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Word of Mouth

The Lady and The Fox: Art With Kids

Laura Taylor via Flickr CC

  I can't ever remember my elementary school teacher not joining in a class-wide art project. Many art projects had her touch, a purple background and some fancy script, perhaps a blue ribbon threaded through a weaving. Often, she would make her own finger painting alongside ours, and we'd end the day happily smeared with green paint, or coated in pond muck from building a terrarium. 

We have coloring books for children, and we now have coloring books for adults, but why don't we bridge the gap? Setting up an art project for children is much different from doing an art project with children -- so we found some wonderful examples of adult-children artistic collaboration!

One mom found inspiration in the drawings of her two-year-old daughter, and out came the painting called The Lady and The Fox.


Ruth Oosterman collaborates with her daughter often, and while she offers wise and witty parenting advice, her main goal is to inspire. Her work is not about covering up or somehow detracting from what her daughter has created -- instead, it's about adding to it, letting her child's imagination shine through to the final project. 

Some parents, like Derek Benson, use characters as inspiration for things like napkin art, or paper-bag lunches. Check out his work at Lunch Bag Art! And then take a look at Daily Napkins, a collection of artwork that  sculptor Nina Levy makes for her two sons. Mica Angela Hendricks is another artist and parent; she draws heads and faces for her daughter -- and lets the little one add the rest. And again, instead of coloring over what her child has created, she adds to it. Shadows. Color. Shading. The result is beautifully imaginative work.

#tbt to some of the collaborations Myla and I did when she was around 4. I posted today on the blog (at busymockingbird.com) about what it's like to collaborate with her now as compared to when she was four... A photo posted by Mica Angela Hendricks (@busymockingbird) on Jun 18, 2015 at 10:37am PDT

Artists collaborating with children is also becoming a trend in charity work. One example is the program Face This, which designs their t-shirts using children's drawings. They then use money raised to support the kids' education ... so they can keep drawing. 

So how can we get children artistically involved? TinkerLab, created by Rachael Doorley, has some good answers. TinkerLab is all about creative experiments with children, whether that be creating tools out of household materials, creating a flying tea bag hot air balloon, or working on a parent-child scrapbook.

Collaborating with children not only benefits the children. It also allows adults to see the world as a child might, encourage imagination and artistry, and be inspired by the same. It shows children that art is not just an adult's world, and imagination is not just theirs. My elementary school teacher was able to teach me -- simply through co-painting a robin or an owl -- that as a big, scary grown-up, it was perfectly okay to have a wild imagination. And get covered in green paint or pond muck.