring contests at school and always looked forward to that creative point in the day when we could let our imaginations run wild with a water color brush or some Play-Doh. Little has changed for me since then. I’m still passionate about all things art related and feel I have that deep connection to art because my parents and the schools I attended were so encouraging, so supportive.

So often nowadays activities for children are centered around shiny noisy toys that run on batteries or via the television screen. But, yes, I’d be flat out fibbing if I claimed to never have the TV on in our home.

  • The solution is all about finding balance.

As a society we strive to give our children a balanced nutritional diet but, at times, we lose sight of the need for a “balanced childhood.”

  • We need to feed the souls and imaginations of our children, too.

I want Lucy to remember finger painting, crafting, cooking with mom, dance class, or playing outside in the fresh air with friends – not just being parked in front of a video game.

Keep it Simple

  • So you’re thinking, “Yes, that’s great, I’m aware, but now what?”

For starters, there are a bazillion resources online.  And, personally, I’m a huge fan of blogs. They provide me with daily inspiration on projects and activities to try out with Lucy.

I’ve listed a few of my favorites at the bottom.

But if you don’t have time to surf those, just think about the crafts and art projects you did as a child. Did you make Easter baskets out of pipe cleaners or draw pictures of the Easter Bunny and drown them in glitter? Awesome!

  • I bet the children in your life would have a blast doing the same things.

If all else fails buy some cheap acrylic paint, get out the white computer paper, cover your kitchen table and tell them to let loose. It’s liberating for a child to have no restrictions or expectations on a project. See what they come up with!

And if getting out and about is more your thing, here’s another idea. You may feel your child is too young to enjoy a trip to your local art museum, but I bet you’d be surprised.

The Indianapolis Art Museum, for example, has beautiful
sculpture gardens
and we love to go when the
weather is nice to let Lucy run free and explore.

Often children are in awe of the larger than life paintings or the wacky sculptures. They may not even be old enough to vocalize their thoughts yet but the stimulation they’re getting is priceless. The colors, the textures, the sounds are key to their sensory stimulation.

Just spending time with your child and choosing a simple activity to share will make all the difference to them. Nurture their imaginations by encouraging them and give your children a variety of outlets in which to explore different interests.

Not everyone grows up to be a famous artist or great poet, but that doesn’t mean children don’t benefit from what they learned by exploring art and creativity at an early age.

I’d be happy to answer questions you might have,
chat about kids and art or whatever comes to mind.

I’ve enjoyed my visit to SunnyRoomStudio and hope the children in your life are exposed to the wonders of art and creativity as often as possible.

Did you enjoy art as a child?
Do your children have an artistic interest?
Who is your favorite artist?

  • Here are some closing thoughts by author L.M. Montgomery (Nov. 30, 1874 – April 24, 1942).  Coincidentally, April 24th is Easter this year.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

The world calls them its singers and poets and artists
and story-tellers; but they are just people who
have never forgotten the way to fairyland

“There is such a place as fairyland – but only children can find the way to it. And they do not know that it is fairyland until they have grown so old that they forget the way. One bitter day, when they seek it and cannot find it, they realize what they have lost; and that is the tragedy of life. On that day the gates of Eden are shut behind them and the age of gold is over. Henceforth they must dwell in the common light of common day. Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again; and blessed are they above mortals. They, and only they, can bring us tidings from that dear country where we once sojourned and from which we must evermore be exiles. The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and story-tellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.”  — L.M. Montgomery (Canadian author well known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables — called “Maud” by family and friends, she eventually published 20 novels and some 500 poems and short stories.)

Painting is easy when you don’t know how,
but very difficult when you do.

~Edgar Degas

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